STORY #1: The moderate moderator
Want to know why no sane person on the Commission on Presidential Debates will ever allow me to moderate one? Because if I were in Jim Lehrer’s position, this is what would happen when either President Obama or former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) steamrolled me for more talk time:
THEM: “Can I just say one thing?”
THEM: “But – “
ME: “Another word and you get the hose.”
Seriously, what was up with the poor guy? I realize he doesn’t have a reputation for dominating conversations, but a simple “You had your two minutes, we’re moving on now” would have sufficed. I hope Candy Crowley doesn’t put up with this nonsense when it’s her turn later this month.
STORY #2: The real Romney?
Last night’s “Debate Romney” was the candidate we imagine him to have been in Massachusetts (that is, those of us who weren’t there): sensible, moderate, straightforward (until you asked for details), able to triangulate. Meanwhile, last night’s “Debate Obama” was what 2008′s “Debate McCain” was: cranky, redundant, clearly wishing he were elsewhere (like home, getting some anniversary sex). Literally the only effective way for him to spin “Debate Romney” is to present it as fake.
That might work on people who were leaning toward Obama already. But undecided voters who were leaning away from Obama, primarily for economic reasons, will see Romney as the man with the plan. We didn’t hear enough of a plan to get any wonks on his side, but that’s obviously not what he’s trying to do. The broad strokes of his philosophy could be enough for voting members of a struggling family who don’t feel better off than they were four years ago.
STORY #3: Not a sunny day
Was Romney saying “I love [insert left-wing sacred cow here]” part of anyone’s drinking game? If so, you were probably laughing too hard at the Big Bird moment to take that shot. I appreciate his attempt at levity, but he should have known that this would be a distraction that would a) get people laughing at him) and b) get those same people accusing him of having no bold ideas for deficit-cutting. The annual federal subsidy for all public broadcasting is $442.5 million; in today’s numbers, it’s really nothing. Besides, compared to Canada’s public broadcaster, which doesn’t need to fundraise, the U.S. has it pretty good expense-wise (and the children’s programming is far superior). And they’ve been talking about slashing this sort of funding since the 90s, at least, and the people behind Sesame Street are unafraid. So don’t expect much to come of this.