18 October 2012

Obama 1, Romney 1

Obama is back from the Land of the Living Dead - and on top form, says CyberShrink in his review of the American Election debates.


Obama is back from the Land of the Living Dead - and on top form, says CyberShrink in his review of the American Election debates. 

The first debate of the Presidential candidates was almost frightening. Obama was, as I said, Obamanable. Timid, reluctant, listless, and looking as though he'd rather be almost anywhere else but there. Though he's  not as effective a debater as most people think --- he prefers scripts and auto-prompters, and taking safe positions --- we knew he was capable of far more than that. 

On that performance, he didn't deserve re-election, and didn't seem to want it. He often fails to listen properly to the question or to what his opponent is saying, depriving himself of much power in such settings. 

The senile Chairman never had control and shouldn't have bothered to turn up. Romney was far better than anyone imagined - energetic, confident, well-prepared, and obviously greatly enjoying himself. His sometimes rather orange makeup had been toned down. 

In that one episode, Obama nearly lost himself the election, and lost significant support in every poll. 

Biden his time
This time the chair was a very able young woman. Then last week the vice-presidential candidates went at it. Joe Biden, was the usual affable uncle, rather condescending, flashing his impossibly white teeth as though they'd just been freshly enamelled, and he wanted to get his money's worth. He more than held up his end. 

Ryan, the new kid on the block, was nerdy and dogged. Like Romney, he was full of figures of very variable accuracy and verity, all aimed at discrediting Obama, and yet dramatically lacking in essential details of his own programmes. 

Like the obnoxious kid in school who snitches to the teacher about what happened while she was out of the room, they're only aware of what others did or did not do, and not of what they themselves should have done or will do. They're aggressively and very specifically vague. Trying to figure out their policies is like trying to examine a fog with a magnifying glass. 

The Kraken wakes 
This week, both wives, peculiarly, chose to wear the same shade of shocking pink. But Obama had resumed his vitamin pills, and was on top form - assured, calm, lively, and he remembered most of the major ammunition against Romney he so peculiarly forgot in the previous debate. Romney was rattled at finding he'd lost the subservient and forgetful dreamer who'd faced him the previous time. 

In this "Town Hall" style, questions were posed by members of the audience, and they were much better than any of those the moderators have come up with. One woman asked Romney how he would distinguish himself from the awful George Bush, which seemed to surprise him, and he stumbled through a very cautious response. 

Romney is difficult to debate as he changes his positions at the drop of a donor, and denies having ever said or proposed things we've all seen him say and suggest. He knows that if Obama insists on clarifying every one of these flip-flops it's his opponent who will look picky and mean. 

It's a built-in difficulty in such elections, that the incumbent can only say - "I did my best, and this is how I'll do better next time." And the Challenger can only say: "This is what I say I'll do: believe me it'll work!"   When a young college graduate asked how they'd help him get a job, Romney's helpful answer was: "I want you to get a job! I'm gonna change that!" Yes, and I'm gonna be the next Miss South Africa. 

Obama remembered to challenge (though actually very gently) many of Romney's weaknesses - his secret and airy dismissal of 47% of the American population as moochers and losers; his refusal to disclose the details of his mysterious earnings and tax returns; his oddly changing positions; and so on. Romney routinely ignored the woman in the Chair, bombastically ploughing ahead with his arguments regardless of the questions. "You'll get your chance - I'm still speaking". He usually avoids the actual questions really obviously. When Obama points out that Romney, on annual earnings of some 20 million dollars, pays less taxes than a nurse, he ignores the point. He pretends his many contradictions aren't there at all. Are the American voters listening?  

He's also highly repetitious. If we'd played a drinking game and downed a shot every time he said, as though it was a witty or useful thing to say, that the middle class had been buried or crushed, we'd have soon been blind drunk. But apparently they were never buried and crushed at the same time, apparently crushing an entire class which has already been buried isn't as easy as it sounds. 

It was clear they don't like each other, and they were coolly polite. Romney ignored every possible foreign policy issue except his persistent distortion of the attack on an American Embassy in Libya. To hear him, you'd have thought Obama had somehow led that attack himself. 

The Umpire Stikes Back? 
Arch Conservatives (and who can be more arch than they?) have complained about the moment when the honest moderator added a comment which confirmed the truth, where Romney had accepted and repeated a false assertion about the President, without checking his facts. 

Romney was trying to accuse Obama of either getting the whole Benghazi tragedy wrong, or of misleading the world by insisting that it was due to a demonstration rather than terrorist action. When Obama denied this, Romney seemed startled to be contradicted and insisted that Obama had described it as a demo. Obama specified exactly where he called it a terrorist act the very next day. Romney didn't want to believe this, but the Chair confirmed it.That wasn't a partisan intervention, but an affirmation of truth versus a lie. It's worrying that Romney supporters find that objectionable. 

(Professor M.A. Simpson, Health24, October 2012)



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