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Thu Oct 4, 2012, 11:22 AM

A few observations on last night's debate

I'll start by noting that, as a scientist, I'm trained to work with data and facts in an objective manner, but in this case I can't escape my own bias: I don't like Mitt Romney and wanted to see him fail, and I like President Obama and wanted to see him blow this thing out of the water. So, for what it's worth, here are a few things that came to mind last night and this morning, after a bit of reflection.

- Impressions matter. Romney was skittish, breathless, passive aggressive, and nervous. I'd like to think he was nervous because he was lying, and he seemed most obviously nervous the few times President Obama called him on his lies. I was watching this on MSNBC, and during the lengthy split-screen images, you could see Romney swallow hard, glance down, and blink rapidly every time the President contradicted Romney's lies. This will probably provide some "film study" for the Obama campaign and their preparations for the next debates. Romney has a thin skin, unlike the President, and can be pushed into the horribly-unsettling-to-watch high-pitched crescendo rapid-fire babbling that surfaced a couple of times last night. I also thought I saw beads of sweat on Romney's upper lip late in the debate, and thought I caught a glimpse of him, in one brief shot of both of them from behind, quickly wiping his face with a handkerchief, which he appeared to stash in the lectern just before the cameras switched back to frontal view. Nervous, despite the fact that the format of this debate, standing stiffly behind a lectern, probably appeals greatly to the awkward and stiff Mitt Romney. Although the President appeared off his game to many of us, I think the overall impression conveyed by his manner of speech and body language was that of calm confidence, a stark contrast to that of Romney.

- Strategy. I would like to agree with some of the other suggestions voiced here that the President's strategy was one of trapping Romney into publicly reversing himself on all of the core campaign stances Romney has advanced over the past 18 months, to some future advantage like a barrage of campaign ads or knock-out punch in one of the forthcoming debates. But I'm not sure this is the strategy. That there is some strategy, though, I'm quite sure. The President is, most assuredly, a brilliant man, and more importantly in this context, a brilliant politician. Over the past 3 1/2 years, I've often found myself wondering at his approach to situations, only to realize in eventual hindsight that he had executed an absolutely effective maneuver indicative of his ability to think several moves ahead of his opponent. By the conclusion of the third debate, no one will remember the first one. I think something very effective is in the works.

- Lies. One thing impressed me about Romney: he is far more adept at lying than I had expected. He is a complete master of it, and that, returning to the point above, was his sole strategy last night. But being good at lying, even as good as he is, does not equate to being good at deceiving. To be an effective liar, you have to be absolutely masterful at deception. We all know in advance of the show that the magician is going to lie to us, but the lies of a great magician work because great magicians are masters of deception. Romney is not. His lies are transparent, and he seems unaware of this fact, or, if not unaware, then perfectly unconcerned. In fact, Romney's lies are like magic tricks performed so poorly everyone can see how they're done. To this end, Romney's lying will not work, and will prove itself an ineffective strategy.

- The crucial element of the unknown. While the focus in the media seems to be that the President was "surprised" or "taken aback" by Romney's lies in the debate, the Romney campaign is likely feeling somewhat surprised at the President's seemingly sub-par, lackluster performance in the debate. This is a HUGE advantage for the President. At this point, with two presidential debates remaining, there is a key difference facing the two campaigns: the President and his team know what to expect, while Romney and his team do not.

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Reply A few observations on last night's debate (Original post)
Aldo Leopold Oct 2012 OP
pnwmom Oct 2012 #1
Indpndnt Oct 2012 #2
warrior1 Oct 2012 #3
ann--- Oct 2012 #4
nenagh Oct 2012 #5
MADem Oct 2012 #6

Response to Aldo Leopold (Original post)

Thu Oct 4, 2012, 11:28 AM

1. Great post. Thank you, Aldo Leopold.

And welcome to DU!

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Response to Aldo Leopold (Original post)

Thu Oct 4, 2012, 11:32 AM

2. True, Willard was lying over and over again about insurance.

Anyone who has purchased insurance knows you don't get coverage for preexisting conditions and you can't keep your kids on your policy when they are out of school. Willard lied about both. People hear that and question everything else he said. And he said nothing of substance.

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Response to Aldo Leopold (Original post)

Thu Oct 4, 2012, 11:34 AM

3. Well said

and welcome aboard.

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Response to Aldo Leopold (Original post)

Thu Oct 4, 2012, 11:47 AM

4. Wow! That was wonderful!

It only pains me that the "undecideds" that lean right will only fall for the aggressive puncher in a debate and not see the issue as clearly and intelligently as you did. Hopefully, enough of the "no party affiliation" and progressive voters see your fantastic analysis! Thank you.

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Response to Aldo Leopold (Original post)

Fri Oct 5, 2012, 12:03 PM

5. Thank you so much..

The damn man made me nervous just watching him...

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Response to Aldo Leopold (Original post)

Fri Oct 5, 2012, 12:24 PM

6. The corporate media focus doesn't match the social media focus.

While everyone on the tube was talking about rMoney's strong performance of lies, the social networks were talking about Big Bird and his bullshittery.

The corporate media doesn't own the whole field anymore--they still have a lot of it, but not the entire panorama. This morning, I turned on my TV to see "Morning Joe" insisting that rMoney had won, and then when I flipped to a network channel, I saw Big Bird flipping the bird and a huge riff about how everyone was talking about that aspect of the debate. TV always is a day to a week late on the "good" stuff.

I thought the blinking and sweating wasn't down to nervousness about lying, in his case. He's a talented and highly experienced liar (I've seen him at it during his term as the unsuccessful and "Don't let the door hit you in the ass" governor of MA) --he's not going to blink or sweat for that reason.

He might blink or sweat if he were on uppers, though. All that twitching, dry mouth, swallowing and sweating--he looked like he was on amphetamines. He ain't 'right,' whatever he's on.

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