Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Reaction to last night's debate

By Michael J.W. Stickings

We'll have a lot more reaction to last night's second presidential debate today and in the days to come, but if you missed them make sure to check out our two posts from last night:

-- pre-debate; and
-- post-debate.

Richard and I, along with Mustang Bobby, tmcbpatriot, and Frank Moraes, provided extensive commentary and analysis.

Quick consensus take: Obama was firm and decisive, Romney was uncomforable and unsteady. And, yes, Obama clearly won.

My quick personal take (from my much longer comments last night):

If you're counting at home, it's now 2-1 for Obama.

Clearly, Romney didn't want to be there. His discomfort was palpable, except when he was talking about the economy and regurgitating his usual talking points. And his strategy was obvious, given the president's overwhelming advantage on foreign policy (on MSNBC, John Kerry said this is the most inexperienced presidential ticket (Romney-Ryan) in history in terms of foreign policy): Agree with the president on pretty much everything, throw out a few of the usual lines (like the lie about Obama's "apology tour" and the accusation that Obama is weakening the military), and pivot wherever possible to the economy.

But Romney seemed not just uncomfortable but unsteady throughout, and his agreement with Obama on pretty much everything just seemed lame. No, he didn't embarrass himself, but he exposed himself as a charlatan, as remarkably inconsistent ("internal contradictions," as Rachael Maddow put it, being sort of against the Arab Spring but then supporting democracy in Egypt, for example), as unprepared, unqualified, and unfit for the presidency.

In stark contrast, President Obama was decisive, firm, and, yes, presidential to a degree even beyond what we usually see from him. This was the steady leader at the helm of American foreign policy, the commander-in-chief who understands the world and knows what he's doing on a wide range of policy areas and challenges facing the U.S. both at home and abroad. He was effective in touting his record, from rescuing the auto industry (which Romney opposed but now says he didn't) to killing Osama bin Laden (which Romney opposed but now says was great), from ending the Iraq War to working with Israel, and he called Romney out for being wrong, reckless, and inconsistent (not just on foreign policy but on the auto bailout and tax policy) , for being "all over the map," for projecting weakness in foreign policy statements that suggest profound ignorance.

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