After watching last night's debate between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, I was sure that Obama won the debate handily - he was engaged, on point, and on his game, while Romney was often flustered, usually vague, and always arrogant.
However, I am also sure that I have a "bit" of a partisan bias; OK, I'm a partisan hack. :)
But I'm an honest and (I like to think a) fair one, so I decided to sleep on it before writing about my impressions of the debate in Hempstead.
Summary: no change. Obama won, going away.
The bottom line is that while Obama wasn't perfect, he did a very good job in Hempstead. On the other hand, Romney in the second debate looked like the San Diego Chargers in the second half of Monday night's NFL game - even when he did something right, he followed it up with something so wrong that it more than counterbalanced the thing he did right (on Monday night, the Chargers steamrolled their way to a 24 - 0 halftime lead over the Denver Broncos, only to see that lead disappear in a litany of turnovers and penalties as the Broncos went on to win the game 35 - 24. The word "epic" is overused these days, but it was definitely a collapse of epic proportions).
I'm not the only one who thinks that the president won the debate - even some Fox News commentators think so too -
Neil Cavuto: “The President put in a better performance tonight.”
: “I think on points, if you’re scoring it on points, Obama wins on points
Juan Williams: “I think Obama won the debate.”
To be fair, the Fox News commentators did try to minimize the scale of Obama's victory, but even they couldn't deny the fact of the victory (OK, many of them weren't that honest; the spin this morning is dizzying as Fox's morning show talking heads proclaim the debate to be a resounding victory for Romney).
Two takeaways from last night's debate:
- "Binders full of women" is the second debate's "Big Bird" moment.
During the first debate, Romney pledged to balance the federal budget by cutting the federal subsidy to PBS, which broadcasts the beloved Sesame Street with Big Bird, among many other educational programs.
During the days after the debate, Romney was hammered with that comment
During the second debate, Romney responded to a question about his position on the issue of women not receiving equal pay for equal work by telling a story about how he had "binders full of women" available to him while he was filling cabinet positions as governor of Massachusetts. He managed to sound evasive and condescending at the same time.
And has been getting hammered with that comment.
- The other takeaway has been a little lost in the rhetorical hubbub surrounding the "binders" comment and the other moments of interest during the debate (like Romney blaming gun violence in America on single mothers), but "please proceed, Governor" stands a chance of becoming a catchphrase meaning "you are doing such a good job of hanging yourself that I don't need to help you. Much. Here, have a little more rope."
During the exchange over the killing of the American ambassador to Libya and three other Americans during an attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Romney claim that Obama didn't call the attack an "act of terror" for two weeks. The President responded that he did so the next day. Romney thought he had the president on this point and honed in on it, reiterating his position and demanding that the president affirm or change his. The president responding wth "Please proceed, Governor."
Romney did so, and was immediately fact-checked by debate moderator Candy Crowley, who pointed out that the president did, in fact, call the attack an act of terror the very next day.
It's probably doesn't help the credibility of a candidate to accuse another candidate of lying and then to turn around be caught lying himself. Jus' sayin'...
If you didn't see the debate, the full debate video is available here, courtesy Huffington Post. It's a little over 90 minutes long and well worth a look for those who wish to form their own opinions, something we should all do.