The dust has now settled on the first two Presidential debates (one Presidential and one Vice Presidential) and I have a few observations. Debates are like political pugilism and boxing analogies work well for the debates this year. Both sides have to show the American public what they are made of head to head. Boxers always look good training, just like candidates look good on the stump. Once boxers are in the ring and candidates on stage, their training and strategies play out. Using boxing analogies I will cover first the Presidential debate and my thoughts on Romney's perceived victory, then switch to the Vice-Presidential debate and Vice President Biden's perceived defeat according to Sunday's panel on FACE THE NATION..which I will link as soon as it is available
In the coverage in the first debate (lets call it Round One) I was dismayed with the praise Governor Romney got for his debate against President Obama. Romney got credit for looking tough against President Obama's mediocre showing and generally having a better debate performance. President Obama was blasted for looking confused and weak. I think this is an incorrect assumption although he missed several chances to soften Romney up. The link above even goes so far to pound (I think unfairly) Jim Lehrer for letting the debate get out of hand. To me all of this is hogwash. It was not Jim Lehrer's fault the debate was a debacle for President Obama and a victory for Romney. Neither could get a word in edgewise for the ramblings of Romney. What I took from the debate was the Mitt Romney is behind in every sense of the race, and that he was merely out there to save his campaign. In my mind he failed..but again this is in my mind.
The analogy I would use is a boxer who goes into the ring knowing he is already beat. This boxer is going to swing with all his might on every punch whether it connects or not, merely to keep the other boxer on the defensive. The defeated boxer knows that it is hard to punch when you are dodging errant punches. Romney went on stage in Denver knowing that if President Obama was able to speak, he (Romney) was beat. Romney rambled on with his lists not because he had better things in those lists, but because he had more to say in those lists. President Obama did the right thing by letting Romney swing away, and keep from being rooked into a testy exchange. The approach the President took was more like (using another boxing analogy) the rope-a-dope strategy Muhammad Ali used. He (Ali) floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, and to most extents so did President Obama. I will admit that President Obama missed some golden opportunities to soften Romney up with some body blows that would pay off in the later rounds.
Over all, I think seeing Romney's debate in Denver as a victory is contrived and even if you (incorrectly) want to blame Jim Lehrer for a bad performance by President Obama you have to look at just how rude Romney was. Count how many times the President asked for an opportunity for a rebuttle and was not allowed one because Romney kept talking. Count too the times Romney interrupted Lehrer or Obama and you have a very bad performance and you might have to take off your shoes and socks. To use yet another pugilism comparison scorers are not supposed to count punches landed on the referee. But anyway, chalk round one up to Romney as the mass media has. It is still a long bout.
Round two took place in Danville, Kentucky at Centre College between Vice President Biden and Representative Paul Ryan. I personally did not watch the debate, primary because I figured it to be a bloodbath on the part of Ryan. Joe Biden is not a very good debater though he pummeled Sarah Palin in 2008..not that such a feat was all that challenging. Facing Ryan, who I see as a real sharp political player, Biden was better off coming out with gloves up and elbows down. What happened was the exact opposite. Biden came out swinging but in typical Biden fashion.
From Sunday's FACE THE NATION, I gathered that the Vice-President was a bit smug and brash, but this is Joe Bidden we are talking about here. So how did the media score Round Two? Not so much Victory Ryan but Defeat Bidden. My assessment? Hogwash. Why is it that Vice-President Bidden is scorn (at least by FACE THE NATION) for doing the very same thing in Round Two as Mitt Romney did in Round One? Would people have booed Muhammad Ali for taking a few open swings even as he danced around the ring? Yes Bidden came off harsh, but that is Joe Bidden. From what I see, he was not as rude as Romney was in the debate which is a plus. He is a little gruff, but that is what most people understand him to be. He swung, mainly to keep from getting hit and I don't blame him.
Paul Ryan is the better half of the Republican ticket and knows what he is talking about. If Bidden got into details, he might well have been skunked. Bidden did what he was has done all along for the President, and the primary job of any Vice-President, attack when the President cannot. His blows to Ryan might have been softer to Ryan than Romney's blows to Obama, but they still should have evened the score. What is baffling to me is that they did not in the eyes of the media. Bidden's performance has not been given the credit due..again at least from what I saw on the panel of Sunday's FACE THE NATION.
In my assessments of Rounds One and Two, I will admit that I am skewed towards the Obama/Bidden campaign but this is how I perceive them..it is after all my blog. If given due, Romney's performance was okay, and Obama's a little shaky, but neither to the extent shown in the media. Too, Vice-President Bidden was credited with a victory on many media outlets and my focusing on one program that argued to the contrary is unfair. In my assessments of Rounds Three and Four I will attempt to be more fair, though I will still call out if I see things as misrepresented in either direction.