Watching the debate with an even more fervent Obama supporter than me, what I saw was pretty much the above. That is clearly not what most people saw, what most people saw was this:
A Presidential debate is not like a baseball game or a car race with their clear, arbitrary, rules for defining a winner: in a debate, the winner is who the most people think is the winner. That was Romney and, as a card carrying member of the Obama Team, it has brought up all sorts of swirling emotions in me. From denial through anger, from bargaining to acceptance.
With acceptance – although it may be bargaining – I am trying to see how Romney’s debate victory will play out and I have come to the conclusion that it did not mean much in that it will probably not change the election. Although Intrade differs, saying that Obama’s odds fell from 71% to 67% because of his weak show. (The odds do seem to be going back up as a result of today’s jobs report.)
In a way, the odd thing about the debates – the odd thing about news in general – is how ephemeral it is. The debates end and are a big deal: the next day they are gone.
But what I am still left with is how easily Romney seems to be able shapeshift. Or, if you prefer, lie. It is not that he has changed what he believes, it is that he has always believed the new pitch. I remember firing – a job I don’t like as much as Romney – a guy who just flat out lied about something he had done. I don’t remember the details but I do remember him looking me right in the eye and saying something like It couldn’t have been me, I was in Queensland at the time. It was stunning and I was completely flustered.
I think that Obama was flat, he looked tired, he was down; but – I suspect – he found it hard to cope with a guy who can say My health plan includes the elimination of pre-conditions. (It doesn’t for those who haven’t been keeping score.) Obama could say No it doesn’t – and he did – but Romney comes back and says Yes, it does. and there is no place to go except get in a He said, he said, argument or move on. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out next Thursday. .