Will Durst | The Audacity of Mendacity: “One possible excuse for Obama’s shocking passivity is he was stunned by the audacity of Romney’s mendacity. There were traces of “I can’t believe he just said that in front of people” smirks. It seemed all he could to keep from falling into the much- warned eye- rolling Al Gore Sigh Trap. [...] There’s plenty of time for both sides to retool messages for the next two confrontations. The White House can be expected to encourage the President to more energetically nail Romney to his own words. And despite renewed confidence, Romney will surely run intensive rehearsals to practice a different listening face that doesn’t reflect an annoyed patience, slight smugness and just a disconcerting pinch of Sling Blade.“
New York Times: Mr. Obama was “not a strong debater,” as Mr. Plouffe put it in the book. He derided “the whole exercise of boiling down complex answers into thirty- or sixty-second sound bites.” So his staff was more than a little nervous when he went out to face Mrs. Clinton, one of the most formidable figures in the party. “This could be an unmitigated disaster,” Mr. Axelrod said after the candidate took the stage. In the end, Mrs. Clinton did win, according to the pundits. Mr. Axelrod’s minimalist verdict? “Well, that could have been a lot worse.”
Bob Cesca: The president disdains bullshit debate “performance” contrivances. The left, which embraces intellectual honesty and authenticity, ought to embrace that with open arms.
Bill Maher: “Republicans have to make the economy their central issue, ignoring improvements that have been made like the Dow doubling. They must lead you to believe that America is a rotting compost heap where people are wiping their ass with the Penny Saver. …I think we can all keep blaming Bush for the collapse. It’s the same as blaming rats for the black plague. Just because people are sick of historians saying it, doesn’t mean it stops being true. And Mitt Romney has a hell of a nerve running on the platform of ‘I’m going to fix the economy by restoring the policies of the party that destroyed it’.”
This Isn’t the ’90s: Why Obama Won Last Night’s Debate: President Obama, particularly in debates that the globe is watching and re-watching more closely than even the debates of four years ago, simply can’t be as emotional as he is in his campaign speeches. Especially when standing across a stage from his opponent. Has it ever occurred to some of you that this was the very first time that many people overseas have ever actually seen Governor Romney beyond a photo or a soundbite on CNN International? They got a load of him in the British press and media, all right, during the Olympics… think he’d win a national election, there, now? Obama can let Romney chatter on and on, and he needs to be polite and calm, even as Romney dismisses and commandeers the agenda from the moderator for a time (a newsperson renowned for acting the gentleman on all occasions and the U.S. pundits are now ballyhooing for being badgered and bullied), and Mr. Romney can fill the air with chatter — until things go Tea Party, again, and once again the Republican candidate is complaining about Big Bird, complaining about Spain. And saying a great many things that he himself knows won’t line up with facts even as he, himself, has previously stated them.Governor Romney knows this, and so does President Obama. Why don’t more of us?
“Analysts like this were, however, right in a way. Romney did come across as the more confident and aggressive candidate, and Obama did come across as “wonky” and “lacking punch.” Just visually and dramatically, Romney met the spectacle on its terms better than Obama did, much the way John F. Kennedy did in his celebrated debate with Richard Nixon. In that legendary meeting, radio viewers thought Nixon won, but TV viewers, blown away by Kennedy’s smile and tan, thought was a landslide for the Democrat.
“Journalists who cite that Nixon-Kennedy debate always forget that the lesson of that night is that the new broadcast media technology made superficiality and nonsense more important – that thanks to the press, it was now possible to get someone elected to the most powerful office on earth because he had a superior tan. Reporters love this story because it reminds everyone that the medium they work in has the power to overcome substance and decide elections all by itself. What’s amazing is that they don’t have the good sense to be ashamed of this.”