As many of us concernedly greet news that the President’s polling numbers have suffered, even so slightly, over the past week, a point of consideration is whether or not Democrats will fight for control of the narrative in response to the next three important debates.
Following the first presidential debate with President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, I came across a comment from former Associated Press journalist, and investigative reporter, Robert Parry, who is noted to have assisted in breaking open the Iran Contra scandal during the 1980s and exposing then US Marine Colonel Oliver North’s involvement.
Parry wrote of last week’s debate:
In the presidential debate that I watched on Wednesday night, Republican challenger Mitt Romney was shiftier than Dick Nixon in 1960 and less coherent than George W. Bush in 2000, but the TV pundits, including on MSNBC, overwhelmingly declared him the winner.Said Parry of Romney:
I saw a man struggling at the end of his rope. By contrast, Obama looked, well, presidential. He was never flustered and mounted vigorous defenses of his policies, offering details about what he had done and what he would do. Yet, he didn’t sound overly defensive or whiny, a big risk in such a setting.Parry also said he faults the President for not being more aggressive with the debates moderator. I'm not sure I totally agree, due to what might have seen as arguing with the ref, but it is a good point:
One could fault Obama for not being more aggressive with host Jim Lehrer, who curiously seemed determined to stop the President from exceeding his time limit while letting Romney ramble on.Parry, nevertheless, came away with a firm opinion of who prevailed in the debate:
So, I came away from watching the 90-minute debate thinking that Romney had come as close to melting down in front of a huge national audience as anyone I have ever seen in my half century of watching presidential debates.Perry was amazed at MSNBC, which is usually described as sympathetic to the Democratic Party, whose anchor staff, during the post debate coverage, tore into the President with such a torrent of effusive anger that those not familiar with the cable network might have felt they were watching the competing conservative channel.
Writing about MSNBC, Parry observed:
What was particularly startling about the MSNBC commentary was its lack of substance – except for Sharpton, who zeroed in on the discrepancies between Romney’s months of campaign statements as a “severely conservative” ex-governor of Massachusetts and his reinvention of himself as a caring fellow on Wednesday.I happen to agree with Parry, and there are many in this community who happen to disagree with his and my assessment. Those who believe the President won the debate and those who believe the President lost the debate will have to agree to disagree. The question arises, however, how should Democrats respond to the next three debates?
Republicans have lost debates before, former California Governor Ronald Reagan it is said lost his first debate to President Jimmy Carter in 1980, and Arizona Senator John McCain is assessed to have lost his series of debates to then Illinois Senator Barack Obama, in 2008.
Still, how did Republicans respond? Did they go on for days after days criticizing their candidates and in so doing dousing enthusiasm for their cause at the Presidential level and for down ticket races? They most certainly did not.
So you think the President lost the debate? OK, but I am hoping if you believe that the President lost the debate, you also believe that Romney performed as an inveterate liar.
Therefore, will your dominant message be one in which you point out that almost every word that came out of the Republican candidate’s mouth was a lie? Or will your dominant message be that, in your estimation, “Romney swept the floor with Obama”?
The Obama team sent out a message to supporters today which said:
The number one thing we won't be able to control in tonight's debate is whether Congressman Ryan tells the truth -- about himself, his record, or his and Mitt Romney's actual plans for where they'd take our country.I agree. Debates can be subjective, as I have illustrated, but if we believe that it is important that the President not only win but gets control of the House and maintains the Senate, through a maximization of turnout, then it is important that Democrats fight to control the narrative, even if we have to wrench it away.
As the Obama team also said:
Whatever happens at the vice presidential debate tonight, we need to respond quickly and forcefully. With 26 days to go, we can't just sit and wait for someone else to set the record straight. That's how elections are lost.I wholeheartedly concur.