Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thoughts on the last debate

I think this debate was a good argument to have only two presidential debate.

I think Bob Schieffer did a very nice job - I like the moderators to just stay out of the way and let the candidates hash it out.

I don't think that Obama did much for his likability numbers tonight. He was snark, arrogant and condescending. I guess that is his way of compensating for his lackluster performance in the first debate. But the Obama we saw tonight was the guy who told Hillary, "You're likable enough, Hillary." Just not a very likable guy.

Chris Wallace just said that if he'd come here from out of space, he'd have thought that Romney was the president and Obama the challenger. I'm not sure that space aliens understand our political system, but the shorter version of Wallace's comment is that Romney is presidential and Obama isn't.

The two fact-checks that Chris Wallace just did on the Status of Forces Agreement and Romney on bailout were in Romney's favor.

I guess Romney decided that he didn't want to be on the attack for this debate to slash Obama on Benghazi and some other points. He showed that he knows the foreign policy and passed the commander-in-chief test. He gambled that it was better to come off as the nicer guy who is willing to work in a bipartisan fashion rather than being the angry warrior that Obama is.

I kept remembering the SNL skit from 1988 when Jon Lovitz played Michael Dukakis saying "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy." Obama seemed to have that look on his face the entire debate.

At times Obama seemed like the unsmiling equivalent of Joe Biden in the vice presidential debate. I don't think that plays well.

Here are some thoughts from others on the debate.

Michael Barone was struck by the degree to which there was consensus between Romney and Obama last night.

Philip Klein thinks that Romney just wanted to run out the clock while denying Obama the chance to paint him as a Bush clone.

Robert Costa says that Romney's strategy was indeed to project a "relaxed, informed Romney" with Obama's arrogant, defensive demeanor.

Jonathan Tobin notes that Obama is worried about the Jewish vote as we can tell by the way he hugged Israel last night. And Obama performed last night as if he knew he was behind but he failed in his goal to paint Romney as a dangerous extremist.

Matt K. Lewis thought that Romney won the debate because he stayed "calm and disciplined, typically spouting non controversial platitudes, “hugging” Obama on areas where his policies are popular, and occasionally drawing a contrast on predetermined “safe” issues (such as not cutting defense spending, standing up to China, etc.)" Romney passed the credibility test and that was what he needed to do last night.

John Podhoretz thinks that Romney may have well sealed the deal last night.

Michael Walsh thinks that Obama's "horses and bayonets" line might seem clever to Obama's base but offended the military and probably lost Obama the state of Virginia.

Rick Klein at ABC News thinks that nothing happened to change the trajectory of the race and so Romney did what he needed to do last night.

Fred Barnes thinks that Romney passed the commander-in-chief test and the debate won't hurt Romney.

Tim Stanley also thought that Obama emulated Biden last night.

Charles Krauthammer thinks it was an equivocal victory for ROmney who won both tactically and strategically.

Daniel Pipes is disappointed and thought that Romney stumbled because of all that he didn't mention.

Brian Montopoli at CBS thinks that the debate last night was unlikely to change people's minds.