Thursday, October 4, 2012

O v Mitt; Quick-hitter debate reactions

I like to listen to debates, so as to not get distracted by the visuals. Listen on radio, tune out right afterwards, sleep on it, listen to or read no commentary until I’ve come up with my own read. Here’s a quick scattershot rendering of that read as it was late last night, far after my usual 2130 bed-time.

1. Romney was controlling the show. Lehrer was the moderator, but Mittens set the agenda.

2. He has an impressive command of data.

3. Romney was able to answer every charge Pres. Obama leveled at him.

4. I could hear Lehrer attempting to jump in with both candidates, to hold them to time limits, it seemed to me that Obama went over limit more often, and in fact had a majority of the time speaking. He came off sounding like he was filibustering, trying to run out the clock, so as to avoid the give and take. At points his answers were rambling, jumping between quite disparate topics/talking points.

5. Romney would not allow Lehrer to stop any rebuttals he had to make. Nor would he allow Obama the last word if it was not coming, according to the rules. If memory serves, McCain tended to acquiesce in similar circumstances.

6. Closing statements: Romney ticked off specifics and numbers. Pres. Obama indulged in rhetoric.

7. Many of the stories Obama used, e.g., the Cleveland Clinic, actually were illustrative of the sorts of individual initiative, state level or private sector problem solving Romney was advocating, not of the Federal-centric approaches Obama favors. Romney pointed this out. Evidence of a quick-on-his-feet debater.

8. Of the two, Obama was the more nervous, flustered and halting in presentation.

9. Obama’s best performance was when he talked about projects government is best suited to undertake, and illustrated from history, as for instance the trans-continental railroad. He describes these sorts of things as ‘all of us working together.’ That was effective.

I came away from my radio thinking Romney was the winner, and the more knowledgeable of the two. Not a KO, but a 10 point win if it were a football game.

Next day, I watch the video:

10. Obama looked decidedly uncomfortable, did not look Romney in the eye for more than a few seconds at a time. He spent a majority of his time speaking to Lehrer.

11. When being addressed by Romney, he blinked as much as Nixon back in 1960. (No five o-clock shadow though.)

12. He had a pained expression, a curious half smile, on more than one occasion.

13. Looked down at the podium far too often, and too long. May have been taking notes, but did not look confident. Looked a bit like a kid getting a dressing down from his mom, dad or a teacher.

14. Romney looked more enthusiastic, bouncing at times.

15. Romney focused on Obama for a majority of his speaking time, talking directly to him. He only moved to focusing on Lehrer toward the end of his turns.

16. Romney Stayed within the allotted time more often.

Still having not read commentary, but adding the visuals, the resulting impression is stronger for Romney; I’d add another field goal or two, or a touchdown to the margin of victory. 16 to 17 points.

Then, I read commentary.

Across the board the reactions are that Romney won comfortably. Some say it was the best Presidential debate performance ever. I wouldn’t go that far, but it was good.

Depending on the side of the aisle you favor, you either have angst, or cautious optimism now. No surprise to you that I am in the latter camp. I'm curious to see if there is an effect on polling, which has generally been close, but in favor of the incumbant.

Next phase; the so called “fact checking” I’m sure, as well as fact checking the fact checkers.

Before you know it, Ryan v Biden.

Here’s the debate in its entirety: