Tag Archives: Debate

The VP Debate That Taught Us… Nothing?

Against my better judgement I decided to spend the evening watching the Vice Presidential debate to see how Ryan and Biden compared to each other (and maybe a little bit just because I was hoping Biden would say something profane on national tv). It was an interesting ride and honestly involved a lot more policy discussions than the recent Presidential debate did, but I still felt like at the end of the day we didn’t learn anything from it. Why? Well, let me explain (rant) for a little bit…

Biden:

Well, it appears Joe Biden is a volatile old man who can’t allow anyone else to finish their sentence before offering his own loud opinion on an issue. This is not news. What was interesting is that Mr. Biden seemed dead set on making up for President Obama’s lukewarm performance last week by making sure he came across as aggressive and passionate this week. He may have overdone it. Mr. Biden interrupted Paul Ryan 82 times (according to the pundits) in a 90 minute debate. I might have guessed an even higher number. He simply couldn’t sit there and let Ryan talk, he had to hear his own voice throughout the entire thing. It was obnoxious, and worse, made his complaints at the moderator appear laughable when he complained about getting to talk less than Ryan. The moderator was quick to point out that he wasn’t getting less time than Ryan, but when you talk through half of your opponent’s time in what appears to be an attempt to drown them out, you’re not going to get a lot of sympathy from anyone. That said, the Vice President did relatively well tonight aside from his rambling, loud, and sometimes incorrect statements. He made his attacks on Ryan well, kept him on the defensive the entire time, and made lots of references to the middle class. It wasn’t a performance that’s likely to sway anyone towards the Obama/Biden ticket, but he didn’t curse on national tv and he didn’t say something incredibly stupid, so I imagine his campaign team is pretty pleased right now. Note: It will be interesting to see what the other side does with his “I never say anything I don’t mean” comment considering his past colorful remarks.

Ryan:

Paul Ryan came across as a numbers-minded, soft-spoken young politician that thinks his opponents are at least a bit dumb. This also surprises no one. Ryan was put on the defensive from the get-go by Biden, but he handled himself well overall. It did handicap his ability to get the Romney/Ryan priorities across at times, but he attempted to compensate for this at the end of the debate (with limited success). He attempted to make human connections with middle class and family references while talking economic policy, but it came across as even more forced than Biden’s own awkward pandering. As expected, Ryan focused on economic issues and broken promises as much as possible, and did well at articulating his vision for some of America’s best known, and most expensive, programs. He was less specific on the details than many would have liked I’m sure, but he was at least as specific as Biden on the very same issues (this is not a compliment, simply stating that they were equally vague). Ryan’s real strength was his demeanor throughout the debate. He managed to appear calm and collected throughout the night, which was a dramatic contrast with the firey frustration that Biden was projecting from across the table. Nothing makes your opponent look more like an angry jabbering mental patient than sitting there smiling calmly while they yell at you. I doubt Ryan succeeded in getting all of his platform’s views across during the debate, and at times appeared to stumble in his defensive responses, but it was still a decent night for him overall.

Winner?:

Honestly, no one. The majority of polls are showing that most people think Ryan performed better overall, but I think that’s mainly because of how aggressive and rambling Biden came across overall, not because Ryan performed especially well. Don’t get me wrong, neither candidate did poorly, and both succeeded in making good points for their respective candidates. By the same token, neither candidate did particularly well. Biden looked like the angry old man compared to Ryan’s youthful confidence. Ryan was unable to turn the tables back on Biden and never really had control of the conversation. I personally think this was a wash overall. If it helped anyone at all it might be the Romney ticket, but I doubt we’ll see a bump in the polls for either side from this debate.

As always, your thoughts, questions, and rants are welcome.

-M

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First Debate Report: Where was the President?

First Debate 2012

I time my return to the world of political commentary fresh off three months of being trapped in the hospital right as things in the 2012 election get interesting. With the first presidential debate now behind us, I am both surprised and actually a little excited for the rest of the election season. Why? Well, let me grade the candidates and you’ll see why.

President Obama: D-

I’m not going to give the President a failing grade as some already are, but this was a very bad night for him. He appeared unprepared to defend his record, he couldn’t explain how his new promises were different than the old ones he didn’t deliver on, and he couldn’t keep eye contact or a straight face for more than a few minutes at a time. His surrogates are hiding after the debate, his spin doctor isn’t even pretending the debate was a win, and the President himself appears notable unhappy. My question is: What the hell happened? President Obama has been described as a “great speaker” (a claim I have disagreed with in the past), and charismatic (a claim I agree with). Tonight he was neither. He frowned, grimaced, looked at the podium when being addressed, and was all over the place with his meaningless stories about his grandmother that didn’t even address the points he had started talking about. No one learned anything new about the President tonight. No one found a new reason to vote for him. Instead we saw a President that was unable to explain why his policies of the last four years have failed to deliver what he said they would. He was unable to defend his economy. He was unable to counter Romney effectively when attacked, and totally unable to put Romney on the defensive. I can’t explain why Obama had such a poor performance tonight, and I was quite surprised by his lack of passion and charisma. When Bill Maher, James Carville, and Chris Matthews are saying the the President lost the debtate, you know things are bad for the Democrats right now. My prediction: Obama’s political strategists will unleash a whole new wave of mudslinging against Romney while he studies up for the next debate. He won’t make this mistake twice.

Mitt Romney: B-

This wasn’t the same Mitt Romney I watched (and complained loudly) about in the GOP debates. He’s been practicing, preparing, and apparently reading a lot. He came in with clear priorities, he knew exactly how to hit Obama on his policies and platform, and he even managed to keep his cool overall. This was a good night for Mitt Romney. I was surprised to see him able to put (and keep) the President on the defensive for the length of the debate. I was surprised at how well he knew the President’s budget and proposals and how he was able to compare them to his own. He didn’t do that during the GOP debates, but maybe he had been preparing for this the whole time. So why does he only deserve a B-? Well, he’s still Mitt Romney. He still spoke of relatively vague “plans” that will apparently fix all of our problems. He still appeared to want to light the President on fire with his glare at times. He still looks like your boss. However, let me be clear: Mitt Romney appeared more confident, more comfortable, and dare I say, more presidential than President Obama did tonight. If he can keep this up for the next month, it will be a very close election.

Big Bird: A+

In an election he chose not to run in, Big Bird has risen in national popularity in a matter of hours. His poll numbers would be up if we had polls on Big Bird to start with, and the twittersphere and tumblrverse are chock full of his picture. If I were Big Bird’s strategist, I couldn’t be happier tonight.

The Winner:

Mitt Romney. There’s simply no way to spin that debate to claim that President Obama won. Even the best Democratic spin doctors are calling it “a wash” or blaming poor moderation (they’re not incorrect about that, sorry Jim). This one’s a “L” in the Obama column, and they had better bring their A game next time if they want to stay ahead.

The Problem:

It’s a debate and I’m not sure that any shift it causes will be significant or lasting. We watched the GOP debates produce massive swings in the poll numbers for individual candidates, but the effects were fleeting. I have no doubt that this debate will cause a bump in Romney’s numbers in the short term, but will it actually change anyone’s mind in the grand scheme of things? The cynic in me says probably not.

That’s my take. Comment, question, or rant away.

-M

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Arizona Republican Debate- Who Won?

I’ll keep my post debate review relatively short for once, primarily because I’m running really short on sleep and we’ve all proven (repeatedly) that trying to predict an outcome in this GOP nomination contest is impossible.

Last night’s CNN Republican nominee debate in Arizona was the first Republican debate in a long time and the only one for some time to come. Lots has happened since the last debate (Santorum victories, Romney’s slip in the polls, Gingrich’s slide, etc.) so a lot of eyes were on this one to see four things based off each candidate. I’ll list them below and provide my “answer.”

1- Can Rick Santorum command the debate stage as a front runner and give people a reason to continue driving his momentum through Super Tuesday and beyond? 

No. Santorum stumbled over himself again tonight (like he has in earlier debates) and did not project the confidence, composure, or grasp of the issues (or his own past statements) to give undecided GOP voters any reason to support him. He’s been receiving a lot of mixed reviews for his performance tonight, and that’s a loss in itself. He needed to project confidence and the composure to be president, and he failed. He got some good hits in on Romney, but took a relative beating on his record in the process.

2- Can Mitt Romney promote a new, friendlier, image and stop his slide in the polls? 

Eh… maybe. Mitt had one of his better debates tonight but it wasn’t spectacular in any way. He had what sounded like his friendliest debate audience ever tonight, and still got himself in hot water with them a few times. He amped up all kinds of rhetoric and is now borrowing lines from all three of his competitors to widen his appeal, but it still sounds like the same old Mitt. The debate didn’t hurt him, but I don’t see any big benefit either.

3- Can Gingrich steal the stage and spark a come back?

Again… Eh… maybe. Newt was on his game tonight, but not as the podium pounding anti-media firebrand we saw after his jump (back) to the front of the polls before South Carolina, instead we saw the Newt many of us missed from the rest of the debate season. He was composed, collected, and once again sounded like the smartest guy on stage with pretty straight answers to the questions asked. The crowd seemed to give him the best net response for the evening, and Rick Perry was on hand for social conservative appeal, but it wasn’t a blockbuster performance from someone who probably needed one. So although the “good” Newt, the Newt that fueled his rise initially, was back tonight, I just don’t know if that’s enough any more.

4- Can Ron Paul convince people he can win the nomination tonight?

No. I’m actually afraid he may have hurt himself a little tonight. Paul has started to sound like a one line anti-war, pro-state-rights candidate. I know he’s not just that, but that’s all he talked about tonight, and although it’s a popular sentiment, the way he talked you’d think if we stopped fighting battles overseasall our problems would be solved. I know that’s not true, he knows that’s not true, and I think the voters do too. Is he right on the issue of removing almost all our international military presence? Maybe, but he also gets some flak for his Iran views that most voters seem to find naive, so it’s a two-edged sword for him. The point is talking foreign policy, which is one of his weakest platforms from a potential GOP voter perspective, doesn’t help his campaign one little bit and he actually missed a key opportunity to sell his small government platform and economic vision tonight.

That’s all for now. We’ll see how things play out in the upcoming primaries and I’m sure I’ll have lots to say then. As always, feel free to ask questions, provide comments, and so on.

-M

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