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The Late, Great First Debate

I hate instant analysis. It’s impossible to write about history while you’re still sitting on your bar stool dribbling Jameson’s down your belly.  That’s why I waited more than a week to share my thoughts about the debate defeat of Barack Obama at the hands of the brilliant, charming, wiley Mitt Romney. And good for me, because the polling momentum is now swinging back to Obama and Joe Biden reset the table for next week’s Town Hall confrontation.  Meanwhile, the Debate #1 narrative reads like a shaggy dog story.  At the end of it, the Earl of Southwick looks down at the errant canine and responds: “It is true that I lost a large dog, a dog who was very shaggy.  But he wasn’t that large, and he certainly wasn’t that shaggy.”

There’s no question the President lost the first debate by failing to mention the 47%, or his/our gain of more than a million jobs, or how he personally beheaded Osama Bin Ladin.  My own guess is that he and Michelle celebrated their anniversary by getting into a quart of Ben and Jerry’s on Air Force One on the way out to Denver, and he came down with brain freeze.  Whatever, there’s no doubt he was flat, disengaged, even AWOL — seventy million people showed up and he didn’t.

As Dick Cheney would say, “So?”

The bigger question is how did it change things. The answer is, not much.  Romney still has to turn around all the battleground states and then carry Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to win an Electoral College majority. That’s not likely to happen.

Last week a morning-after national poll showed a significant shift among likely voters, and the media went into full scavenger circle.  Game changer.  Romney romps to lead. A week later, they look more like a swarm of gnats picking away at an empty fruit basket.  The race is still right where it was: tight, but still advantage Obama.

Don’t get me wrong. Obama can still blow it.  More than anything, his first debate performance was a downer for the tens of thousands of union, student, minority and women volunteers out there trying to churn out the vote for a candidate who exudes diffidence that flirts with disdain.  Lose another debate, call Michelle “sweetie” again, refuse to establish eye contact one more time and who knows what could happen.  Of course, that would  mean millions of voters switching sides and embracing a pathological liar whose soul as greasy as his hair.  That’s hard to imagine.


A note from a respected reader:

Write a blog sometime about the fact that there should be a category of persons identified as NASPS ( Not a Serious Person).  It would include Newt Gingrich, Darrel Issa (thank you for remembering his criminal record … his brother was indicted for arson for allegedly burning down his own business), Dick Morris, Tucker Carlson, Christine O’Donnell, and Bristol Palin, whose only claims to fame are that she is an unwed mother, appeared on a “losers” TV show and wrote memoir based on what? And while I’m at it, I’m tired, tired, tired of Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump, Arrianna Huffington, Michelle Bachman, Sheriff  What’s His Name from Arizona, Joe Paterno (oops, he’s dead, and not a moment too soon), Lindsay Lohan, Arnold the Terminator, Garth Newsome and Tebow the praying quarterback.

I guess my point is that people who shouldn’t matter are constantly being asked to “comment.” Some of them, maybe most, push themselves forward.  There ought to be a “smell test” of some kind.  And a “sell by” date.  Perfect example, Bay Buchanan.  When did she ever matter? She’s recently emerged as a Romney campaign spokesperson.  And Bob Schieffer can’t seem to let John McCain go gently into the night.  Oh, I forgot a name: McCain’s loathsome daughter, Meghan.  Jeez, she’s written not one, but two books.  Gotta be self-published, right?


  1. October 11th, 2012 | 2:28 pm

    “Debates” typically reinforce preexisting conditions of mind and rarely convert; the “close” race theme has to be played up by the media to keep the audience tuned in (it is like weather reporters who try to scare the hell out of people to keep us glued to the tv); we don’t elect a president by popular vote, so who gives a damn about including Southern white rednecks in national polls? And when a sample is roughly 50-50, the margin of error is greatest. When did that get attention?

    Good blog, Ray. Obama just has a hard time showing aggressiveness toward rich white guys.

  2. Ray Abernathy
    October 11th, 2012 | 4:05 pm

    thanks, tim. good to hear from you. my problem with obama is that he seems to have perfect pitch when it comes to those rich white guys, but tone deaf with the poor and the working class.

  3. Hilary
    October 11th, 2012 | 9:30 pm

    Yep, the “sweetie” and the downcast head – hell, the hanging head – were unforgivable, in my opinion.

    It will be a while before I can find some of what ‘you people’ call grace, or forgiveness, or whatever. I am pissed. This was not ours to blow.

  4. Danny
    October 12th, 2012 | 2:22 pm

    Good point Ray. There have been some good polls for Obama in recent days. Biden knocked it out of the park last night, in my view, and Obama has a chance for a good 2nd debate on Tuesday. But Obama supporters must realize, as some are now, that Romney could win this race. And therefore we need all hands on deck to see that he doesn’t.

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