October 7, 2012

The Obama campaign used the excuse — blame Kerry — that I offered at 10:29 on the night of the debate.

That's Central time, so: within half an hour of the end of the debate. In fact, I flagged the Kerry problem 10 minutes before the debate began. From my live-blog:
7:50: In the practice debates, Obama had John Kerry pretending to be Mitt Romney, and Romney had Rob Portman pretending to be Barack Obama. I've got to think Romney had the better practice partner. Why would Kerry be any good at that?...

10:29: Everyone seems to be saying that Obama lost by a lot. I blame John Kerry. I'll bet he was a terrible practice partner.
The day after the debate, I quoted a passage from the David Maraniss book about Obama, about how he learned how to debate as a teenager arguing with his grandfather ("Gramps") — "who had tried without much success to assume the role of disciplinarian, laying down what the teenager considered to be 'an endless series of petty and arbitrary rules.'" As Obama himself remembered: "With a certain talent for rhetoric, as well as an absolute certainty about the merits of my own views, I found that I could generally win these arguments in the narrow sense of leaving my grandfather flustered, angry, and sounding unreasonable." I said:
And Romney's not Gramps, though I note that, in Obama's practice sessions for the debate, the role of Romney was played by John Kerry. And I think Kerry was Gramps.
2 days after the debate, I looked at Obama's post debate zinger —"When I got on the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney" — and I said:
It's as if Obama expected Mitt Romney to show up in the form that Obama supporters have been sculpting in the media! Perhaps that's how Obama's sparring partner in the debate prep portrayed Romney. Oh, how I'd love to get the secret video of Obama practicing debating Romney with John Kerry playing the role of Romney. I think it would explain a lot.
And then, 3 days after the debate, the campaign itself blamed Kerry!
They blame the President's team, first of all, for not preparing him to meet the challenge of an aggressive Mitt Romney.  They say that nobody in the room challenged him, including the guy that he was debating with, John Kerry, because, as they say, he wants to be Secretary of State so he's not going to get in the President's face. And Presidents are used to deference; they're not used to people challenging them like that."
Of course, it's not really Kerry's fault. It's Obama's fault. Presidents are "used to deference"?! It's up to the President to demand the stark truth from those around him. The choice of Kerry and allowing him to present easy practice sessions show terrible judgment. If Obama had such poor judgment about something that would put him at a disadvantage at a crucial event in which he knew he was about to be tested in public, think what that suggests about the advisers that surround him every day as he attempts to deal with the nation's problems in a private setting, where we don't get to scrutinize and evaluate him.

72 comments:

MayBee said...

You have seen David Remnick's article in the New Yorker, no doubt.

This David, also an Obama biographer, says Obama is just too darn smart and fair to excel in debates.

Curious George said...

Forget all the spin. Obama is not that smart and the last four years are a disaster. Round two will be a clusterfuck for him too.

Moose said...

"They say that nobody in the room challenged him"

Pretty much has summed up his presidency up to this point. Everyone was so in love the idea that a black man had been elected President, that no one wanted to even question the egregious holes in his experience and background.

Tim said...

"...They say that nobody in the room challenged him, including the guy that he was debating with, John Kerry, because, as they say, he wants to be Secretary of State so he's not going to get in the President's face. And Presidents are used to deference; they're not used to people challenging them like that."

Affirmative action beneficiaries aren't challenged either.

It's, now, the central organizing principle of affirmative action.

Obama lost the debate because no one had challenged him, from academia, to employers, to the media (pace Millbank's commentary the other day), until Romney did.

pm317 said...

If Obama had such poor judgment about something that would put him at a disadvantage at a crucial event in which he knew he was about to be tested in public, think what that suggests about the advisers that surround him every day as he attempts to deal with the nation's problems in a private setting, where we don't get to scrutinize and evaluate him.

Sure we don't see their process but we see the results and evaluate him and VOTE him out. The results are terrible.

Matthew Sablan said...

I don't see how it is fair to blame Kerry. Obama's 2008 debates (even his primary debates) had incredibly rough spots, and he was only saved by a combination of moderators, McCain's unwillingness to go at him as strongly as Romney did and effectively defanging Clinton by calling her husband and Geraldine Ferraro racist, which made it impossible in debates for her to find a good line of attack for fear of, well, being called racist.

The performance we saw last night was nothing particularly bad for Obama (it was below average for him); it was just the first time he had to debate against someone who actually knew what they were doing.

David said...

Obama picked Kerry to prep him. Kerry was a bad choice but he was Obama's choice.


Tom Paquelet said...

Surrounded by yes men and women the President tanked at the debate. That is the story of an unprepared and untested man from Chicago.

Richard Dolan said...

The point of the 'blame Kerry' narrative is the same as the 'blame Bush' explanation that Team O offers for everything else.

theribbonguy said...

" If Obama had such poor judgment about something that would put him at a disadvantage at a crucial event in which he knew he was about to be tested in public, think what that suggests about the advisers that surround him every day as he attempts to deal with the nation's problems in a private setting, where we don't get to scrutinize and evaluate him. "

^This

It's just not his lack of desire to actually DO anything, it's that every nook and cranny of his administration has been stuffed with academia (with ZERO real world experience), or cronies that had a hand helping him get elected.

Of course the reason that he "delegates the actuall work of the country to this hodge-podge of incompetents is that in his heart of hearts he knows he is even less competent.

Bob Ellison said...

It's up to the President to demand the stark truth from those around him.

Yes. Most people don't know what it takes to be a good manager. A crucial requirement is respect for others, and demanding that they challenge one's (the manager's) assumptions and conclusion.

Obama doesn't do this. He thinks he's the best at everything. Kerry was a lousy Romney-player, so Obama will just play Romney himself in his next debate prep.

Richard Dolan said...

The point of the 'blame Kerry' narrative is the same as the 'blame Bush' explanation that Team O offers for everything else.

Tim said...

Today's Rasmussen poll shows Romney holding a 2 point lead, same as yesterday.

His "Debate Bounce" has seemingly topped off.

MayBee said...

The article where Politico says at first Obama thought his debate performance was fine is pretty enlightening, too.
That means his meandering closing statement didn't happen because Obama was frustrated by his own performance.

While he was debating, he self-evaluated as "good". How often does he do that as president?

pm317 said...

I have a different theory on why Obama did so badly. There were many 'tells'. A few weeks or even months ago it was floated how Obama has come to hate Romney, and how that was giving him the urge to win this election all over again. The man hates Romney, dislikes him intensely. He didn't want to be on the stage with him. He IS the president but he had no say in this matter, he could not control it. He didn't want to be there engaging this man he loathes.

Obama has no business running the most enviable country in the world in its democratic tradition.

He is fit to be a two-bit dictator or an impotent king of some unknown two-bit country.

Tim said...

"If Obama had such poor judgment about something that would put him at a disadvantage at a crucial event in which he knew he was about to be tested in public, think what that suggests about the advisers that surround him every day as he attempts to deal with the nation's problems in a private setting, where we don't get to scrutinize and evaluate him."

You need the debates to see Obama has poor judgement?

So, once the campaign starts, its all fresh, nothing in the last four years that happened under Obama's first term count, at all?

I guess I see why you might be able to vote for Obama if you engage in amnesia over the last four years, but that's incredibly, well, stupid.

He didn't have experience four years ago, and the experience he's had in the last four years doesn't count, so, uh, it's all about the campaign, not the governing.

That's really shallow.

Matthew Sablan said...

I don't think he really believed he did fine. I think he knew he did terrible, but was hoping if he projected calm and awesome that the media would pick up the slack and say: "Well, after some thought, he actually did alright. A tie really, not a massacre."

Then that did not happen.

Daniel Richwine said...

I've seen the excuse that Obama is too smart to answer all the lies, too busy to prepare, relied upon a poor debate partner, had altitude sickness or whatever Gore meant, and everything but the truth: HE STINKS at this level of debate. He had no competition for senate, went against the hated Hillary in the primaries, and against the unprepared McMcain in the general. Romney, whatever you want to say about him, in very competent at everything he does, and Obama isnt used to facing competence.

Rusty said...

This administration is just one big excuse.

Ross said...

Obama exercised poor judgment. It's par for him.

Sorun said...

Obama surrounds himself with celebrities and sycophants.

Unknown said...

Why does it not surprise me the Obama team is blaming everyone but themselves for the debate? Its Obama MO ...you take credit for the positives and you blame others for the negatives.

MayBee said...

Really, Matthew Sablan?

It does make me wonder if all the talk (from Jarrett, Tribe, etc) about how Obama is just too awesome for normal people is said
- because that's what Obama needs to hear
- because they believe it, and Obama believes it
- because they want to cover for him
or
- even though it makes him like crap because even those closest too him don't respect him enough to criticize him
?

MayBee said...

I wonder what John Kerry thinks about that bus?

MayBee said...

Perhaps the administration can find a way to blame Kerry for Libya, too, and kill two birds with one bus.

Bob Ellison said...

I keep imagining the debate prep in the Obama war room.

Obama: Let me be clear. I have stated that people need jobs, and, uh, I was correct! They do need jobs. And I have made jobs available in industries that were in trouble.

Kerry: Mr. President, with all due respect, I am a Mormon clown who wears funny underwear.

Obama: I have great respect for the Mormon species. It is essential that we extend the, uh, Protection of Weird People Act to keep this species alive. But we can't afford to let them run the country into the ditch the way they did the last time.

pm317 said...

But what would explain the body language, looking down all the time and not making eye contact with Romney, the passive aggressive smirk, the glares, the SoS pleas to Lehrer to interrupt Romney..

If Romney had exhibited any of this body language, he would be hung out to dry by the shameless big media. They are not even praising his commanding performance in their quest to explain Obama.

AllenS said...

It's always someone elses fault. That's what is so wrong about affirmative action. The premise is: "it's not you, but someone elses fault that you can't succeed on your own."

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

So, one rich white guy from Massachusetts is pretty much the same as another rich white guy from Massachusetts?

That's pretty stereotypical, if not racist, thinking on the Obama campaigns part.

Matthew Sablan said...

First the the Onion, then the New Yorker, and now SNL? What hath Obama's debate wrought?

Kansas City said...

Kerry, of course, was an awful choice. He is a stiff in real life, so he would be a stiff in debate prep.

However, Kerry is an interesting example of how, in American politics, someone with a shameless and burning ambition can succeed. Aside from marrying two rich women, and getting elected to political office, Kerry has accomplished very little in his life. Yet, he came within a 100,000 votes in Ohio of being elected president of the United States.

Alternative histories are always totally speculative, but Kerry almost certainly would have failed as president, with the republican winning in 2008 (McCain?) and then then the 2012 election would have been McCain against a new hope and change candidate, Barack Obama. So, in the big picture, if Ann comes on board and leads the country to an election of Romney, the Bush re-election in 2004 will pay a huge dividend in 2012.

Paul Zrimsek said...

They blame the President's team

Why does the article never tell us who are these unnamed people from outside the President's team?

Bob Boyd said...

Obama says that wasn't the real Mitt Romney up there.
Whoever it was, he handed Obama his real ass.

EDH said...

Inside the Obama debate prep.

"That's the way you do it. That's the way you debate."

Pogo said...

Debate question:
Do we as a nation want to be Houston and Salt Lake City, or Chicago and Detroit?

It's the real choice.

elkh1 said...

That Kerry chap is amazing, he could switch from piloting a hundreds yards yacht from New Zealand to steering the
Obamabus from undercarriage in the blink of an eye lash.

Pogo said...

Food stamps or checking account?

Gabriel Hanna said...

I think the President will do much better the second time. But I think he will be angry, and it may not look well.

Mark O said...

Apparently, Obama is even more stupid than I think. No sentient being could go into a debate thinking he would not be challenged. No careful person would simply rely on the campaign’s broad talking points without assuming there would be a counter. Certainly, the Smartest Man Ever to be President and the Greatest Orator in the World could have memorized a closing statement of two minutes. If you want to gauge the paucity of Obama’s intellect, pull up the transcript of the debate and read his silly, junior high school style, rambling closing remarks.

The blame lies on Obama and anyone who votes to double down on failure.

Pogo said...

Health insurance or death panels?

Bob Ellison said...

Yet, he came within a 100,000 votes in Ohio of being elected president of the United States.

Obama proves that incompetents can be elected.

edutcher said...

Bob Ellison had an interesing thought, "He thinks he's the best at everything. Kerry was a lousy Romney-player, so Obama will just play Romney himself in his next debate prep."

That's it in a nutshell. How many anecdotes have we heard about Zero saying he could do everybody else's job?

He figured he knew it all (that's what he's been told his whole life, after all) so he sloughed off debate prep (something else he's probably done all his life).

It wasn't Lurch's fault. Barry just knew it all.

The other part of the problem is he resents being challenged. When a Republican tried to say anything to him after the election, all they got was, "I won".

As I say, it's gonna be interesting to see what happens when the Administration is down 0-2 in the debates and Barry has to knuckle down and produce.

Dr Stantz would understand.

Michael said...

A grown up with business experience knows when a subordinate is blowing smoke up his ass. A community organizer does not.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

"Romney, whatever you want to say about him, in very competent at everything he does, and Obama isnt used to facing competence."

I think he knows that the second debate, a town hall theme that will be packed with Obama drones, will show how Obama thinks he is going to recover. I expect Obama to be nasty and sarcastic and try to be aggressive as his team has been telling him.

I expect Romney to keep his cool and it will be a bigger disaster for O. There is a tradition for incumbents to do much better in the second debate and Obama's team are all telling him that. Hillary, people forget, had no more experience than Obama in 2008 and I don't think she would have been more competent. Obama has never faced a worthy opponent.

Piercello said...

Alt headline: "Dems Swiftboat John Kerry"

Matthew Sablan said...

"Worthy opponents" are your equals. It is now clear to everyone that Obama is punching up, not down or across.

The Crack Emcee said...

Within half an hour of the end of the debate. In fact, I flagged the Kerry problem 10 minutes before the debate began.

Has anyone ever mentioned the desire to appear right is really ugly?

Oh, wait - you did.

Carry on,...

Comanche Voter said...

It's like playing high school football. You practice against the junior varsity middle school girls flag football team.

Come game day you have to play against another high school football team that's been working hard--and playing real people--and getting knocked around a bit.

And then you hunker down on the line and the guy across from you knocks you flat on your keister.

And you say, "Why that's a spirited fellow over there--I didn't expect that."

Well that's true dummy---but if you want to play and succeed, you need to take some hits first. Practicing against powder puff opposition won't get the job done.

kcom said...

"They blame the President's team, first of all, for not preparing him to meet the challenge of an aggressive Mitt Romney."

They blame the President's team, first of all, for not preparing him to meet the challenge of an aggressive (insert the name of your choice).

Vladimir Putin
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Kim Jong-un
Etc.

This stuff matters.

John Cunningham said...

It is clear now what affirmative action mostly produces--bogus men and women who are incapable of doing whatever job has been handed to them unjustly.
this SCFOAMF [stuttering clusterf*ck of a miserable failure] has finally had to present himself without a screen of sycophants and press stooges, and he showed his real self.
Comrade Urkel continues to show his craven gutlessness, and his permanent trait of constantly blaming others. after his limp performance in
the first debate, his stooges tried to blame the high altitude of Denver [!!], Romney's use of a secret code handkerchief, and the failure of
Jim Lehrer to run the debate properly.
Now John Kerry is being blamed.

chrisnavin.com said...

It's always someone else's fault with this guy.


pm317 said...

Hillary, people forget, had no more experience than Obama in 2008 and I don't think she would have been more competent. Obama has never faced a worthy opponent.

I am used to Hillary bashing on this board. But I don't think any of you watched the primary 2008 debates with the attention some of us did. She was excellent in every debate and she did it with her hands tied behind her back -- OTH, Obama was given a pillow in every debate and asked to go second most of the time and he would just repeat what she said. She has been made into a caricature over the years by the media and the righties much like what Romney has been made into now by Obama and his media. Those of us who can objective see her in a very different light and she does not deserve in the least the constant bashing and distortion (much as Romney does not deserve that now).

Here is her closing remarks in one of the final debates in primary 2008. She fought that primary with her hands tied behind her back. She still got ahead and Obama had to be dragged over the finish line by the media and the DNC. The result of all that cheating is what you are seeing today. You can drag a man to the finish line but he will never produce the results of a champion.

Shanna said...

Presidents are used to deference; they're not used to people challenging them like that

Which is a perfect recipe for groupthink and bad decision making, incidentally.

Matthew Sablan said...

I think it is more instructive to see Hillary Clinton in her Senate election debates; she's a lot like Bill in that she's got a command of facts and policy, but she lacks the same charm that Bill has. It's not that she doesn't -have- charm, it is just the unfortunate nature that her performance will always be compared to Bill. But, yes. She did very well in the debates for what she could do.

pm317 said...

About the Obama you saw in the debate, we saw that guy in primary 2008. Glad to see that the whole country could see now what we saw then. May be the election will produce the right results this time around.

Old Dad said...

The President lost the first debate because he is lazy. He effed up his first term because he is lazy. He likes to play golf, shoot hoops, and campaign--because sycophants will blow smoke up his backside.

He'll fail in the next two debates because he is too lazy to prepare properly. He'll stutter and ramble, and be pissy because anyone dare challenge the One.

Romney is at least as smart and 10 times more competent and disciplined.

chrisnavin.com said...

There's still time to get the narrative right, comrades:

Underneath: Obamaphones, stripping work requirements from welfare, Total statist on economics, Obamacare, a liberal internationalist doctrine meeting reality, green lunacy meeting economic reality.

It's everyone else's fault.

Appearance: a calm, middle of the road, professorial President expiating our racial sins who was handed a bad economy as he appears and disappears through the fog of white guilt and media normalcy.

When he's not Abraham Lincoln, FDR, or Ronald Reagan, he's Barack Obama.

Palladian said...

Floor wax or dessert topping?

ricpic said...

The Alien has no qualms about the way he debated Gramps and left him distraught. Our nightmare is that this creature, Obama, conscienceless and loveless, is our president.

jeff said...

It's John Fing Kerry. His sole qualification for his current job is he's tall and has a deep voice and looks like a senator would look in the movies. He's the empty suit of empty suits. Why anyone would call on him for anything is beyond me.

William said...

If, as I expect, Biden holds his own in his debate against Ryan, it will not make Obama look good. It will merely highlight how inept Obama's performance was. Biden is far more famous for his gaffes than for his debating skills, and if he can hold his own, why not Obama......I watched most of the Republican debates. Romney was perhaps the most balanced and poised, but rarely the most charismatic or likeable candidate on the stage. His victory was not due to any con man's tricks or star quality. His victory was due simply to Obama's ineptitude.

deborah said...

Michael K said...
I think he knows that the second debate, a town hall theme that will be packed with Obama drones, will show how Obama thinks he is going to recover. I expect Obama to be nasty and sarcastic and try to be aggressive as his team has been telling him.

/////////////

In a way, Foreign Policy is Obama's wheelhouse. He polls well in it, and even a lot of Republicans approved of his decisions, until Stevens in Libya. He will be able to take advantage of diplomacy being an inexact science without a bunch of pesky numbers. He will make much use of his bullshitting skill, and wax poetic on hope and change in the Middle East. His treatment of the Stevens Affair will be poignant. He will remain presidential respectful, and sincere.

It will be interesting to see his responses when Romey pounds him on Stevens, Israel, letting Iran get ahead on enrichment, and his management of Afghanistan, Egypt, and Syria. There will be the danger of Romney becoming too strident.

Chip S. said...

But instead o' takin' advantage, Ike had to try and excuse himself. His play was to shut up and he didn't know how to make it.

--Ring Lardner, Alibi Ike

From Inwood said...

After watching The Anointed One in The Debate & listening to the robotic spin by his sycophants, I was reminded of one of those guys on Pawn Stars on The History Channel. I mean the guy who comes in with some Elvis Memorabilia for which he asks $50,000 & who is then met with a counter offer of $1,000. He sputters “I’ve been asking everyone I know & everyone tells me that it’s worth at least something close to fifty Grand….”

PS Tell me why that show is on The History Channel.

PPS Tell me why I enjoy that show.

raf said...

It was probably necessary for both Obama and Kerry to really believe that Romney, like all Republicans, is not as smart, wise, just over-all good as they are. So that's how they wanted him played in debate prep. For realism, y'know. So they share the fault, but the blame has to be O's.

I have never liked Hillary, but not because I think she is incompetent. I am afraid that she might be too competent in achieving some bad outcomes. She did not succeed in the past (Hillarycare) but it was never as much of a slamdunk loss as people now seem to believe. If she learned anything from that experience and her time in the Senate, she could be very dangerous.

Coketown said...

Why did they choose Kerry? Because the left has gotten so used to caricaturing the right that they can no longer distinguish the superficial from the substantive. They cannot see, let alone analyze, conservative ideological thought. I'm sure any liberal reading this would scoff: "There's no such thiiiing as conservative thought!" That, there, is the problem.

Probably Romney chose Portman because his thought processes and rhetorical approach to debate is similar to Obama's.

Probably Obama chose Kerry because Kerry IS Romney in every way the left thinks matters: he's like tall with a big chin and tall hair and he's super wealthy and speaks what passes to American ears as French and he's from massachusetts! Bingo! Never mind qualities relevant to debating. They've gotten so used to addressing the superficial inside their insular bubble that they thought it would resonate beyond it.

Coketown said...

I bet they had Hilary stand in for Ann. Like give Kerry a good luck smooch then cordially shake hands with Michelle while clenching her teeth and suppressing the urge to say, "you bitch." Can't really fake that!

wyo sis said...

Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote: “O’ if God the gift to gie us, to see ourselves as others see us.”

He really had something there.

Sam L. said...

Obama is Great. The Great Obama can do nothing wrong. Devils are out to take down the Great Obama. There are more devils than the One Great Obama. We are lost without The Great Obama. We are doomed.

Sammy said...

This is so stupid..... Romney didn't out debate Obama , the facts did.... All this bullshit about Obama was bad in the debate, he was saying the same things he has for the last 4 years and Americans didn't seem to mind... What the debate did was showed what Ofbama says and what the reality of his policies, are to different things... And Anne going on about prep for the debate is her unwillingnes to not look at the superficial because she voted for him and is still will not admit that Obama polices are a disaster for America.

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