Thursday, October 18, 2012

2012, Debate # 2 analysis & how late night comedy writers will select our next President

While Tuesday’s debate was definitely a win for Obama, it left me with some very ambivalent feelings afterwards…  The following is compiled from my Facebook posts that evening:

Yes, he's not my guy, and I wasn't rooting for him, but from as an unbiased as a perspective as I can manage, I just need to say this...

I think Mitt Romney's debate tonight was the worst performance I've ever seen by a presidential candidate from either party ever. (Well, since the first one I watched in 1984, at least).

Yeah, the post debate “Who Won Tonight?” polls are close, because about 95% of those polled will say their guy won, no
matter what. And don't give me that undecided voter crap on a spot poll taken in the five minutes before the candidates have even left the stage.

But this was a bad night for Romney. It may take a few days for that really to emerge. But it was bad. Bad Bad Bad Bad. Bad.

Bad candidate. Bad. "Was he just trying to help Paul Ryan feel better?" bad.

Going to the mat, standing by his misquote of the President, and then getting fact checked on the spot by the moderator, basically at his own request? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!

This man wants to be the leader of the free world? Oh hells no.

See, this pisses me off. Yeah, I want Romney and Ryan to lose, but this shit is just bad for America, PERIOD.

I WANT two qualified candidates. I want a tough, close election because there is a real choice, not because of blind party loyalties. I want to be able to take both the GOP and the Democrats seriously.  While I rarely vote Republican, I want the option!

I take Obama seriously. Everyone else can pretty much piss off and die at this point. American politics? Dead.

Yeah, I was typing with fists on Tuesday… 

As for the Town Hall format, the moderators (though a big thumbs up to Crowley, it’s not like she busted in unsolicited), and the debate coverage in general…  In response to this post, “BTW, am I the only person that thinks regular Americans seem to ask better questions than paid reporters?—Dave” on The Pragmatic Progressive Page, I spat out, “Of course they do. Journalism is dead.”

Not a good campaign cycle for America.

Considering Romney’s train wreck of a performance on Tuesday, he is lucky that the takeaway is the “binders full of women” comment.  This will not help him, but there were far worse gaffes in the evening than this one.

So, Obama supporters, yes it is funny, but shut up about it.  People forgive legitimate jumbles of words in high stress situations.  Instead, pound on him for the real mistakes. 

Women in the workplace?  Sure, and we’ll even try to get them home in time to cook dinner.

Getting fact checked by the moderator, at his own request, and losing a point where he actually has some valid concerns and questions about a serious national security failure?

Saying that gun violence would be reduced if only there were more two parent families?

This is what noise should be made about, not the “Binders Full of Women.”  These jokes are funny, but they actually help Romney more than hurting him by distracting from his real gaffes on Tuesday.  Gaffes that might actually work towards changing public perceptions about the GOP contender.

This first clip illustrates a couple points I've been making in several of my posts.

First, people are going to think their candidate won no matter what happened in the debate.

Second, those on the fence are going to be swayed not by what happened during the 90 minute debate, but by the sound bites they hear on a two minute news segment, or by the jokes they hear on late night shows, Facebook, and other sources.

These people are shown supporting their candidate, declaring it a win for their guy, spouting pre-debate buzz about debate expectations, without realizing that the debate has not even happened yet. 

And people like this are going to be the one who decide this election, not the well informed voters who, on a regular basis, actually follow the issues being discussed in the debates. 

This election will be won by whomever attracts the least attention from the comics.  In elections that are not close, the jokes probably serve more as a barometer of public opinion, but in close elections, or even elections at decisive turning points, these jokes can actually shape public perceptions enough that they can change the outcome of an election.

A lot of words have been written over the years about how so many in the younger generations get most of their news from The Daily Show, Colbert, and other such sources, but this is not really a new phenomenon.

More than being the source for news, late night comics have provided the analysis of events that really tend to define how many Americans perceive their candidates.  Dukakis was slayed by these folks, losing his lead in 1988 after a series of gaffes that gave the comedy writers a bushel of full of material.  That election ended up not being as close as the last few, but…

Gore and the lock box in 2000?  Probably worth at least a few hundred votes in Florida.

Kerry / Bush in 2004?  Both were hammered about equally as hard.  Well, in these cases, we see that the tie goes to the incumbent.   

In 2008, one of the most masterful pieces of the Obama campaign was staying out of the late night headlights.  McCain, wandering around the town hall debate, Palin’s, well, everything?  These jokes sealed the deal for Obama.  The piling on as the outcome of the election looked more and more certain through the month of October?

This year, we see this playing out again.  Obama broadens his lead after a series of humorous gaffes by Romney, the race tightens after Obama is hammered in late night after the first debate, and now?  Well, over the next few nights, we’ll see, though I think we know where this will go.

So, the winner of the debates is pretty much decided by headlines and short sound bites on the evening and morning news shows.  The fallout, the shifts of momentum in close races, especially after conventions and debates?  Decided by the late night comics.

A lot of people are saying that the damage done by the first debate to the Obama campaign may have been irreversible.  Not necessarily ensuring a Romney victory, but ensuring a very close and tense election night.  And it might have been the deciding factor if Romney had been able to settle down and keep a low profile for the next two debates and not make any more bad mistakes.  Staying on script, never freewheeling it in public, let alone in front of cameras…

He didn’t do that. 

Earlier, I mentioned The Daily Show, and they have always (deservedly, my bias) gone harder after the GOP than the Dems, but this show does not have the influence of Saturday Night Live, Leno, and Letterman because its viewers tend to be progressive anyway.  Same for Fox News.  Whatever these two outlets are saying about the candidates may influence the

passion of the GOP or Democratic base, but they don’t have much of an influence on the almost completely apolitical swing voters who decide close elections.

I was hoping to post up the Leno and Letterman monologues from last night, but I couldn’t find them anywhere yet.  Apparently, CBS and NBC like to not post them online anywhere until they are stale and irrelevant. I haven’t seen them yet, myself. 

So here’s Conan instead.


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