President Obama’s performance in the first debate was, unarguably, pretty lethargic, and he took a big hit in the polls shortly afterward. The general wisdom drawn from this, especially on the democratic side of the aisle, seemed to be that what was really needed in the debates was, thus, more aggression. Biden delivered this in his own unique way in the Veep debate, to such an extent that one wondered at times whether he would have to be removed from the stage in a straight jacket, still alternating between wild cackling and angry shouting, but at last he ran out of gas and calmed down in the last 20 minutes. Obama has a sense of personal dignity that Biden lacks, and so although he certainly came to the debate in a pugilistic frame of mind, he didn’t make himself silly in the way that Biden did. Nonetheless, despite the fact that the debate was supposed to feature the candidates answering questions directly from voters, it instead was most notable for intense bouts of the candidates rhetorically hammering each other.
The common wisdom is that this kind of thing turns undecided voters off. I saw some anecdotal evidence of this in the reactions of my less partisan friends on Facebook, one of whom posted in indignation:
Dear Gov Romney and Pres Obama,
Every time you keep talking when you are reminded that a normal citizen has a question for you, you reinforce that you think what you have to say is more important than the concerns of the people of your country. You both lost my vote tonight.
This aside, though, I think the focus on rhetorical dominance and aggression has probably been misplaced. Was it really that Obama’s performance in the first debate was so sluggish that cost him so much in the polls? I don’t think most Americans care whether the president is a skilled debater or not. Continue reading
“3. Crowley Hearts Obama-Candy Crowley attempted to come to the rescue of the President in misstating that Obama blamed the Benghazi attack on terrorism in his rose garden statement. That is incorrect. The operative phrase in Obama’s statement: Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts. Crowley’s intervention indicated that she was not a moderator but rather an Obama partisan.” Continue reading
Predictably Obama was very aggressive tonight. Less predictably perhaps, Romney was just as aggressive. Here are some thoughts:
1. Wired Obama-Obama came loaded with talking points and spoke rapidly throughout the debate to get them all out.
2. Face Time-Classic political theater with Obama and Romney having a few face to face clashes during the debate.
3. Crowley Hearts Obama-Candy Crowley attempted to come to the rescue of the President in misstating that Obama blamed the Benghazi attack on terrorism in his rose garden statement. That is incorrect. The operative phrase in Obama’s statement: Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts. Crowley’s intervention indicated that she was not a moderator but rather an Obama partisan.
4. Romney the Good-Romney gave another good debate performance and I expect he will do just as well in the third debate. If Obama is hoping for Romney to stumble or commit a gaffe, I think he will wait in vain.
5. Boxing match-Although the back and forth got a bit tiresome to me after a while, I did like the way in which both candidates talked directly at each other. Romney did make the mistake of asking too many questions of Obama, as if he were going to get any forthright answers. Continue reading
I posted debate advice for Mitt Romney prior to the first debate which may be read here. My advice for round two is as follows:
1. Don’t Get Cocky-You had an exceptionally good first debate. Enjoy it and forget it. That was round one of a three round fight, and who is left standing at the end of the third round is how you determine the victor.
2. Don’t Sit on a Lead- That is what Obama tried to do in round one and it was a disaster. Don’t make that elementary mistake.
3. This is a Townhall Meeting-We have Joe and Jane Citizens asking the questions and that is a challenge. The media is predictable, ordinary citizens are not. Listen closely to the questions and answer them. Ignoring questions at a townhall can be ruinous, especially if they are inane.
4. Aggressive Obama-After his fairly passive performance at the last debate, Obama will probably come out full of fight. That can work to your advantage at a townhall if Obama comes across as over the top before a live audience. After the Biden debacle I think he will probably avoid this, but don’t be surprised if he has flashes of temper and be ready to capitalize on them.
5. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs-You can bet that almost every person in that townhall will have a friend or relative who is either unemployed or underemployed. Pledge to turn the economy around and put America be back to work. Be detailed as much as time allows. People were impressed the first go round at your breadth of knowledge and your ideas. Play off of those strengths. Continue reading
There is a great scene in Kipling’s story The Man Who Would Be King. Two British adventurers take over a fictional kingdom, with one of them pretending to be a god. The whole exploit goes pear-shaped when the “god” attempts to marry a local girl. She belts him and he begins to bleed. The local pagan priests seeing this yell out, “Neither God nor Devil but a man!” and things head badly south for the two conmen.
Something similar has happend to the erstwhile South side Messiah since his first debate with Romney. Byron York interviewed a young woman who, I think, speaks now for many in her generation:
Danielle Low, a 22 year-old preschool teacher in Lebanon, is the quintessential Romney target voter. In 2008, she was newly eligible to vote, and she chose Barack Obama. “But then I gave birth to my first son, and I knew we needed a change,” Low said. “We bought a house in ’09 and we’re struggling every day, my husband and I are. I just want to see things turn around. I want to be able to afford to have another child. I want to be able to afford to buy a house where we want to live, and right now, with the economy the way it is, we can’t do that.”
“I think President Obama tricked me into voting for him,” Low continued in an impromptu discussion that could have doubled as a Romney ad. “I feel like he lied to me. He made promises he couldn’t keep. He played on my young emotions. He played on me because I was young and naïve. I didn’t know anything about the world. I believed that he was going to give us a change. I just feel like he made a lot of promises — there’s no way he followed through with them. I haven’t seen any change. I’ve seen change for the worse, not change for the better. So I hope Mitt Romney can carry us through the next four years.” Continue reading
Hattip to John Hinderaker at Powerline. Biden, our Veep and Beloved National Clown, reacts to some of the wilder things that he has said over the years.
Thomas Peterffy came to this country as a penniless refugee from Communist Hungary. He could not speak English when he got here. Currently he is worth five billion dollars. It is obvious that almost all of the immigrants to this country have not succeeded materially in the outstanding fashion that Peterffy has, but it is also safe to say that almost all have greatly bettered themselves materially, while enjoying freedom, the birthright of all Americans. He is not the first refugee from Communism I have read about who has pointed to unsettling parallels between what he experienced in the nation that he fled from and what has been going on in this nation for the past few years.
Smitty at The Other McCain has a brilliant riff on The Gettysburg Address in regard to the debate last night:
Four score and five interruptions ago our zany uncle brought forth on this continent a new indignation, conceived in contempt for liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created to serve the state.
Now we are engaged in a soft civil war, testing whether that indignation, or any indignation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great debate-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a blog post for he who here gave 90 minutes of his life that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should blog this. Continue reading
Indicating the seriousness with which our Bishops view this electoral contest, they wasted no time in taking Biden to task for his lie about the HHS Mandate in the debate last evening: Continue reading
Oh, that was lightning swift. An hour and a half after the debate the RNC already has an ad up showing Biden in all his laughing and smirking “glory” during the Veep debate.
Alright, I’m in full political crack monkey mode from here on till the election, so I’ll be the one to throw up the instant reactions thread.
My take: This was not the total blowout that the first presidential debate was. Ryan was calm and professional the entire time. Biden brought his Cerberus-style split personality, one head Cheshire Cat, the other head rabid attack dog. He called Ryan a liar in the very first exchange and kept it up all night, at one point even accusing the moderator of lying. Then, during the last fifteen minutes Biden meds ran out and he fell back on the gravely “I’m so concerned” voice for the rest of the debate.
Overall, I’d rate it a draw. I think partisan Democrats are mostly elated, since all they’ve wanted for the last week is to see someone interrupt a Republican and call him a liar, and Biden did indeed do that constantly. Republicans had nothing to cringe about in Ryan’s performance. Ryan remained cool and collected throughout and scored the one audience reaction line of the night in defusing Biden’s attempt to demagogue the 47% quote.
What Independents will have thought I honestly can’t say, though I see a CNN poll of undecided voters called it for Ryan by a 48 to 44 margin. My guess is, this does nothing to help Obama claw back from his collapse with the ordinary voting public, but it does help the Dem campaign by soothing the utter panic which has gripped much of the left over the last week. I’d guess we’ll see basically consistent poll numbers (between a tie and Romney up one) for the next week until the next Presidential debate. Then we’ll see. The big problem for Obama is that the next debate is strictly foreign policy and the one after that is a town hall meeting, so he never gets to imitate Biden’s mad dog routine on domestic policy.
If, as I expect, the Obama-Biden ticket goes down in flames on election day, Biden in his debate performance has ended his political career with a bizarre coda. How bizarre? Let us go point by point, along with my other thoughts on the debate.
1. Hyena Joe- Throughout the debate when Ryan was talking Biden was laughing and smirking. I assume Biden forgot about the split screen coverage on television. Judging from the talking heads post-debate, it made a very bad impression.
2. Manic-Depressive-Joe began the debate very manic as if he had swallowed a crate of jolt cola. By the end he was completely wound down, like a wind up toy at the end of its cycle, or someone had shot him with an animal tranquilizer. Very odd.
3. Canned Responses-Biden obviously had a checklist of points he had to mention: 47%, check, etc. The problem with having a checklist is that it takes fairly quick wits to put the list seamlessly into a debate performance, and I thought Biden’s interjections were far from seamless.
4. Joe Making Things up Again-As he has throughout his career, Biden simply made things up when he was in a tough spot in the debate. In response to the Libya question which clearly had him flustered, Joe claimed that the intelligence community initially thought that the Benghazi attack was preceded by a protest over the Mohammed video. That is completely at variance with the facts.
5. Wildman v. The Professor-Obviously the Democrats were reacting to passive Obama from the first debate. Biden was always interrupting, some 82 times or thereabouts. The”moderator” was completely useless. Ryan was too much the professor in manner and should have reacted more to the out of control Biden. Continue reading
The differences about to be exhibited in the Vice Presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan couldn’t be more striking, and no I don’t mean in just the political arena but in the religious realm as well. The Vice President proudly states he was never a “John Paul II guy, I was a John XXIII guy.” He relishes the fact that in class he openly doubted such central teachings of Transubstantiation during his Catholic school days. He tells us that when he went to Rome his mother told him; “don’t kiss the Pope’s ring.” (Boy it is a good thing Mrs. Biden didn’t know my soft spoken mother, otherwise she would have received an uncharacteristic earful. Heaven help her if she met my German grandmother (my mom’s mother) who would have undoubtedly pulled a rolling pin, a frying pan and whatever else she could come after her with to put the fear of God into her.)
Congressman Ryan comes from generation John Paul II and is not afraid to tell us so. Faithful Catholics of Congressman Ryan’s age see the Joe Bidens of the world and roll their eyes. As one young woman once told me, “if they (Joe Bidens of the world) had any decency they would just tell us the truth; the only thing they believe in is their self absorbed, distorted views of their world. They should really leave since they are being disingenuous for staying in something to which they don’t believe.” she said. Well many have and the Joe Bidens of the world would have us believe that it is our fault for not “evolving.” This is a common word in Catholic liberal (and secular) parlance to describe their views on the world from abortion to same sex marriage. In the case of the Joe Bidens of the world, if you can question the tenets of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, the beliefs of the Founding Fathers outlined in their landmark documents are hardly safe from revision.
In my just released book; The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn, I delve into the rise in vocations, devotions and the fast growing orthodox Catholic college campuses like Franciscan, Ave Maria, Benedictine in Kansas, Wyoming College and St. Thomas Aquinas. Folks like Joe Biden just don’t get it. To them Notre Dame is too conservative for in their view how could the university lose $120,000,000 in alumni contributions and face such opposition among student groups and the Holy Cross Seminarians concerning the controversial visit of and award given to President Barack Obama. Continue reading
When a political campaign gets spooked, the campaign often does foolish things. Attempting to make Big Bird, Big Bird!, an attack vehicle for the Obama campaign has to be the stupidest move I have seen by any campaign this year. Why is it stupid? Let us count the ways:
2. Too silly- The attempt to claim that Romney views Big Bird as a bigger threat than white-collar thieves is too ludicrous for words.
3. Bernie Madoff, Democrat Donor- Starting off with a mug shot of Bernie Madoff was a laugh, since Madoff has given over two hundred thousand to the Democrats since 1991.
4. Big Bird is a Big Issue?- With the country having a real unemployment rate, when discouraged former workers are included, of 14 percent, the Obama campaign is wasting time trying to make Big Bird an issue? Seriously?
Last week, before the debate, I noted that Democrats were mocking Republicans for trying to explain away Romney’s poor performance in recent polling (while themselves showing a certain lack of reality in their assessment of the economy.) The debate came and Romney routed Obama on the debate stage in a way that exceeded my wildest hopes. Now we see an unprecedented post-debate surge for Romney in the polls, with Gallup and Rasmussen both showing Romney in a tie with Obama and a post-debate Pew poll showing Romney beating Obama by 4% among likely voters, a twelve point swing from Pew polling a month before in which Romney trailed Obama by 8%.
And just to show that the desire to fight the data is bi-partisan, now Democrats are trying to explain away the polls, with Jonathan Chait arguing:
Polls have very low response rates. Sometimes short-term events that dominate the news cycle excite partisans and make them more likely to answer pollsters — it happened when Romney picked Paul Ryan — but they don’t reflect a deep remaking of the public opinion landscape, which remains fairly settled.
Of course, that’s true. Polling is a very uncertain science, and there are lots of unknowns like partisan differences in response rates. Of course, that’s equally true whether your candidate is ahead or behind, but it’s something that people usually only emphasize in the latter case.
Romney certainly doesn’t have the race in the bag. There’s a month to go, and the Democrats will be going for Romney’s metaphorical jugular with everything they’ve got. But there’s enough polling floating around right now to suggest that the candidates are now even or else Romney is ahead. (As I go to hit “post”, I see a PPP poll sponsored by DailyKos and the SEIU is out showing Romney up 2% over Obama among likely voters.) It may not last, but I’m hoping it does and enjoying it while I can.
The latest Pew poll shows Romney up four points among likely voters, 49-45. This poll was taken October 4- October 7 after Romney’s debate win:
Mitt Romney no longer trails Barack Obama in the Pew Research Center’s presidential election polling. By about three-to-one, voters say Romney did a better job than Obama in the Oct. 3 debate, and the Republican is now better regarded on most personal dimensions and on most issues than he was in September. Romney is seen as the candidate who has new ideas and is viewed as better able than Obama to improve the jobs situation and reduce the budget deficit.
Fully 66% of registered voters say Romney did the better job in last Wednesday’s debate, compared with just 20% who say Obama did better. A majority (64%) of voters who watched the debate describe it as mostly informative; just 26% say it was mostly confusing.
In turn, Romney has drawn even with Obama in the presidential race among registered voters (46% to 46%) after trailing by nine points (42% to 51%) in September. Among likely voters, Romney holds a slight 49% to 45% edge over Obama. He trailed by eight points among likely voters last month. Continue reading
The Obama campaign is very worried about Catholic voters. They have two strategies: lie about Obama’s record and bash Mitt Romney for being a Mormon.
Deal Hudson reports at Lifesite News the type of calls that are being targeted to Catholics by the Obama campaign:
Just a week ago, I reported a call from an Obama supporter received by a Catholic in Pennsylvania. The caller, identifying herself as Catholic, insisted Obama was not pro-abortion and Planned Parenthood did not encourage abortions.
Joy Allen, co-chair of the pro-life committee of her parish, Saints John and Paul in Franklin Park, PA, received another call yesterday. The first Obama caller had asked for her daughter; the second asked for her son — both are registered Republicans. The call came from 215-796-4259 at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.
After telling the caller her son was not at home, the caller said she was from the Obama campaign and wanted to know how he would be voting.
Joy reported to me:
“Well, I could not believe that I had received another call from the Obama campaign looking for another of my college aged children in less than a week. I informed the caller that my son was a practicing Catholic and would not be supporting a pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage candidate who did not respect the Catholic faith in his HHS mandate that would force all Catholics to pay for birth control, sterilization, and the abortion pill.”
At that point, the Obama supporter started reading from the same script that Joy had heard from the first call.
“Well, I am a practicing Catholic, and I have no problem supporting Obama. How can you support a Mormon who does not believe in Jesus Christ….” Continue reading