ATLANTA - The past week kicked off a month of general election debates that are sure to further polarize an already fairly opinionated electorate. By most early accounts, former Massachusetts Gov.handily defeated President in Denver on Wednesday.
Romney was indeed a force to be reckoned with, as debate moderator and long time PBS NewsHour correspondentfound out. Lehrer had a hard time establishing himself as Romney ran ramshod over his (Lehrer's) attempts to keep the debaters within the alloted talk times. There were times when I was sure Lehrer was going to say something like "Mitt, this really is a debate and both sides have to be given a chance to speak."
Obama, for his part, was much more respectful of the elder journalist, though time seemed to get away from the president as well. As is his way, Obama stayed away from getting into a yelling match with Romney, opting instead to focus on the issues. While perfectly logical, he came across as weak to many, unable to hold his own against the Republican challenger.
Did Romney actually win the debate though? The knee-jerk response is yes, because Obama obviously looked sheepish and too willing to compromise. According to Fox News' Juan Williams (shocking) that's not exactly what happened.
"I saw a serious, substantive policy debate in which neither candidate slipped up or neither candidate delivered a knockout punch. I saw a match that basically ended in a draw," Williams said in an article the day after the debate. Granted, Williams is, well, Williams, but he makes a good point nonetheless.
What most Americans, on both sides of the political aisles wanted so badly was a bloodbath. We wanted either Obama or Romney to tear the other apart. We wanted talking points and zingers and ad hominem attacks on the candidates personalities or character.
Unfortunately (for the bloodthirsty) there were no remains to scavenge, no bones to pick their teeth with. What we saw, in spite of Romney's aggressive style, was a debate founded on policy issues and each candidates ability to effectively address those issues. Neither candidate, in hindsight, was able to land a knockout blow.
In the days since, the army of fact-checkers have come out in force, a predictable response to Romney's loud(er) claims. Some, like his assertion that he has no $5 trillion dollar tax cut planned during his inaugural term, have proven to be false.
"He specified $5 trillion in tax cuts, a 20 percent cut in income tax rates, a 40 percent cut in the corporate tax rate, repeal of the estate tax and alternative minimum tax and elimination of taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for households with incomes below $200,000," Bill Gale said in an article on CNN.com.
There are issues with Obama's debate performance as well, but these have less to do with substance and more to do with style. Again. Many left-leaning politicos want Obama to more assertively, aggressively and forcefully defend himself and his policy decisions. That's to be expected; we live in America. Strength is directly correlated with volume and apparent conviction. It seems to me however, that Obama is fine with letting his work speak for itself, and letting his opponents talk themselves out of contention.
I can't help but be reminded ofwho said "All war is based on deception." A good maxim to keep in mind.
Written by Benjamin Burton Jr.
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