Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, President Obama — October 5, 2012 at 8:26 am

UPDATED: Really, Democrats, have you learned so little about Barack Obama in five years?


Call for the fainting couch! Pearls for clutching!

UPDATED with a #6 below.

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 how 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 (a post that has gone crazy viral, by the way), I got these sorts of comments:

Dear Mr. President, you lost some ground last night because you didn’t seem prepared for what Romney served (lies or no). Romney is a liar and a bully. Be ready next time.
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 this 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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

Also, too: Big Bird.

As I mentioned yesterday, Romney employed the “Gish Gallop”, 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.

Did you know that the night of the debate, Syria launched attacks on a Turkish town, killing five civilians? They did. And, while President Obama was on stage, having to contend with a lying snake that knows next to nothing about foreign policy, he knew in the back of his mind that this was going on and could lead to further escalation in a very politically fragile part of the world. He seemed “distracted”, you say? Well, no fucking wonder.

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]

  • Obama is the President. We, on the other hand, are but douchebags with keyboards. I’ll trust the President on this one. #ObamaBiden2012

  • The problem I have with your essential point is that this is what Obama’s been doing his entire presidency.

    Debt ceiling? Check.

    Fiscal cliff? Check.

    Health care — **real** health care — reform? Check.

    Wall Street — **real** Wall Street — reform? Check.

    All deals that Obama cut where he continually started right of middle and backed down as soon as the Republicans said “Hell no you can’t”.

    When does Obama get a backbone and grow a pair and stop being so damned adult and cerebral?

    Hell, he’s so limp I’m surprised he can even stand upright at the podium.

    • kirke123

      john sage, you are way off base and obviously you do not realize that the prez has balls of steel!
      there is not a president in the history of this country which has accomplished a health program, starting with washington, jefferson, fdr, eisenhower, nixon, kennedy, regan, clinton, where they were short he was accomplished. he has relentlessly chased the leaders of of our #1 enemy and pulling the plug on bin ladden. he has more accomplishments in less than four years than most presidents have accomplished in eight years. he was handed a depressed economy with an enormus deficit, driven by two unfunded wars, and has created new regulations for cheating banks and mortgage leanders, saved the auto industry and the million related jobs, created the consumer protection agency to protect all citizens from crooked lenders, and hes completed this task with little help from the republican party, whos #1 goal was to vote no or not allow votes to come up so he would become a one term president. can you immagine a republican party not wanting to help the citizens of this country, who have fallen fast and furious, to prevent the president from doing his job for the american people? and yet he has accomplished the unimaginable durning his term and he deserves to be re-elected and not harrassed by the likes of you and others. hes a thinker and a doer and history will be very, very kind to him.

    • nabsentia23

      “Hell, he’s so limp I’m surprised he can even stand upright at the podium.”
      No, that was Mitt Romney.

      This “Obama needs a backbone” line is getting tiresome.

      • I’ve generally discovered that it comes most often from white guys of limited accomplishments who confuse “talking tough” with “getting shit done.”

    • Golly, if only the Democratic president had a “base” with balls who actually weren’t so limp they couldn’t get off the fainting couch and to the polls for the midterms, instead of bitching and whining and complaining like the impotent know-nothing losers they are. But please, feel free to share with the class the president you think really swung a big one for progressive values. Hint: if your answer is “FDR” or “Lincoln,” you flunked history class. Or should have.

    • Looks like you stole all of Romney’s rejected “zingers”

  • Pres Obama will win again.. Romney was allowed to Keep talking his mistruths for a reason.. .. Do we know Obama in 5 years,. Yes we do….. We know A lot about Romney is only 1 year, and he i not fit to be president and ryan is even worse.

  • You might want to check out this post about Gish Gallop strategy that Romney used – and he used it to a T

  • kirke123

    never,ever underestimate this president. he is cool and collected, and will not be sucked into an ambush. mitt is still scratching his head knowing hes being out foxed and now hes looking over his shoulder at every turn.
    next, smokin joe takes on lyin ryan to complete the set up, and then the sparks will fly!

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  • Nancy Kells

    I would add to #4 that all the mainstream media talked about was Big Bird and Lehrer’s lack of moderation skills.

    • nabsentia23

      I actually don’t think the mainstream media talking about Big Bird is a bad thing. Big Bird is already on his way to becoming an Obama surrogate.

      • Nancy Kells

        Neither do I. I think it’s funny that the Big Bird comment is what is most memorable and which was repeated most on mainstream news. Even funnier is that it’s probably the only line Romney didn’t memorize and repeat in a hundred different ways. “Big Bird and friends: about the 0.01% of the 47%!”

        • I think the Big Bird comment became important because it seems so weirdly out of touch with reality (like Mitt himself) and Romney seemed so much like a foolish wingnut Rush Limbaugh listener.

          Is Sesame Street really a threat to the economy? Seriously. Or is it just because the far right fanatics have been convinced by people like Hannity and Glenn Beck that it has a liberal agenda to poison our children’s minds.

          • Nomad,
            I don’t think the GOP cares anything at all for the children or their minds. They just want to stop any news outlet that tells the truth and is not controlled by the one per cent. How else can they maintain control and continue spreading their lies?

  • Sean J.

    Actually, most everyone outside of MSNBC is talking about how Obama got worked. Your fun little denial blogs are entertaining though! Keep up the humor everyone!

    • nabsentia23

      Here’s the problem with your statement, Sean. MSNBC also thought Obama got worked too. It seems that you don’t know as much about MSNBC as you think you do. MSNBC was wrong just like everybody else.
      Besides, several candidates have “lost” their debates only to win in November.

      • bossandnova

        Don’t eed-fay the oll-tray… Shhhh. He’s listening.

    • Vicki McGaugh

      What did Mitt win exactly, what bump did he get and he certainly did not have 30,000 people waiting for him the next morning to listen to him speak. What is Mitts path to the White House? Blacks, Women, Latino’s, LGBT, and anyone 50 or over who gets the AARP magazine and has read in black and white Mitt/Ryan’s plan for Medicare, all are voting for President Obama…can Mitt really win with the white men vote and the women who share their brain with their husbands?

  • gls

    As a physically imposing african-american trial attorney, it is nice to see that someone understands some of the peculiar dynamics of race in this country. Nice post.

    • Thanks for the comment. It actually strikes me as painfully obvious. Not so much, I suppose.

    • The day of Clarence Thomas using white guilt to secure his shaky nomination and applying the angry black man act is long gone, I think. Racism has become so openly displayed nowadays that it would most certainly backfire.

  • CA Berkeley WV

    Ok, maybe there is something about people from Mass and Article II. Kerry “won” his first debate. Romney reminded me of a cross between Joe Izuzu and the used car salesman trying to get me to buy extra undercoating and go with his financing deal.

    Plans, lots of plans. Big Bird and those great Secret Plans, knowledge of them would burden the huddling 98%. Ephedra funerea, Mormon tea, Orin Hatch did not want it regulated by the FDA.

  • hotflashweave

    I went to bed just after the debate ended. My impression was that Mr. Obama must have had the same home training that I had, to be respectful, to listen, to find agreement where possible, and not to call an opponent a liar. I thought that the reason he looked down was so that the naked contempt that I saw on my husband’s face, and I am sure was on my own, would not be visible to anyone else. Mr. Romney looked manic, almost spitting out his indictments of the president, and so phony in his newfound empathy with the poor, that it was painful to watch, like bad acting in a movie. When I turned on the TV in the morning and saw the president’s supporters, I could only wonder if we had seen the same debate, Maybe television personalities have to be more concerned with style than substance, but I had to wonder if they suffered from the same pathology that we see in extreme right-wingers best described by Genghis Kahn and typified by Newt Gingrich…” It’s not enough that I win, everyone else must be destroyed”. Those who love this president love his easy charm, his basis in fact, and the light touch he employs when criticism is called for. I thought he won the debate, and I respect him more than ever for not becoming churlish in the face of liars. “If you can keep your head, when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…” etc. I’ve got a bottle of bubbly chilling for the landslide in November!!

    • Great comment. Thanks so much. And, yeah, CHILL THE BOOZE!!!

    • I totally agree! I felt he had won hands down, but I guess to many people facts and truth are not as important as fluff!

  • This is one of the coolest responses I have seen, and I rarely say this kind of thing on blogsites. Very well done!

    • Thanks so much, Anthony. I really appreciate that.

  • Uhave2laff

    A-flippin’ men. I’m not one teeny bit worried about his performance last night. Not only do I agree with everything you said, but Obama’s a chess player. He never gives everything away right out the gate. Remember the 2008 debate between he and Hillary Clinton? Everyone was saying the same thing but he came back the next round and leveled a few KOs. By the end of these debates, no one is even going to remember the first one because Obama will have blown everyone out of the water.

    • Holy shit! Ma Renrut! How ARE you???

      • Uhave2laff

        Keeping focused in the Silver State. You and the missus?

        • Living the dream, don’tchya know. Too busy for words but loving every minute of it ; )

  • I was screaming at my television at Romney. Screaming: you f***ing liar. I am kinda glad Obama wasn’t doing that. I screamed that for two hours. My husband got sick of hearing me so he went to bed after the first hour.

  • WBG

    Totally agree with your blog. Read how Mitt’s performance alienated women. I know it alienated me. The way Mitt was looking at Obama was really creepy. Almost like a predator, it was unnerving. He was rude, overbearing and manic. Actually pretty scary combo for Commander & Chief. The thought of him on the world stage scares me to death. How Obama kept his cool is nothing short of amazing. Romney started with I’m not giving a tax break to the rich, and swore he never said it, now that was really disturbing. How do you debate a pathological liar? POTUS will figure it out.

    • Predator. That’s perfect.

    • I watched on CSPAN which had a split screen showing close ups of both candidates from about the waist and never showing Leher. Mitt was exactly as you describe, sweat on his upper lip, that creepy sneer. He glared at Obama throughout the entire debate never once looking into the camera until the closing statement while PBO frequently talked directly to us. I though the President did extremely well and was shocked at the pundits reaction.

  • I was disappointed, I admit it. However, as soon as the crowing from the GOP began, I realized that this was a brilliant strategy. They let their fantasy world take over once again by proclaiming that Obama was in trouble.

    How was this a win for Romney? After all, when one of your staffers has to come out after your debate and “clarify” what was meant (as Romney’s campaign staff had to do about something as important as the loss of pre-existing coverage) then you certainly haven’t won. What I think annoyed me much more was the way all of the news outlets were declaring Romney a winner minutes after the debate ended. Few seemed to have picked up on the lies at all.

    The one major gaffe that went unmentioned was that snide remark from Romney about not knowing anything about the tax cuts for outsourcing. For pity’s sake, only last month, Republicans in the Senate were able to prevent any further discussion of closing that loophole.
    Here’s an excerpt from that article:

    “It’s fairly easy to see why Republicans are blocking our bill to stop outsourcing,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said at a press conference before the vote. “They’re obviously defending their presidential nominee, who of course made a fortune by shipping jobs overseas.”

  • murphyslaww

    He still looked abjectly unprepared at points though. I would have like to have seen better fact checking in his own preparation, and less playing of Mitt’s own game. Yes, Mitt’s half-truths are closer to false than Obama’s but they are still half truths.

    The fact that there isn’t an actual tax code policy for shipping jobs overseas was too easy to jump on. That should have been worded differently or not utilized at all. The tax benefit for doing that is more complicated than the average citizen to grasp quickly.

    There is plenty of good news in his first 4 years that aren’t seen as recent soundbites that would have taken a bit more work to work into the conversation, but I didn’t see much of that. His delivery was off, and repeating the same statement several times about Mitt’s tax plan numbers was clunky. I would have liked to see at least one “ohh, so let me and the American people understand, your tax plan has changed over the last two weeks.”, directly to his face. I’m guessing that Romney would have stumbled answering that.
    As far a coming back at Romney, on his half-truths and lies, the next debate is about an entirely different subject, and coming back to what was said at this past one will look like weakness from a sore loser, and we all know these are about perception, no matter how you might want to gloss over that.

  • Uhave2laff

    p.s. UPDATE: No debate bump for Romney – “GALLUP: #Obama 50.00 Romney 45.00: Obama +5 —- FOX NEWS: #Obama 48.00 Romney 43.00 : Obama +5 #POLLS”–Twitter feed

  • Me, Myself and I

    Romney exuded a sort of frenetic desperation. He was rude and pushy, his arrogance spilling over, touching everyone… yet it all seemed forced. Like, “this is it, do it or die.” And everything that spilled from his mouth, whether it was about his own platform or Obama’s policies, was lies, twisted lies, warped lies, perverted lies.

    Obama, on the otherside, absorbed this fury, kept his cool, stayed calm, in control and focused. Answered the questions, even called Romney on some of the lies and stated his policies clearly. I didn’t think he seemed distracted, he seemed alert to me, he was aware of what Romney was doing and countered it appropriately.

    I read the transcript of the debate and it had a completely different tone than watching the televised version. Romney lost all of his ‘style points’ when you read the transcripts, when the visuals are removed and the words are left. His belligerence seems more pronounced. The lies shine, ricochets all over the page.

    Link to the transcript of the debate should anyone want to read it too:

    I never stopped trusting President Obama. I am proud of him and the way he handled the debate, exercising great self control. He knows what he’s doing. Great article, by the way. Keep ’em coming.

  • Partial_M

    My only disagreement with your post is that I do believe Obama could have stood up to Romney without becoming arrogant or defensive, and being the “angry black man” that everyone thinks would doom this election.
    After all, Ronald Reagan was hardly angry or defensive when he looked over at Jimmy Carter and sights, “There you go again…”
    Do not suggest that Obama (who is cooler that anyone this side of Fonzie) lacks the ability to take down his opponent withour resorting to ager, vitriol or spite. I have more faith in the guy than that.

  • Rhodesia

    Someone sent me this link – this is nothing more than a blogger speaking their mind on a progressive commentary website. Wish people would read reputable articles from both sides and formulate their own opinions rather than believe this passionate garbage.

  • Rhodesia

    This is passionate garbage – but what else can you expect from a blogger on a progressive commentary site. I’ll continue my search elsewhere for REPUTABLE articles from both sides and formulate my own opinion.

  • observer

    My god, I think this commentator is actually in love with Obama. He must be like Chris Mathews, feeling a tingle run up his leg when he hears Obama speak.
    He’s earned it.”
    After you’ve read the rest of the commentary this sounds exactly like a remark made by some totally brainwashed subject of North Korea’s Kim Jong-il. Talk about creepy!

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  • Nathalie Jones

    I really loved reading this. I knew the POTUS wasn’t caught off guard…I knew there was a method to what seemed like his madness, I just couldn’t put a handle on it. If people really, REALLY think he would let RMoney best him, then either they don’t know him or maybe they DO know him and he just doesn’t want to be President anymore…

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