After the first presidential debate, I said that Romney’s garden-variety performance would be insufficient to defeat an on-his-game Obama in subsequent debates. I was right. Obama was on his game during the second presidential debate, and he clearly crushed Romney. The funniest thing is that Romney gave a performance that was almost identical to his first debate. The only difference is that Romney faced an Obama who decided to jettison his signature Hawaiian coolness. President Obama decided it was time to go after Romney — and to do so very aggressively.
Predictions from my blogs after the first debate
Can Romney live up to the new elevated expectations that his Republican cheerleaders have unwisely created for him? We will have to wait and see. However, it’s not as obvious to me as it is to everyone else that the debate performance that Romney gave last week is sufficient to defeat an on-his-game Obama in subsequent debates.
People are so used to expecting rubbish from Mitt Romney that they deem his satisfactory performances brilliant. This was not a brilliant debate performance from Romney. This was a satisfactory Romney narrowly besting a completely unprepared Obama. If this is the best that Romney can do when Obama barely shows up for the fight, I think he’s going to be in some big trouble in the next two debates.
The cheerleaders who were fainting over Romney’s first debate performance like it was the political equivalent of a Michael Jackson show now look incredibly silly. They essentially set Romney up for disaster by failing to admit that Romney won the first debate not because he was spectacularly good, but because Obama was spectacularly bad. It’s going to be interesting to see what talking points they advance to spin this debate result, because it’s quite clear that Romney did not perform any worse than he did during the first debate. It’s just that his usual performance wasn’t enough against an on-his-game Obama.
Romney didn’t go into this debate feeling as though he needed to up his game. His head was clearly gassed up with the blandishments he received from his cheerleaders, and he thought he had all subsequent debates against Obama in the bag. This is why it’s always good to be told the truth. Telling a person that he or she is brilliant, magnificent, fabulous, and wonderful is incredibly damaging when the truth is that he or she needs to improve. When Obama bombed the first debate—which I still believe was Obama’s strategy—liberals on MSNBC told Obama the truth — most notably with Chris Matthews, Obama’s greatest fan, hysterically screaming, “Where was Obama tonight?!?!?”
If Romney listens to sycophants who will preposterously tell him he won the second presidential debate, he will lose the third, as he won’t put in the required effort to elevate his game. Cheerleading and false praise doesn’t help people who need to improve; rather, it hinders them from understanding the reality and insufficiency of their mediocrity.
Krauthammer gives the debate win to Obama. Romney would be wise to listen to the counsel of this political genius.
Interestingly, a point at which Romney showed he isn’t a true conservative was during his answer on the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Romney babbled on about how desperately hard he worked to make sure that he hired women, and he left the door wide open for Obama to expose the fact that he didn’t have a strong position on the issue just a few weeks ago. A real conservative wouldn’t have fallen into such a trap. A real conservative would have cited chapter 3 of Dr. Thomas Sowell’s Economic Facts and Fallacies, where he utterly destroys the myth of women getting paid less as a result of discrimination. Like his fellow liberals, Romney clearly doesn’t read Dr. Sowell’s books. And because Romney is not a conservative, he doesn’t care about advancing conservative political arguments.
Watch Dr. Sowell, in his younger days, utterly annihilate a feminist on the issue of pay discrimination.
Overall, Obama had excellent zingers and rebuttals. Did I agree with the philosophical bent of most of his points? No. However, I can put my ideological bias aside and judge a debate fairly. Romney’s rebuttals were decent, but nothing to write home about. Obama’s rebuttals were brilliant. One of Obama’s most refulgent rebuttals was the point where he deftly diffused Romney’s desperation-driven attack on his pension—during a question on immigration of all topics! (See 1:04:00 in the debate video above.) Romney asked Obama, “Have you looked at your pension recently?” Obama said, “You know, I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long. I don’t check it that often.” The audience laughed, and Obama diffused the entire point that Romney was trying to score. Romney allowed Obama to do this because Romney doesn’t understand that asking a question isn’t the same thing as making an argument! Romney gives his opponents perfect opportunities to diffuse his points with zingers.
Republicans can either tell Romney the truth about his need to improve his debating skills—like Democrats did to Obama after the first debate—or they can focus exclusively on the left-wing media bias exhibited by Candy Crowley, who disputed Romney’s absolutely accurate point about Obama not initially calling the attack on the Benghazi consulate a terror attack. However, as I said in my review of the vice presidential debate, Republicans cannot simply scream “MEDIA BIAS!” and pretend as though it can be neatly blamed for all of the misfortunes that Republicans experience. Romney needs to improve his debating skills. With that said, understanding that his debating skills are mediocre is only half the battle.
I doubt that Romney knows that his debating skills are nothing to write home about — presumably because he listens to his cheerleaders, not people who tell him the truth. The likelihood is very high that Romney will listen to the same cheerleaders who set him up for a shellacking during this debate. Romney’s delusions of grandeur, fueled by the mindless fawning of his cheerleaders, will ultimately be his downfall in the third debate, just as it was in the second debate.
The saddest point of all? Real conservatives are the big losers in all of this. Romney should not be the Republican representative at the presidential level, and he’s not getting my vote.