Thursday, October 4, 2012
Quick Thoughts on Obama-Romney I
So I just finished watching the 1st Presidential Debates. I avoided most of the feedback and post-debate analysis until I watched. Here's what I thought.
-The biggest loser in the debate wasn't a candidate. It was moderator Jim Lehrer. A respected voice in media who had no control of the debate and appeared to be walked over many times by Mitt Romney (more on that later). I felt like his voice was disregarded and as moderator, it's your place to be law and order. He appeared too old and outdated to handle a debated with forceful candidates.
CNN's Candy Crowley had better be on her game in 2 weeks as moderator. I respect her as a fair voice so it's up to her to set the tone and maintain it. Watching Lehrer made me long for Will McAvoy's debate format in "The Newsroom"
-Mitt Romney's biggest gaffe to me came when he spoke on the federal government's role in public education. He said that states and local governments should do more than the federal government. But then he said that in supporting federal bills for disabled/lower income students, he's in favor of giving that federal money directly to the parent to decide where the child goes to school. Ummmm isn't that federal government taking a BIG role in a child's education??
- At one point, it seemed Romney was about to call President Obama "Bro" early on. Perhaps not a significant issue but a nice chuckle moment.
- I liked how Obama forced Romney to try and answer for how his Massachusetts health care plan as different than "Obamacare." Romney touted his plan as greater because it was bipartisan but failed to see how the GOP didn't want to support Obamacare regardless of Obama reaching out. The fact that Obamacare is not a government takeover has been refuted 2 years ago.
Also, I love Obama's quip to Romney that he likes it being called "Obamacare" - a hat tip to the mighty dwarf Tyrion Lannister of "Game of Thrones" who said if you take what people say about you and wear it proudly, it can never hurt you.
- Romney hammered home certain numbers over and over. The Obama budget plan takes $716 billion out of Medicare. Obama pumped $90 billion into green jobs. Yet he could not be specific on how to replace Obamacare with clear details or how he would across party lines any different than Obama has done.
- The best jobs fact is that under Pres. Obama, 4.4 million jobs have been created. But 4.3 million have been lost. A net gain of 125,000 according to CNN stats. Unemployment rates have dropped in many states but that stat is quite interesting.
- Romney admitted he wants to cut funding to PBS. One of the last bastions of education across the public airwaves. I don't see that as a good idea of cutting wasteful spending.
- Obama succeeded at talking to the camera when he was speaking to the American people on the key points he wanted to hammer home. A reminder that his skills as a rhetorician are as shrewd as they are obvious.
- But as I realized when I woke up this morning, he was almost too gentlemanly. He didn't bring up Romney's "47 percent" comment which could've been a huge sticking point. Perhaps he was too above needling points to make it plain but I think that was a missed opportunity.
I mentioned Mitt Romney a lot and it seems the perception is that he won the debate. I disagree. I found his tone to be snippy and rude and his frequent interruptions of Jim Lehrer and Obama were annoying and petulant. Like he couldn't let the debate go without getting the last word. I commend him for being on the attack and I was surprised how forceful he was, yet I can't say he was that forceful on explaining his own counterproposal.
The President made a clear point near the end. Part of being principled is being able to describe what you'll be able to do and how you occasionally say no to folks. Part of leadership is saying what you will do but also what you will say 'no' to. He was calm in his demeanor as usual and while he was on the defensive more often than not, he responded very well.
Nowhere did I feel confident in Romney's plan with specific details and yet he threw a lot of punches at Obama being critical. I saw Obama calmly responding with facts and mixing in defense with offense. On the surface you might think Romney won on style points and a low bar of expectations but on the facts and how specific certain plans are, I award this one to the incumbent.