The Commission on Presidential Debates lowered the altitude for the second contest by 5,200 feet and simultaneously dropped the level of discourse considerably farther.
The candidates repeatedly interrupted each other, called one another liars and generally argued at a sixth–grade level. (Good enough for a passing under No Child Left Behind!) Yet in the end Mitt Romney was able to battle the tag team of Barack Obama and Candy Crowley to a draw.
CBS anchor Scott Pelley called it the “most rancorous presidential debate ever” and wondered why the Secret Service didn’t step in to protect Obama. And it’s true Romney delivered the first jab saying Obama was the one who took Government Motors into bankruptcy, while he only discussed it. But Obama, with timely assistance from “moderator” Crowley, gave as good as he got.
Both the National Journal and Forbes rated the bout a draw, which represents improvement over the President’s lethargic first effort in Denver.
In Denver BO suffered from bad body language. While Romney was talking, the incumbent slumped in his chair and appeared to be sneering as he dozed.
Evidently one of his corner men suggested he sit up and tilt a bit toward Romney so the President would look alert and engaged. In fact, still photos of the event show Obama leaning so far forward he looks like the new mascot for MSNBC.
His answers were less flabby, too. Last night he had new, improved responses featuring a specific number of “points.” So instead of Denver’s rambling discourses with no internal organization, the audience was treated to vague, vacuous bullet points.
And Obama attempted a more vigorous strategy in his own defense. My notes of the transcript read, “Yada yada yada, liar, liar, pants on fire. Yada yada yada, liar, liar pants on fire.” Which in truth is not much of a rebuttal strategy, although it quickens the blood of the more rabid elements of the Democrat base.
One technique Obama didn’t change was whining to the moderator about time. Could there be anything less presidential? Unfortunately, it’s working. Obama is now eight minutes ahead of Romney in total speaking time.
To put this in perspective, it’s enough time for a rousing defense of Libya and Solyndra with plenty of time left over to remind the audience that Romney’s rich.
And Libya was one of the topics. You’ll recall the administration initially claimed the attack was not something for which enlightened people could blame Moslems. The murder of our ambassador was a spontaneous reaction to a bad Internet video and couldn’t be helped, like projectile vomiting at Seafood Joe’s after swallowing a bad shrimp.
When asked who refused the request for more security at the consulate, Obama simply dodged the question. He explained after the attack his administration leapt into action: it beefed up security at the embassies that were still standing and dispatched Forest Service aircraft to drop fire retardant on those that were in flames.
As for Libya, as soon as the drones are refueled, Obama intends to see that there is a thorough, robust investigation that will hold accountable those responsible.
Here Romney dropped the ball. The obvious response to this butt–covering is to point out that if the late Ambassador Stevens had been offered a choice between a thorough investigation after his death or a detachment of Marine guards before; most likely he would have opted for the Marines.
Instead Mitt got into a semantics duel with a sophist over when Obama admitted Libya was a terror attack. They were fighting it out among the rose bushes when Crowley interrupted and declared Obama called it a terror attack the day after. In effect ruling that Romney didn’t know what he was talking about. But after the debate was over and TV audience gone, Crowley admitted Romney was right after all.
There was also fighting on the domestic front as Obama continued agitating for all out class war. Sounding a lot like the judge in The Dark Knight Rises, Obama put the wealthy on trial and found them guilty of being rich and not paying enough taxes. It would not have been surprising to learn he had traded his lapel flag for a miniature crossed torch–and–pitchfork pin.
Still “Pitchfork Ben” Obama may not have played well with undecided voters. The Weekly Standard reports the MSNBC focus group appeared convinced by Mitt and the 2008 voters for Obama panel, assembled for FOX by Frank Luntz, moved decisively to Romney after the debate.
All in all it looks bad for Barack’s career prospects: he’s not animated enough to be an MSNBC commentator and he’s not convincing enough to be re–elected.