The Etch-A-Sketch Debate: Reader Reax III

More great input from the in-tray:

Romney clearly was playing to low information voters, while Obama decided not to respond to his errant lies in an effort to stay clean and appear presidential. He knows that debates don't move polls like ads do. Romney's blatant lies last night wrote about five new ads for Obama to run which will all fall into the narrative of Romney as an inconsistent opportunist. He repeatedly made false claims about his positions, which should be refuted in ads beginning today.


Your readers are hilarious. Obama lost a debate. It wasn't some Machiavellian ploy, where Obama is Kasparov and sees 20 moves in advance. Shit happens.

Yet many readers are still drawing this analogy:

One idea I haven't seen yet is rope-a-dope. The boxing idea is that you "let your opponent punch himself out." That may be what Obama was actually doing. Let Romney talk. Let him talk and talk and talk. But in the end, while he looked good talking, most of what the guy said was bullshit. (I never yell at the TV screen except during sports, and there were at least five times where I shouted "stop lying" when Romney was talking.)

As to why Obama didn't call him out on his lies: one thing I've noticed is that Obama doesn't like calling people liars. He'll let his surrogates do that. He likes to take the high road. He likes to not point out his opponent's weaknesses but highlight his own strengths. Obama has rarely used the phrase "47 percent." Instead, he speaks of how he "represents 100% of the country." I don't think this dignified position helped him in the debate. But let's see how the next couple of days play out. Maybe he can get Bill Clinton to fact-check Romney for another hour and a half.

Another has a great observation:

The next debate is a townhall set up, and Mitt Romney never looks comfortable talking directly to us common folk. I'm guessing the Obama team held off on the 47% comments in order to drop it on him during the second debate, where Mitt will have to stand in a circle of voters, look them in the eye, and address his comments about them being lazy victims. I have a feeling it will be one of those nuclear bomb debate moments, watching him squirm as he tries to explain himself. I'm sure he had a canned response ready in case Obama brought it up in last night's debate, but the town hall setting dramatically changes the dynamic, where he has to respond directly to the voters rather than a dark auditorium.

Another has some advice for the president:

Maybe debate prep with John Kerry was the problem. What a wonk-fest snoozer that would be. For the next debate, he should prep with Stephen Colbert (the character). This would prepare him to deal with all the sudden shifts in facts and reasoning.

Another thought: debating someone who changes positions mid-debate, but never acknowledges having done so, is like arguing with a drunk person. You can't win, unless there's an external third party that helps deal with the drunk person. The press needs to be that third party.


As a regular reader, I have to say, I was disappointed in you last night, Andrew. Here you are, talking up the president's long game, deriding the critics caught up in the day-to-day horserace – only to go all hysterical "we're all going to die!" at the first hint of trouble, even going so far as to basically call the race for Romney. Where's the faith, brother?

In the words of that old Obama meme from 2008: "Everybody calm the fuck down. I've got this."

More from readers here, here and here. My initial take on the debate here. My longer reaction to Romney's performance here. Blog reax here, here and here. Tweet reax here and here.