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Yes, this is yet another debate analysis diary -- but one that is exactly opposite to the media conventional wisdom.

My take is that Obama did well in this debate for exactly the reason the media thinks he did poorly. He came away with the better framing, whether deliberately or not, by locking Romney into a stalemate. He pulled Romney early on into the weeds of an argument over economic facts and budget figures, but he stayed out of the mud. In so doing he denied Romney an opportunity to change the dynamic of the campaign.

Romney really needed to redefine himself in this debate, as someone with a clear vision for America based on values that can resonate with a majority of voters. As long as Romney was stuck arguing over tax loopholes and Medicare policy details, he couldn't do that.

In fact, I was surprised how quickly Romney's framing went off the rails. In one of his first segments, he started half his sentences with a negative ("I'm not giving a $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy") -- violating what's basically the prime directive of framing: Don't repeat your opponent's frames, even to refute a point, since that only reinforces them. So now the media will be fact-checking whether or not Romney actually wants to give huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. The traditional media's fact-checking so far doesn't inspire confidence, but it ultimately doesn't matter whether they get it right. Romney is now associated in voters' minds with those tax cuts.

To be sure, Obama made sacrifices in holding the stalemate. He passed up opportunities to hit Romney with "47%", Bain, or any of the other big drivers of Romney's negatives. He also ceded Romney opportunities to sound human, and even compassionate. He let Romney at times seem strong, forceful, and confident. But while Romney hit on the "government is the problem" theme a few times, Obama generally kept the debate away from big ideas. Romney rarely had the opportunity -- and never the good sense -- to present the grand conservative vision and value system, extolling the Ayn Rand-esque job creator and decrying government as an enabler of immoral layabouts. The segment supposedly devoted to the role of government was especially striking: Obama did present a vision, even echoing Elizabeth Warren, and then finished with some details of government programs. When it was Romney's turn, he responded to the details and wound up wandering in a wilderness of statistics.

At the same time, by staying off the attack, Obama appeared more presidential. He presented the same calm, "no-drama" Obama voters have come to know. This was advantageous because most of Romney's attacks appealed to fear: Obama will raise your taxes and take away your health care. Republicans have been spitballing those points at Obama for 4 years now, and none have stuck with enough voters to get Romney a lead. Obama may have appeared weak compared to Romney, but he also steered well clear of the radical caricature Romney needed to attach to him to give Romney's attacks a frame. In addition, by pointing out the lack of specifics in Romney's plans, Obama reinforced doubts voters have about Romney's purported commitment to the middle class.

So yes, the media will be talking through the next few news cycles about the points Romney scored and the assertions he made without counter from Obama. They'll be talking about how much more exciting Romney was -- the media really likes excitement. But excitement isn't necessarily a good thing, especially with Romney trying to mount a campaign of fear.

In fact, what's more important is what the media won't be talking about: They won't be talking about a grand clash of visions, or how Romney finally presented one that could resonate with swing voters and energize his base. They won't be talking about Romney's deep values, or how he managed to communicate them in the debate. Instead, they'll be talking about facts and figures. And it doesn't really matter what they say: Voters already viewed Obama as someone who's more trustworthy and better shares their values, and since Obama's already ahead on framing, they're more likely to believe his version of the facts than Romney's anyway.

In short: Obama was ahead by a touchdown. He gave up some yardage tonight, but took time off the clock and prevented a big play.

Update 10/5 1:25 MDT:  Thanks to grog for the spotlight. I just now noticed it.

I'd be remiss if I didn't credit George Lakoff as one of the masters of political framing. He has a new post on his blog about the debates. It looks like it was written before the debate, but a few things he said are especially important in the aftermath:

Limit discussion of policy details. Policies — and the facts and figures behind them — should only be discussed when they exemplify your values. Avoid isolated facts and figures. Tell stories with clear morals.


Presidential debates are not won or lost on how good a policy wonk a candidate is.

So: Even if Romney gets away with all the lies, it doesn't help him much. With both candidates focusing on policy details, neither gains much ground. And that helps Obama.

I'd be interested to see Lakoff's take on debate #1.

Originally posted to monster on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 11:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by Political Language and Messaging and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Agreed (28+ / 0-)

    I'm in full concurrence with your analysis. Obama was reasonable in this first debate.  He didn't say much of anything that could be used in a commercial reasonably (although I WISH he'd learn how to explain the $716 billion savings from Medicare better), and yes, he radiated calm, regardless of what some commentators might have called it.

    Nope, business as usual for the media and nothing (I predict) poll-moving.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent, and we are all Wisconsin.

    by Dave in Northridge on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 11:48:52 PM PDT

  •  Romney DID Win On Style...... (20+ / 0-)

    No zingers.  But he came armed w/ enough statistics to sway the low information or newly tuning in voter.

    Obama missed an opportunity when Romney was talking about the people who told him about losing their insurance.  He looked & sounded empathetic.

    That was Obama's opportunity to ask:  Were they among the 47% you said were victims?  Or......Did you tell them to go to the ER?

    •  It wasn’t a bad night — it’s structural. (5+ / 0-)

      Why Obama lost the debate

      More broadly, the political problem of the Democrats is that they’re a party of capital that has to pretend for electoral reasons sometimes that it’s not. All the complaints that liberals have about them—their weakness, tendency to compromise, the constantly lamented lack of a spine—emerge from this central contradiction. The Republicans have a coherent philosophy and use it to fire up a rabid base. The Dems are afraid of their base because it might cause them trouble with their funders.
      Thus you wind up with exchanges like this:
      JIM LEHRER: "Do you see a major difference between the two of you on Social Security?"

      PRESIDENT OBAMA: "You know, I suspect that, on Social Security, we've got a somewhat similar position."

      “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” – Abraham Lincoln

      by Sagebrush Bob on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:28:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That was Obama's biggest flub (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chi, Matt Z, Tuba Les

        his response on "entitlements" in general, he really gave up an opportunity to point to the cruelty of the Ryan-Romney plan.

        But I don't see the debate as a whole as quite the Waterloo some here seem to.

        Barack Obama is not a secret socialist class warrior who wants to redistribute wealth in America. But I'll still vote for him, anyway.

        by looty on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:31:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It wasn't a flub (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          2020adam, Swill to Power, Chi

          They do share, to a large extent, the same views on Social Security and "austerity" measures.

          “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” – Abraham Lincoln

          by Sagebrush Bob on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:33:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The difference was (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HugoDog, 2020adam

            Romney was willing to lie about shit that the majority of the people would oppose. Obama prefers to stick to his more subtle lies about austerity and this allowed Mitt to actually come across as being to the left of Obama in some ways.

            “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” – Abraham Lincoln

            by Sagebrush Bob on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:36:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly. Because Romney's Medicare plan is so... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            loveistheanswer, Chi

            extreme, the President was allowed to get away with his nonsense line about 'tweaking' Social Security. Where are the specifics, Mr President? Why are you hiding them from the electorate? Afraid your plans for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are so awesome we won't be able to handle them?

            "The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with."

            by 2020adam on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 03:22:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  The problem with appealing to those... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tuba Les

      ..newly tuning-in voters, is that the rightwing political junkies/freepers, who do not trust Mitt, were also watching.

      Will the Republican base assume that Mitt is lying now, to get swing votes? Or was he lying before, to get THEIR votes?

  •  A very good analysis. (7+ / 0-)

    Thank you.  

  •  Fantastic (9+ / 0-)

    I'm really glad you explained the debates this way. You seem to 'get it' on a level that almost no one else does. The primary point that I think you are trying to express, is that you don't 'win' anything when you win the debates.

    Romney got some good press, and 'won', and 'looked aggressive', but...that is about it. No youtube moments, no clips, no real expressions of empathy or vision. Your last paragraph explains this in a critically good way: Obama didn't gain anything last night, but he doesn't have to.

    He just needs to prevent ROMNEY from gaining a real advantage, and that is indeed what happened.

    •  exactly... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OldDragon, LucyTooners, monster

      the first debate always draws the largest audiences.  obama came across as calm, cool and collected.  the exact opposite of the firebreathing, kenyan, redistributing, reparations seeking, marxist, class warrior the pukes have been painting him as.

      whether this was deliberate or not, the narrative is now the whoppers told by romney.  we get a news cycle of whether or not rmoney is lying and the president hammers him on the trail.

      i think he could have been sharper, but the fall out from this debate is going to help him by keeping the focus on rmoney's bad policies, shifting positions and disguised class warfare.

      obama's already ahead.  all he needs is to not blow up during the debate and keep the conversation focused on rmoney.  the more he talks, the less people like him.

      by all means, let the man explain himself.

      No System of Justice Can Rise Above the Ethics of Those Who Administer It. (Wickersham Commission 1929)

      by No Exit on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:34:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama did win (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, monster

      Looking aggressive is not winning.  There may be an "Obama lost" narrative but a narrative is not a victory.

      I believe that when Ohio is still at +8 in a few days, people will realise just how masterful Obama was in the debate.

      Blake: I am an enemy of the Federation but it is corrupt and oppressive. I will destroy it if I can

      by GideonAB on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 03:54:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  what will happen for sure now... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EthanR, Lefty Ladig, HugoDog, UFOH1

    is that if the polls move in Romney's direction, the right will point to the polls and say "Look!" and if they don't move in Romney's direction, they will point to the polls and say "Skewed!"

    "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

    by JackND on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:19:17 AM PDT

  •  Strong, forceful, confident? (20+ / 0-)

    When I see strong, forceful, confident people jabbering double speed to get one more lie in before the buzzer, I begin to suspect I'm listening to a meth addict.

    •  He did seem hyped up (23+ / 0-)

      I found him frightening, like a psychopath. He came off like a major bully and pathological liar willing to do and say anything to win -- the essence of a psychopath.

      I suspect a lot of people found him similarly terrifying. Simple mental math showed what he was saying could not be true.

      Too many people are swayed by overconfident bullies. Psychopaths garner followers all the time.

      "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." —John Kenneth Galbraith

      by eyeswideopen on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:33:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Listening to clips on the radio in the car (10+ / 0-)

        Romney sounds absolutely frightening.  He's hyper, he hyperventilates, he sounds desperate every time he opens his mouth.  

        Obama sounded sane and in control.  

        And of course, there's the lying......

      •  Someone mentioned (0+ / 0-)

        that the way Romney came across was not appealling to women voters.

        Did anyone supporting President Obama switch allegiance after the debate? Doubtful.

        It is the low info voters that do not pay attention to the details that will gravitate to that epic lying your ass off spectacle.

        Then there is those damn undecided voters.

        I am so damn sick of all the fawning over these idiots. They had some on MSNBC last night and it was a joke.

        These morons came away with Romney as being the person they moved towards.
        Seriously, if these people had been paying attention all along they would not be undecided.
        Instead you had a Kindergarten teacher for hells sake that is inclined to support Romney.

        A graduate student that said he likes to get the facts to make a decision and after listening to the debate moved towards Romney. Gawd help us all if that is a representation of our graduate students using information to make a decision.

        Any way, screw these undecided voters, they make a mockery of the process by the mere fact they are so damn clueless.

        "We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." Louis Brandeis

        by wxorknot on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:01:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Romney's bullying really struck me too. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Now we all know Romney's history as a bully from early in his life, like when he was in school and the hair cutting incident, to the present day, like at meals with his family or being the big CEO who enjoys firing people. There are a lot of big CEOs who are just plain bullies, but where there is no one around them who dares to stand up to them (which is another reason we need strict and firm federal oversight, like with the CFPB, who aren't afraid to confront these big business bullies).

        And that was one of the things that I really noticed during last night's "debate"--Romney's incessant bullying. And if there's one thing I detest, it is a bully; ergo, I detest Romney (and for many more reasons than just being a bully, but being a bully is a big disqualifier in my book).

        So how does President Obama handle a bully like Romney in a "debate" format. First, I would hope that the moderator (Candy Crowley for the next Presidential debate) would be forceful in controlling Romney and the course of the debate in general--but I honestly do not see her being willing or able to do that. So President Obama will have to handle this bully the way you handle most bullies--by being forceful, not backing down, and making sure Romney learns that he has just embarrassed himself in front of millions. When Romney starts acting up and Ms Crowley fails to handle the situation, President Obama needs to point out that bullying behavior to Romney and to the public and exert firm forceful leadership in informing Mr. Romney (and the viewing public) that such behavior is not tolerated in civilized society and that Mr. Romney should stand down. If President Obama can do this effectively, there will be a silent (or not-so-silent) cheer in the hearts of millions and change the night for Romney and Obama.

        If anyone has better ideas on how President Obama can deal with Romney's bullying during the debate, I know they would be appreciated. Since Romney got away with it during the first debate, I'm sure he'll try it again in the following debates; that's the nature of a bully, he'll keep doing it--until he gets publicly confronted and shamed. So someone needs to catch him and put him in his place in front of a public audience--particularly one that the bully mistakenly thinks has been greatly impressed by his tactics of intimidation, but in actuality has been waiting for someone to confront that bully and publicly put him in his place. And from that point on the bully also knows he's been exposed and knows that everyone else also knows that and will no longer be afraid of or intimidated by him. And bullies hate that because it negates the source of their imagined power.

        These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

        by dewtx on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 07:57:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Engage the family metaphor (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Drawing on George Lakoff's research and writing about framing: Politics are often viewed through metaphors of family, and those metaphors can be used reinforce a conservative (through a strict father metaphor) or progressive (nurturant parent) political value system.  The metaphors are expressed through carefully-chosen language.

          So the thing for Obama to do when Romney becomes an aggressive bully at the next debates is to respond with language that puts himself in the role of parent and Romney in the role of child.  Some ideas that come to mind: Refer to Romney's need to "take a time out"; say to him "Calm down, you'll get your chance"; describe Romney's aggression as a "tantrum". I'm sure Obama and his team can come up with more and better ideas than I can.

          And Obama need not match Romney in his aggressiveness -- in fact he shouldn't. Remaining calm while using the right language reinforces Obama's role not only as a parent to the child Romney, but as an empathetic, nurturant parent.

          •  Here is Lakoff's take on the debate (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dewtx, monster

            In the Little Blue Blog George Lakoff gives his views, and he says

            You don’t win a presidential debate by being a policy wonk. Obama violated all the basics of presidential debating.  The best defense is a good offense. You have to set the terms of the debate and press those terms. Obama failed.

            Help! The GOP is NUTS (& the Dems need some!)

            by Tuba Les on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 03:47:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Excellent ideas! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I hope the Obama campaign takes these ideas seriously to heart regarding the remaining debates with Romney.

            These are troubling times. Corporations are treated like people. People are treated like things. ... If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now. — Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to the NAACP, July 11, 2012

            by dewtx on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 10:33:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly (13+ / 0-)

      I intentionally viewed parts with the sound muted to simply get the emotional vibe the President and the Never Gonna Be President were emitting.

      Obama was detached, even a bit disinterested, as though his mind were elsewhere (perhaps his wife or Libya?).  He was calm, and pretty much the standard No Drama Obama.

      Mitt came across as a poodle on meth.  The sweat wasn't doing him any favors, and his eyes kept shifting around.

      My visceral reaction was sharply negative to Mitt, essentially neutral to Obama.

      (-6.25, -6.77) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

      by Lonely Liberal in PA on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:51:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Or a car salesman (0+ / 0-)

      For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

      by Anne Elk on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 03:53:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree also (10+ / 0-)

    I think in the long term the personality projections will matter and stay in viewers' minds. White Romney appeared excited and looking for a fight, Obama appeared calm and above it all.

  •  Robert Parry at Consortium News (19+ / 0-)

    is not one of the alarmists.

    In the debate that I saw, Romney seemed to be on the defensive, in large part, due to the incoherence and incompleteness of his arguments. And that reflected itself in his body language. He shifted nervously, blinked rapidly and displayed a forced smile. It looked like he was about to tear up during his closing remarks.

    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.

    I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you and me.

    by plankbob on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:41:25 AM PDT

  •  I guess I've been wrong to complain that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, monster

    there wasn't enough about the great Clash of Philosophies this election represents!

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:42:42 AM PDT

  •  I like this diary!....eom (8+ / 0-)

    The GOP hate me! I'm black, a woman, disabled veteran, divorced mother and liberal. THEY SUCK!

    by secret38b on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:46:42 AM PDT

  •  T&R repub to Political Language & Messaging (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, linkage, Larsstephens, True North

    Nuance is lost upon those who choose not to look.

    by poliwrangler on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:48:58 AM PDT

  •  Can Obama send me to take on Romney (0+ / 0-)

    in the second debate?...

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis, 1935 --Talk of foresight--

    by tuma on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:50:28 AM PDT

  •  excellent discussion here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Buckeye Nation, monster

    now that the hand-wringers have had their say and got their freak-outs down on paper!

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:55:43 AM PDT

  •  I think Romney annoyed women voters (12+ / 0-)

    Men may have been annoyed by this too, but women have been bulled before by aggressive loud overtalking. My guess is that many women sitting back in their living rooms cringed when Romney would not give up the floor and he kept it up.  Women voters do not like Romney for many reasons and he did nothing to make them like him more last night.

  •  exactly - gym boxer Mitt vs. Aikido-don Barack (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annan, fumie, monster
    My take is that Obama did well in this debate for exactly the reason the media thinks he did poorly. He came away with the better framing, whether deliberately or not, by locking Romney into a stalemate. He pulled Romney early on into the weeds of an argument over economic facts and budget figures, but he stayed out of the mud. In so doing he denied Romney an opportunity to change the dynamic of the campaign.
    Tomato Can cruiser-weight versus warm Sake samurai.

    yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:02:02 AM PDT

  •  Sanity in a Sea of Blustering (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I did not watch the debate, was unable to do so.
    My only sources are the clips and the punditocracy.
    I just heard Ed Rendell bloviate on Alex Wagner. In sum, he wanted Obama to sucker-punch Rmoney on stage.
    Eric Dyson spoke of the calmness that Obama had to exude over the "angry blackman" stereotype the GOP has tried in vain to paint Obama with.
    Rendell "thought" criticizing Rmoney over Bain was bad form. I think he's wrong on this score too.
    The pundits were going to say Rmoney one, unless he left the stage in tears. Now the MSNBC punditocracy is going overboard in a manner that misses the ultimate prize.

    •  Kidding yourself... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jerry J

      The electorate is looking for any excuse to vote against Obama.  The 8.1% unemployment rate means that anyone short of an OBVIOUS catastrophe will win.

      Last night Romney made it possible to believe that he wouldn't be a catastrophe.

      All the fact checking going on will make no difference.  Nobody pays attention.  

      Obama needed to be the fact checker. Instead, he weaseled and ducked in an unbelievably defensive pattern.

      Remember, it doesn't help to be "right" if you lose the election.

      by josephwouk on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:26:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would say a "portion" of the electorate (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But, I basically agree with you.

        He lost a bunch of undecideds and independents last night to Romney.  He also lost a bunch of white middle-class voters who voted for Obama in '08.

        But almost worse, Obama let Romney skate on the claim that 50% of college grads are out of work. He just stood there and took it.  Even if it is close to being true, he could have given a plan to get them jobs.  But he had nothing, except maybe he will send them back to school for retraining???

        So, Obama lost a bunch of youth vote as well.  Maybe they won't vote for Romney, but they won't be voting for Obama.

        •  What undecideds? (4+ / 0-)

          It's basically 5% or less. He would have to win virtually all of them to win. But then we see Markos' diary pointing out how Obama kicked ass with independents. But don't let me ruin your sob-story.

          For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

          by Anne Elk on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 04:02:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  And Obama's not even "right" on a lot (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HugoDog, 2020adam

        unless by "right" you mean "right wing"

        Romney came out largely supporting Simpson-Bowles. Obama couldn't rebut the Catfood Commission bullshit because he's for it too.

        Then we had Obama saying that he's "got a somewhat similar position" as Romney when it comes to Social Security - which is true. But they're both wrong on that too.

        “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” – Abraham Lincoln

        by Sagebrush Bob on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:32:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Rubbish (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        artmartin, Larsstephens

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 04:00:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you. What, I ask, would Obama (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dfarrah, fumie, Larsstephens, monster

      crushing Romney look like? Are we talking loss of bowel function? Falling over in a faint? Fistfight? Obama did what he always does; he remained calm. He was the adult. He wasn't a raving nut engaging in a shouting match. He was the President and he behaved like one. I was very proud of him.

      The other thing that's actually rather amusing is that Romney only appeared better because he was a mannequin in previous appearances. He had all of the qualities of a starved rat in a food cupboard. He rushed from the butter to the bread to the jam pot. It was, as he always is, weird.

      For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

      by Anne Elk on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 04:00:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Starved rat" is right (0+ / 0-)

        Romney seemed frantic, scattered, and spastic. I was struck by one response he gave where there was a very specific question, and Romney bounced around from one issue to the next about every ten seconds.  (I don't remember which segment is was, but I think it was in the second half of the debate.)

        I didn't want to include that take in the diary since I was seeing Romney through the lens of a progressive.

  •  Astonishingly interesting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anne Elk

    I posted last night.
    I've checked other blogs, scrolled through enough troll mess to choke a horse & I still come back to what I posted last night.
    Abbr.; Reins & all: This insane asylum is riding his imaginary prancing horse like there's no tomorrow. I think he took his prancingness a bit too deep, a bit tooo deep :)
    It was grotesque.
    Here's the subliminal thing. I don't think he fooled a whole lot of regular American people.
    I think he's confused with paranoia his own base.
    My take.
    P.S. Any repuke candidate takers want to saddle up next to him? Please do :)

  •  the bar was set low (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for romney. they expected him to be crushed. for him to show up at all, much less dominate, lies and all, was (to them) a huge deal. the bar was set extremely low. i'm just sayin'.

    •  I agree. I watched looking for a car wreck. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, monster

      Instead I saw a highly animated man saying anything that sounded good with no correlation to what he campaigns on. Obama was kindof 'blah', but he is also a known.  Some closet romney supporters will come out, wanting to believe he can cut $5T in taxes and put the burden on someone else, but that is about it.

      and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

      by ban48 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:28:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reminded of kid running for student council (5+ / 0-)

        Free pop everyday! No school on Fridays! Pizza for lunch! No homework! Vote for me! Even most elementary school age children know this is not feasible. I'm hoping the American public is at least as smart.

      •  O didn't lose; R can't win. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I thought Romney looked more prepared than usual. Chris Christie was onto it last week, and since nobody believed him at the time, and R has been pretty good at looking like the new W for a few months, it caught some people off guard. But he may not be able to sustain it.

        Obama could have been nastier, wasn't, and that habit of his continues to piss off everyone who thinks pugilism is a social skill.

        Without a single abortion question, the conversation was way too theoretical for anyone who doesn't follow politics like a sport.

  •  this expresses my views on the debate exactly... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whenwego, monster

    ...despite a much clearer message than he's had in the past, Romney was very defensive...frequently. The President came across to me as more...well..."Presidential" in wanting to stay above the nasty partisan fray.

    Romney allegedly "won" the debate according to pollsters, including among the few remaining independents out there...and, essentially, achieved his overriding objective of remaining "relevant" in the race and, perhaps, actually getting himself back into the game, at least as far as the national media narrative is concerned.

    It will be interesting to see whether this alleged "win" by Romney actually translates into a bump in the polls and, if so, by how much (my guess: 1-2 percent at best, although it's possible that Romey "won" the debate in the minds of many but did not actually move the needle, and possibly even moved it back with his somewhat obnoxious aggressiveness.

    The American people so far this year have given President Obama the benefit of the doubt when it comes to a dramatically improved economy since taking office. It remains to be seen if they will also be nuanced enough to give him the benefit of the doubt in terms of knowing that he has different responsibilities, including during a debate, as our sitting President than his challenger (my guess and my hope is that most people's minds are already made up and last night's debate will not change things dramatically).

  •  Why are some Democrats (0+ / 0-)

    Shell shocked today, i listen too the debate ,the result were muddle on both side,if Obama fail in the next foreign policy debate ,that will be ground for some of you to panic ,other than this  ,do not panic

  •  Best analysis I've yet read. (6+ / 0-)

    This matches what I saw last night.
    So many here are so invested in drama that they miss the famous Obama long game.
    As the old saw says, if your opponent is hurting himself, let him.
    This will all look much different in a few days, when all the hand wringing is over, and Obama is still on top, and Romney is still a dick.

  •  I want to add a few things (14+ / 0-)

    1  For those who are worried about low information voters, I think they got bored and turned off the debate early on.  It was a wonky debate and was boring.  So low information voters are right where they were before the debate.  Engaged voters have already decided in all probability.

    2.  My best friend's husband is a union official and is working this election.  His comment was that the campaign didn't want Obama to directly engage Romney.  I think the campaign didn't want to chase the big money away from Romney to the Senate and Congressional elections by having Obama come on too strong.

    3.  He additionally said the campaign has a truck load of opposition material that they haven't used yet and probably won't until closer to the election.

    4.  All of the lies Romney told make good ads against him.

    •  Boring! Yes!! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fumie, Larsstephens, monster

      For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

      by Anne Elk on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 04:04:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, boring is beautiful (0+ / 0-)

      Boring = advantage Obama.

      "Low information" voters (and in fact, most voters) base their decision more on emotional gut feelings than on factual analysis. In fact, feelings tend to color one's view of the facts: If your gut tells you that Obama shares your values more, and you identify better with him, then you trust him more and tend to believe his factual statements. And same for Romney.

      So, since the debate was basically a back-and-forth argument about the facts, the same gut feelings are in place now as before the debate. And those gut feelings favor Obama.

  •  I hope you're right (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Indeed I agree about the framing as a student of Lakoff.  Let's see if the media does what it is supposed to do and go on the fact checking hunt that they sometime miss (especially CNN)  Thing is most don't watch cable news.  any idea what your LOCAL NEWS is talking about?

    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. ~JFK

    by TheUrbanRevolution on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:56:09 AM PDT

  •  The problem is that lies are as good as truth (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Texnance, looty, Larsstephens, monster

    I think that many people recognize this problem.  

    There is simply no longer a different between something that is factual and something that isn't.  

    The GOP knows this, so they really just plan on lying.

    You have the author of the budget that voucherizes Medicare on the ticket, yet they will straight faced tell you that it is Obama who is ending Medicare.

    The level of lying is really brazen.

    Incarceration Nation has a Jail Jones to feed its Imprisonment Addiction

    by otto on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 12:14:16 PM PDT

    •  Helped immensely (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      otto, artmartin, Larsstephens, monster

      by a rather feckless news corps, and a Democratic party that seems reluctant to punch back.

      Still I just don't think Obama did as bad last night as most people here seem to.

      Barack Obama is not a secret socialist class warrior who wants to redistribute wealth in America. But I'll still vote for him, anyway.

      by looty on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:33:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a good strategy (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens, monster, looty

        He goes up there, lies a whole bunch, throws out a bunch of numbers, and then if Obama starts to correct him on every one, he'll disagree, and it will look like Obama is being petty.  

        No win situation.

        Incarceration Nation has a Jail Jones to feed its Imprisonment Addiction

        by otto on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 06:46:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  good tactic perhaps (0+ / 0-)

          but not sure if, in the long run, it will prove a good strategy

          Barack Obama is not a secret socialist class warrior who wants to redistribute wealth in America. But I'll still vote for him, anyway.

          by looty on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 09:05:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You - N/T (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:12:23 PM PDT

  •  That's too generous to the President (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Romney did as well in this debate as he possibly could have.  He looked assertive without being pushy and confrontational without being disrespectful.  There are many valid critiques to his facts and his arguments, but let's face it, the only way he could have done better is if the truth was on his side.  And we all know it isn't.

    "Unrestricted immigration is a dangerous thing -- look at what happened to the Iroquois." Garrison Keillor

    by Spider Stumbled on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:20:50 PM PDT

  •  Love it! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I went to bed last night depressed but having a feeling that Obama was in the game. Thank you thank you for this now I feel more assured. Hopefully for good reason!

  •  President Obama walked into the debate... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    S F Hippie, Anne Elk, artmartin, monster

    ... intending to totally dismantle the Conservative Republican agenda, and everything that Romney had been running on, up to that point.  Then apparently, Mitt Romney decided that he would also do that.

    Will conservatives have the integrity to admit that Romney only had a good night, because he shook the Etch-A-Sketch, and threw the Conservative agenda under the bus?

    •  The President seems not to know how to handle... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dfarrah, monster

      confrontation with a mid-1980s Republican like himself. He expected this kind of compromise and left-leaning reasonableness while governing and never got it. Having dealt with nutty rightwing nonsense for about four years now, he didn't seem ready for someone to play his own game and flank him from the left.

      The President seems to have run his administration on the idea that if he moved to the right, he'd either get compromise or he'd suck all the oxygen out of the room and force Republicans to implode. Instead he pushed their governing strategy further to the right and created an opening to his left where a lying shape-shifter like Romney could attack him.

      If the President can effectively communicated just how blatant Romney's lies are, he could be just fine. But by failing to do so in the debate, he showed Republicans that the correct strategy may be decrying banksterism, pouting about families on food stamps, and attacking the deficit on terms the President has agreed to.

      "The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with."

      by 2020adam on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 03:35:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  this is how I saw it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I loved the bit about math.  

    I already left forever and never came back. -pyrrho

    by GBCW on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:59:31 PM PDT

  •  "Etch-a-Sketch" Debate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North, monster

    This was an Etch-a-Sketch Debate.  Pure and Simple.  Mitt Romney simply renounced every position that he had previously taken, he refused to explain.  He spoke loudly and vehemently denied policy positions that he had taken before.

    As to the Affordable Care Act, Mitt said that his health care proposal takes into account pre-existing conditions.  That was one statement that Mitt did not lie about.  Emergency rooms do not deny care for Pre-existing conditions!

    Dick Cheney said, "Pi$$ on 'em!" And, Ronald Reagan replied, "That's a Great Idea. Let's Call it 'Trickle Down Economics!"

    by NM Ray on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 03:17:22 PM PDT

  •  Did Obama ignore being goaded? (0+ / 0-)

    Was Romney's obvious lying prodding to goad PBHO?
    Did Obama not take the bait?

  •  I thought McCain did well in the 1st debate in 08. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    artmartin, monster

    He made a lot of sense. He had a lot of facts at his fingertips.

    I had to wait until the Town Hall debate in 08 before I thought it was a clear Obama victory.

    The Town Hall looks and feels less formal, and I think Obama rang that change of tone perfectly in 08. And you will recall that the informality drew the famous "that one" comment from McCain.

  •  Obama must have done something right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    artmartin, Larsstephens

    in the debate, given that

    Obama approval rating soars to highest level in 3 years.

    and this, virtually overnight.

    Good thing I didn't get my undies in a bunch over the debate. That would have a been a lot of wasted energy ;)

    (Don't) Steal My Stickers bumpersticker 4 Blues in a Red zone

    by jan4insight on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 05:58:19 PM PDT

  •  Thanks, good thinking. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    artmartin, Larsstephens, monster
  •  I like what you had to say. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, monster

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam> "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Edna St.V. Millay

    by slouching on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:40:03 PM PDT

  •  perhaps we are odd.. (0+ / 0-)

    Perhaps we are just odd, but my spouse and I watched the debate yesterday and just don’t get the reaction, especially from Obama supporters.  We have no TV (watched it off the YouTube feed) so don’t hear all the chatter-punditry , yet I see from headlines that Romney was considered the ‘winner.” My spouse, an immigrant from Ukraine, is quite apolitical, yet offered that Romney “reminds me of guys with penis envy who drive huge cars.” I honestly found Romney rude, constantly interrupting (you could hear him on everyone of Obama’s responses- Saturday Night Live could make a routine about it), almost frantic in spots. Obama was calm and measured. I don’t find that weak at all.

    Frankly, I think most of this reaction is media’s attempt to generate a “horse race” which they need for ratings.  It’s the only explanation that makes any sense to me. I will say the NYTimes story the next day was a fairly accurate account (business consultant vs. college professor).

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