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Call for the fainting couch! Pearls for clutching!


You're going to have to pardon a bit of a rant but, after watching the reaction to the first presidential debate yesterday and reading/listening to countless pundits and commenters talking about absolutely blown away President Obama was by Mitt Romney, I have a few things to get off my chest.

The general criticism of President Obama's performance is that he was too passive; not aggressive enough. After watching the video of the President talking about the newest version of Mitt Romney that showed up at the debate (my post on this has gone crazy viral, by the way), I got these sorts of comments at Eclectablog:

It's just too bad that Obama's speech writers didn't tell him to say that in the debate last night. Instead he just stared at his podium with the body language of a shy nerd getting his ass kicked at a game he's supposed to be good at, by the jock that everyone thought was an idiot. Whoops! A debate is about perception, not truth. So the hysterical liberal pundits on cable news that nobody watches such as MSNBC(unlike the debates which gets roughly 3 times the ratings traffic as cable news) can do all the "fact checking" they want. In the end it doesnt matter. With debates it's about the MOMENT and the effect that moment had on those watching at the time. And the fact is, Obama's moment passed.
Romney was more prepared and won. Obama just looks like a puppet that can only perform when a speech is written out for him. Romney isn't Bush you are going to have to step up your A game.
Where was this aggressive posture last night? Both Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson (on the Democracy Now "expanded debate" gave a better showing and had better plans for the country. I don't get Obama's support of fracking. He is still a tool of big business. I'd like to see him push through on his ideas to cut corporate welfare, but I don't think he really means it. Romney is the one who shouldn't be invited to the debates. He has sure worked on tactics of deception. Total liar, but he looked pretty good.
It was hardly restricted to my site. Across the internet, the hand-wringers fanned out to question President Obama and to predict his defeat by Mitt Romney. The post-debate discussion on MSNBC was probably the most extreme example. I actually thought that Ed Schultz was going to commit seppuku right on live television.

So, while all of you doubters retire to your fainting couch, clutching your pearls, the back of your hand to your furrowed brow, let me point out a few things.

1. GOADING PRESIDENT OBAMA INTO BECOMING ANGRY AND DEFENSIVE WAS IN MITT ROMNEY'S GAME PLAN
Check this out from the September 28, 2012 New York Times piece where they talked about Mitt Romney's debate strategy and how he was preparing "zingers" to unleash during the debate:

Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August. His strategy includes luring the president into appearing smug or evasive about his responsibility for the economy. {...}

During rehearsals, Mr. Romney has tried lines of attack suggesting that Mr. Obama distorts the facts and sloughs off responsibility on others. Mr. Romney’s aides recall Mr. Obama’s tart “you’re likable enough” line to Mrs. Clinton in 2008 and hope to goad him into a similarly churlish moment. Mr. Romney will win, the advisers said, if he can force Mr. Obama to come across as condescending or smug.

Romney's strategy was to make President Obama look defensive and angry. Because nothing plays worse in Anti-Obamaland than the Angry Black President. If you are trying to win over all of those white people -- and Mitt Romney MUST win like 60+% of the white vote -- he's got to try to make President Obama seem hostile and angry to white people.

So, President Obama kept his cool. He allowed the lies and attacks to wash over him and remained calm, not responding with emotion, something that could lead him to say something intemperate.

By contrast, Mitt Romney came across as lecturing and, frankly, a dick. This is exactly what they were hoping NOT to do. From the same NYT article:

Hundreds of miles away in New England, Mitt Romney’s team has been working to make sure he avoids coming off as a scold. His sparring partner, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, channeling Mr. Obama, has gone after him repeatedly, to the point of being nasty. The goal is to get Mr. Romney agitated and then teach him how to keep his composure, look presidential.
Mission not accomplished.

2. PRESIDENT OBAMA IS NOW FREE TO BE AGGRESSIVE AND TO CALL OUT ROMNEY'S LIES IN THE NEXT DEBATE
Now that the pundits have all made President Obama out as the guy who took a beating on national television and the entire country wonders why he wasn't more aggressive, they are actually expecting him to be more aggressive now. His supporters WANT him to and all those undecided folks out there feel he's justified so, when he does go after Romney in debate number two, it's not going be the demerit that it would have been the first time. In the next debate, when Mitt Romney tells lie after lie, you can expect a more forceful push back by the President.

The Obama campaign is already signalling that they plan to do just that:

"Obviously, moving forward, we're going to take a hard look at this, and we're going to have to make some judgments as to where to draw the line in these debates and how to use our time," said David Axelrod, the Obama campaign's senior adviser. "I'm sure that we will make adjustments."

Plouffe put it this way when asked about those adjustments: "We just need to account for Romney's dishonesty."

Shorter Plouffe: "The people are asking for the President to call out Mitt Romney on his lies and the next time around, he's going to give them what they want." In other words, he is saving his best stuff for the end game. Typical shrewd Obama campaign tactic.

3. THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN STRATEGISTS ARE THE MASTERS OF POLITICAL TIMING
Seriously, people, are your memories that short? How many times during the 2008 primary was Barack Obama counted out because he had supposedly made some strategic blunder, only to find out a few days or weeks later that he had played it pitch-perfect? Do I really need to remind you that he defeated the Clinton political machine? HE BEAT THE CLINTONS!!! And you're second-guessing him?

How about during the General Election? Remember the phrase "This is great news for John McCain"? That came about in part because it seemed like every week, something Senator Obama had done was predicted to have doomed his campaign. Remember how he then went on to kick John McCain's ass all over the country?

It inspired this image that went completely viral and has remained so:

4. THE "GIVE HIM ENOUGH ROPE AND HE'LL HANG HIMSELF" APPROACH IS ALREADY WORKING
Have you noticed what everyone is talking about? It's not so much about how Obama lost the debate but how he should have called Romney out on all his LIES. They are talking about Romney's lying. Again. Still. That's good news for the Obama campaign.

OBAMA STAYED ON MESSAGE INSTEAD OF BEING DISTRACTED BY ROMNEY'S "GISH GALLOP"
As I mentioned yesterday,  Romney employed the "Gish Gallop" (hat tip to AmBushed here at Daily Kos, trying to keep President Obama from getting out his message. Here's how the Urban Dictionary describes the "Gish Gallop":

Named for the debate tactic created by creationist shill Duane Gish, a Gish Gallop involves spewing so much bullshit in such a short span on that your opponent can’t address let alone counter all of it. To make matters worse a Gish Gallop will often have one or more 'talking points' that has a tiny core of truth to it, making the person rebutting it spend even more time debunking it in order to explain that, yes, it's not totally false but the Galloper is distorting/misusing/misstating the actual situation. A true Gish Gallop generally has two traits.

1) The factual and logical content of the Gish Gallop is pure bullshit and anybody knowledgeable and informed on the subject would recognize it as such almost instantly. That is, the Gish Gallop is designed to appeal to and deceive precisely those sorts of people who are most in need of honest factual education.

2) The points are all ones that the Galloper either knows, or damn well should know, are totally bullshit. With the slimier users of the Gish Gallop, like Gish himself, it's a near certainty that the points are chosen not just because the Galloper knows that they're bullshit, but because the Galloper is deliberately trying to shovel as much bullshit into as small a space as possible in order to overwhelm his opponent with sheer volume and bamboozle any audience members with a facade of scholarly acumen and factual knowledge.

Sound familiar? It should. But, President Obama kept his cool, stayed on message and spoke to the American people about his vision for our country and our path forward. He was not lured into spending his entire time refuting Mitt Romney's bullshit and was not distracted from his message. Period.

So, calm down, folks. Chill the hell out and let this man do his thing. He's proven time and time again that he and his political staff are brilliant strategists. TRUST THE PRESIDENT.

He's earned it.

Don't make me call for the fainting couch, y'all.

[Image credit: "Young Woman Reclining in Spanish Costume" by Édouard_Manet, courtesy of WikiMedia Commons]

Cross-posted  from Eclectablog.

Originally posted to Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 09:18 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Federation.

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