October 4, 2012 by Devin
The following is a series of gut reactions to the latest presidential debate. My reactions may prove wrong or misguided in the future, but these are my current thoughts nonetheless:
- Romney seems to have won now, and it may be the case, but fact checkers may give Obama the edge in the coming days.
- On the other hand, do fact checkers really have weight in the current political sphere? In a perfect world, every candidate’s words would be judged by how accurate they are, but I’m not convinced that that’s the case.
- Cutting PBS? Really? Of all the things to mention, why did Romney have to mention that program?
- Speaking of which, the debate was horrendously moderated. The moderator needed a buzzer.
- Both candidates spoke over the moderator and disrespected him, but I think Romney definitely did it worse. Sure, Obama had his 5 seconds comment (which seemed like a misguided attempt at comedy and which he apologized for), but Romney deliberately talked over the moderator and interrupted him far more often.
- Romney used much more pathos than Obama. Obama, with the notable exception of his grandmother, talked more about general people, while Romney was much more likely to talk about specific people without justifying if they were representative of the general population.
- Obama, for the most of the debate, seemed to have better arguments. His comments about healthcare seemed well-supported and seemed to make Romney agree to points I’m not sure he wanted to (for example: his vocal support of requiring insurance companies to insure people despite pre-existing conditions).
- I liked Obama’s explanation of the healthcare board as well. It made sense and, furthermore, worked rhetorically to make Romney seem like he was blowing up something that wasn’t as controversial as it seemed.
- Romney’s comment about Obama’s $90 billion green energy push fell flat for me. Isn’t that we’re supposed to be supporting? I’d be really scared for our country and our planet if Romney got rid of wind and solar energy initiatives.
- Romney’s closing speech was much better than Obama’s. While Obama was mostly talking about the sentiments he was pushing, Romney used the chance to go over the major points of his arguments and reinforce them in a clear way. Romney definitely had the advantage there.
- The biggest rhetorical move was Romney’s well timed flip flop at the beginning. I had heard that Romney was for supporting tax cuts for the rich (I believe it was part of the Ryan plan, which Romney was a fan of), and Obama was clearly counting on that point to really emphasize how Romney is missing the middle class. This sudden change threw Obama off, and, besides the comment, “His big idea is, ‘Nevermind,'” he really never hit back as hard as Romney hit.
- Ultimately, Romney’s vague plans allowed him to make Obama seem a bit like a fool (basically saying, “You’re critiquing me for that? I don’t want to do that”) without having the need to say anything. Obama’s best point was talking about how Romney had nothing to replace the plans he was critiquing, but this point got lost in the fray.
So those are my thoughts. What did you think?