Reflections on Debate #3
By Dave Andrusko
Two images jumped into my mind as I watched last night’s third and final presidential debate between pro-life Mitt Romney and pro-abortion President Barack Obama. The President clearly was channeling his inner Joe Biden: snide, dismissive, condescending only minus the smiles (which Biden flashed in all the wrong places). That’s number one.
Number two Obama was playing checkers, Romney chess. The President, still smarting from his less-than-energy-driven first debate performance attacked and attacked and attacked. He knew that there virtually nothing he could say for which the “mainstream media” would call him to task. Mr. Obama was freed to be as unpleasant and ornery as he clearly felt.
By contrast Mr. Romney knew that anything he said that was the slightest off pitch; anything that remotely fed into the media narrative of Republicans as women-hating war mongers (however his remarks were distorted or taken out of context) would find their way into the media echo chamber/spin cycle. He sacrificed pawns—he allowed Obama to get away with a number of distortions—so as not himself to be checkmated by a media replete with “fact checkers” who manage to miss all the ‘facts’ Obama distort.
Christian Heinze of The Hill newspaper described it perfectly:
“If there’s one debate to flaunt your presidential demeanor, your cool, and your discipline under duress, it’s a debate over foreign policy.
“Romney did all that. He let a score of Obama’s attacks go unanswered, but fought back on the ones that were important. That’s called picking your battles, and it’s one of the reasons Google probably won’t start an automobile company in its struggle against Apple.
“If Alf were dropped into the audience and told ‘one of these guys is president; one is not,’ I suspect he’d guess that Romney was president.”
[“Alf,” by the way, is a reference to the 1980s sitcom centered on a friendly furry alien creature who crash landed on Earth.]
Watching the back and forth I also thought of the quote we lifted yesterday from the New York Times amazingly fair profile of Romney published over the weekend: ”His decision-making process is unhurried and Socratic, his instinct to exhaustively debate and prod.”
The instant conventional wisdom (borne out to a degree by some instant polls) was that debate was a draw or a narrow win for Obama. The larger question obviously is will last night make any difference? After the debate I was busy jumping back and forth between a number of channels so I missed the focus group conducted by CBS of eight undecided voters in Ohio, a state you could argue neither candidate can win without.
This morning Ed Morrissey included a link to the segment in which (it is fair to say) Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell were almost speechless when six of the eight said they were now going to vote for Romney!
There is a lot more to talk about at “Romney is moving up in swing states; ahead nationally by six, according to Gallup, four, according to Rasmussen.”
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