A few points about the debate:
1. The President looked tired and I have never seen him so lackluster.
2. If we go by facts and logic, the President won. If we go by style, then Romney won. Although I found his energy to be very frenetic, spastic and fake, I think this perception is coming from my bias toward the President.
3. These debates are targeting undecided people and at this point, those would be the people who haven’t been paying attention (i.e., low information voters). These kind of voters tend to make up their mind emotionally and are vulnerable to style and little affected by real substance.
4. The President missed a bunch of opportunities to pound Romney into the sand, both factually and stylistically. I think this failure to attack back was a purposeful strategy by the Obama team. I also think it failed. However, I’m not sure the President has much of a choice (see #5 & 6).
5. I watched CNN’s broadcast and kept an eye on the metering (you know the little dials they give to in studio debate watchers that they turn positive or negative depending on how they like the speakers statements). That meter showed there was a BIG contrast in how undecided women and men perceive the candidates.
6. Every single time the President started to speak the Male line either went to neutral or into negative. Almost every single time the President tried to go on the offensive and challenge the factual basis of Romney’s assertions, the male line would go down. Almost every single time Romney went on the offensive, the male line would go up. Almost without fail. So, in that group of debate watchers there was a marked difference in how men viewed the candidates’ aggressive behavior. They were okay with Romney being aggressive, but not the President. Definitively why, I can’t say.
But I’m curious. Could it have been race? The President has always had to be careful not to come across as the “angry black guy” because white males will overreact to perfectly justified anger coming from a black man but will not overreact from the same behavior by a white man. IF it was race, then this is precisely why he’s had to walk a fine line in the past and why he purposely didn’t attack back last night. Could it have just been the way that he did go on the attack? The President was at his wonky, professorial best last night when countering Romney’s lies. But why wouldn’t voters like that? Why would male voters be turned off by that even more so than female voters? Was it because more women go to college than men now and they are more likely to have experienced such personality characteristics before? Was it because of the general aversion to what people consider “elitism”? For many, the more professorial the President sounds, the less they like him. To me, that’s absurd. I spent 16 years in school and have a Master’s degree. I prefer someone who is professorial and knows what the hell is going on. I don’t want some smooth operator who can schmooze but doesn’t have a grasp of the issues. Why are Americans so averse to someone being educated? And when did that happen, since higher education has been one of the primary means of advancing up the social ladder? If we value higher education as much as it seems, why do the people turn around and reject someone who is so steeped in academic ways of speaking and thinking?
7. There was a very big gender gap according to the metering. The women didn’t react to style, but did react to factual challenges on both sides. And whenever either candidate talked about issues that are typically near and dear to women voters, they generally responded positively. Again, the contrast with males, particularly in reaction to the emotion and style of the speaking candidate, was sharp. Women tended to be less negative overall as well. I would be very curious to see that data stretched out on a chart, labeled with who is speaking when and what issues they were discussing and indications of whether the candidate was being offensive or defensive. I suspect that would be very eye-opening.
8. Romney told so many lies so fast, it was hard to keep up with it all. Here are some ones that jumped out to me:
Lie: that Pres cut $716 billion in Medicare benefits – judged an outright lie by many organizations, both left and right
Truth: $726 billion saved through reducing overpayments to providers and by reducing fraud. The Paul Ryan plan had EXACTLY the same provisions to save the same amount.
Lie: his plan would not add $5 trillion to debt over next decade – judged an outright lie by many organizations, both left and right
Truth: His plan is cut income tax rates by 20% across the board, eliminate taxes cap gains and dividends for anyone making less than $200,000 (precisely the people who have little invested in the stock market anyway), and closing unspecified tax loopholes and deductions. The 20% reduction in taxes would cost $360 billion a year. The amount of money to be saved by closing loopholes would NOT cover that $360 billion increase. So that increased has to be covered by increased revenue. The only place left to get increased revenue is from the middle and lower classes. The President is right, it IS basic fucking math.
Lie: would not give a tax cut to the wealthy
Truth: same as b above
Lie: $23 million people are out of work or have quit looking for work
Truth: This figure includes those people who are underemployed…they still have jobs, just not the jobs they want. For the hundredth millionth time, the economic crisis was the result of policies that were put in place over 10 years ago, holding the President responsible for that is DUMB and expecting him to solve it in less than 4 years is even DUMBER
Lie: he didn’t raise taxes in Massachusetts to pay for their Health Care reform
Truth: Massachusetts taxes didn’t go up, but they did use quite a bit of Federal funding to make it happen. And that does get paid for by Massachusetts taxpayers (and the rest of us). So Romney has contributed to the increase in federal spending which in turn increases the need for taxes…..to fund his state program. This is a VERY common technique for Republican governors. Gov. Cryptkeeper (Gov. Brewer)
Lie: President provided $90 billion in breaks in one year to the green energy world
Truth: it was actually a combination of loans, loan guarantees and grants through the stimulus program, which was spread out over a 3 year period. So not “breaks” and not in one year…it would actually average out to $30 billion per year. It’s worth it to become energy independent.
Lie: That $90 billion is 50 years worth of what oil and gas receives
Truth: The oil and gas industry gets about $4 billion per year. Divide 90 by 4 and you get? 22.5 years worth. There’s that pesky math again.
Lie: Massachusetts was #1 in education when he left office
Truth: BEFORE Romney was ever elected Massachusetts was #1 in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test given to a sample of students nationwide. The state was also in the top ten worldwide in Math and English Language Arts. The state got to that point by investing in education and in particular to early childhood education. Romney opposes both of these things.
Lie: Pres will make drastic cuts in military spending
Truth: Congress, who responsibility it is to create the Federal budget, set a goal to reduce spending $1.2 trillion over 10 years from ALL areas of government. That goal was given to a Congressional supercommittee and Congress said that if the committee failed, then cuts will automatically come out of security and non-security spending, mean the Dept of Defense will need to cut spending. This plan was called “sequestration”. It came about because Dems and Repubs could not come to a compromise (mainly due to the Repub absolute refusal to be realistic about increasing revenue–it is MATHEMATICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to reduce our debt and deficit by simply cutting spending, we must HAVE increased revenue—MUST–and the Repubs won’t even accept that fact). Now, tell me how that is the President’s fault?
Lie: Obamacare has an unelected board that tells people what kind of treatments they can have
Truth: ah, the mythical death panels…the board is tasked with making RECOMMENDATIONS for reducing costs. Those recommendations would go to both the White House and Congress. Congress could approve or reject those recommendations and do nothing. Also, the law says that recommendations cannot lead to rationing of health care and it limits any recommendations that would change benefits, modify eligibility or increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing, such as deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments. So it is a recommendation panel with no teeth. Our ineffectual Congress would have the teeth.
Lie: the (Congressional Budget Office) says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year
Truth: The law will not force a single person to give up the insurance care they already have. If you have coverage, you can keep that coverage. The 20 million number is cherry picked from a CBO report that says if EVERYTHING goes wrong and taking into account normal “churn”, this MIGHT happen. The CBO’s numbers include people who will indeed lose or give up their current coverage but then turn around and actually get better coverage. Also, our system already has “churn” where people leave their jobs (about 3% every year, which is about 10.5 million). Plus many employers simply change their insurance plans annually (this happened to me at my last job–they tripled the cost of co-pays from one year to the next and hiked up all the other costs too). They estimate 25% of companies do this. That affects 87.5 million people. Under the new law, that total of 98 million people would have more and more affordable options. This will give them flexibility to take a promising job that doesn’t provide benefits. It would also help new entrepeneurs get health insurance, eliminating a huge obstacle for individuals who want to start a business. In fact, since Massachusetts implemented essentially the same Healthcare plan the rate at which new start-up businesses are being attempted has increased.
That’s it, I can’t handle any more of it….It just pisses me off so I’m gonna stop here. I think you get my point.