Image 01 Image 03

Debate Verdict: Still waiting for that defining moment

Debate Verdict: Still waiting for that defining moment

I watched the debate without the company of the Web or Twitter, so I was surprised afterward to see the consensus that Romney had wiped the floor with Obama.   I humbly disagree.  He did well.  He didn’t do well enough.

Last night was a major reason why so many people, including Professor Jacobson, were so jazzed by the idea of a Newt Gingrich nomination.  Obama spent the debate pretending that he hadn’t been president the last four years.  Romney spent more time than he should have doing the same.

Every haymaker Romney landed came when he remembered to mention how Obama was responsible for [fill in the blank].  Every time he didn’t he missed an opportunity to get deeper under Obama’s gossamer thin skin and trigger a glimpse of the president’s authoritarian arrogance that he struggles so hard to hide.  You can see him fighting it, which I think is why he looks down.

What I’m waiting for is that defining moment when the real Obama is revealed, just like at the end of Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd, when Lonesome Rhodes accidentally lets the mask drop on national television to devastating effect on his career.

Romney has the power to make that happen by channeling his inner Newt.  If he can’t do it at least once over the next two debates—well, I tremble for our country.  You can bet that, next time, Obama won’t blow off his prep. Next time, he’s bringing Chicago with him.  And Salt Lake City won’t cut it.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.



Joel, you are just wrong. Frank Luntz had a focus group of undecideds and they moved to Romney in mass numbers. Romney’s favorability ratings went from 30% to 60%!!! Unheard of!

I don’t know what you were watching, but you must be partially blind because Romney dominated that debate with skill and finesse. Of course he’s not Newt. No one is as good as Newt in a debate. But Romney showed that he has the chops, and he bit Obama’s head off with those chops.

Stop with the Eeyore nay-saying. Romney won. Period.

    myiq2xu in reply to Tamminator. | October 4, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Mitt doesn’t have Newt’s baggage either.

    More importantly, we need someone who not only can win but who can govern well.

    Rosalie in reply to Tamminator. | October 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I wonder where these “undecideds” are living? Mars?

    Al Gore is blaming the altitude in Denver for last night. I am surprised Al Gore did not blame coal dust and CO2 in the atmosphere for the bad debate performance of Barack Obama. Of course, coal may translate to less votes in certain states for Obama!

    The good news is people are just starting to vote now. Ballots are coming in the mail to absentee voters and to those states who vote by mail. This will just keep increasing. So temporary bounce or not, it is coming at the critical time Romney needs it.

    But is this election over? Hardly. Obama and his supporters will be like cornered sewer rats.

    And even if Romney wins, we have to make sure Romney stays on the straight and narrow (which as we remember with GWB is not that easy).

    Still, I have zero hangover from last night. Maybe it is a Denver altitude thing (even though I was not in Denver).

    Still, Don’t Get Cocky!

    chilipalmer in reply to Tamminator. | October 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Mr. Romney may well have changed many minds, I certainly hope that’s the case. I also hope no one has to rely on Frank Luntz for accurate information. Luntz is just a guy trying to be a celebrity. Did you know he goes out sponsored by News Corp. (Fox News) and tells radical leftist enviro groups how they can fool rube Republicans into buying into global warming? Luntz is another would be genius whose best ideas gave us Obama.

    Oldflyer in reply to Tamminator. | October 4, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Tamminator, I believe that some people just cannot accept success.
    I was pleased to hear this morning that Bill Kristol is running to get on the bandwagon. Can’t wait to see if Peggy Noonan hikes up her skirts, kicks off her heels and sprints to get on board. I expect her to say that; “Romney is ALMOST Reganesque.”

      Tamminator in reply to Oldflyer. | October 4, 2012 at 8:42 pm

      Oldflyer, that bitch Noonan would do a lot more than lift her skirt to get invited to a DC party. She should be duly rejected by anyone who has an ounce of conservative blood running through them. She is an embarrassment, and I will never read her tripe again. There’s a word for someone like her, and I think it starts with a “wh” and ends with an “ore”

    janitor in reply to Tamminator. | October 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Joel, my impression while watching the debate was similar to yours. I deliberately watched C-Span to not be distracted by pundit yammering. I felt that Romney did okay; I thought the moderator was coaching Obama and letting Obama hold the floor and meander (as if he were trying to keep running out the clock); and I thought Romney missed a number of openings.

    Be that as it may. In retrospect and also seeing others’ reactions, I suspect that I was looking at the debate from a perspective of having in my head this litany of horribles, so many things Obama has screwed up on — that the general audience might not have known. And the comment and response times were very short. Also I suspect that my own personality is quite a bit more acerbic and bombastic than would have been appropriate. The literal scolding that was running through my own head that *I* would have liked to give Obama, would not have been either respectful or presidential. (I adore Gingrich, but — inexplicably to me — what seems delicious to me is a style that doesn’t seem to be appreciated by many.)

    I am hoping that Romney will only get better and more warmed up for subsequent debates, as he did during the Republican debates.

    Goodness knows that Obama has nothing going for him, so basically Romney has only to fend off the media spins and false memes. Humiliating the beloved Obama, though, could backfire.

Excellent analysis — what I’ve been waiting to hear but haven’t heard from conventional punditry. I felt the same thing — a general surprise and pleasure about Romney’s performance and likewise over his comparable coherence but a nagging frustration that he wasn’t biting down hard enough or going far enough. This goes hand in glove with my sense that Republicans, certainly those around Romney, really don’t grasp the nature of Obama and the Left.

It also occurred to me, or troubled me, that maybe Obama doesn’t care about these debates. That is, he knows something, or thinks he does, that renders the debates inconsequential in his mind. What could that be? Some plan for October, or the certainty that a longer-term plan for throwing the election, as in voter fraud on a massive scale, would take care of it for him?

In any case, the fact he lost, and that it is widely accepted he lost, makes the world a much more dangerous place today. I still believe we’re in for twists and turns in the next 30 days we can’t imagine, and would never want to.

    Lina Inverse in reply to raven. | October 5, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    The problem I have with the author’s thesis is echoed in your speculation that “It also occurred to me, or troubled me, that maybe Obama doesn’t care about these debates.“.

    I see no compelling evidence that it’s within Romney’s power to provoke Obama into dropping his mask. And it’s certainly not a wise policy to depend on the other side making a mistake. I believe that’s part of what zapped G. H. W. Bush in 1992; instead of the Democrats nominating a McGovern, Mondale or Dukakis they choose someone who wasn’t such a space alien and radical socialist.

All this talk of high information voters and fact checkers ignores the most basic rule of debating, folks have to like you. This is where Romney shined. Lots more folks like him now than before the debate.
Trying to micro analyze what happened in the debate is probably a fools errand. The big picture is Romney looked like a winner and made simple easy to understand points. Obama looked like a grumpy prof making hard to understand obtuse points.

    JimMtnViewCaUSA in reply to Neo. | October 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    One anecdote: I caught parts of the debate and didn’t think Romney had done exceptionally well.
    My wife (low info voter) and high school daughter (in a PoliSci class with a leftist teacher, watching because it was an assignment) watched more.
    Both though Romney was great.

    Is it possible that the RR team calibrated the debate performance to reach undecideds and leaners who are just now tuning in?

Midwest Rhino | October 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Romney “scolded” Obama for not being bipartisan and running with Boles-Simpson, contrasting with how he worked with majority of Democrats in MA.

He stated at least twice that Obama promised to but the deficit in half, but instead doubled it, with continuing $trillion deficits to come.

On Obamacare he showed how Obama ignored Republicans, ignored the people of MA putting in Scott Brown. And kept telling us how health care costs are increasing, not decreasing as promised.

In Newt like fashion, Romney also controlled the moderator.

I’m not sure if Romney could have gone any harder, without evoking sympathy for Obama, who was already struggling. Being “too mean” to Obama may not play well … at least that seems to be a dominant theory on how to win over those that just can’t quite give up Obama.

Romney had to keep a mix of Obama’s failed past, while keeping a lot of time for his positive plan for the future. Romney defined himself as competent and presidential, and Obama effectively bowed to him.

    I agree with this. I’m being serious when I say that I had moments where I started to feel sorry for Barry. And I do not feel sorry for Barry, ever. Romney trod a very fine line last night, and did it brilliantly. Neo’s point about likability applies here too.

      Catherine in reply to Ronin. | October 4, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      Some of the exchanges between the 2 candidates were a little testy. I did feel sorry for Obama too especially at one point where he seemed to be babbling about one of his talking points that everyone should get a fair shot etc. Romney was really engaged. I was impressed with his intelligence and he looked presidential to me.

    walnutdoor17 in reply to Midwest Rhino. | October 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    “I’m not sure if Romney could have gone any harder, without evoking sympathy for Obama, who was already struggling. Being “too mean” to Obama may not play well … at least that seems to be a dominant theory on how to win over those that just can’t quite give up Obama.”

    ^This. I thought Romney was masterful. He really had to find a very narrow middle ground to win and he found it. If too lax, he loses, if too aggressive, he’s a racist hater. I thought he was following Obama’s lead in that if Obama became confrontational, Romney was prepared to go nuclear and even pull out Jeremiah Wright material. There’s two more debates to go and Romney needed to keep the hostility cards close to his chest for when they’re needed. They were not needed last night. If Romney had opened up, his camp would be apologizing today.

    Even Chris Matthews complimented Romney (paraphrasing here) and called his style a model of debate in that he was aggressive but respectful. The entire night, I was wondering in what fashion Matthews’ head would explode and I assumed it would be more racism nonsense related to Romney’s double mention of food stamps. Instead, Matthews was strangely complimentary of Romney and mad as hell at his guy.

    Regardless of who wins the presidency, I’m convinced books will be written and courses taught about the collapse of faith in mainstream media following this election. We’ve thought we’d seen bias in previous elections. They’re not even pretending now. The MSNBC crowd was absolutely shouting about how Obama needs to watch their network and seems like I heard mention of how one group needs to contact the other. In hindsight, much will be said regarding how the media offered up its services to their candidates, ignored substantive information while part time bloggers such as Professor Jacobson did their work for them

      Rosalie in reply to walnutdoor17. | October 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      “Matthews was strangely complimentary of Romney and mad as hell at his guy.”

      Maybe he’s on Thorazine and is no longer delusional.

      Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to walnutdoor17. | October 4, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      The Leftist Stream Media (aka MSM) have been doing just that (See Journalisters) since 2007.

      RE: “The MSNBC crowd was absolutely shouting about how Obama needs to watch their network and seems like I heard mention of how one group needs to contact the other. In hindsight, much will be said regarding how the media offered up its services to their candidates, ignored substantive information while part time bloggers such as Professor Jacobson did their work for them..”

    Oldflyer in reply to Midwest Rhino. | October 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Well said Rhino

TrooperJohnSmith | October 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I think Joel is on to something. Yeah, Romney did very well. He got a W for sure. But Barack Obama is from Chicago, where the game always changes. Axelrod is back in his wicker basket ginning up his next trick.

So, as Joel suggests, Romney needs to up his game. The same president who calls out talk radio hosts by name has that fatal flaw so endemic to all narcissists: he can’t take criticism. Anyone who is so bereft of substance and character that he has to carefully craft his persona, his personal history and his beliefs from scratch, cannot stand scrutiny, especially in public. Obama is so shallow as to all surface. The world needs to see Obama show us that.

Romney needs to dig into that suppurating wound that is Obama’s fragile narcissistic persona and remind him every chance he gets of the truth of what he really is, a dupe. A dupe who has failed at leading, or governing or even showing up most of the time. A dupe who learned his part well but is now bored and lonesome for life away from the spotlight. A dupe who longs for a bowl of choom. A dupe who longs to roam the clubs of Chicago again.

Push the right buttons and, Obama will lose it, Big Time on the Big Stage. Narcissists make great actors, but those kind don’t ad-lib well. That’s why they are “always on stage” and in character. Get through Barack’s thin skin, and the mask will drop. Oh, and that skin is so, so thin, as we have seen time and again.

    Trooper, remember that the vaunted Chicago politics is local, in a city where one party has controlled the strings for a long time. They are used to having their own way. It shows when Obama is challenged. We will see how he responds. I know that Jarrett, et al will try to toughen him up; but I am not sure he has the stomach to slug it out the rest of the way.

    I think Romney smells blood. He is a nice guy, but I believe that he does have a ruthless instinct where politics (and business) is concerned. I worked for a company that Bain backed, and saw it up close. I do think that a ruthless streak is a necessity in a President.

I think the real Obama was revealed last night. He thought he could just stand there and look authoritative. And for the most part,that’s all he has to do for the MSM, if he weren’t running for reelection. Who knows? I’m just savoring the win for now.

    Catherine in reply to Rosalie. | October 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I think part of why Obama didn’t do well last night is that the press has been giving him softball questions for years and basically no one has been challenging him and it showed last night. Romney who has had to claw his way through the republican debates made that obvious to the viewers.


Are you suggesting that with, prior to the debate, the question of “Where’s Mitt?” circulating with such increasing frequency that when he finally showed up there has been an over-reaction to his performance?

Just to arm-chair campaign manager a bit. I would advise that the
knockout come at the most opportune time, which would be time enough to have an impact on the electorate, but too late for O to have much of a response. That’s just me, so now to taking out the trash.

As far as wanting some sort of Perry Mason moment that “reveals” Obama to the world … please … the reason you had to refer to a work of fiction for an example is because that doesn’t happen in the real world … you are holding out hope for the impossible … be serious …

what you saw last night was the difference between a man who has made hundreds of millions in a tough business vs a man who has made several million writing books about himself …

    Those moments don’t exist? Just off the top of my head: Bush 41 checks his watch–and boom, election over. Gore sighs repeatedly at Bush 43, like an exasperated coed–and Tennessee pretends he’s not their homeboy.

    Obama has a fair number of supporters/voters who won’t change their vote unless and until they see with their eyes, not hear with their ears, that he’s not the coolest guy in the room. Their support is built on that (ridiculous, fatuous) belief.

      Midwest Rhino in reply to Joel Engel. | October 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      good points, but were those events precipitated by the opposing candidate being any more bold than Romney was last night? I can’t really recall, but it seems those happened because they were coached to attempt a gimmick.

      Quayle’s deer in headlights look to “you’re no Kennedy” was inflicted by Bentsen. But that was a gimmick too, really. And Democrats have media on their side … though “Obama, you are no John Kennedy” would work too, except Romney can’t pull that off exactly.

      There’s time for zingers in the ads … I can’t imagine Romney doing better without perhaps losing undecideds by sounding “divisive”. But of course a piercing zinger and Obama meltdown would be awesome, though maybe risky to attempt.

        I don’t include Quayle in that for two reasons. One, Quayle won (well, Bush did). Two, Bentsen’s zinger didn’t reveal Quayle in a way that differed from what we already thought of him.

        I’m not looking for zingers from Romney. That’s not the point. I’m looking for him to keep hammering Obama on the last four years. Obama runs from that for good reason, and the press aids him with a layer of armor.

        These next two debates are the only two times Romney will have a chance to get under Obama’s skin without the press intervening. I want him to get so deep under that thin skin that the real Obama shows…just as the patrician Bush 41’s contempt for what he considered the debate pony show was revealed, and Gore’s contempt for this intellectually inferior cowboy who was in the way of the prize he thought ought to be his by acclamation was revealed.

        It’s more important than it might seem because anything less than Obama’s really losing his cool on camera can be twisted into a “Who’re you gonna believe, us the press or your own lyin’ ears?” press onslaught.

          Midwest Rhino in reply to Joel Engel. | October 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm

          OK, I see your distinction. But it seemed Romney pointed out a lot of failures.

          And we may have actually seen what Obama looks like in a melt down. He was off his game, downcast, seemed completely lost at times, even needing help from Lehrer to remind him where he was.

          Under pressure, Obama bows. He’s a submissive to authority (just hypothesizing) Drooling would be nice, but I don’t see angry Barack personality coming out unless he’s in a union hall. With real U.S. “enemies” he has always submitted. eg. “I’ll have more flexibility (to submit) after the election”, he said, while leaning/bowing over to Russia.

          There actually seems to be a side of Obama that may be glad to lose. Presidentin’ is hard … he has to keep up face, but I see a side of him that would be relieved to lose. Pulling stunts like telling defense contractors not to give notice may be a cry for help. “Get me outta here”.

          Romney rubbed his nose in it pretty hard, Obama looked down and took it, or said, let’s move on please. Anyway, that is just another take on our president’s real psyche. But yours may be right.

        Catherine in reply to Midwest Rhino. | October 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm

        “Trickle-down government” was a zinger for me.

      Browndog in reply to Joel Engel. | October 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      Bush 41 checks his watch–and boom, election over.

      Oh, please. Simplify much?

      Read my lips, there was a lot more to it than that–mainly a recession.

      Not buying much of your arguments, but I sure do love that fact you’re here, backing them up.


        punditius in reply to Browndog. | October 4, 2012 at 10:38 pm

        It has always seemed to me that Ross Perot cost Bush his re-election. In fact, from what I remember reading at the time, that was his objective.

There are four more debates left. FOUR!

Does anyone think the Obama camp will let this humiliation happen again? Either the debates will somehow find themselves ‘canceled,’ or Obama will show up prepared (and only after relentlessly being nagged to work to prepare).

America’s corrupt news media will work relentlessly between now and the next debate to re-tell history, and the public’s memory (at least our currently lame public) is short and easily manipulated. Thus, Romney will face greater opposition and he will have to throw the heavier punches Joel advocates, IF the debates do continue.

    Three more — one VP and two Presidential.

    But you’re missing the point — this wasn’t where Romney needed to destroy Obama and win the election in one shot. That doesn’t happen.

    Romney had to introduce himself to the undecided voter and present himself as Presidential and demolish the strawman caricature that the media and the Obama campaign have been working hard to create over the last half a year. He did that, and he did it well.

      Midwest Rhino in reply to clintack. | October 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      That’s a good point … Obama argues against the Romney straw man they spent millions creating. He stuck with the four Pinnochio $5 trillion attack, three times.

      But the Obama image most people know, is also a straw man, with a halo and superior intellect.

      Romney did pretty well, revealing the man behind the curtain, and showing that he couldn’t deal with hard questions.

Wow. I couldn’t disagree with you more. He landed some serious body blows. At the NEXT debate, the ugly face will emerge from behind the mask because The One is desperate. I tend to think he isn’t all that crazy about the job itself; it’s more an ego thing, at this point.

That’s when he stumbles. Romney has no control over that. Romney rocked and rolled.

    “I tend to think he isn’t all that crazy about the job itself; it’s more an ego thing, at this point.”

    I get that feeling too. He wanted to rule, not govern. If he loses, he has still won. He’s done plenty of damage over the past three plus years.

      Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Rosalie. | October 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      uh….I would express it as “Even if he loses this time, he still can say he was at least erected once as a post-turtle president by his cronie chums.”

I think Joel is expecting too much.

Watch the highlights of Ronald Reagan from the 1980 debates embedded here at LI. I’m a big Reagan fan, and am old enough to remember watching his debates against Carter. Some degree of bad feeling about Romney’s mean-spirited mendacity against Gingrich still linger.

That said, in my opinion, Romney’s overall performance last night met or exceeded Reagan’s highlight reel. Reagan had some good zingers; Romney did, too. Reagan articulated complicated ideas simply; so did Romney.

As my father likes to say, “When good things are happening, look for the donut, not the hole.”

    CalMark in reply to CalMark. | October 4, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    P.S. Just heard a clip of Obama blathering about Romney, outsourcing, tax breaks, and accountants. Obama sounds defensive, shaky, and punch-drunk.

    Obama is BUGGED. Romney has taken up rent-free residence in Obama’s head. Still think Romney didn’t do so great?

If there’s one thing we know about Romney, it’s that he plays the long game. He did it in the primaries, where he had to weather each of the other candidates and emerge the victor after taking the best shots of each.

His team knows that this isn’t the end. This debate wasn’t meant to be the knockout, it was meant to be the opening round, to move ahead on points. Which I think he accomplished.

Some think he should have punched harder. Some think that he punched too hard, and that if he doesn’t “win” as decisively in the next debate, that it will be a letdown. I think that he’s got it planned. He got in a few jabs and tried out his footwork. The next couple of debates will see some workmanlike body blows, but not the knockout that some here would like to see.

If the campaign remains close, in the final debate & the final week of the campaign he’ll go for the knockout.

I don’t think that he could have landed a knockout in this debate. There’s too much time between now and election day. Sure, Obama could have imploded. But that didn’t happen.

I’m wondering whether this performance would push up any October surprises.

Joel: Sorry, but I am going to have to respectfully disagree.

The WHOLE debate was a moment: “Trickle down government”; the $90 billion to green energy that could have gone to education; “”Look, I got five boys. I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I will believe it.”; “Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own house and your own airplane, but not your own facts.”; and, my personal favorite – “I’ve been in business for 25 years and I have no idea what you’re talking about” line.

And the physical contrast between the two added to the contrast and helped create a “defining event”.

Romney came down on Obama like a velvet hammer — in a way that will appeal to many millions who were watching last night.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Mutnodjmet. | October 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Obama was out this am, laughing it off, saying Romney sent all kinds of jobs overseas, like “of course he knows about the tax breaks”. But I have yet to hear exactly what “tax break” he means. Obama is better when he can make up both sides of the story.

    Catherine in reply to Mutnodjmet. | October 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Velvet hammer, indeed!

I’m thinking Obama might offer something more like Martin Sheen in the final scene in “The Dead Zone” with Christopher Walken.

**No actual defenseless babies were harmed in the making of that movie.


If you are waiting for the `meltdown` you won’t see it. Obama is trained well enough that he won’t do that. He might be fighting it but it won’t happen. To get Obama to what you want to see Romney would to launch a level of attack that would be counter productive. He’s raaaaaacist!! Point made.

“…remembered to mention how Obama was responsible for [fill in the blank].” is really the point. Attack to be effective you must point the target out. That is what Romney was doing with every point.

Mitt landed blow after blow all night long with conviction and energy. He sliced Obama apart with a thousand feathers. He allowed voters to see the philosophy behind the policy.

This is not over and Obama will throw the kitchen sink at him but it energizes the base and brings more money into the campaign.

Everyone I talked to today has a different opinion of Mitt. All positive. This was a grand slam in the middle of the 5th inning and it puts Mitt back in the game.

So I guess I don’t know what a defining moment means to you. To me, it changed the false narrative of Mitt in 90 minutes. That’s what I call a defining moment.

Sticking with objective observations, the two remaining debates will necessarily rotate on O’s record, comprised of a sea of executive orders and other diktats, many of which leave even his own people mystified, let alone any observant citizen. The policies of the last four years belong exclusively to him, so where could he possibly hide? Just to set the tone, they should schedule the Ryan/Biden card on the Tonight Show. Comedy gold, as they say. I can’t wait. When this is all done, the Democratic Party will think it’s a catcher’s mitt.

I don’t think it matters how “prepared” Obama is. He can prepare himself to spin and lie, but the objective truth, as it can be explained by a capable exponent (which Romney has proved himself to be at least based on this debate) is what it is.

I think it’s fascinating to consider Obama’s options at this point, given his and the Leftist mind.

He needs a national domestic crisis or an event of worldwide significance. A missile attack on an aspirin factory in Benghazi won’t do it. I’m thinking a full-scale bombing run on Iran. Obama doesn’t want to do it, but may realize he has no choice. Imagine the headlines: Obama’s gutsy call wipes out Iran’s nuclear threat. It would also enable him to retroactively explain away this poor debate performance (i.e., he was preoccupied with weighty matters) which the media will happily flog.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to raven. | October 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    No false flag moment of any kind – not an attack on the U.S., not an attack on Iran, not an attack on Isreal can save the Obama Turkey from the fire.

    They (Obama-crats and the Lie-Stream Media) insisted on burning ALL bridges before them.

    Nothing they can do now in any way can change their FATE!

The author is plainly a Hitchcock fan. Benghazi was the defining moment. Looking for another on the cutting room floor is obsessive.

If the only person I could find was George Snuffleupagus, that agreed with my opinion, I would hastily reconsider my opinion. Remember what your mom told you about being judged by the company you keep, Joel? Just sayin”

I only managed to catch a few minutes of the debate while switching channels. I will watch the whole thing this afternoon. But what I did see was interesting. Obama looked annoyed and unhappy and sounded unprepared. Mitt had that fake smile plastered on his face, which looks a bit disconcerting in the split screen. But he sounded good.

I caught about a minute of MSNBC afterwards, and Rachel Maddow was smugly quoting Axelrod from his comments following the 2007 or ’08 debate that Obama lost to Clinton. As if it was fine that he lost this debate to Romney because he can still win in the long run, as he did against Clinton. She then cut to Matthews who stuttered something about how he really wanted the President to do well but that he seemed off. The channel changed at that point.

From my Facebook feed this morning, it seems the only thing my ignorant friends took away from the debate was that Romney wants to kill Big Bird, even though he denied it. Yes, these people think that if you cut the small amount of federal funding PBS receives, then Sesame Street will die a horrible death and the country will fall apart. Children will no longer learn to count or learn their ABCs. The world will likely end. So, they can’t possible vote for Romney.

I’ve tried arguing with these people, assuring them that PBS can easily make up the federal dollars they would lose through grants or donations or running a commercial or two. I tell them that Big Bird isn’t going anywhere. This morning I read a thread on Facebook where one man was trying to explain that to one of my friends. Her response was, “Listen, this is my opinion! I don’t care what facts you have, I feel the way I feel and that’s that. Don’t like it, don’t read my posts!” Yeah, she actually said she didn’t care what the facts were, her feelings trumped facts. Ay yi yi.

This debate–

The first. (First impressions)

The most important. (It’s the economy, stupid)

Should not be understated.

No, it didn’t win the election…..or did it?

No one can say one way or the other, so I don’t understand why some are trying to argue it didn’t when they just don’t know.

I loved this comment from Ace of Spades

“Romney’s real sin was resorting to an age-old cheap debating tactic, called “The Coherent Sentence.” Obama, being a very ethical fellow, refrained from such chicanery.”

I don’t understand why the left is so down today.

I thought Obama handled the debate like he handles an iPhone.

Loved this tweet by Iowahawk:

“Remember when they found out about Milli Vanilli? Yeaahhp. Pretty much that.”

The Milli Vanilli Presidency.

Romney had to walk a fine line between hammering Obama and giving him a beat down so severe that it would create feelings of sympathy for Obama.

He walked it well.

I have to strongly disagree with Joel on this one. Romney’s debate skills were tested and honed by Newt for 6 plus months. Mitt had his facts straight, did not allow the media to control the narrative and exposed obama’s redundant talking points in a real time setting.He kept his cool and displayed some well timed humor to expose obama’s long exploited bully pulpit. Romney’s performance was just as good if not better than any of Newt’s performances in the Primary debates. If the crowd was permitted to react like occurred during the primary debates the power of Romney’s performance perhaps may have risen to Joel Engel lofty needs. BTW I was a strong Gingrich supporter and I hope President Romney finds a good spot for him in his Administration…

Henry Hawkins | October 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm

A better prepared, more aggressive Obama will show up next time. I’m pretty sure this will be no surprise to Romney. Once the second debate is begun, Obama is again left with two basic alternatives: (1) he can speak to his record, (2) he can lie like a rug, or (3) he can keep blaming Bush, tsunamis, the solar winds, whatever’s handy.

1) As for Obama’s record, he’s failed to sell ‘major achievements’ like Porkulus and Obamacare to the American people over a period of years and will fail to do so within the 90 minutes of a debate, even if he were unopposed (in other words, yet another speech). I think it held wisdom that Obama cannot run or debate on his sterling record. Mentioning only his best ‘achievements’ is to bring up issues Americans dislike by sizable majorities.

2) In last night’s debate, Obama thrice trotted out a lie about Romney intending to increase the deficit by $5 trillion, and thrice Romney would have none of it, refuted it, practically called Obama a liar, and did liken him to a child pitching lying alibis in the hope Daddy might believe them. Obama, saddled with, well, himself, has no option but to lie about Romney’s plans and his own record. This exquisitely prepared Romney has seved notice he will not let lies pass unchallenged. Obama, at best, will tread water with lies, and at worst will have them slammed back in his face to his detriment. Lying ain’t gonna work either.

3) Who hasn’t felt disdain for the coworker, employee, politician, etc., who constantly blames external factors and other people for their failures? Blaming Bush is well past its sell-by date. It has become counterproductive, hurting Obama rather than helping him with any voter not already blindly in the tank for him. After four years, blaming Bush ain’t gonna work.

Chicago politics: Obama is welcome to bring ‘Chicago style’ into future debates, but Chicago politicking is done off-stage via bribery, deceit, coercion, and secret alliances. On stage he has no allies, save whatever a sycophantic moderator might try to do to help. On stage Obama has no one to step forward and say, “that’s all the questions we’ll be taking today” when the going gets tough. On stage, there is no liberal media to translate what Obama says and does into a crowd pleasing fairy tale narrative.
Romney has an answer for ‘the 47%’ thing. He has an answer for anything Bain related. He has an answer for whatever Obama brings, barring any brand new lies, and has shown the lightness afoot to handle that as well.

Romney should go Newt on Obama’s ass? Nobody advocated for Newt more than did I, but Newt lost fair and square. Romney defeated Newt in debate. Romney defeated the entire GOP slate ultimately. Romney should abandon what won him a resounding debate smackdown of the Liberal Messiah and instead go Newt on him next time? I’m sorry, but that’s like a football coach who just won 56-7 saying his team needs to overhaul its offense before the next game.

To me, the debate looked more like a court trial with Romney as the prosecutor and Obama as the defendant who knows he’s guilty. Romney had full command of facts, hesitated on nothing, looked and sounded presidential, and took over the entire building from the first ten seconds. Obama looked like he was an hour late for tee-off.

Hey, I’d love it if Romney ripped Obama’s head off and filled his neck stub with excrement, but this isn’t the primaries and Romney isn’t after my vote anymore. This is the general, and I literally cannot conceive of a scenario where I’d vote for Obama over Romney. If only for ABO reasons, the base is more than secure. Romney seeks independent/undecided voters, and to even peel off some Democrats if he can. He and his team have elected to debate aggressively but without risking offending indies and centrist Dems. It was a calculated risk which paid off big time. Going Newt would please the hell out of me if Romney could do it, but Romney won by being himself, and I advise he stick to the plan that’s working, especially after winning the first game of the season 56-7.

By so thoroughly defeating Obama in the first debate, pressure is taken off Romney for the second debate and placed entirely on Obama. In the second debate Romney can absorb a tie or close loss. However, Obama must win big. Another clear loss by Obama and he’s done. A squeaker win won’t help Obama. He now must win big in the next debate. The pressure is all on Obama, another ‘spoil’ from last night’s Romney victory. Not a good time for Romney to change tactics.

Secondary gains: can you imagine what’s going on in the Obama camp right now? The recriminations? Doubts? Bickering? Infighting? All the calls from majorly pissed off financial backers? This is more pressure on Obama, from the inside.

I say just keep on with what you’re doing Mr. Romney. Don’t change a thing in your debate prep and style until there’s a reason to change. I know he’ll prepare for multiple contingencies, because we did that when I was in high school debate. Romney will be prepared for the same approach, but will also have prepped to go nuclear on Obama’s ass if the changes Obama must make force him to do so.

Obama has been exposed as nothing more than a sock puppet for the radical left movement.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Henry Hawkins. | October 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Geez, I got so tap-happy I forgot my main point.

    Joel is looking for the big reveal, where Obama is exposed for what he is – and isn’t – and cites historical examples. My point is that those moments are rare, spontaneous, and exceedingly difficult to engineer. In fact, there may have been many a presidential debate lost because a candidate was seeking in vain to engineer the spontaneous meltdown of his or her opponent.

    CalMark in reply to Henry Hawkins. | October 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Romney and Newt are different people, with different personalities. Last night, Romney found a formula that works for him. He should stick with it, continue refining it for whatever Obama might throw at him, and…extend this into his campaign commercials (especially Obama’s “Move on”).

    That said, Obama is said to be planning a “Wag the Dog” October Surprise, a major retaliation operation against Libya. We’ll see how that works out.

    Bottom line: Romney did well, but Obama is a filthy, unprincipled Chicago gutter politician who probably still has stuff up his sleeve. Be confident, but…en garde!

      punditius in reply to CalMark. | October 4, 2012 at 11:24 pm

      It seems to me that what happened last night was not Romney “finding a formula.” I think it was Romney executing phase one of a takeover plan. If I’m right, Romney will not keep on doing what he did – he will try to anticipate Obama’s reaction – and the moderator’s – in order to keep Obama off balance.

      If Obama Wags the Dog, it could backfire on him big time. It’s too desperate a move after only one debate loss. And maybe too late of a move after two losses. People are too cynical not to see though that.

      Obama is not an experienced Chicago pol. But David Axelrod is. He knows how to count votes, and where the votes count. He has an Electoral College strategy – probably the one that the guy at 538 points out. All Obama has to do is not lose the Obama-voters in those states. Those are people who think Obama won last night, or flat don’t care if he won or lost.

      Romney has got to either take all the swing states, or snag a couple of Obama states. This election is still Obama’s to lose, and the debates don’t seem to me to the place he will lose it, no matter how good Romney’s performance or how bad Obama’s.

      What Romney did last night was avoid losing immediately. He will still lose on November 4, unless he can manage to make Obama-voters doubt him enough to stay home. Or win all the swing states, which strikes me as his only real chance. That means the ground game. The importance of the debates is that it gives conservatives reason to believe in Romney, and to go out and vote for him in places where Axelrod is counting votes…

Definitive proof that last night’s debate was a wipeout for Obama: Taiwanese cartoonist’s rendition of the event –

Obama lost both foreign and domestically!

Personally, I have to agree with Joel. I watched the debate on Youtube today after hearing all the hype, and while Romney was impressive, and Obama not at all, I didn’t see any reason to call it a massacre. Romney won because he put forth specifics about why his policies would work, and relatively gently pointed out why Obama’s rather bland platitudes would not. He was humorous and appealing, and Obama was largely recycling talking points. I, however, did not see any massacre.

To be clear, I was truly heartened and thought Romney did himself a world of good, but although most people thought Romney won, I doubt undecided voters view it as anything close to a knockout blow.

Excellent points. Romney won the debate, sure, but how much of that was because Obama lost the debate? If Obama had been prepared and presidential, he would have won against Romney last night. I guess we can’t know if he would have stepped up his game if Obama had been even slightly competent, and maybe Romney didn’t want to decimate the president?

But setting the stage for self-decimation wouldn’t have been difficult, as you note (and I can’t help but think that Ryan could have managed it with a friendly, genuine smile). I agree with you that the best thing to do is to push Obama into dropping the mask, letting his true self out for America–and the world–to see. It wouldn’t be hard to do that, the mask is barely in place these days and slips quite often. Obama is two Romney jabs short of full-on meltdown. I want that meltdown to happen on the debate stage, and there’s no reason it can’t . . . except that Romney just isn’t willing to do it. Yet.

“…Romney has the power to make that happen by channeling his inner Newt.”

No. Romney just needs to continue to channel his inner American + inner Constitutionalist; to whatever degree he is able to tap into that same source that has sustained and driven us in the last 3.5 years.

No more second guessing. No more fault finding of our nominee at the eleventh hour, please. This election is no longer about Obama vs. Romney. It’s about Obama vs. You. If you feel there are deficiencies with the Romney campaign…then make up for it in whatever way you can. Create your own material and put it out there.

I wouldn’t bet on the outcome of the election, but I feel better after the debate.

If both RINOs and Real Conservatives™ are sniping at Romney, he must be doing something right.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to gs. | October 4, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    RE: Intraparty sniping, and assuming you’re old enough to recall the Reagan years (I don’t know if you’re 21 or 81), have you had the experience I’ve had, and I think it’s a general human trait, that a lot of folks who now sort of worship the Reagan memory might not have been such complete fans when Reagan was actually running and serving?

    I distinctly remember that plenty of Republicans were plenty worried about a Reagan candidacy: too old, too conservative, too hawkish, Goldwater rerun, too something.

BannedbytheGuardian | October 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I disagree. Romney did exactly what he needed to do & no more. What Joel wants is ‘the more’ but this is politics.

Across the globe Dear Leaders are scrambling to headhunt their bureaucracies to find the one wonk who compiled the Romney Wins Scenario. The rest of the political advisor set are sh8tting their pantz. They got nuttin.

Surprised persons are at this moment being shepherded down the corridor to the power rooms clutching their submissions.

The game has changed. Did anyone catch the look on Michelle’s face? She knows.

The way to get to Obama is ridicule. Like what Jon Stewart did today on GMA:

This kind of ridicule does to Obama what a bucket of water did for the wicked witch.

Henry Hawkins | October 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Joe Trippi, Dem strategist, tweeted that online GOP voter registration is sky-rocketing since the debate.

Original estimate of debate viewership has been upgraded from 58 million to 67 million and may go higher. More than 1/5 the nation saw the debate. That will have an effect, to say the least. It is very difficult to spin an event that was witnessed by so many.

In the next debate, Obama can afford nothing less than a clearcut debate victory. A tie or a loss likely causes a poll nosedive. He is under intense external and internal pressure personally, as are his campaign and advisory teams, likely now arguing amongst themselves and assigning blame.

The meltdown moment Joel seeks needn’t necessarily come during a debate. Obama has repeatedly shown a willingness to play politics with issues and events both foreign and domestic. I am afraid he may do something really, really stupid to provide distraction and to reestablish an image of whatever it is he thinks he is.

A Libyan military action might achieve that, but that is also arguably justifiable given the assassination of an American ambassador. What worries me more is Obama leveraging the burgeoning Turkey/Syria hot border situation to his political favor, selfishly and naively getting us into something awful.

News flash. Newt Gingrich is not the nominee. There are some excellent reasons he isn’t the nominee, one of which is Mitt BEAT him decisively in some key DEBATES.

We all know you guys didn’t get the candidate you wanted. Your constant harping about Mitt comes off as sour grapes. One could be forgiven for thinking you want Romney to lose so you can say “I told you so”.

Prof. Jacobson is working hard to see Scott Brown wins in MA. That is great and I hope Brown wins too. But let’s face it, Brown is no Conservative.

I thought Romney was pitch perfect, his responses obviously electrified the base while speaking in optimisitc and cheerful tones that will appeal to independents as well. “Going Newt” may have been emotionally satisfying but it would not have played as well to the wishy washy middle. Most of all, Romney looked more authoritative and more knowledgeable without being too wonkish, in other words he looked more presidential than the president. That alone made this debate a huge positive for Romney as he has to convince people he’s capable of doing the job. Romney also blew up the image of him as out of touch rich guy which has been the main thrust of Obama’s case for re-election. Pitch, presidential aura, and debunking the Obama meme was a trifecta for Romney and pulling off all three made him the hands down winner.

It will be interesting to see how Obama responds. He’s already started with the harsher tone by calling Romney a liar. If he tries this approach in the next debate it could blow up in his face. There will certainly be heavy class envy overtones thrown in for good measure. That’s high risk, high reward though. With his dismal record, Obama may not have a choice and he might just reveal himself.