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The First Presidential Debate

I watched the debate and read the transcripts two times. Both candidates were spinning and shoving exaggerations down each other’s throats. Both candidates look good. Both candidates are eloquent in their own ways. I think the president won by not calling Romney a murderer or a tax-evader. Had he done so, he would have lost out right. Romney won by showing he stopped the president on quite a few points from hammering too much on talking points that can not be verified. The president lost by being defensive, peevish and patronizing. Romney lost by failing to be as clear as possible about why undecided voters like me should fire the president.

Character. I like President Obama though he tends to be a bit patronizing. I find Governor Romney twerpy at best and snobbish at worst. The president is definitely a much more likeable person. I however will never vote for someone because I like them. The more I hear from the media about how cool or likable the president is, the more I move to the Romney camp. Likability shows the shallowness of the electorate or that we watch way too much Honey Boo Boo and crap like that.

Surrogates. I really think the President should fire David Axelrod and tell Debbie Wasserman Schultz to shut up. No reasonable person trusts either one of them and at the same time, Romney needs to tell Karl Rove and Governor Sununu to shut up or stay out of the media because no one trusts them either. The character of the candidate’s surrogates are defining the candidates. Axelrod and Sununu and Baghdad Bob all have the same truth handicaps. These paid liars make Romney and Obama look like liars themselves.

If the President fires Axelrod, I’ll vote for him. If Romney submits complete detailed tax-returns, I’ll vote for him. Since this won’t be happening either way, I am stuck muddling through.

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12 thoughts on “The First Presidential Debate

    • Yup, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are looking better all the time, but at the same time I am too moderate for their extremism on many topics.

      Disgusted is a great way to describe how I feel about the process, but thankfully, there is only a little more to go for the nightmare to be postponed for four years.

  1. I’ve been scratching my head for over three years on this likeablity thing. Obama has always struck me as cold and imperial. He looks down his nose at us commoners- literally looks down his nose when he is speaking/reading teleprompter. During the debate Obama smirked and didn’t look Romney in the eye. What am I missing that others see of this likeablity?

    And to muddy things further- why do we need to like the president anyway? I’m more concerned if the president is doing the job. I seek a leader, not a pal.

    • I with you on your second paragraph. There is no reason to like a president or any politician. I think it would be better that we don’t.

      What you describe in your first paragraph is why I think the president is patronizing. Another aspect of his patronizing attitude is when he talks to Southern or Black audiences and he then affects an accent not normal to his standard conversation. He does do thinks just at the edge of the camera that some presidents like Dubya and Reagan did completely off camera that shows he is a fairly nice person–in person away from the machine and political programmers.

      The most recent was when the ABC cameras were rolling after the debate and he and Michelle not only shook hands with the Romneys, they stayed and chatted meeting all the kids and grand-kids present. During this tiny scene, one can begin to see a real smile and a real person emerge. I started trawling the cable channels and noticed this scene went on in the background for a few minutes as Republihacks started talking up the talking heads. This is something no one discusses, but these tiny moments and others are why I like Obama as a person, not a politician.

      However, the way the media describes the president as cool and whatnot is a huge turn-off. Their hero worship and that the president and the machine do not discourage it, often pisses me off.

      • Thanks for the response Aaron. I’ve seen the smiling, kissing, Michelle, beer drinking, golfing, etc -off stage bits too. Alas, I still don’t see the likeability. But, as we agree that likeability is not necessary for the job of POTUS, it probably doesn’t matter anyway. What alarms me is that there are people who vote based on the likeability off a guy’s smile rather than where he stands on policy.

      • The funny thing is, a friend of mine is disturbed when I criticize the likeability of the president. She can not vote for someone she does not like. So, even if she is politically much closer to Romney, she will not vote for him because he is a bit of a cold fish.

  2. I’m less concerned about a seemingly patronizing attitude, which, according to the comments above, seem to be grounded more in speculation about the intent behind speech patterns or body language (so frequently misunderstood, even between spouses!) rather than the content of what is being said. Instead, I’m more concerned about patronizing policies and actions. It seems to me that Romney had a great opportunity to follow in the footsteps of his father – a man who was famously quoted as saying that “cooperation makes freedom possible,” and who denounced extremism in both parties. Instead, the younger Romney’s policies reflect the same severe and ineffective ideology of the Bush years, which the GOP congress and house have been using to gut Obama’s legislative efforts since 2008. We shouldn’t get caught up in the popularity contest. We have actual information to use in our decisions as voting citizens!

    • For me, the policies and actions of every progressive politician, Republican and Democrat, is grounded in the concept of “we can do it better than you.” That is the very height of patronizing behavior.

      The patronizing behavior of the Obama administration is the insistence that states are incapable of governing themselves and so must step in. Because the Obama administration feels that money, earmarks and entitlements solves everything. Because Obama refused to adopt and Republican input in his ideas, the President gets what he deserves. The same was true during the Bush years. When extremism rules from the legislative and executive branches, then the nation deserves the screwed up policies and practices that are in place.

      Please, do not think I am some sort of Libertarian. I believe in responsible governance which no party has been interested in for at least the last two decades. Not since the Newt and Bubba Wars have we seen any form of true bipartisanship. I do not know why we as constituents tolerate it.

      Is Obama patronizing? Yes. In manner, practice and policy. In that way, he is no different than Dubya. Will Romney be any better? I doubt it. I suppose my comments above were wishes the President didn’t act like a professor with tenure and I wish Romney were not a whiner.

      I suppose I wish for creative leaders who did not think we need to spend spend spend to solve everything.

      • The fact is that some policies ARE better than others. It’s not simply a matter of opinion – it’s a matter of what evidence the policies are based on.

        I’m not going to touch the point about states’ rights – that’s ideological. However, it’s not merely ideological to reroute funds from things like military campaigns to education. That’s not money solving everything – that’s money being used to provide real services for people who need them. I worked for a public university for six years, and I’ve seen what funding cuts do. It’s not pretty.

        Also, I’d urge you to read this article about Obama’s bipartisanship, comparing Obama’s actions in office to a list compiled by the moderate conservative writer Peter Berkowitz: http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/04/why-did-obamas-bipartisanship-fail.html

        Obama’s failure to fully submit to the constant far right tugging of the past four years is not tantamount to extremism in its own right, and is certainly not tantamount to Bush-era extremism. As with the debate, I just don’t think assumptions about form should not be commuted to content. And since I’m a college professor myself (albeit without tenure – thanks, funding cuts!), I’ve decided to read your penultimate comment as glib rather than anti-intellectual. Suffice it to say, professors act the way they do because they have been held to an objective, universal standard of empirical engagement that compels them to argue their ideas against an existing canon of evidence and analysis. And that’s exactly how I’ve been approaching my vote in this election.

        Our leaders are only as creative as the citizenry they govern. When more of us stop viewing financial gain and materialism as virtues, I imagine our government will follow suit.

      • A very close friend with a Ph.D. in Poetry, Laura Hamblin at Utah Valley University, wants me to go for an MFA in poetry. I’ve been thinking about her opinion, but I might go for a Ph.D. in Rhetoric & Composition instead. Another friend, Brian Birch, at UVU thinks I could do both. The only thing holding me back is employability, the future of higher education and practical impact I could have. Right now, I see that I might better effect high school students by helping them sharpen their writing, close reading and philosophical lenses. One of the ways to do this to help students understand the delusion and myth of objectivity.

        Politically, Laura and Brian are liberal. I don’t care, but freshmen right out of high-school do and are attracted by it. Politically, neither are objective and academically they are far from objective. Laura is a second-wave, green feminist/post-modernist and Brian follows Wittgenstein. This is important to know when one is looking for mentors. Knowing the same about politicians is equally important.

        So I read the article by Berkowitz. I’ve read him before. I like the Weekly Standard. Neo-Conservatism is extremely fascinating. In the article, a graph shows the direction Republicans are going, Democrats are going and the where the House of Representatives is going. Where the parties are going is meaningless, where the aggregate of the House is going is important. The entirety of the house is re-elected every two years. The aggregate of the House very fairly represents the nation and was designed to be that way. Knowing this is as important as knowing where professors are politically and academically.

        The nation is 40% conservative, 21% liberal, 35% moderate and 4% unknown http://www.gallup.com/poll/120857/conservatives-single-largest-ideological-group.aspx. 59% of Americans consider themselves fiscally conservative and socially liberal http://libertarianmajority.net/libertarian-polling. In this spectrum, where do the candidates sit? Next, does the political base of either group approve of fraternization with the enemy?

        Mitt’s record is fiscally-moderate and socially-moderate (why the evangelicals and tea-party will be voting while holding their noses). The President is fiscally-liberal and newly socially-liberal. This is public domain because it has been repeated so often in the media it is ubiquitous. Also: if Mitt were truly fiscally-conservative, Ron Paul would have endorsed him. Paul still refuses to.

        The political base of the Republican party hates bi-partisanship. This is why the President focused on Romney’s bi-partisan record in Massachusetts during the debate. As a political moderate, I love bi-partisanship. I want it. I demand it. While I think Romney’s bi-partisanship is a giant plus, the right does not. The right does not want to cooperate with the left, they want the left to see the light, come to their senses and convert to the truth. That is why since Newt, the conservative House of Representatives is so combative with the left. To counter this, the left retreats to an attitude of reasonableness implying the right is incapable of such. This is another example of patronizing behavior. Reason, truth and logic are matters of social experience and perspective and are thus relative. As such, political truth does not exist. And so, acting reasonably is pretentious.

        This is why educators are not trusted by the public in general (IMO).

        If political truth does not exist and since moderate America could care less about “truth,” politicians then need to then focus on the actual. Government is in debt. People do not have jobs. Everyone knows someone who simply gave-up trying to find work. Many people, particularly the middle-class, lost big in the downturn. The middle-class, overall, could care less about green cars or green energy, they just want to get from point A to point B, fill up their SUVs and to be able to pay their bills. Life for the middle-class sucks. VP Biden just admitted this this week. The middle-class wants a return to the status-quo. President Obama has not been able to do this and no one is fooled when he says he cares about the middle-class. The right, however, lacks credibility just as much as the President. The extremity of both sides right now is distasteful, but true representative choice is simply not available or even possible.

        Objectivity is mythical. The undecided middle know the President is to the left and Romney is to the right. Professors Hamblin and Birch at UVU are not objective and recognize the canon is not either. Keep in mind, both are in the humanities, so the idea of objectivity in academics is completely nonsensical to them and they do not have a problem with relativity in the canon. I teach high school students this when I can. What I tell them is to approach the actual as often as possible through what statistics and analysis are provided, expose the structures within a text and/or concept and then debunk the structure as ridiculous if possible. If the ridiculous is not possible then show how it violates an existing moral code like the ideals Professors Hamblin and Birch hold or any other the students might know of. In my mind, it does not matter which moral code one uses since all moral codes are suspect, relying on the delusion of assumed truth/reason/logic.

        No policies are better than another, they only reflect moral-coding. No policy can be objectively seen as better. Policies must succeed at what the public wants. Right now the public wants jobs, middle-class security and growth and smaller, more efficient government and most don’t care if the rich have to pay a bit more in either taxes or collapsed tax-loopholes.

        The constitution dictates state’s rights. The constitution is a text and is a creature of perspective. If states had the balls and money to do it, they could successfully reclaim almost every federal program and department except those required by the constitution. Most people, me included, are comfortable with federal control of many programs, but by doing so, I am saying the federal government can do things better than local government. Since truth is relative, insisting one practice, POV or policy is better than another is patronizing.

        Bi-partisanship is the demand of only the moderate minority. The right is not at all interested and honestly, nor is the left.

        The last thing is that creativity is the only solution, but not the creativity you and I like. I write (and occasionally publish) poetry and draw comics, but this type of creativity is not going to help the US economically. We need political and economic creativity to elevate not only the United States, but also the world even if society in general sees economic success as a virtue.

        So what about you and me. I am on the cusp of a decision. I must decide by January 1, 2013 if I become a regular high-school teacher or pursue a career in higher-education.

        Universities are running out of money, but are still building gigantic buildings. Schools are doing this because legislatures could care less about professors and academics, but have great relationships with real-estate agents and construction contractors. Poets and philosophers do not spend that much time playing golf. University administrators play well and often and with legislators and the business community. The legislature of almost any state would rather cut tenure, chairs, professorships, programs, research and the arts instead of hurt their relationships with business. Besides, all professors do is bitch, refuse to cross the aisle and attempt to understand what makes an uneducated, politically conservative republican contractor think without being didactic, patronizing and pretentious and then refuse to help said contractor continue to do what every republican wants: make money.

        This is the kind of creativity that is needed. Neither Romney or Obama is providing it.

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