The NRA seems to have a very short term memory. They believe the solution to school shootings is to have a good guy with a gun in every school. I guess they forgot about Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, and Columbine. In each of these cases, there were soldiers or police and that failed to deter an attack. Fort Hood is a military post - there were many guns and trained soldiers in the area, yet 13 people still died. Virginia Tech has their own police force - and 32 innocent people still died. Columbine had a police officer in the area at all times - he was in the parking lot when the shooting started. There have been multiple shootings at malls this year - and I'm sure there were police officers and security guards there at the time - yet again, this didn't deter a shooter. Does that mean the solution is not just to have a "good guy with a gun" in every school, but one in every classroom, every cafeteria, every dorm room, every food court, every store, every movie theater - where does it end? And what will it take for the media to stop caring about what the fringe NRA has to say?
After the debate on Wednesday, I felt like I must have been living in an alternate reality. What I saw on Wednesday was nothing like the reactions coming from instant polls, pundits and bloggers. What I saw was Obama playing it safe - doing exactly as he should in his position - and Romney digging himself into another hole. We all know that the initial reaction to the first debate was that Romney won and Obama is now in a bit of trouble. But when we look back on the actual results of the debate, I think it will be much more clear that Obama was the real winner.
The instant reaction to a debate does not really tell us much. What really matters is what we end up remembering from the debate in the weeks afterwards. Already, it seems clear what those things are - Romney is a serial liar who wants to fire Big Bird. When the only things people are talking about in the days afterwards are how much Romney lied and making fun of him for wanting to fire a beloved childhood figure, it seems odd to still consider Romney the winner. Romney may have won on style, but on substance he lost handily - and isn't that what it is really about? Looking back, we aren't going to remember much about Romney appearing to be an actual human for 90 minutes. But we are going to remember how Romney kept trying to run from the platform he has put forward for the past year and a half. On taxes, he suddenly no longer supported his own tax plan - no longer talking about an across the board 20% tax cut and now claiming that he will not cut taxes. On healthcare, he spoke about how Romneycare should be a model for the nation - which is exactly what Obamacare used as its model. Romney was given repeated opportunities to explain more details in his plans - but if anything, he made his plans more secretive and ran away from all of his past positions.
We all might look at this and complain that Obama should have called out Romney's lies and deceptions - and he did, just not as much as we wanted. Obama can not and should not spend all of his time correcting the numerous lies of Romney. He can win that argument afterwards when the fact checks start coming out. And this is exactly what is happening now.
The instant polls also do not tell the whole story. I watched the debate on CNN since I enjoy their focus on the undecided voter. After talking about how lopsided the instant polls were, they briefly mentioned two points that stood out to me. The first was the number of undecided voters now supporting Romney or Obama. Of their undecided voter group, 8 now support Romney and 8 now support Obama. While this same group was willing to call Romney the winner, it did not make them any more likely to support him. The second thing that stood out was the grades for the candidates. Romney was given an A, while Obama was also given an A. It seems like these two things tell more of the story than who "won" the debate. While Romney may have won the expectations game, he did nothing to improve his standing against Obama. Since Obama was going into the debate with a 5 point lead - that is really a win for him. And now that the narrative has moved from "Romney won" to "Romney won on style, Obama on facts.. and Big Bird" it seems strange to consider this a real victory for the Romney campaign.
And lastly, there are the new job numbers. Even if you still somehow believe that Romney winning the debate by lying the whole time is a good thing for his campaign - the new jobs numbers completely change the subject. No one is going to care that Romney managed to be human for 90 minutes when unemployment is now at its lowest levels since January 2009. And going forward, the only thing that will come from the debate, is more mocking of his anti-Big Bird position, and more questions about his lies and magic math.
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