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May the best debater win

With the presidential campaign’s first debate occurring next Wednesday in Denver, we are reminded of incidents that were decisive in previous debates — none of them relating to policy or knowledge of government. Politico has run a story, “10 great debate moments,” describing some high and low points from past debates. People my age will remember all of them. Younger readers, perhaps not. Either way, it’s a refresher course on the kinds of things that can swing the upcoming debates.

12 Comments »

  1. I look forward to seeing what will happen. I am concerned, though. I read a report yesterday that Romney is probably the most prepared candidate ever, and that Obama has simply not had much time to prepare for the debates. Additionally, since Romney still hasn’t defined exactly what he would do to fix the economy, and exactly what his foreign policy is, this will make it difficult for Obama to extrapolate rebuttals for whatever Romney might say. Romney’s intentional lack of precise policy appears to be a tactic. Usually, when asked what Romney’s policies are going to be, his team has said “it will come out in the debates.” Their plan is to keep the Obama’s team in a fog so that they cannot prepare factual data for the president to use in attack and defense. Under such circumstances, the President will have to think on the fly, and come up with answers to issues he was probably not prepared for. Obama has shown he is good at doing this in other debates. This one will not be easy. He will have to stand firm on a lot of issues. I hope he gets plenty of sleep the night before.

    • I’m looking forward to it too. But as we’ve seen in the past, it may not turn on who has the best ideas or who’s faster on his feet. Romney’s demeanor alone may kill him. He’s so wooden and awkward and Obama always seems so smooth and polished. You can bet they’ve both been coached not to look at their watches and not to sigh audibly!

      • I was thinking of a political cartoon the other day. Romney sitting with an adviser and talking about why people don’t like him. The adviser suggest, “why don’t you just trying paying people to like you, it worked for Bush.” To which Romney responds, “Bush didn’t pay people to like him.” And the adviser says, “Well… he called it a tax break.”

        • Seriously, that would be a better use of his funds than all the worthless attack ads. Just go out on the street and hand out money. Better yet, create jobs for a few people.

  2. I’ve also heard that Romney is favored over Obama in the upcoming debates. Personally, I haven’t seen anything to give me that impression. To me, Romney always seems to be teetering on the verge of panic. But Dood is right that these things can potentially carry a lot of weight. I remember having a similar “he’s out of his depth” impression of Reagan right before he said:

    “I want you to know also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

    Mondale didn’t stand a chance after that, and I could see on his face that he knew it too…

    • I understand Obama’s biggest problem will be giving brief concise answers in the allotted 2-minute time spans because he speaks rather slowly and professorially. Still, I wouldn’t have thought Romney would have much of a chance against him. Both will probably have memorized a few zingers, although that doesn’t seem Obama’s style and I’m not sure Romney could deliver one without that smug little tight-lipped smile of his.

      With these two guys and their crews coming to town Wednesday, it sounds like most of downtown Denver will be closed for the day, with traffic to be so bolluxed that my son is planning to just work from home. It happens every time Obama shows up, and he’s been here like 6 times this year.

  3. I think the media is just saying that Romney is favored over Obama just so they can keep the ratings up. Same thing with the polls… I have a feeling that the polls where are closer are also “feigned” to keep the viewers watching. If Obama were to take a substantial lead, then a lot of people would be “bored” and move on to other items.

    • I’ve seen several articles about how the media goes to great lengths to maintain interest in their coverage of the campaign, changing focus and emphasis often. That’s not exactly reporting at its finest — manipulating the news like that. And in a way it amounts to manipulating voters and the election, too, since many will react to “the news.” I really miss the old days when Cronkite used to close with “And that’s the way it is” and you believed him.

    • I’ve been watching the polls and trying to analyze the polling agencies. I have a big fat post in draft about my findings. I’m not sure if I’ll publish it, but the bottom line is, they’re all a little wonky. You really can’t trust the outcomes based on them – not with the margins this close. And they all use slightly different polling methods.

      PEW and Rasmussen were the most accurate in the last election, and yet right now they’re both very far apart in their estimates. Rasmussen leans Romney in almost all of their estimates. PEW leans Obama in almost all of theirs. But they’re all quite different. I suppose I shouldn’t bother looking at them, but I did, then noticed the trends, so tried to figure out what they’re doing. It’s mainly different sampling techniques.

  4. Everyone knows something will spill out of someone’s mouth – to be forever replayed. So that to look forward to….
    Do you think people are already creating drinking games for viewer participation? (not as much laughs as if Perry were debating.)
    Cronkite and neutral reporting is sadly missed.
    Hunker down ( ugh I hate that phrase) for the debate invasion.

    • I expect nothing of substance to come from the debates. LIke most people, I’ll be looking for the stumbles and gotchas. (Hate to watch for that reason, but I like to see things first-hand before drawing conclusions.) And of course, I await with bated breath Romney’s attempt to drop his carefully rehearsed zingers into the discussion. I seriously doubt he has the timing, delivery, etc., to be an effective “zingerer.”

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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