Tuesday, October 23, 2012

napped through the debate

So I missed The Final Conflict tonight. At this point, I imagine it now comes down to one last paroxysm of swing-state campaigning (clever/snotty ads, leaflets, phone calls, etc.-- I'm glad I no longer have a land line!) before Election Day, November 6. From what I can see, insta-polls are giving the final debate to Obama by a significant margin. Will it be enough for him to recover his faltering momentum? We'll all soon know.

It's been interesting to watch the commentaries of the liberals and conservatives on my Twitter feed. I can provide you with a taxonomy of post-debate ejaculations, which seem to fall into three major categories:

1. "Our guy won!" (Often accompanied by the goofy interjection "BOOM!")
2. "Their guy lied! Let's fact-check, shall we?"
3. "The moderator sucked!"

Complaints about the moderators originated more on the conservative side than on the liberal side. This might be partially attributable to a certain desperation, a desire to see Romney move ahead. But it might also be rooted in a legitimate complaint: all the moderators were decidedly left-leaning (imagine the cries of "Foul!" had a Fox News moderator been selected), and in at least two debates, we've got documented evidence of pro-Obama bias in terms of time-allowance and/or outright combativeness with Candidate Romney.

I tried to read conservative (libertarian?) Stephen Green's "drunkblogging" of the debates, but found his comments largely uninformative, though occasionally blandly humorous. Green seems to think Romney held his own, which amounts to a win. No surprise here; Green's a Romney supporter. (At least he's frank about his biases, though, unlike so many lefties in the mainstream news media.)

Rather under-reported, tonight, were Obama's apparently snappish quips to Romney, including one remark about aircraft carriers ("We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them."). Conservatives took this as a sign that Obama was acting un-presidential. Given the foul-mouthed natures and searingly bad tempers of presidents like Truman, Nixon, and Clinton, however, I'm not even sure how meaningful the "presidential" label is. I suppose the media are looking for any hint that one or both debaters are losing their tempers. That's the problem with living in an HDTV culture: every little tic and quirk is put under the microscope. It's impossible for a human to be human.

It's probably true that confirmation bias reigns: partisans won't be convinced by debate results; they already made their decisions long ago, and no evidence to the contrary will deter them from the way they've decided to vote. Obama sucked in the first debate, but his drooling worshipers kept right on drooling and worshiping. Romney's performance in the two subsequent debates seems to have been lackluster, but this hasn't dimmed the optimism of his rabid disciples.

I'd say that it's a real toss-up as to who is going to win the coming election. We won't be seeing a true face-stomping landslide victory, as happened for both of Ronald Reagan's terms. This promises to be a fairly close shave.

ADDENDUM: Charles Krauthammer predictably declares Romney the winner of tonight's presidential debate:

“And the high point of that debate for Romney is when he devastatingly leveled the charge of Obama going around on an apology tour,” Krauthammer continued. “Obama’s answer was, ‘Ask any reporter, they’ll be able to tell you it wasn’t so.’ It’s about as weak an answer as you could get. And Romney’s response was … to quote Obama saying, ‘We dictate to other nations,’ and Romney said, ‘We do not dictate to other nations. We liberate them.’ And Obama was utterly speechless. … I thought Romney had the day. He looked presidential. The president did not. And that’s the impression I think that is going to be left.”


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