Debate Analysis

10.04.12

Obama Should Have Spent More Time in Court, Ctd.

A long time reader (and Obama supporter) disagrees with last evening's labeling of Obama as a "terrible debater."

I read the lawyer analogy on your blog with interest, but I think it's the wrong one. President Obama is a capable debater, but he was not a capable debater last night. Instead, he appeared to be the lawyer who, rather than preparing for oral argument, decided that he wrote the brief, knew what was in it, and would be fine off the cuff. Romney won the debate hands down, but not because he was able to think better on his feet. He knew what he wanted to communicate, how he wanted to communicate it, and what, precisely, he would say. And then he said it. The President had a vague idea of the message he wanted to send, and no idea how he would send it.

The camera made Romney look eager to answer questions, as though he relished the opportunity. That is the fruit of preparation --- he couldn't wait to show off his hard work. He looked like he'd spent a lifetime preparing for last night's debate, and I mean that in a very good way. The President looked like he barely spent five minutes in preparation. He thought his ideas were better, and he would therefore win. You and I disagree on the strength of his ideas, but I doubt we disagree about the rest of the preceding sentence.

Politics is about communication and, last night, Mitt Romney was the most effective communicator. He presented himself as the moderate who won the Governorship in Massachusetts, not as the person he has been during this presidential campaign. For an unprepared debater, as the President was, that may have been a difficult about-face to deal with. But for someone who was prepared? You've been noting for months that Romney is on the wrong side of a number of 70-30 issues. Any shock that he moderated those positions in front of 50 million Americans? If the President wasn't prepared for the Romney he saw last night, he has only himself to blame.

There are a number of points in elections over which the candidates have no control. Last night was not one of them. Romney earned his victory in every sense of the word, and Obama deserved his defeat. If he can't take the time to practice the concise presentation of his views to the American people, Obama doesn't deserve a day longer in office than he has already been given.