Oct 2012 17

by ChrisSick

Good news, everybody!

I get to keep my job as SuicideGirls’ resident screaming partisan ax-grinder. In my last post, I predicted that:

“This debate will be interesting, and my prediction…is that Obama will be able to successfully fight Mitt Romney to a draw at the very least. He understands the stakes, and has had ten days to analyze his weaknesses, as well as his opponent’s. Failure to achieve at least a draw could potentially be fatal for his election prospects.”

At absolute worst, the President fought Gov. Romney to a fairly bloody draw on stage tonight. At times, it looked like it might get literally bloody as both men interrupted frequently, spoke over each other, accused the other of lying, and moved quickly towards each other across the open stage to make aggressive rhetorical challenges. On numerous occasions the debate was less like a boxing metaphor and more like an actual match.

I, being the reasonable, informed, voting citizen that I am, kept shouting, “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!” until the neighbors called the police.

For openly-partisan hacks like me, there aren’t typically many moments in a tightly-fought debate that you can easily point to and say, “See that? That’s where my guy won.” But when the audience applauded after Obama corrected Romney over his characterization of Libya, it was one such moment.

The big takeaway is that Obama did what he had to do: he showed up. He stopped the damage from the Denver debate cold, and built on the good work Crazy Uncle Joe did last week against Paul Ryan. I don’t want to harp on about what Obama accomplished and leave readers with the impression that Romney didn’t do a fine job in his role.

Gov. Romney continued to look Presidential, and will, of course, continue to benefit from being on stage with the President. As opposed to how he spent most of the last decade, as one of many lunatics on stage being cheered on by rednecks for suggesting that we let people without health insurance die. Oh, did you forget about that?

As it turns out, the President did not. He did all but straight-up ask Romney which Romney would be debating tonight. There were frequent references to positions that Romney has changed, with Obama going back into the far past of the end of summer to remind voters of Romney’s serial flip-flopping.

And if you spent the last debate anxiously lifting a shot glass full of tequila to your lips, only to be disappointed when no one brought up Romney’s 47% line, Obama finally snuck it in during his closing remarks:

“I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.”

It was pitch-perfect timing, and showed great rhetorical skills to bring up the line in a non-accusatory way, surely pleasing the base — who are always looking to see blood drawn — and the more strategic supporters who worry about the President going all-in on class warfare/populist rhetoric. He managed to avoid either extreme yet worked the line, and did it when Romney would have no chance to respond or defend.

Romney, for his part, was at his best when highlighting Obama’s failure to live up to his own promises and when he listed the negative characteristics of the current economy. Mitt loves many things, but he particularly loves lists of how bad Obama is doing. And it was a good moment for him, proceeded directly by him bumbling through foreign policy, getting smacked by Obama. And the moderator. And the audience.

That was the turning point.

When Mitt Romney went after the President on Libya, Obama flipped the switch. He stopped being candidate Obama, and stepped into being President Obama. He answered strong and forcefully, called Romney out on a lie, and wielded the power and dignity of his office. That’s a hard stance for any opponent to attack, but even harder when your aim is to go as low as possible. Romney called the President a liar, and was instantly corrected by Obama, then Crowley, and then the audience, who responded with the aforementioned nominally prohibited applause. Within minutes, Democrats were trending #RomneyExposed on Twitter.

Mitt didn’t really get his grove back after that.

Early polling from CBS News has Obama winning by 7 points, 37% to Romney’s 30%, with 33% undecided. It will not be hard — with a third of respondents unsure — for Republicans to spin this as a close tie. Which is the best you can hope for if you’re a Democrat looking for proof your guy won.

The bigger question is what will this do to the polls. There’s clear evidence that the substantial bounce Romney had gotten from his win in Denver was already starting to flatten out before tonight’s debate. In part, the President can thank his Veep for that, in part a bounce generally remains a bounce, and requires work to build on it, something neither campaign could devote much energy to with all their time focused on the next debate.

Polling being what polling is, we won’t know the effect of the debate until week’s end, and before we even have time to catch our breath, we’ve got the final Presidential debate scheduled for next Monday. In the meantime, Democrats are already seizing on any and all good news they can find, so they’re pointing people to the shift towards Obama on Intrade. Which is also good news for me, since I don’t just write about elections, I bet heavily on them.

There’s twenty days left before we go to vote, and I’m taking any and all action I can get my hands on people. Line forms to the left, have your money at the ready.

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Tactical Animal: Regarding The Pain Of Being Right…Or More Reasons Mitt Romney Will Never Be Your President
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Tactical Animal: Sorry Folks, Election’s Over, Donkey Out Front Shoulda Told Ya
Tactical Animal: Politics In The Post-Truth Era
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