Romney vs Obama, Round II

Realistically, very few presidential debates have the kind of clear-cut winner that the first Romney-Obama debate did. It’s more productive to look at what each candidate came looking to accomplish.
Romney: Romney came in tonight with three main goals.
One, he wanted to repeat his strong showing from the first debate. He did that – he was vigorous, authoritative, and came across as the same technocratic moderate that he really is.
Two, he wanted to avoid any major gaffes that would foul up the momentum he has going. He did that, too. He never seemed stymied, never really put his foot in his mouth in a harmful way. Even when he bought into the false left-wing premise of a question on gender pay equity, he came away talking about his own experience hiring women in his cabinet (he might have mentioned his female running mate in Massachusetts as well).
Three, he wanted to go in for the kill. On that, Romney failed. He let Obama get away with some flagrant lies, like claiming that Planned Parenthood performs mammograms. He completely botched an obvious attack on Obama’s disastrous and dishonest response on Libya, to the point where even moderator Candy Crowley – who was mostly running interference for Obama on this and on Fast & Furious – had to step in and remind Romney that Obama’s Administration had been dishonest on Libya. Romney forced a confrontation on the facts on oil drilling – one the fact-checkers have to give him – but like John McCain in 2008, he seemed hesitant to really take the fight to Obama on more divisive issues.
It’s true that Obama is now set up to be completely dismantled on Libya in the third debate, if Romney comes loaded for bear. But I suspect that by the time that debate arrives, nobody will be left undecided.
Obama: Obama also came in with goals, four of them.
First, Obama needed to show that he actually still wants the job. He did that – he was much more vigorous tonight, showing some fight and some indignation and squaring off in some true alpha-dog battles with Romney.
Second, Obama needed to give his partisans something to cheer for. He was late sometimes in doing so (especially waiting for his closing to attack Romney on the 47% tape) but did deliver.
Third, Obama needed to lay out something more like a positive second-term agenda. On this, he failed miserably. He has nothing to offer but a stew of “more of the same.” Closing with the 47% attack really underlines the extent to which this is a campaign bereft of positive promise.
Fourth, and perhaps most important, Obama needed to strip the bark off Romney, convince the voters that he was in no way an acceptable alternative. And outside the choir, Obama really didn’t seem to do that. He didn’t dismantle Romney’s agenda, he just disagreed with it. He basically denied the existence of the problems Romney cited on energy policy. Despite pre-debate preening on Romney’s record in Massachusetts, Obama never attacked that record. And despite his heavy reliance to date on attacking Romney as a tax-hiker, Obama spent far more of the debate bashing tax cuts, leaving little doubt which candidate was the low-tax candidate.
Romney’s strongest moments were two. One, he just buried Obama in response to an African-American man who declared himself a disheartened Obama ’08 voter; Romney responded with a blistering indictment of Obama’s economic record. And two, he offered a great answer on American competitiveness. He also came away with a good answer on immigration, albeit one that won’t please many of his own primary supporters.
One more point: I think Romney did a much better job of remembering, as the debate wore on, that an audience of Long Islanders was not the real audience. Obama’s attack on the NRA in particular is unlikely to play well in key swing states.

13 thoughts on “Romney vs Obama, Round II”

  1. you do practice law right?? Which means you do understand timing of a making an augment. He dropped the 47% at the perfect time, it allowed no rebuttal from Romney. On Libya he killed Romney there. By taking total responsibility with the “I am in Charge statement” it begs the question what is the problem again??? But for the killer ask your wife about the Binder of Qualified Women or women have special needs in the workplace.

  2. “Even when he bought into the false left-wing premise of a question on gender pay equity, he came away talking about his own experience hiring women in his cabinet.”
    I love it. Keep it flowing, BRO! �The Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person’s skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.� ― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow
    How rewarding is it to wrap up reactionary political bile and package it into a blog that I only read for your astute baseball commentary?

  3. Crank, sometimes I think your readership consists mainly of people who listen to Rush Limbaugh solely to get angry.

  4. Crank, you became unhinged in late October 2008 when it became apparent that Barack Obama was going to win the election and it’s clear that nothing’s changed.
    For argument’s sake, let’s assume the current numbers hold and President Obama is reelected. Do you think you’re going to become more detached from reality or will you stay about the same?
    And when Hillary Clinton is elected in 2016, what do you think will happen to your emotional state?

  5. Some serious projection here with people saying Crank was unhinged in 08 and is getting there now in ’12. It’s legit criticism.
    I live in a blue city in a rd state. I do no see the enthusiasm for either candidate. We have a poor incumbent vs. a weak challenger.
    Reading up on the insider books or articles that have come out, I now dislike Obama the person and have thought since early on that he’s been a poor governing POTUS, but I actually hope he wins. I have entirely different reasons from the Obamabots or the handout recipients. I think Obama’s 2nd term hastens a collapse of the economy and true structural reform of the banks amongst other things. Whatever happens with him, we probably won’t have a great grasp on his effects for 10-20 years. Kind of like how the Glass-Steagall, the Commodities act, and not regulating derivatives for Wall St under Clinton now looks awful in hindsight.

  6. javaman – Please spend the next week mocking the desire of working women for flexible working hours for family time, and encourage every male Obama supporter you know to do the same. As for timing, yes, I also know that (1) if you’re telling the other guy’s story in your closing, you’re not telling yours and (2) if you are afraid to use a line until the other guy can’t respond, it’s not a very good line. (Romney knew it was coming, which is why he brought it up in his own closing)
    You must admit that saying Obama “killed Romney” on Libya is just a way of saying he got away with telling a completely false story.
    Chuck – My point is that Romney was a lot closer to the truth on that than Obama.
    SOBL1 – It’s true that Clinton signed the repeal of Glass-Steagall. It’s also true that the investment banks that went under were the ones that *didn’t* combine with commercial banks. In fact, nothing in the financial crisis was caused by combining commercial banking with traditional i-banking; the problem was i-banks involving themselves too heavily in proprietary trading.

  7. Now that Ryan ha staggered out from behind the woodshe it is nice that Romney will be there to take his place.

  8. The I-banks that didnt go under, didnt go under because we bailed them out. JPMorganChase was a year 2000 merger as was the behemoth Citigroup. Without govt bailouts, backstops, QE and ZIRP, they’d be done.

  9. “…the problem was i-banks involving themselves too heavily in proprietary trading”
    No, the problem was fraud perpetrated by financial institutions on an epic scale.
    Fun fact: Fraud is still a felony and punishable by prison time if you’re poor or a minority.

  10. Give me an effing break. Bush/Cheney’s negligence in NOT reacting to intelligence data before 9/11 cost thousands of lives. No matter what Obama did or didn’t do in the Libyan tragedy, it didn’t equal 9/11.
    I don’t recall Bush being called on the carpet during the debates in 2004 about his mistakes that led to 9/11. Why the double standard in 2012 for Obama?

  11. “Why the double standard in 2012 for Obama? ”
    The answer is brought to you by the letter D.

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