Skip to comments.Advantage Romney: The debate demonstrated Obama’s weaknesses
Posted on 10/09/2012 10:11:02 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
I have written in this space before that President Obama is the first incumbent since Martin Van Buren in 1840 to seek reelection without running on his record. He is also the first incumbent in my time as an observer, which goes back to the Eisenhower reelection campaign in 1956, who is practically avoiding the principal issue of the campaign. Given the parameters within which his reelection campaign has been operating, only the utter incompetence of the Republican nominee could have failed to make the first debate a challenging evening for the president.
The campaign to date of the nominee, Governor Romney, incited high expectations and fervent hopes among the Democrats and their hallelujah chorus in the mainstream media that he would stumble around like a three-legged horse, make repeated references to being a millionaire, and counter-punch the president like a prizefighter with pillows rather than boxing gloves on his fists. We all, to some degree, believe what we want to believe, but the Obama camp, encouraged by the Gadarene march of preposterous seekers of the Republican nomination, the abstention from the race of the strongest potential candidates, and the propensity of Mitt Romney to fierce and lethal attacks of foot-in-mouth disease, worked itself determinedly up to a sense of invulnerability. (I have abandoned my boycott of Romneys middle name as unpresidential, because my efforts to create a boomlet for WMR have failed and no one came forward to finance a WMRPAC.)
All that was really needed to make it a dramatic evening was for Romney to point out a few notorious statistics on the economy, put forth some alternative economic approaches, and remind everyone that the incumbent has been there for four years and isnt running against George W. Bush (not that the Democrats made a very good job of that when they had the chance he won every election he ever fought, for governor of Texas and president). The Republicans had thus brilliantly managed the cultivation of expectations: It was generally anticipated that the mellifluous talents of self-exculpation of the president, and the chronic ineptitude of the challenger already magnified to folkloric status by the Democratic amen corner in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, and the networks except Fox would produce another soporific interlude on the inexorable parade-march to reelection.
It was my good fortune to publish elsewhere, in a widely circulated column on the day of the debate, the reflection that (despite the coordinated boosterism around Obama, and the very slow start out of the blocks by the Republicans from their Tampa convention) Obama was leading only by between one and six points, or between 1 and 7.5 million votes in an anticipated electorate of 130 million a margin that showed how serious are the countrys reservations about the incumbent. This conforms to the consistent reports that the presidents job-approval rating never exceeds the disapproval rating in any poll by more than two points, and frequently trails it.
The Democratic strategists had got to this point on Romneys ineffectuality, and the invisibility of Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a potentially mortal weapon against the regimes fiscal shortcomings. The Democrats had not had to defend their record and had taken the offensive for three months with a peppy campaign to smear the Republicans as a Tea Partydominated Flat Earth Society, devoted to giving income supplements to billionaires, forcing women into chastity belts, burning pro-choice advocates at the stake, plucking out the tongues of vocal feminists with red-hot tongs, and going to war with as many countries as possible. They had, in fact, grossly overplayed their hand, and opened only a very narrow lead; as some of us pointed out, a little concentrated fire from the Republican nominees would do a great deal of damage to the Democratic campaign very quickly.
The regime was always going to have a lot of problems with the basic facts that it had added over $17,000 of debt for every man, woman, and child in the country in four years; that there were nearly 5 million fewer employed people in the country than four years ago; that there is stagnation in parts of the economy yet; and that this is all that prevents a doubling of the gasoline and many food prices and halving of the value of the dollar opposite gold from being as conspicuous as they normally would be. Add to all this the humiliating disasters of engagement with Iran, reset with Russia, the surrealistic fiasco of the pursuit of green jobs, the $100 billion annual Danegeld fund for Third World despots because the advanced countries emitted carbon in their successful economies, the domestic replication of that lunacy in cap-and-trade, and a health-care reform the country doesnt approve and that was grossly misrepresented.
It would be bracing and newsworthy to be able to make the case that the Republican campaign had staged a Fabian retreat to strength, deliberately inducing Democratic overconfidence, and then ambushed them in their complacency, like Tolstoys mythologized Kutuzov enticing Napoleon into the vastness and winter of Russia. There is nothing to imply such tactical genius on the part of the Romney campaign; but it did like the French commander in 1914, Marshal Joffre conduct an orderly retreat, until the opponent thought recovery impossible; and then, like Joffre on the Marne a few miles east of Paris, stood and repulsed the invader.
Obamas performance, despite the yelps of disaffection of Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow that their commander had personally failed them, was perfectly adequate. He uttered no clangorous gaffes, like Gerald Fords comment in the 1976 debate that the Poles did not think themselves dominated by the Russians, and did not appear unwell, like Richard Nixon in the first debate in 1960 (which radio listeners concluded that he had won). He was fluent and calm and not at all abrasive. But he had to cope with the serious problem that he has a terrible record, probably the poorest since James Buchanan, and this was not the place for him to lay into Romney, as he and his campaign have in other venues, as a callous centimillionaire, contemptuous of the average person, whose candidacy was bought with the ill-gotten fruits of asset-stripping and outsourcing, and who is tainted by religious obscurantism and the quaintness of cultic eccentricity (this from someone who sat comfortably in the front pews of Jeremiah Wrights racist church for 20 years before changing his pitch to the worlds Islamists).
Mitt Romney played it almost perfectly; he completely debunked the portrayal of himself as detached, uncaring, stupid, plastic, and extreme. He was attentive, polite, firm but respectful, alert, at least as articulate as the president (in this regard, a welcome upgrade from the Bushes, John McCain, and even Bob Dole, who was witty but tongue-tied in debate with President Clinton). His appearance, so often seeming to be bucking for the John Edwards Prize for perfect grooming and managed hair and skin color, was natural and vigorous. He was good-humored, quick, and knowledgeable, as those who know him claim he truly is, and his family, at the end of the debate, was very attractive. The impression of a substantive and reasonable difference with the incumbent was reinforced by his speech to the Virginia Military Institute several days later.
The result of the debate was to make the race an apparent toss-up. The Gallup tracking poll shows a two-point lead for Romney. All the costly and verbose Democratic investment in Seamus (the Romneys auto-rooftop dog), the malapropisms, and the fatuous miscues has gone over the side with the false claims that Romney is an extremist. It is like the point in the British abdication crisis of 1936 when the self-important Cosmo Lang archbishop of Canterbury and thus leader of the established church said of King Edward VIIIs brother and his wife (about to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, for 50 years the Queen Mother): The Yorks can do it.
So can Romney.
With four weeks to go, the instinct of the Chicago boiler-room pols who run the regime politically will be to torque up the assault on Romney, since they cant rebut his attacks on the Obama record. Defaming the challenger wont fly and never has. All you can do is engage in the hauteur of disdain, if you happen to be a well-situated incumbent. Roosevelt disparaged Martin, Barton, and Fish and reduced Thomas E. Dewey to running against the presidents dog, Fala (a Scottie whose Scots soul was furious); and Eisenhower dismissed Adlai Stevensons advice on defense as nonsense (which it was) from the promontory of a completely successful theater commander in historys greatest war, who had received the unconditional surrender of our enemies. Romney hasnt left a lot hanging out on personality, as Dewey did against President Truman; or on policy, as Barry Goldwater did against Lyndon Johnson (on welfare, civil rights, and foreign war), as George McGovern did against Richard Nixon (on every area of foreign and domestic policy), and as Walter Mondale did against Reagan (on tax increases).
It is now an even race, but Ryan will wipe the floor with Joe Biden, and Romney has a much better argument and is at least as good a presenter as the president. He should win.
Enough about the debate. When’s round two?
Also, not a word I read today until I got to your post. The first 5 lines of that screed were plenty for me.
Expectations are WAY too high for Ryan. Biden has been doing this for 40 years....sadly Biden will probably win.....not so much on facts but on style.
“Biden has been doing this for 40 years....sadly Biden will probably win.....not so much on facts but on style.”
Did Biden thump Sarah Palin? That’s not how I recall things. I believe she held her own, much to the surprise of the MSM and Democrat apologists. Palin is a pretty good communicator, but Ryan combines that attribute with a level of detailed knowledge about the budget/issues that she lacked. He may not end up with as commanding a performance over Biden as Romney did over Obama, but I’d be astonished if many impartial observers scored the debate in Biden’s favor.
As some other pundit observed, Biden is likely to come out with both guns blazing (something he felt he couldn’t do against Palin without getting roundly criticized for attacking a woman), but when he does so, that’s when he most often makes his greatest gaffes. I’m guessing that the combination of Ryan’s zingers (which he surely has stockpiled) and Biden’s gaffes will easily tip the debate in Ryan’s favor.
I PRAY you are right.....I’m a pessimist.
Winner of the abstruse historical reference of the month award.
What debate did Mr. Black watch? Certainly not the one broadcast last week. The President was an inarticulate and largely incoherent blabbering mess. Romney made cogent and persuasive arguments without any hesitation, hemming or hawing.
I still am trying to figure out what, exactly, Romney will or will no do regarding pre-existing conditions in health care.
I have several friends who have lost long term jobs, cannot get coverage and, quite frankly, it is a matter of life or death to them. They may not like much about Obama, but if you can’t get health coverage then NOTHING else matters, because you will be dead.
This article is an excellent analysis. It is fun to see a history interspersed with current events.
People with your mind set simply don't think things through.
hey, Sh*t for brains, I didn’t say me. I said people I know. It is an issue and Mitt is talking out of both sides of his mouth.
You may also be surprised to know that for large group (50+ employees) self-insured insurance programs in the U.S., programs in all fifty states have to cover pre-existing conditions after a maximum of twelve months on the job, with a look-back period of a maximum of six month.
I know that if you are 50, get laid off, can’t find a job with benefits and have pre existing conditions all of a sudden everything else looks pretty damn unimportant. Given a choice between even crappy, socialistic coverage that cuts off at 70 and NOTHING when you have, say diabetes and a heart condition, the rest of the constitution, the rest of all political issues look like small pile of partisan BS.
I’m blessed, I landed on my feet. Many of my friends didn’t. All the flag waving, God, Guns and Country speechifying in the world do not mean a thing if you are looking at the end of your corporeal existence or complete destruction of your finances.
My previous post was simply to disagree with your statement that countries with national health insurance do not treat people with pre-existing health conditions.