The Town-Hall Debate: Reader Reax

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 17 2012 @ 7:00am

A reader writes:

Wow. After all the promised Romney zingers for the first debate/debacle, the second round of "zing" went to the President. It felt to me like every off-the-cuff moment went to Obama. Where Romney's attacks sounded very rehearsed and collapsed when they didn't go according to plan, Obama's responses came much more from the heart. When he was angry, he sounded like a man who knew how complex the world was and was exasperated by an opponent who lacked the same knowledge.

This wasn't quite the bloodbath of Round One, but after ignoring a lot of fundraising emails earlier last week (and then being uplifted by Uncle Joe), I threw money in tonight.

Another notes:

And no UMMMMMS from Obama this time.


I'd say it was a win for Obama, but in the way that the faster of two people fleeing a bear counts as a win. While the President came off as the better candidate, neither man really answered the questions before them most of the time. At least Candy had the guts to call them on it and squeeze some substance out.

To me, it feels like Romney is a guy who never went on a real job interview. He keeps telling people how awesome he'd be if we hired him, but he's not offering specifics that pertain to the job description.


So Romney is against tax cuts for job creators, favors affirmative action, is proud of getting the uninsured down to near zero with a mandate, loves Mexicans, favors protectionism, and wants more free money for people to go to school. We are all Democrats now.


Romney on gun control: "Semi-automatic weapons don't kill people. People with single parents kill people."


Please tell me that you noticed Obama's long-winded diatribe on urban violence followed by Romney's condemnation of a federal program conceived to hunt down Mexican drug runners, and neither one suggested that both might have the SAME FUCKING CAUSE: the Drug War.  These debates are embarrassing, especially because one of these people will have to deal with a state legalizing weed as early as this year.


Romney probably prepared his final remarks expecting Obama to refer to Romney's 47% gaffe at some point earlier in the debate. What happened instead: Obama waited, and waited… and finally, Romney used the phrase "100 percent," emphasis on "100," allowing Obama to easily counter with "47%." It capped off an evening full of unforced errors from Romney that handed Obama the debate.

And another:

Obama's use of the 47% line was brutal as a debating point. But I noticed that the lines of approval on CNN went flat at that very moment, and those lines echoed my gut feeling: Romney has conceded the 47% comment was wrong. Once he did, bringing it up again doesn't fit the American tradition of easy redemption if you just admit you were wrong.


In his closing statement, Mr. Romney said he "served as a pastor" in his church for 10 years. This was intentionally misleading.  It was a way of saying "See, we Mormons are just like you – we have pastors, and I was one." The LDS church does not have clergy, only lay leaders.  It does not use the title "pastor" or "minister."  It uses "bishop" to indicate a lay leader with designated spiritual responsibilities.  Stake president is the leader of a group of wards, which are local congregations.  None of these positions require formal theological education nor are the people in them "ordained" for vocational ministry as are Catholic priests or Protestant pastors.  In the LDS, a bishop or stake president is chosen for a period of time and none of them work as vocational clergy.

Mr. Romney left the impression – intentionally – that he worked for 10 years as pastor of a local church. I would think many LDS members were troubled by the remark, as they do not, ever, use the term "pastor."

Another adds, "I watched the debate with my wife, who grew up in super-Mormon small-town Idaho, and she literally gasped when Romney said he had been a 'pastor' in his church." Another:

As soon as it ended, Romney made a bee line for his wife and they were immediately surrounded by their sons.  They appeared to be protecting their parents from everyone else in the auditorium. Meanwhile, in the background, Obama was mixing with the audience.  To me, at least, the contrast was striking.


I find it hilarious that the exact moment debate-watchers have dreamed of, the moderator pointing out a direct lie, is the one the right-wing commentators are decrying as Candy Crowley "shilling" for Obama. Martha Raddatz did something similar when she questioned Paul Ryan about which deductions and loopholes Romney would close, or if they really still had no specifics, and concluded "No specifics, then?" And again, the right was beside themselves with animosity at the unfairness of the moderator. 

They much preferred Romney buffaloing Jim Lehrer, which was painful to watch. Democrats certainly grumbled about Lehrer's competence in the first debate, but they blamed their candidate. The right won't do that; the right won't look in the mirror.

One of many fair-weather readers:

I'm a long-time reader and occasional contributor to the Dish, but I had to take it off of my bookmark toolbar the day after the first debate, because it had just became too painful to read. I couldn't bring myself to watch the second debate but got some indications from friends that it went well for President Obama. Hoping against hope, I went to the Dish, and saw Andrew's 10:48 entry: "To my mind, Obama dominated Romney tonight in every single way…" For the first time since the first debate, I feel I can stop panicking (a little). I may even start reading the Dish throughout the day again starting tomorrow. I've missed it.


The other big winner of the night was my relationship with the Dish. I didn't leave you over it like some readers you quoted, but the Dish has definitely been in the dog house with me since you're live blogging the first debate gave me a panic attack. Tonight, reading you live blog the President crushing it … it was like make-up sex. Feels good.