October 10, 2012

I watched the debate again... and I didn't think Obama was that bad.

Last night — between sleeps — I found the debate in my iPhone and watched it straight through (except for the closing statements). Last week, watching the debate live, I did not think Obama was especially bad, and I was surprised when the liberal pundits, instead of providing the usual spin — ideas about why their candidate was better — all simultaneously collapsed into grief over how horrible Obama was. He was tired, confused, disengaged. It was as if he were not there at all.

And so the aftermath unfolded, with this talking point — which everyone had by the time the debate had ended — got repeated over and over. The New Yorker did a cover depicting the debate with Obama represented as an empty chair.

I watched again to see what I had missed. I was an undecided voter at the time, and to me — you can see it in my live-blogging — Obama seemed low-key and mellow, "rolling out policies, pretty wonkily." That last quote referred to both men. I said: "They're not really attacking each other."

Checking my observations on second viewing, looking to see what all the commentators claim to have seen, my experience was the same. Obama's performance was surely defensible. He didn't hem and haw or pause or look sleepy. He drifted from topic to topic too much and absurdly returned to schools too many times, but it seemed to me he had chosen a strategy, which was to be a decent, thoughtful, moderate guy, perhaps because it would appeal to women (like me) and to moderate undecideds (like me).

Why didn't the commentators who should have defended him defend him on that ground? Even if you think I'm wrong, we're talking about spin. What I'm saying is at least plausible spin, but we didn't hear it. Why? That's the puzzle before me, and I have the answer. There had to have been a coordinated decision to go with the talking point: Obama was terrible. He was tired, disengaged, unprepared. Shocking! But why would Obama's supporters coordinate to tell the story that way? What a weird thing to choose to put in our minds?

Here's why they did it. Romney was so much better than Obama. Romney was vigorous, vividly in command of the facts, principles of economics, free-market ideology. Like Obama, he had a strategy to appeal to moderates, and he jumped into the moderate ground and occupied it — stunningly — with modesty and charm. He radiated competence and readiness to work for us. There he stood, the brilliant candidate, who wants only to help us, knows how to help us, and deeply, passionately cares that we need help. Wow.

Don't let that be the story! Don't look at that! Look at pathetic woeful Obama. He was off his game. That's not good for Obama — as his drop in the polls shows — but it was better than the alternative: talking about how Romney dramatically topped the President — the President, who came to the debate with all the gravitas of the presidency and all the knowledge and understanding that he has through working as the President these last 4 years.

The meme The Bad Obama was — colluding pundits decided — preferable to The Great Romney.

228 comments:

1 – 200 of 228   Newer›   Newest»
Pete said...

You're still undecided, Althouse?

wyo sis said...

Seriously?

Tank said...

The President also brought his own record to the debate. He never had to do that before.

Rliyen said...

Wow, putting lipstick on that pig...

Rliyen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
damikesc said...

Even my wife, who cares nothing about politics, asked why Obama seemed to never ever look at Romney and why every answer seemed to be really vague.

Bob Ellison said...

I agree with you, Professor. Immediately after the debate, I IM'd a friend to say "Obama won". The next morning's near-universal judgement that Romney kicked his butt shocked me.

I've taken that as a sign of my disconnected understanding of the punditocracy. Where did I go wrong?

I saw Obama acting like Obama, and Romney acting like Romney. Each was in character. No, Romney didn't lie his ass off, and no, Obama wasn't a scared little squirrel.

They said what they usually say. I hope I'm right in this conclusion: finally people saw who these two men really are.

Jay said...

But, but, but Romney lied!!!!!

And Barry's a big truth teller and stuff!

Oh, and:
Today's averages. Note the average using the 2008 turnout.

R+0.60% - Current RCP Average
O+0.05% - Average using the 2008 turnout model
R+4.91% - Average using the 2010 turnout model
R+4.94% - Average using the 2004 turnout model
R+6.66% - Average using the Rasmussen Party ID turnout model

garage mahal said...

That's not good for Obama — as his drop in the polls shows —

Wait a sec, I thought you said previously that pollsters were skewing their polls for propaganda?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

All Obama has to do in the second debate is show up, and we will hear endless encomiums about his courage and perseveramce. The Obama campaign's strategy is to run against President Romney, inviting voters like Althouse to pity the poor underdog Obama. Why run as a failed president? There's no percentage in that-- set yourself up as the challenger, and you never have to defend your record.

Shouting Thomas said...

I also thought that Obama did well, and that Romney won. But, I didn't think it was a wipeout.

I don't think Obama's followers have embraced such a clever conspiratorial strategy as you seem to think.

It's race that explains the howling.

The decades of "Diversity" propaganda have unhinged liberals. They are entranced by Obama because he's black.

They are also so reflexly hostile to a traditional, religious, hetero white male like Romney that they discount him as a nonentity. After all, that's what the quota system demands. The "good" white man is supposed to just accept that and play the nonentity liberals want him to play.

McCain complied and lost in 2008.

The "bad" white man is angry and aggressive. Is just itching to hang blacks from trees. Why, liberals reason, would any nice white man dare to depart from the "good" role they've assigned to him?

Paddy O said...

I was a little surprised by the response as well. I watched the debate with a definite bias--I tend to believe that in the battle of truth, Obama is the one lying.

And, honestly, he appeared the exact same to me he always did.

Romney, however, didn't fit the narrative the campaign had been attaching to him. And, more to the point, he was more of the alpha male.

So, it's definitely, as you note, more of the contrast than the failure of Obama's individual performance. It's also the fact that Romney did better in the ways Obama was supposed to shine. Romney had the facts and the wonkiness. He also had more charm and was the better speaker. He seemed more cool.

All of which pointed not as much to a substantive crushing but rather a wide realization that Romney did better--and it was that wider appeal, that undermining of the supposed narrative, that gave the debate such force.

I doubt there was as much of set narrative by liberal commenters after the fact. It's just that everything they idealized about Obama, Romney did better.

Obama was just a guy. And when our gods fall, it seems a long fall indeed.

DrMaturin said...

I watched MSNBC the morning after the debate and they were just appalled at Obama's performance. I don't think it was fakery or misdirection, they looked genuinely shocked.

Ann Althouse said...

Some of you need to read more carefully.

Brennan said...

Here's why. Romney was so much better than Obama. Romney is vigorous, vividly in command of the facts, principles of economics, free-market ideology. Like Obama, he had a strategy to appeal to moderates, and he jumped into the moderate ground and occupied it — stunningly — with modesty and charm.

Short version: Romney was there man.

This is one of the biggest contrasts voters have. Obama has no private sector experience of any kind and Alan Blinder cannot write enough opeds to cover that up nor downplay its significance to actual voters.

Shouting Thomas said...

You really don't understand, Althouse, buried as you are in the world of academia, that Romney is a "bigot" for daring to actually try to win this election.

That's the logic of the quota system.

He's already got "enough." He's white, male, hetero and rich.

If he were a "good" white man, he'd just agree to fail, like McCain, for the good of racial justice.

That's liberal reasoning.

bandmeeting said...

He was OK, for a human. As a Messiah, he was not.

Don't forget, this is the smartest man in the world, the person seen by some people as the literal embodiment of those Chuck Norris kick-ass sayings. By that standard Obama should have been able to simply stroll onto the stage and melt Romney with his gaze.

traditionalguy said...

The people at Harvard were easy to fool. The people from a faith based community were not . Obama was stumped.

Happy Warrior said...

I'm not sure I buy that it was 'coordinated'. I agree whole-heartedly (I watched the debate the next evening on c-span after hearing the wailing and gnashing of teeth) -- the debate wasn't objectively a blow out by Romney. However, I do think the framing that Obama's campaign spent a gazillion on over the summer set a very low bar for Romney, which he easily surpassed. Perhaps Ann you are correct that the alternative message about the debate of Romney's suitability for the job of President was worse for his supporters in the liberal media.

Bob Ellison said...

Some of you need to read more carefully.

Wow. Haven't been in elementary school in a long time.

Some of you need to write less school-marmy.

Issob Morocco said...

A well thought out and insightful perpsective. Thanks.

miss j said...

Who cares what pundits or you think? The president has decided, in the aftermath of the debate, to defend federal funding of a wildly successful non-profit corporation rather than discuss any issues of substance. His actions, during the debate and afterwards, speak for themselves: he's hopeless.

Happy Warrior said...

@Pete -- Althouse said she was "undecided at the time" which would imply that she is decided -- although cryptically none-the-less.

AprilApple said...

Yesterday, Ace said roughly the same thing.

clint said...

Great post.

I think you're underestimating the importance of expectations, though.

Most of the liberal pundits genuinely expected President Obama to soundly thrash Strawman Romney -- they had fully accepted and internalized both the Obama campaign's caricature of Romney *and* the idea of President Obama as a great orator (and in some cases as a mythic Lightworker).

The shock wasn't fake.

But, you're right. The continued discussion of "why was Obama so awful" definitely starts to stink a week later -- when no one at all is talking about how great Romney was.

Curious George said...

You're half right professor, but it isn't any revelation. Of course the pundits explained Owebama's performance as being off his game...which is better than "he actually is a moron". But you miss the "Romney lied, lied, lied" explanation for Mitt's performance.

As far as you being "undecided" until a recent "revelation", I'm guessing this had some thing to do with it.

Shouting Thomas said...

Althouse, your immersion in feminism and your support for the gay activist agenda makes it just about impossible for you to see what happens to the white, hetero, traditional guy... like me.

I'm the fall guy for your favored causes.

So, I've got a lifetime of being told by liberals that I should drop dead and not compete so that blacks, women and gays can get what they want.

Try to look at things from this perspective for a moment.

Romney was supposed to agree to fail. For the greater good.

sane_voter said...

I definitely thought Romney beat Obama but I didn't think it was a blowout. It is hard to defend failure (especially when the one big success, Obamacare, is hated by a majority of the electorate).

I felt Romney missed several openings to better define Obama's failures, and thought his closing (which was great) should have been his opening.

It will be very interesting to see how the candidates will have digested their performances and then how it affects their performance at the next debate.

cubanbob said...

its amusing to see Ann once again looking for ( or is it deluding herself) for a reason to vote for Obama.

Jason said...

The Professor has chosen her destroyer:

The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man!

AprilApple said...

"The problem, for the liberals, is not Obama. This is what you bought. This is your guy. It wasn't his A game, but it was something close to his B+ game.

The problem was Romney, who was commanding, fluent, reasonable, articulate, sharp-witted, warm, occasionally funny, full of ideas, full of facts, full of thoughtful, detailed criticisms of Obama policy (who the hell expected him to bring up, as an afterthought, Dodd-Frank's failure to specify what a "reasonably qualified" mortgage applicant was, and how that chilled lending? Obama sure didn't!), and, therefore, ultimately, full of qualification for the job and yes, full of gravitas.

That's the problem.

Not Obama. I repeat: This is who Obama is. He has never been this brilliant intellect and keen policy analysts liberals have, in their BubbleWorld, dreamed him as.

The problem is not that Obama is or was awful. The problem is that he is what he always is -- adequate and hardly ever more -- and Romney is actually on top of things, an accomplished executive with a winner's thirst for victory an an A-student's understanding of what victory requires."

-Ace

Lyssa said...

Interesting theory. I'm not sure I buy the conspiracy angle, but it's interesting.

I, too, didn't think Obama was that bad, compared to his prior performances in 2008. (I thought he was weak both then and now, but not necessarily weaker now.) So, I was surprised to see him so badly panned. I think, though, that it was.more of a grasping to catch the old enthusiasm, and seeking a rain why it was now missing (beyond I was duped in the first place).

Paddy O said...

I get that you're suggesting the press is colluding to make the narrative about Obama to distract from Romney, but I think there really was genuine disappointment--evident pretty soon after, before colluding could collude.

Yes, sure, the collusion could be a vast conspiracy (a colludicy?) but that makes it more complex and honestly more risky. The easier and more simple is that the press are really like little school girls obsessed with their pop star. It's emotional not strategic.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...


IMHO, the real issue is that Obama had been running against a Richie Rich caricature of their own creation. When the real Romney showed up, Obama was not fast enough on his feet to deal with reality. That is what killed him.

Roman said...

"Some of you need to read more carefully."

I think I will, just not here. Goodbye.

Paddy O said...

I do, though, think there's a bit of shaming going on by the press. They're doing what they can to really get it in Obama's head that he needs to step up for the next debates.

And where is Obama vulnerable? His ego. So the only way to affect him is by undermining his ego.

Bill R said...

Interesting.

I didn't watch the debate. These things depress me since they are usually conducted at the level of bright eighth-graders.

I did hear it on NPR some days later after I had absorbed all the spin. I agree with Ann. Obama wasn't terrible. He was knocking down his usual straw men and so forth but that's just normal eighth grader stuff. I thought Romney was doing better but I'm a Romney supporter and I would.

So why the hysteria? In the movie "The Man Who Would Be King", the pretend God bleeds a little and his former supporters go crazy. They see they've been played for fools and they don't like it.

Four years ago someone observed that Obama was a person of above average intelligence with the mentality of a typical Marxist graduate student. That still sounds right to me. My sympathies to everyone who was expecting the Messiah

carrie said...

I am puzzled by the fact that they want push the idea that Obama's performance was due to lack of preparation because Obama is already being criticized for missing intelligence breifings and then your add that to his dismal attendance records in the Illinois legislature and the Senate, which all supports the notion that Obama does not take anything seriously and that he just does not like to work hard at anything.

Andy R. said...

There were a number of interesting posts from Kevin Drum about his reaction to the debate as well as the reaction of others that seem relevant to this post.

Groupthink and the Great Debate

The Hack Gap Rears Its Ugly Head Yet Again

The Hack Gap Revisited: How Powerful Is the Modern Media?

Less Theater Criticism, More Content Criticism, Please

SteveR said...

I don't know that it was "coordinated" but clearly given the possibility that Romney could have been seen to have done better than horrible, and the largely untested untelepromptered Obama not wowing the Greek gods, the "Comeback Kid" scenario was, and is, a natural path.

A lot of people are already suckered into that story and it hasn't even happened yet. Columns have already been written, blog posts imagined.

Kevin said...

The "colluded" thing reminds me: I wonder what, in the future, we'll discover the media was using as a new Journolist now.

sane_voter said...

and I was genuinely shocked at the immediate post-debate polling results being so heavily for Romney winning the debate. In 2008, I remember many news sites just reporting their non-scientific online debate winner question that always showed Obama the clear winner. Maybe they will revert to that for debate 2 to try and spin a win for Obama?

EDH said...

Obama's visuals were bad. Like the Kennedy-Nixon debates, I wonder if "radio listeners" had a different take on the outcome.

My initial impression was that the debate was one of the best policy debates I'd ever seen. Each side made his case about as well as anyone could.

I thought Romney won decisively on substance, style and points, however, largely because Obama's position is hard to defend, both in theory and experience. But I'm biased.

I think Obama's supporters are upset because Obama didn't forcefully speak "truth to Power Point" like they imagined, and because the demon Romney of their fevered imaginations didn't show up.

The "our guy sucked defense" of Obama theory Althouse posits is interesting. My gut tells me that if that was the thinking it is subconscious rather than planned.

Shouting Thomas said...

This is the first time in his life that Obama has run into a determined, aggressive white man who refuses to play the "good" role assigned to white, hetero men by liberals.

Romney was "uppity!"

Obama was visibly upset and confused by this. McCain played the "good" role, with predictable consequences. Romney just plowed through and played the "bad" role, which automatically makes him a bigot.

I think that the liberal commentariat was amazed that the debate didn't play out according to their script... that Romney should have just conceded and refused to fight.

The liberal commentariat's response was, first, amazement and anger that their quota hero had clay feet, then, second, fury at Romney for failing to play out his prescribed role.

AF said...

"The meme The Bad Obama was — colluding pundits decided — preferable to The Great Romney."

Yeah, that's bullshit. The "Great Romney" was aggressively making points that were completely inconsistent with his record, with the facts, and with his own published proposals. Obama was low-key and not that bad, but he didn't effectively confront Romney. This was exactly the wrong strategy against an aggressively mendacious opponent. He let Romney get away with a number of boondoggles. That's why people were upset.

That said, the liberal meltdowns are obviously over the top. Just because Romney fool a number of people on one night, doesn't mean he's going to keep fooling them.

The real liberal mistake was not turning on Obama, but failing to keep the debate in perspective.

AF said...

"The meme The Bad Obama was — colluding pundits decided — preferable to The Great Romney."

Yeah, that's bullshit. The "Great Romney" was aggressively making points that were completely inconsistent with his record, with the facts, and with his own published proposals. Obama was low-key and not that bad, but he didn't effectively confront Romney. This was exactly the wrong strategy against an aggressively mendacious opponent. He let Romney get away with a number of boondoggles. That's why people were upset.

That said, the liberal meltdowns are obviously over the top. Just because Romney fool a number of people on one night, doesn't mean he's going to keep fooling them.

The real liberal mistake was not turning on Obama, but failing to keep the debate in perspective.

Hagar said...

I only watched a little bit of the debate, but what I saw was an upbeat and engaging Romney, a little over-eager and speaking too much and too fast, but otherwise OK, and a sour and downbeat Obama who all but looked at his watch to see when this drag would be over. Also a personal dislike of Romney and contempt for his arguments, and this body language may well have come across as disdain for the viewer.

Shantastik said...

It's pretty obvious, Althouse likes Romney and has now becomes a flaming right winger :)

Add up these statements:

"Undecided at the time"

"There he (Romney) stood, the brilliant candidate, who wants only to help us, knows how to help us, and deeply, passionately cares that we need help. Wow."

and throw in yesterday's comment on another post about Obama's lying to a black audience when she referred to it as "evil."

Althouse now supports dirty air, dirty water and wants old people to eat dog food like the rest of us who vote republican :)

Matthew Sablan said...

"Why didn't the commentators who should have defended him defend him on that ground? Even if you think I'm wrong, we're talking about spin. What I'm saying is at least plausible spin, but we didn't hear it."

-- Partially because in the moment, it was clear Obama was devastated. It took some time for people to realize: "Well, Obama wasn't so much subpar as doing only slightly worse than what we expect from Obama, but Romney nailed it." The problem was people were expecting the brilliant Obama of their dreams, not the mediocre one of reality, while they were expecting Romney to show up with a snifter of brandy and a top hat.

tiger said...

I did not watch the debate but have read extensively on the reviews.

The problem seems to be that the MSM/Left(but I repeat myself) expected 'so...Much...MORE!' from Barry that when he didn't act in the way they wanted it was viewed as a defeat.

Keep in mind that Barry said, in essence, that he is a blank slate upon which people project their what they want.

Well, look at where that got him.

AprilApple said...

Read ALL of Ann's post. I think she is right-on. It wasn't that Obama was horrible; it was that Romney was superior. The pro-Obama media cannot focus on Romney's fantastic debate, so instead they whine about how Obama didn't break out the unicorn rainbow daggers.
The pro-Obama media struggle to understand. Why didn't Obama yell "Liar!" and pound the lectern? Chris Matthews and all the crazy people at MSDNC were all set to pee their pants for dear leader.
It's all for the glory of Obama's ass kissing coddling media.

MayBee said...

Ace has it right.

People who see Obama with clear eyes can see and have long seen that Obama is not that special. So his debate performance was not Super Obama. It was just regular old peevish dull Obama.
Romney succeeds for a living. That is his avocation. Success. He is nothing like the man Obama disdain, and has set his followers up to disdain.

Darrell said...

One person did think that Obama wiped the floor with Romney in the first debate--Barack Obama. That according to those who work for him. I first read that yesterday so a link should be easy to find.

Andy R. said...

Also, if anyone is feeling sporty I could say that Romney was making shit up about bankruptcies of green energy companies and some of you can try to come up with silly defenses and then I can explain to you that the Romney camp admitted he was wrong. That was fun. Seeing all of you contort yourself to defend Romney's untruths because you didn't realize he had admitted he was wrong.

It's best to keep up to date on which lies Romney is trying to maintain and which he has thrown in the towel on. Shall we go a round on his lies about pre-existing conditions too?

Jay said...

He let Romney get away with a number of boondoggles. That's why people were upset.


Hilarious.

Um, Obama told out & out lies.

Why are you not speaking to that?

AJ Lynch said...

Why would you even watch a debate twice? There is no need to over-analyze- just go with your gut instinct. My gut is telling me the same thing since Obama came on the national scene and that is that "obama is a dope with no relevant experience to be president"

rehajm said...

I watched the debate live on the feed where when Romney was speaking Obama had is back to the camera. I didn't understand all the 'Obama looked tired, wouldn't look at Romney' talk until the next morning when I watched the side by side. Pretty much a Kenndy/Nixon radio vs TV thing...

AprilApple said...

It's looking like the VP debate is fixed.
ACLU asking pro-Dem moderator to focus on "war on women".
Obama went to Pro-Dem moderator's wedding.

Jay said...

Andy R. said...
then I can explain to you that the Romney camp admitted he was wrong


Bullshit. The Romney campaign did no such thing.

You are under some bizarre delusion that your inability to grasp facts constitutes a "lie"

Of course you're a fucking idiot.

So there is that.

ndspinelli said...

Must be sweeps month, a blatant plea for numbers.

Shouting Thomas said...

Also, if anyone is feeling sporty I could say that Romney was making shit up about bankruptcies of green energy companies...

Like Solyndra?

He made that up?

Dante said...

I agree. Obama did as well as he possibly could, which is to say not very well at all.

It has to be pretty tough to get up there, having a hard time repeating the same old excuses (Bush did it), with the economy in the toilet, Middle East issues, and no idea how to fix it.

Larry J said...

Ann Althouse said...
Some of you need to read more carefully.


In basic communications, there's the sender, the message and the receiver. If the receiver didn't understand the message, it's the fault of the sender. Quit trying to write like a lawyer or an academic (or worst of all, a law school academic) and say what you really mean. All else is bullshit.

Jay said...

AF said...
Yeah, that's bullshit. The "Great Romney" was aggressively making points that were completely inconsistent with his record, with the facts, and with his own published proposals.


Comical. The factual examples you could provide supporting this bullshit will remain at zero.

rehajm said...

And I think Ann's point is valid- though to pull off that coordinated meme the media had to have called an audible from the press room.

Tim said...

The answer is fairly obvious.

Liberal contempt for conservative values, principles and thought is now so great, liberals thought Obama would destroy Romney with ease.

That Obama failed to do so (and that Romney did so well, failing to wilt and falter next to their Lightworker, Obama) was a shock to them.

They could not, would not, consider the possibility that Romney actually did well (let alone even great); no; the fault must lie with Obama, choosing not to swat the gnat aside that is Romney.

Liberals, as Mickey Kaus recognizes, live in a cocoon, thinking their "reality" is everyone else's reality.

Maybe one day, they'll "learn how to talk to moderates and conservatives, and they('ll) especially need to learn how to not feel repulsive and toxic to us."

I'm not holding my breath though.

AF said...

"The meme The Bad Obama was — colluding pundits decided — preferable to The Great Romney."

This is complete bullshit. Romney, as is his wont, aggressively took positions that were incoherent, untrue, and inconsistent with his own record and published proposals. Obama, while not otherwise "that bad," let him get away with it. That's what made people so upset.

AprilApple said...

I'm sorry, what Andy?

furious_a said...

Romney not only outran Obama (the other hiker), he also outran the bear (expectations). Hence the 'Obama-underperformance' talking-point misdirection. Column-inches devoted to Why-Obama-Lost are by definition denied to Why-Romney-Won.

Although I suspect the immediate dismay on MSNBC was genuine.

AF said...

Sorry for the double post, thought the other one was swallowed up.

Jay said...

AF said...
This is complete bullshit. Romney, as is his wont, aggressively took positions that were incoherent, untrue, and inconsistent with his own record and published proposals


Hilarious.

You know, the more you repeat something the more magically it becomes true.

Really. It does.

bagoh20 said...

Just because you say it to yourself doesn't mean it's not spin.

Brennan said...

Andy R: Romney's data points about 90 billion in one year and half of all green energy investments went bust are poorly sourced.

rehajm said...

Ann Althouse said...
Some of you need to read more carefully.


Concur- It's fair to challenge your readers, but if your intended audience isn't getting it, challenge yourself to be more literal. Clear writing is rarely misunderstood..

DADvocate said...

There's an old term you're probably familiar with, "mind fucking."

The first two definitions in the Urban dictionary are: "The act of messing with someones mind, usually to an extreme." and "Convincing yourself that by over analyzing a situation you can gain control over it when, in reality, it is impossible to control." Example: He was mind fucking himself trying to figure out what he could do to make her love him.

Pretty much describes what you're doing. Mind fucking yourself, especially by over analyzing. My older sister, who is also an attorney, is prone to the same thing. Analyze until she's blue in the face and still can't see the simple truth. Seeing the simple truth is a much greater gift than being able to analyze to the nth degree.

MayBee said...

but it seemed to me he had chosen a strategy, which was to be a decent, thoughtful, moderate guy, perhaps because it would appeal to women (like me) and to moderate undecideds (like me).

If the polling is right, your judgement about what appeals to moderate undecideds and women is off.

wyo sis said...

Althouse is suggesting a certain kind of gamesmanship. It's a very dangerous game for the press and the dems to play. It may be their best shot, they have to try anything and everything, but the voters Althouse is suggesting are in play are more likely to shut down than think through the maze of political spin.

It's far from scientific, but the real undecided voters I know are still not engaged enough to get caught up in the doublethink. They don't have a vested interest in Obama or Romney and sympathy for the Devil doesn't play well for them. In fact, it doesn't play at all.

Andy R. said...

Bullshit. The Romney campaign did no such thing.

"Now Romney camp tells me he misspoke, only meant to single out loan program. 3 of about 30 recipients failed, <2% in $ terms."

Maybe Romney misspoke, but it's weird seeing people defend his untruth after he has admitted he was wrong.

Very very weird.

phx said...

In basic communications, there's the sender, the message and the receiver. If the receiver didn't understand the message, it's the fault of the sender.

Basic communications, what is that a college course? Doesn't this course account for the possibility that the receiver is the impaired part of this triad?

Go back to the text and read that chapter over.

Jay said...

DADvocate said...
There's an old term you're probably familiar with, "mind fucking."


I would suggest that what is being done here is more analysis to avoid the truth, which is, Obama is a silly, full of shit idiot, not to "gain control"

roesch/voltaire said...

I guess Romney is "great' because he can repeat a lie loud and often, or can change his position on dime depending to which audience he speaks. But I think Geoff Numberg gave the best insight when he pointed out that Romney addressed the president directly 37 times and the president only directly only six times. It was as though Romney had shown up for a cable news face-off, while the president seem more prepared for Meet The Press.. Article is worth a read and here is the link: http://www.wbur.org/npr/162561641/one-debate-two-very-different-conversations

AllenS said...

I haven't read any of the comments, yet, but you're full of shit.

Jay said...

"Now Romney camp tells me he misspoke, only meant to single out loan program. 3 of about 30 recipients failed, <2% in $ terms."


Where is the statement?

I don't give a fuck what some gay clown on Twitter has to say.

Show us the email, statement, or shut up.

Shouting Thomas said...

The next debate is crucial, needless to say.

Obama knows now that Romney won't lay down and quit for the greater good of racial justice.

Romney actually intends to win the election.

Obama has never faced this before. It will be interesting to see what he does in response. So, far... Big Bird. Liar, liar, pants on fire!

What's next?

Nihimon said...

It seems odd that you would attribute it to a conspiracy.

I think it's more likely that a number of people who had an unrealistic view of Obama had that spell broken - jarringly. For those of us who had a fairly realistic view of Obama from the beginning, there wasn't that big of a change.

Tim said...

AJ Lynch said...

"Why would you even watch a debate twice?"

Obama voters are irrationally, emotionally invested in their Lighworker.

As an Obama voter, Althouse's default position always has been to reelect.

Even if she hasn't acknowledged so here, the focus on the campaign (as if the Lighworker will somehow, *magically* become competent) rather than the proceeding four years (which would disqualify him in the eyes of voters valuing competency) tells us all anyone needs to figure it out: she's looking for any excuse to vote for Obama again.

That's ok though. Althouse won't be the only idiot who casts another vote for Obama against all reason. Millions will do so too.

Darrell said...

Andy R may have lost his cocked hat avatar, but he still loves his Kool Aid and his Leftist bullshit sources. Weren't you beclowned the other day with that FactCheck bullshit? That comment that put up a lot more names of green energy bankruptcies that Fact Check could find said it all. But go ahead and ignore that, stick to your script.

Tank said...

AF and Andy R are back with yesterdays talking points.

Didn't you guys get the new points?

I especially like the Romney was incoherent part. Cue Jay:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Some good points above:

1. Romney did not fit into the make believe mold that Team Obama had been painting for so long. Seeing the real Romney was a shock to them.

2. Obama is used to making one sided arguments, with little or no pushback from the press, and no "other" viewpoint being expressed. The simple presence of Romneys arguments was enough to shock Obama and his followers.

Hagar said...

Bill R said:

Four years ago someone observed that Obama was a person of above average intelligence with the mentality of a typical Marxist graduate student. That still sounds right to me. My sympathies to everyone who was expecting the Messiah

Nailed it.

TosaGuy said...

Debates are supposed to be one or two day events with regard to the affect on the campaigns. Yet, this debate is still a lively topic in the campaign.

It will stay an active topic until something else replaces it in the national discussion. The problem with that is that the next topic could just as easily be beneficial to Romney and Obama still remains adrift.

The Obama campaign does not do defense very well. The goal of being on the defensive is to create a situation where one can resume the offense. It seems to me that Obama can't create a successful offensive message without Romney providing the launch pad (example is the 47 percent video).

I agree with Ms. Althouse that Obama wasn't especially terrible, he probably was adequate with regard to a normal defensive debate plan. Obama was static and Romney was able to showcase himself unfiltered to the nation.

Obama needs a gaffe to resume the offense and Romney only needed Obama to stand still to resume the offense. The problem for Obama is that he wasted months of resources and talking points and now has to build a new line of attack. If Big Bird ads are the highlight of that attack, then will continue to erode until Romney cedes Obama an opening.

Brennan said...

Ann: Let me ask you about another moment when the President put himself in a situation where he had to listen to criticism face to face.

This was the President's staged event to talk about reforming health care and to discuss the options. Paul Ryan had about 6 minutes to make his case for why the President's choices were wrong and to open the discussion to other alternatives.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPxMZ1WdINs

Watch for the President's body language. Does it remind you of the debate?

Now that discussion was quite different. After Paul Ryan spoke the President turned to Xavier Baccera who then accused Paul Ryan of attacking the referees(CBO).

On these stages, the President has no stooges to hand the football to so they can run for a loss of 10 yards. He's got to either scramble for a gain or take the sack and hope for the best on the next play.

garage mahal said...

Shall we go a round on his lies about pre-existing conditions too?

they don't care. Anything to win. 10 different positions on abortion? No prob. Hell, be a Democrat if you have to Mitt!

JeffM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MayBee said...

Andy R- do you think it is a good point that 3 of the green loan guarantee companies, and more of the government money green energy programs are failing? That just yesterday, another one (in Holland, MI) had to start furloughing workers due to lack of orders?

Do you think these have been a great way to spend taxpayer money? Do you think Obama made a good case for them in the debates?

garage mahal said...

And it's really unfair to Romney to hold him to any of previous positions on abortion. There are so many!

Darrell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrell said...

Stay focused on Romney's "lies" please.

Pay no attention to the new spin the government is putting out about the 9/11/12 terrorists attacks on a American soil. And the lies that preceeded them.

Jay said...

garage mahal said...
And it's really unfair to Romney to hold him to any of previous positions on abortion


Right!

Because you like totally care about consistency, you fat little Obama voter you!

I mean, look at it: Obama has been consistenly shitty and you're taking shitty by the spoonful!

Idiot.

JeffM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrell said...

Don't waste your vote on Obama.

The multi-count indictments are coming out any day now.

Shouting Thomas said...

The strategy of the left, at the level of the leftist commentariat, is simply to start screaming "Racist! and Bigot!.

From my reading of the leftist meldown after the debate, they wanted Obama to do the same during the debates.

That strategy doesn't work, for some reason, in a direct debate between the two candidates. Obama knew better than to try it.

MikeR said...

Coordinated decision? As always, the least likely explanation. I think most of the commentators nailed it: Romney did very well answering Obama, and to most liberals, that proves that Obama was terrible. How else could a liberal do poorly against a conservative, when every single fact is on their side?

Sammy said...

Exactly, I watched the debate afterwards ... And thought that's Obama of the last 4 years, what was different, I've even heard the Lincoln story from Obama to explain why government should take over healthcare.

What I think pissed liberals is Obama debated with stale talking points, and Romney rebutted with amazing knowledge and assertiveness, and they couldn't understand why Obama didn't take him on.

First, they don't get that the BS talking point on MSNBC wouldn't work in the light of day......

And second Obama was scared to take Romney on... 5 minutes onto the debate Obama knew he wasn't going to go Mano and Mano with Romney, that he wouldn't be able to use his usual tactic of lying and twisting the facts, so just stick to a amalgamation of all the last 4 years talking points and pretend your giving a speech and not a debate.

What liberals have come to realize is Obama depth of knowledge on issues, policy, is a superficial has his supposed charm.

MayBee said...

So Althouse talks about Obama not being so bad in his debate, and the lefties on the board jump right in to agree and highlight the strong parts of Obama's debate. The integrity of his arguments.

Oh, no they didn't. They decided to continue their complaints about Romney.

Calypso Facto said...

Romney addressed the president directly 37 times and the president only directly only six times

and RV addressed no one directly or coherently

rhhardin said...

Obama was the same empty suit as always, to most of us.

All that changed was that the left noticed it.

Romney wasn't particularly outstanding either but at least doesn't know so many things that are wrong.

edutcher said...

No. Sorry. I have to disagree.

I didn't see the whole thing, but I saw about half or so.

Barry was lousy on style - you don't continually duck your head in a situation like that, and the Romster nailed him on substance on every exchange. He challenged Zero and Zero couldn't rebut.

If that constitutes a strategy of "being a decent, thoughtful, moderate guy", it didn't work and didn't seem that way to me.

As for spin, apparently Axelrod saw it the same as the rest of the country.

Sorry.

Jason said...

The Professor has chosen her destroyer:

The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man!


Mother Pus Bucket!

TosaGuy said...

"What I think pissed liberals is Obama debated with stale talking points, and Romney rebutted with amazing knowledge and assertiveness, and they couldn't understand why Obama didn't take him on."

The liberals wanted to listen to 90 minutes of "47 percent" and whatever else MSNBC talks about each night. They also wanted Obama to remain on the offensive and put Romney away.

Obama didn't do those things.

Hagar said...

Though "Marxist" probably should be in quotation marks. Also note that Marx himself once stated he was not a "Marxist."

But "college radical chic" he is with a base of "critical race theory."

And in American terms he is a McClellan type of general that will talk up a great strategy, but lose his nerve and retreat when it comes time to do battle. A poor leader if you want to win the war.

Writ Small said...

I agree Romney's performance was under appreciated on the left, and if Obama had delivered much the same performance against the Republican alternatives, the debate would have seemed much closer. I can imagine Gingrich fighting Obama on his own professorial, long-winded terms for instance. I can imagine Santorum getting red in the face and scowling when his attacks didn't seem to land their intended punch. Let's not even think about Perry. Romney was really the PERFECT contrast to Obama: succinct, upbeat, competent and grounded in an appealing philosophy. Is short, Romney was the leader Obama is not.

But I disagree that Obama didn't do poorly. I'll have to review the tape for a good example, but what I most recall is that Obama used the press tactic of ignoring the direct question or attack and talking about what he wished instead. That's all well and good with a sympathetic reporter, but it is a terrible strategy when, for example, Romney accused Obama of enriching his green energy contributors at the expense of taxpayers. Romney left no similar serious charge by Obama un-rebutted.

Brennan said...

And it's really unfair to Romney to hold him to any of previous positions on abortion. There are so many!

About as many as President Obama. But if you want to President to talk about how he wants taxpayers to pay for elective abortions, make sure you ask him loudly and proudly.

Mike Tanis said...

An outstanding example of grade inflation. Good work Professor!

Glenn Howes said...

I don't think much as been made of how civil Romney was while doing the business of demolishing the President's record and arguments. Most times when I watch a debate, I could imagine myself doing a better job than the debaters, but there is no way I could have debated President Obama for 90 minutes without getting angry, snippy, sarcastic or dismissive. And yet Governor Romney did. What a hyper-competent gentleman!

John said...

Thinking Obama won or even didn't do too badly is akin to how most mothers view their own children. Devoid of objectivity and hoping beyond hope that you didn't raise a psychopath...

Michael K said...

Jay Nordlinger, editor of National Review, watched the debate with no outside input and came to the same conclusion. I think you;re right but it still doesn't explain why you seem to be still undecided.

Peter said...

So, lets consider expectations prior to the debate.

Expectations of Obama's ability to project charisma are so high that there is sure to be disappointment. A "barely good enough" performance becomes a disaster due to the huge gap between expectations and the actual performance.

Expectations of Romney were minimal. A "barely good enough" performance might have been seen as at least a slight positive. The truly solid. confident performance he gave was so high above expectations as to appear stellar.

So, perhaps the contrast was not quite abysmal vs. stellar. But Romney not only performed much better than expected, he performed very well overall. And Obama not only performed below expectations, at best his performance rates only "barely good enough."

Which must be a huge disappointment for those expecting tingly legs.

exhelodrvr1 said...

They don't want to admit that Obama's policies/beliefs are the underlying reason for the issues the country is having. THey would rather blame it all on Obama.

Shazbot said...

Seems like it was a great opportunity for the lapdog Josef Goebbel media to finally distance themselves from the collapsing fantasy "West Wing" president. After four years of cheerleading for what now appears to be a big loser, there is an obvious window for the media types to attempt to reclaim their illusion(delusion?) of integrity.

Michael K said...

"
Yeah, that's bullshit. The "Great Romney" was aggressively making points that were completely inconsistent with his record, with the facts, and with his own published proposals."

I assume that you are not aware of the fact that Obama's appointed economic policy commission has recommended a tax reform almost identical to Romney's proposal. Obama, of course, is ignoring them.

Darrell said...

Now Romney camp tells me he misspoke, only meant to single out loan program. 3 of about 30 recipients failed, <2% in $ terms.

Hmm. Ten second of searching--Five separate green energy companies have gone bankrupt, including Amonix as well as Solyndra, Solar Reserves, Beacon Power and Solar Trusts of America. In total, these companies have received $2.7 billion in DOE loans and are all bankrupt. That’s 7.7% of all DOE loans going to bankrupt companies. Nationally, only 40,955 permanent jobs are being created according to the DOE from $34.7 billion in loans, costing taxpayers $847,221 per job.





edutcher said...

On a not entirely unrelated note, Joe says he's gonna play hardball in the debate.

I suggest the Lefties start lighting candles now. There's gonna be a rush on them Thursday night.

Bender said...

I lived the last three and a half years again... and I didn't think Obama was that bad.

After three and a half years of seeing the country crash and burn, and she is still "undecided." Obama can utterly destroy the country, and there is still a chance that she might vote for him.

Is there anything that Obama might do or say that would disqualify him, which would leave her to say, "well, I may or may not vote for Romney, but I sure as hell am never going to vote for Obama"?

Meanwhile, the slightest imagined imperfection of not-Obama (Romney) is grounds to vote against him.

Jay said...

Darrell said...

Hmm. Ten second of searching--Five separate green energy companies have gone bankrupt,


Which is why I call bullshit on the silly Twitter source.

The claim makes no sense.

Of course "fact check" will come back and point out only 3 companies have gone bankrupt under the 527.a.001.c loan program which is what Romney should have referred to in his hysterical lies!

gmama3 said...

I mostly listened to the debate on the radio, other than the plea to JUim Leher to go to a new topic, I thought Obama was okay. His closing which I watched, was really pathetic, really, really pathetic.

The closing remarks should be a memorized speech, with a few items added if the content of the debate warrant it. Romeny's certainly was. He was confident, fluid and spoke with certainty. Obama's closing was rambling, and poorly constructed. He appeared to be speaking off the cuff, no prepared speech. I don't think that is a strategy, I think that is a lack of interest and preparation.

I disagree with you Ann, if it was close the media would have proclaimed Obama the winner.

Happy Warrior said...

rehajm said...

Concur- It's fair to challenge your readers, but if your intended audience isn't getting it, challenge yourself to be more literal. Clear writing is rarely misunderstood..


Who says Althouse wanted to be clear? I think she wanted to be coy and alluring...

turtle said...

0bama was simply being 0bama, the drama came from being on the same stage with Mitt.

Now Barry knows what Shamus felt like :-)

Penny said...

I'm so ashamed...

I honestly believed the MSM was being objective about Obama's performance. :(

Bender said...

Meanwhile -- who really won the debate?

Hell if I know. I didn't watch it. I didn't need to watch it in order to make any electoral decisions.

That's not having a closed mind, that's not jumping to partisan conclusions, that is simply having my eyes and ears open for the last three and a half years, making conclusions based upon real life and not looking to some TV show to justify voting based on a delusional view of actual historical facts.

Comanche Voter said...

Still going to repeat your Mistake of 2008 Ann? Come on, I know you want to pull that lever for The Bamster.

But Obama thought he won the debate, and you're trending that way.

Rusty said...

garage mahal said...
That's not good for Obama — as his drop in the polls shows —

Wait a sec, I thought you said previously that pollsters were skewing their polls for propaganda?



Either way your do nothing government job is in jeopardy.

Shana said...

Bill R said -
"So why the hysteria? In the movie 'The Man Who Would Be King', the pretend God bleeds a little and his former supporters go crazy. They see they've been played for fools and they don't like it."

Yup.

DCS said...

Of course the leftist spin fits perfectly into the leftosphere's belief in victimology. No one is ever excellent. There are varying degrees of victimhood that have to be righted through appropriate government action. Individuals are never responsible for their own failures. In this case Romney "lied" and victim Obama was unable to defend himself.

phx said...

I think she wanted to be coy and alluring...

Edgy even.


Robert Cook said...

"Here's why they did it. Romney was so much better than Obama. Romney was vigorous, vividly in command of the facts, principles of economics, free-market ideology."

Was he in command of the facts? I've heard otherwise.

The real reason is that we don't--and the press doesn't--look to these performances for sober discussion of facts and policies, but for theatrics: who trounced whom? Who came across as successfully "presidential," (whatever that means)? Who exuded authority? Who spoke with assurance, with a lack of pauses or fumbles?

The debates are strictly about appearance and not in the least about substance.

Cato Renasci said...

While I was watching the debate, my impression was that Obama had not done particularly badly, but that Romney had done very well.

I think you're right that the spin was the 'terrible Obama' as a way of deflecting independents from just how good Romney was.

He was even better the other day at the VMI in his foreign policy speech.

Bruce Hayden said...

Note to Voltaire on the PBS two debate argument - yes, they have a point, but show their partisanship by saying "Obama spoke with the slightly hesitant style he uses when he wants to convey thoughtfulness to an interviewer, drawing out words like and and but, and pausing briefly between word groups, as if he were carefully composing each sentence on the spot" when trying to dismiss Obama's lack of preparation.

One of the first things that you learn in Toastmasters is that these are fillers - and my father pointed out a couple of weeks ago how much I had regressed in this area. They are what people say when they don't know what they are saying, and have to compose their speech as they go on. So, using so many of them is strong evidence first that Obama was not adequately prepared on the facts and with bullet points, and secondly he never has had adequate training in public speaking. And, these may be the reasons that he sounds so much better reading from a teleprompter, since he doesn't have to think about what he is saying while saying it then.

What is interesting to me is the contrast between Obama and Biden - who seems to say something, almost anything that comes into his mind, instead of using filler. That makes him sound far more intelligent that he most likely actually is.

Face it - Romney was better prepared in both style and substance. At a Toastmasters' conference, he wouldn't have come close to winning, but would have been rated much higher than Obama. Some people are naturally good at speaking on their feet, but I think that unlikely with Romney, given that he is probably almost as naturally introverted as Obama (again, contrasted with Biden). Rather, I suspect that he has had decades of practice working on his ability to speak well in front of demanding crowds.

But, I will agree that Romney's tendency to address Obama directly, while the latter most often used the third person to refer to the former, is a basic difference in style that did not work well for the President, and the difference may not be as visible in the next debate, due to its format.

Patrick said...

The debate was watched by what, 65 million people? The vast majority of those have not been exposed to Mitt Romney, except as presented by the President, his supporters and the media (but I repeat myself). It was also one of the very few times that the President had to go one on one with someone who has incentive to call him out on his policy failures and see him, also unfiltered.

The results speak for themselves. About twice as many people saw this performance than saw the President's speech at the convention, which was wholly scripted and rehearsed. The President doesn't do well without the TOTUS.

Bruce Hayden said...

Talking about debates, ABC News scrambles to downplay Obama’s attendance at VP debate moderator’s wedding. Who would have guessed that the MSM would have tried to pass off someone close enough to Obama for him to have attended their wedding as unbiased and balanced to moderate one of these debates.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Twitter opinion was set 30 minutes into the debate and any pundit attempt to overcome that would ring false.

Twitter...the great equalizer.

Cosmic Conservative said...

Two things. First the debate. Anyone who does not realize how badly Obama was beaten in this debate needs to hand in their pundit card. It's that simple. If you don't see it, you lack fundamental analysis skills that are critical to voicing your opinion publicly on popular blogs. Unless, of course, you actually do see it, and are just trying to spin. But if you truly DON'T see it, turn in your card.

Second, being undecided at this point in the campaign is hard to fathom. The ideological differences in the two candidates is profound. The difference in sheer competency is blindingly obvious. The difference in character even more so. So if you are still undecided then that means you must be allowing ideology to compete with recognition of competence and character.

Which says a lot about the undecided person.

Of course there are plenty of undecideds still who are simply ignorant morons who typically pay more attention to Jersey Shore than politics, but I am sure nobody on this blog falls into that category.

chickelit said...

You know what that debate was Althouse? It was like the courtroom scene in to "To Kill A MockingBird"

That was Mitticus Finch up there taking on the left through their proxy, Barack "Tom" Robinson. Finch led the discussion all the way through with level-headed cool. Every question Mitticus threw, Barack caught left-handed. A lot of kids were watching that debate too. They even ended up mocking a bird.

Matthew Sablan said...

I wonder if anyone at the debate moderator's wedding gave the gift of donations to Obama's re-election.

Calypso Facto said...

Who would have guessed that the MSM would have tried to pass off someone close enough to Obama for him to have attended their wedding as unbiased and balanced to moderate one of these debates.

Should she recuse? Serious question?

Cosmic Conservative said...

On the VP Moderator question. "Should she recuse?"

Duh. The fact that she did not recuse and was not immediately disqualified for having a personal relationship with the President is sheer journalistic malpractice.

Which is par for the course these days. That pretty much describes our media.

Matthew Sablan said...

The argument will be that she has no personal relationship to Joe Biden, so, all's square.

tarheel said...

I also thought Obama presented his case well considering how weak his case is. Nevertheless, Romney was the clear winner. So Ann's question is, "Why are Obama supporters being so hard on his performance?" The reasons:

1. Obama lost! That simply cannot be.

2. Obama failed to bring up such topics as the 47% and Bain Capital. Their assumption is that such attacks would have put Romney on the defensive. The assumption is likely just wishful thinking. Romney would have handled such attacks well.

Romney is the far better debater and Obama is saddled with four years of dismal failure on the economy. Also, Obama has no plausible explanation for setting and wasting time on the wrong priorities.

Other than his demeanor while Romney was talking, Obama did the best he could have done. While presenting his case, Obama did as well as could be expected. I agree with Ann that he did not perform poorly. But he did lose, badly.

Many are blaming Lehrer for the poor outcome for Obama. Having watched every presidential debate beginning in 1960, this is the first one that the moderator allowed the candidates to debate. It was simply the best job by a moderator ever.

If I were an Obama supporter, I would be upset most with the fact that his campaign will not get off the topic of the debate. He lost, so why not move on with no lingering.

RebeccaH said...

If you're still undecided after nearly four years of Obama, then it's pretty obvious you'll vote for him again. In which case, you've learned nothing.

Matthew Sablan said...

I cannot remember people talking about any other debate as long as we've been talking about this one, but I've only been following politics since about Clinton.

edutcher said...

Comanche Voter said...

Still going to repeat your Mistake of 2008 Ann? Come on, I know you want to pull that lever for The Bamster.

Now, now, ever since Stacey Dash came out for the Romster and has been crucified on the Cross of Racism, it's like crossing the streams.

You can go back, but it does risk all life stopping and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

OTOH, Ryan tweeted his sympathies to Ms Dash and, if that doesn't constitute redemption, I don't know what does.

Nathan Alexander said...

There were two ways for this debate to be a blowout.

You could compare their two performances, and say that Romney totally dismantled Obama.

Some people say that's what happened, others think the debate performance was much closer. But reasonable people can disagree, based on their personal expectations and standards.

The other way this could be a blowout is by the number/percentage of people convinced that one person or the other did better.

Person A can do just 1% better, but if 70% of the people agree with that, and only 30% disagree, then it is a blowout.

That's how you can get an electoral blowout even by losing the popular national vote, if you get 100% of the votes in California, but your opponent gets a plurality of the votes in every other state, you end up with an electoral college blowout.

Kind of like in football, where a team wins everywhere but the scoreboard.

In this case, the gap between those who thought Romney won and those who thought Obama won was the largest that had ever been recorded (albeit just going back 30+ years).

That says nothing about how those people think Romney won by.

By that metric, Obama did horribly, even if his actual performance wasn't horrible.

Dr Weevil said...

For those like sane_voter (9:18am) who "definitely thought Romney beat Obama" but "didn't think it was a blowout" and "felt Romney missed several openings to better define Obama's failures":

Have you considered that Romney might have been pulling his punches? A devastating, knockout performance would have been good, but Obama would have been able to parry that by checking into the hospital immediately afterwards and claiming he had the flu or something, and then canceling the last two debates.

Even better than a first-round knockout would be a second- or third-round knockout. A devastating performance preceded by one or (better) two dominating performances (three, if we count Ryan-Biden) would leave no possible doubt about the Romney and Obama teams' relative competence and suitability for the presidency.

What do I mean by 'devastating' and 'knockout'? Obama clearly has a fragile ego. I can easily imagine him walking off the stage in mid-debate, with a "You lie!" or a "Fuck you all!" or an "I quit!" or a "Damn, I need to go change my underwear!" or an "I don't know the answer! I just don't know!" or (to the moderator) "Why didn't you tell me you were going to ask that question? You told me all the others!" or some other equivalent of "No más!". If he calls for his Mommy (not that she ever cared for him), or Michelle (ditto), or some girlfriend or boyfriend, or Valerie, or George Soros, if he starts babbling about Mountain Meadows and magic underwear, if he throws his water glass or a punch at Romney, if he demands that the audience start clapping to keep Tinkerbelle alive, or just stops talking, lies down on stage, and assumes a fetal position - that would be devastating.

And such a total meltdown would be all the more devastating the more it had been preceded by dominating Romney and Ryan performances, making a medical excuse unbelievable, and the closer to election day it happened, making a new ticket (Biden-Hillary? Hillary-Biden?) difficult to arrange.

rhhardin said...

Althouse got a nod from Rush at 12:12 eastern time

ricpic said...

A thumbs up from Rush!

Bender said...

So if you are still undecided then that means you must be allowing ideology to compete with recognition of competence and character. Which says a lot about the undecided person.

CC -- What it says is that the "undecided" person is not really undecided. Rather, she (or he) has a very much decided default mode, and that by default, she will vote for Obama. Now, there is always that chance that one can override the default mode, but unless the alternative is able to jump through a bunch of arbitrary and ever-moving hoops so as to overcome that default vote -- and to do so exactly at the moment that she steps into the voting booth on election day, because the override might itself be reset back to default mode if there is a slight breeze -- then the Obama-by-default vote is cast.

Such is the lot of those who harbor an irrational animus against their perceived ideological enemies, who are per se worse than Hitler, even if they end up agreeing with them on most issues.

sdharms said...

Althouse, how can you teach at a major university, yet not be able to decide whether or not to vote for Obama. How do you vote for his cronyism? How do you vote for the guy who put 23million out of work? How do you vote for the valkyrie who sends drones to kill people, some innocent, some American citizens? How do you vote for the guy who knowingly shipped guns to Mexico, innocent citizens were killed, 2 US LE killed? I would never send a child to sit at your feet to learn. You have nothing you could teach.

The Real Rear Admir0l said...

Dr. Sowell and Walter Williams both came to our tiny tiny tiny community college, different times but both during my junior year of high school back in 1990. To say they made an impact on me is a vast understatement. Its good to see that his sometimes piercing clarity can illuminate fallacy, and in this case, make an actual difference and change someone's mind. Keep up the good work.

Cosmic Conservative said...

Ann, one thing I do agree with you is that Obama did not do "poorly" in comparison to Obama's other debate performances.

It's just this time he was debating a competent person with history, facts and sincerity on his side, and was in a situation where his handlers (I include the press in that) did not come to his rescue.

Obama is the inverse of the "Emperor's New Clothes" story. He is all suit, no emperor, and Romney made that clear.

wyo sis said...

chickelit

"Every question Mitticus threw, Barack caught left-handed. A lot of kids were watching that debate too. They even ended up mocking a bird."

Winner!

chickelit said...

rhhardin said...
Althouse got a nod from Rush at 12:12 eastern time

Missed it. Did Limbaugh praise Althouse's spirited defense of Fluke's defence of the actress?

phx said...

Althouse, how can you teach at a major university, yet not be able to decide whether or not to vote for Obama.

And you! A college professor!

Inga said...

Yeah Garage, I saw that in an interview yesterday he said he wouldn't support any new legislation on abortion, then later in the day someone on his staff tweeted he would, then again later in the day said he wouldn't . Is that a record? Three flip flops in one day?

Cosmic Conservative said...

The Romney campaigns abortion comments are completely consistent. Romney said his agenda has nothing in it that affects abortion except for the use of US funds to pay for foreign abortions.

The comment from his campaign was that IF THE CONGRESS introduced legislation which addressed abortion, Romney would decide whether to sign it or not.

That's the "controversy". Of course it's only "controversy" to people who deliberately refuse to comprehend.

Inga said...

Human Etch a Sketch does it again

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Nobody cares what the candidates said. Obama and Romney were judged on how they said it. Is this any way to run an airline? Maybe not, but it's the reality. If you accept that, then it is crystal clear who won the debate, and why. Hell, you didn't even need to speak English to know who kicked who's ass.

chickelit said...

Didn't Sullivan invent and promulgate the "Etch a Sketch" meme, Inga?

You sure you want to sign onto that? I mean, it has all the wit and punch of Andy R's Scrooge McDuck meme.

Henry said...

I watched the last 10 minutes of the debate once. You couldn't pay me to watch more than that.

bandmeeting said...

it still doesn't explain why you seem to be still undecided.

The fact that she has a blog with a pretty sizable readership that gets out of sorts every time she vacillates one direction to the other does. It's good for the numbers.

MayBee said...

Allie- he didn't say he wouldn't support any legislation, just that there isn't any out there that he plans to focus on.

If the abortion issue comes up at the next debate, I hope Obama is asked at what point he thinks abortion should not be an option for a woman. The Dem platform is taxpayer subsidized abortion, right up to birth.

chickelit said...

@Inga: I mean, if you want help inventing memes to mock with, don't go with those invented by those out of touch with middle America. Just sayin'

Michael said...

Hey, Inga! Looks like it wasnt the film makers fault. Speaking of flipping and flopping and the stupid etch a sketch line.

Michael said...

Hey, Inga! Looks like it wasnt the film makers fault. Speaking of flipping and flopping and the stupid etch a sketch line.

Henry said...

I thought the colluding pundit meme was: It's Jim Lehrer's fault.

Inga said...

Chickelit, I don't read Sullivan, I don't care about Sullivan, I don't care who coined the phrase, it's a good one, it fits.

Inga said...

Michael, what happened in Egypyt?

creeley23 said...

...I didn't think Obama was that bad.

Ann: Great. That's your opinion and you are welcome to it.

However, other people had opinions different from yours. Is it not possible that they are as sincere as you are?

Instead of accepting honest differences of opinion, in recent posts you repeatedly head off into speculation that other people are not sincere, that they are "colluding" or "racist" or "don't really want to be president."

Maybe. Such speculation can be interesting. Nonetheless, it is mindreading on your part and can only go so far.

Should we accept your sincerity? Perhaps, as some here have already suggested, you are covering for your poor judgment on Obama and other matters.

How far should we go in questioning each other's sincerity and motives?

EMD said...

Only people really into sadomasochism watch a debate twice.

damikesc said...

Obama wasn't worse than usual.

His usual, however, is weak sauce if the other party isn't subservient to him.

The president has decided, in the aftermath of the debate, to defend federal funding of a wildly successful non-profit corporation

A corporation, mind you, that does not remotely NEED the funding. Sesame Street's merchandising would keep PBS afloat with ease.

I am puzzled by the fact that they want push the idea that Obama's performance was due to lack of preparation because Obama is already being criticized for missing intelligence breifings and then your add that to his dismal attendance records in the Illinois legislature and the Senate, which all supports the notion that Obama does not take anything seriously and that he just does not like to work hard at anything.

It's even more baffling since the media claimed he was better prepared than any President in history for this debate.

His best --- just isn't that good.

There were a number of interesting posts from Kevin Drum

There hasn't been one to date. I see no reason to expect that to change with these examples.

I'm hoping Obama continues his pattern and doesn't learn from his mistake. I also hope the Republicans demand a new moderator IMMEDIATELY for the VP debate --- or Ryan mentions that Obama went to that wedding in answers after all idiotic questions.

ricpic said...

chick, Rush was very taken with Althouse' analysis. It was a positive reaction, very positive. Went by quickly but it was quite a plug.

deborah said...

Althouse, why did you skip the closings? I would say that about half the final grade should be the part that the participant had a chance to prepare for. Obama's was painful to watch.

MaggotAtBroad&Wall said...

I said the same thing in the comments on this blog on your post about the debates a week ago. I said then that Obama's debate performance was fine. He made the points he wanted to make. He was articulate. He did not get tongue tied or find himself at a loss for words. I asked then why the pundits were so reluctant to say that Obama was good but that Romney was much better.

However, I reject your suggestion of conscious collusion among pundits. I think it's subconscious. Twitter makes conscious collusion unnecessary. All the MSM pundits follow each other on twitter. All it takes is for one high profile Obama supporter to send out a tweet during the debate that Obama is off his game, then others jump on the bandwagon, and within moments the narrative is established. Twitter does not promote critical independent thought. It promotes groupthink.

I've come to the conclusion that twitter is not a force for "good" in a system like ours that requires thoughtful honest public debate.

bagoh20 said...

I sure wish Obama was qualified or even inclined to use an etch-a-sketch. Bill Clinton turned his over and shook it the shit out of it to good effect.

An etch-a-sketch is apparently another thing above Obama's pay grade.

Mil-Tech Bard said...

Ms. Althouse

Michael Barone's evaluation of the debate is very good for understanding what happened. This was the killer observation in the piece:

The most important thing about these debates is that they give voters an idea of which candidate can take command for an office one of whose titles is commander-in-chief. Romney, in his interactions with Lehrer and with Obama, established that he is a man who can take command. Obama, through the whole debate, seemed like a man who cannot. Romney took command tonight and Obama looked irritable and weak. Americans don’t usually want irritatble and weak leaders as their commanders-in-chief.


Barone is the first of the verbal guys called journalists to notice the strange phenomenon called "non-verbal intelligence". Presidential debates are public demonstrations of leadership ability, not policy, and are THE place where the arguable majority of voters who rely on non-verbal intelligence decide who to vote for.

This is why you first have to watch the debates with the audio off.

That is what I did.

The overall non-verbals of Romney's debate persona was of a committed CEO during a "bet the company" sales presentation for working his board or a group of investors for a yet to be approved project.

Obama's persona was of an annoyed college professor who didn't want to be there.

It was headline news for the ABC Evening News, before the debate, that Romney was putting in more debate preparation than any other previous Presidential candidate, after a Republican primary campaign filled with debates.

The question on the table is why the Obama campaign didn't expect that Romney CEO persona -- given their Bain Capital negative campaigning hysteria -- and avail themselves of the same level of debate preparation.

It is blindingly apparent no one took video tape of Obama's debate rehearsals and reviewed it with President Obama to hammer out those college professor non-verbal ticks and get his non-verbal hand gestures in range of the TV camera.

The split screen was much kinder to Romney than Obama because he was projecting a prepared image he had seen for hours during his debate prep.

That debate preparation also showed in other ways.

Romney was using a double hand, lowered, lowered, gesture talking about spending and taxes to reduce the deficit. It was a consistent idea-vocal-visual with him through out. Romney's other non-verbals were always powerful, like he was taking with his hands in the range of the TV camera. It felt to me very Latin male -- Hispanic or Italian -- culturally, not North Eastern Yankee.

The amount of multi-level preparation that visual/gut/cultural feel suggests to me is staggering. It will be extemely hard for Pres. Obama to make up that Debate preparation gap, given Romney's demonstrated work ethic.

I strongly suspect we are looking at the execution of a deliberate campaign strategy by the Romney campaign.

Pew shifted from reporting “all voters” to “likely voters” at the beginning of October like it does each election year.

The other polls are following suit and it all happened at the same time as bump from Romney’s very good debate performance.

A lot of Republicans and Very Right Wing Conservatives were hitting Romney for giving in on the media types in the debates.

It looks to me, that for the Romney Campaign in the debate negotiations, the _timing_ of the 1st Debate to be with those usual election poll change overs was the goal. Not getting Republican leaning media talking heads for the debate.

The Romney Campaign bet it all on a Romney Debate performance destroying Obama’s image…and it seems to have worked.

And it worked because Romney spent more time on debate prep than any other Presidential candidate in history going in to face a President he knew to be thin skinned and coddled by the media.

The books on this Presidential campaign by and for the political pros will be darned interesting.

whoresoftheinternet said...

Because of 3 things:

1) Because the book on Romney from the left was that he was a robot---charmless, mechanical, soulless, can't improvise--and the debate showed him warm, aggressive, intelligent, and quick-witted.

2) Because the book on Obama from the right was that he was an affirmative action president, not intelligent or a great speaker---and the debate reinforced this.

3) Because Obama had no zingers. The left was crying for President Fail to start attacking Romney---to focus on anything else besides his massive fail as president. When he came out and didn't zing, all the pundits had to focus on was his dismal record.

President Fail!

Alex said...

What Ann is saying will win her vote is the appearance of "moderation and thoughtfulness".

etbass said...

Althouse is not undecided. For one as intelligent and informed as she, to be undecided at this stage would be to be a fool. And that she is not.

She was fooled in 2008 but she is not a fool.

Althouse is a keen blogger and if you keep that in mind, you can understand why she would say she is as yet undecided.

Robert Cook said...


Could it even really be called a debate?

Saint Croix said...

Bingo. Althouse nails it.

Obama was annoying to me, like he always is. He was boring in places, like he always is. He was dishonest in places, like he always is. I thought Romney won the debate. But if a liberal said Obama won it, I wouldn't have been surprised at all. Liberals are apparently immune to how boring he is, and they don't hear the same dishonesty that I hear.

It really was the liberal media pushing the meme that Obama was horrible. Worst debater ever! I'm prepared to agree with that, since I always hate the guy. But he wasn't that different from his usual crappy speeches that he gives us. Obama has always been a bad speaker. This is not new!

Yeah, yeah, he looked down at his notes. That's the prevailing liberal theory on why Obama will lose. He looked down at his notes.

Althouse is exactly right. Romney had an amazing command of facts and figures, and flawlessly brought in real human stories to engage us emotionally.

Obama wasn't an F. He was a C. And the media wanted to avoid talking about Romney's A+.

chickelit said...

etbass argues:
Althouse is a keen blogger and if you keep that in mind, you can understand why she would say she is as yet undecided.

Yes but that reality is so cynical, crass and ultimately Crack-like that I don't want to believe it.

Oh well, what a man had rather were true he more readily believes.

The Crack Emcee said...

There had to have been a coordinated decision to go with the talking point: Obama was terrible. He was tired, disengaged, unprepared. Shocking! But why would Obama's supporters coordinate to tell the story that way? What a weird thing to choose to put in our minds?

"Coordinated," my ass - it's just like here:

Stupid peer pressure.

Crack Emcee HAS to like Romney (or Mormonism) or else he's a bigot! (There can be no other option, naturally) Forget he's been dissing both for years - there's an election on! Pick a side, asshole! Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

They're a bunch of fucking children, still on the playground, thinking they can push somebody around because they're now a mob of cowards.

Very few people think for themselves in this world. Very few can stand to say they're wrong (or even to appear that way) to be seen as out-of-step, to take the unpopular view. They're either cowards, or unimaginative, or so mediocre they're incapable of doing or seeing otherwise.

It's a major reason the world sucks as much as it does,...

phx said...

They were both okay, nobody got in zinger and nobody's fly was undone. Nobody said Poland wasn't under Soviet domination - they both passed. Romney won. But Romney was not great. They were both very tedious, only watchable for wonks and nerds (yup, I watched).

The Crack Emcee said...

chickelit,

That reality is so cynical, crass and ultimately Crack-like that I don't want to believe it.

ROTFLMAO!!!

You fucking idiot,....

Carl said...

You're right, Althouse. The beauty of the "Obama was awful!" meme is that it implies he CAN be very good -- that you didn't see the "real" Obama at that debate, the absolutely brilliant, concerned, demigod you just know he is.

So of course they're going to say Obama had a terrible, terrible day. As you say, on the first place, it takes the spotlight off Romney. He didn't beat Obama, Obama defeated himself, didn't fight, didn't show up.

And in the second, it implies that the "real" Obama -- the one you see in his ads, say -- is just the same wonderful person he is inside your head.

It's not a whole lot different from their general strategy of coping with his abysmal record. Well, of course he's had a terrible four years! Look what he "inherited!" If he'd only been able to start clean -- be George Washington, say, or better yet Adam in the Garden of Eden -- why, THEN his brilliance and perfection would really shine through.

With Team Obama, as with the Left generally, bad results are ALWAYS the result of mistakes, flawed execution, conspiracy by malefactors, cowardice and betrayal by underlings, bad luck, failure to tell the story well -- and any other incidental, accidental, purely temporary kind of setback. It never occurs, and will never occur, in their reasoning that their philosophy or policy might be the real problem. That it is inherently vicious, despite its noble theoretical goals, or that, at the very least, any plan that cannot succeed unless everything goes 100% perfectly is useless in the real world.

Dr Weevil said...

Saint Croix:
It wasn't so much that Obama was a C or (I would say) C-. It's that watchers could compare and suddenly realize that he's always been a C and they hadn't realized it because they hadn't seen anything better in years. I mean, McCain was a D, Bush was a solid B, but when was the last A+ or A or even A- performance from a presidential candidate?

The overall effect was a bit like the boys vs men rugby game in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, but here the refs are trying to trip the man, not the boy - not that it helped.

The Crack Emcee said...

Carl,

Of course they're going to say Obama had a terrible, terrible day. As you say, on the first place, it takes the spotlight off Romney. He didn't beat Obama, Obama defeated himself, didn't fight, didn't show up.

He didn't - anybody could see that, and I don't even like the guy.

Look, anybody who says Romney was good in that debate needs his head examined - it was a boring debate. There were no good take-away lines, no major points made, nothing of real substance said. Romney lied his ass off (HALF of Obama's "green" initiatives went bust?) and you guys are still sucking his dick.

Why don't YOU just admit that being on your knees is a position you're comfortable in?

The Crack Emcee said...

Tyrone Slothrop,

Nobody cares what the candidates said. Obama and Romney were judged on how they said it. Is this any way to run an airline? Maybe not, but it's the reality. If you accept that, then it is crystal clear who won the debate, and why. Hell, you didn't even need to speak English to know who kicked who's ass.

Exactly - including the part about "Is this any way to run an airline?"

A fucking nation of morons,....

chickelit said...

Crack insults: You fucking idiot,....

But that's just become your standard retort here--more so that ever. Geez, look at you replies to practically everyone. You really have become like Nietzsche's Mad Man.



chickelit said...

Look at me! Look at me! I'm the Crack EmCee!

Saint Croix said...

They were both okay, nobody got in zinger and nobody's fly was undone. Nobody said Poland wasn't under Soviet domination - they both passed. Romney won. But Romney was not great. They were both very tedious, only watchable for wonks and nerds (yup, I watched).

Romney = boring and wonky smart
Obama = boring and inept

The Crack Emcee said...

chickelit,

Look at me! Look at me! I'm the Crack EmCee!

I got a $3,000 donation on my blog yesterday.

What'd you get?

chickelit said...

I got a $3,000 donation on my blog yesterday.

What'd you get?


I don't even have a donation link!

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