Why Obama Failed in the Debate

You know the President had a bad night when the “tingly leg” crowd at MSNBC is openly angry at Obama for having failed them.  By a wide consensus the first Presidential debate of 2012 was a resounding victory for Mitt Romney.  How this happened is being dissected at countless other sites, here we will explain why it happened.

There are three factors behind Obama’s embarrassing, and petulant, performance in the debate.

1. Obama has a poor record of accomplishment as President.  This poor record is made all the more stark when viewed in light of his lofty promises.  Obama promised to cut the deficit in half, instead he doubled it.  Obama promised to repair the economic woes he attributed to his predecessor, instead the economy has floundered and stagnated.  He promised to heal the planet, instead war, violence, and uncertainty have spread.  Obama promised to unite the country in a post-racial embrace, instead America is more divided than ever.  Obama promised hope and has instead mired the nation in malaise.

Rush Limbaugh explained the Obama record succinctly.  To paraphrase, if all our troubles are the fault of W. Bush, Obama has shown himself unable to fix them.  If the troubles are not the fault of W. Bush, Obama himself is to blame.  Either way, there is no argument for another four years.

2. Obama suffers from the Taranto principle, something I have previously discussed on this blog.  Whereas Mitt Romney came into the debate fresh and tested by a tough primary battle, and whereas Romney regularly faces unfriendly interrogators in the media and elsewhere, Obama was unprepared.

Obama has subject himself is little more than a half-dozen press conferences since taking office.  When he deigns to take direct questions, the generally supportive media fail to hammer him on controversial points.  Rather than hone his craft and defend his record, the President has busied himself with soft-ball interviews and appearances on late night television.  The Taranto principle posits that because Democrats are less vigorously questioned they not only lose their edge, but develop a false sense of confidence.

During last night’s debate Obama seemed to know less about his policies than did his opponent.  His demeanor was rather irritated – and it showed during split screen appearances.  It was clear to all who watched that Obama wanted the debate to be over.  In contrast Romney seemed to relish displaying his command of facts and data.

3. Finally, Obama stumbled during the debate because his talking points were insincere.  He can mouth the usual tropes about free markets and personal liberty, but Obama does not fundamentally believe in those things.  Without the teleprompter to guide his flourishes his discomfort is exposed.

Whether you want to call him a Progressive or a socialist, Mr. Obama’s core tendencies are further to the left than is advisably advertised for a prime time audience.  Obama can speak from the head, but he cannot speak from the heart when discussing the American dream, nor can he express the general civic patriotism that comes so naturally to millions and millions of Americans.

Taken together, the poor record, the atrophied sparring, and the philosophical leanings of President Obama conspired to ruin his evening, and perhaps, cost him an election.


4 thoughts on “Why Obama Failed in the Debate

  1. I agree completely with your explanation. I also expect the dirt to really start flying from the Obama camp anytime now. Obama’s minions, both his campaign staff and his mainstream media hand maidens, will make this a more vicious campaign than it’s already been because they can’t win on Obama’s ideology or his pathetic record. Nothing but dirt flying Romney’s way the rest of the campaign.

  2. The IRONY………….no one mentions this ……………311 million people in the USA and only 60 – 69 million watched the debates, that’s not enough viewers to change the upcoming election. Wait…..break it down even further, how many of those 69 million were Obama supporters – 38 million. Where does that leave Mitt? But wait, break it down further. How many people walked away from the TV set after 30 minutes? This initial debate will not change the election but the next one could get more viewers because of the first one and that will be to Obama’s advantage.

  3. Steve,
    It’s true that very few people actually watch the entire debates, and probably a miniscule number of viewers are among the undecided, but I do not think that alters the impact.

    This election has a smaller than normal core of truly undecided voters. We know that folks typically remain undecided because the incumbent has not effectively convinced them, thus creating the historical trend of undecided voters breaking late in favor of the challenger. This creates two tasks. The challenger must appear to the undecided as a plausible alternative, if he can measure up the heretofore unconvincing incumbent, the undecided vote is his. The task to the incumbent is to make the challenger seem unpalatable, prompting the undecided to “stick with the devil you know,” for lack of a better phrase.

    During the October 3 debate Romney completed the challenger task with flying colors. Obama failed the incumbents task. True, very few people saw this, but the post-debate narrative has become pervasive. In short, everyone is now talking about the resounding success of Romney and the floundering of Obama. We do not yet know the full impact, but conventional political campaign thinking would necessarily lead one to believe that debate outcome will be a big boost to Romney.

    Thanks for dropping by the blog, hope you come back.

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