Warning: I will try to be completely unbiased in this analysis and base my arguments on the facts of the debate, not on the fact that I may or may not be wearing a shirt with the President’s face that reads, “Barack my world.”
The night that political junkies look forward to like kids waiting to overdose on high-fructose corn syrup on Halloween finally arrived on Oct. 3 – the U.S. presidential debates.
An aggressive Mitt Romney faced, and perhaps defeated, an exhausted-looking Obama in the first of four debates. The debate consisted of relatively—and surprisingly—friendly exchanges between the candidates, void of the usual personal and petty attacks.
Anyone who has access to mainstream media knows that Romney has had a tendency to put his foot in his mouth over the last few weeks. From the infamous 47 per cent comment (apparently most Americans are freeloaders who think they are entitled to basic human needs such as health care, food, and housing? Who do they think they are?) to the dumbfounding remark that he made about airplane windows (according to Romney, it’s an issue that these windows can’t be opened). To top it all off, Romney now goes and states that he will defund PBS and fire Big Bird from his day job?
It’s clear that Romney desperately needed to redeem himself at this debate. This was achieved, not necessarily because his answers were “better” than the President’s, but because he appeared more confident, assertive, and enthusiastic. Obama’s frequent pausing and stuttering drowned the nostalgia of his eloquent and passionate hope-filled speeches from the 2008 campaign.
The debate was intended to focus on a range of domestic issues but centered, primarily, on the economy. Topics included the deficit, healthcare, and the role of government, all selected by the moderator, Jim Lehrer. I guess Lehrer doesn’t see LGBT and women’s rights as important domestic issues, which is a shame considering that these rights are under attack by Romney.
The question on the economy lasted nearly half of the debate, going back and forth between Romney pointing out that Obama has not yet repaired the economy that the Republican’s left a mess. and Obama accusing Romney of a proposed US $5 trillion tax cut. Both candidates relied heavily on contradictory claims and statistics that eventually lead to the New York Times producing a live fact-check of their claims.
According to this fact-checking system, Obama’s claim that, if elected, Romney would enforce a $5 trillion tax cut is fact. The New York Times explains that Romney has proposed cutting marginal tax rates by 20 per cent and replacing that revenue by clearing out “the underbrush of deductions and loopholes in the tax code,” never fully specifying how exactly he would do this.
It’s safe to say that the whole of the debate came down to fundamental ideological differences. Obama appeared tired and worn, but human. Romney appeared polished, sharp, and almost robotic.
Ideological differences were evident in their answers when the question of the role of government was asked. Romney argued that “we are all children of the same God,” demonstrating the inability of the Republicans to separate state and Church. This was in stark contrast to Obama’s answer, which was void of religious mention but focused on the government’s role to create opportunity, education, and cohesiveness between government and its citizens.
Romney’s forceful attitude may have undecided viewers sway either way – his assertiveness could show that he would be a commanding and confident president, or it could turn individual’s off of him, viewing him as rude and arrogant as he continuously spoke over Lehrer.
Throughout the debate, the two candidates both exposed their greatest flaws. Romney desperately tried to appear as a down-to-earth guy, continually mentioning the working class, but remained unconvincing that he knows what it feels like to be middle class, rather than swimming in piles of cash in the backyard of his Utah vacation mansion. Obama, a product of the lower-middle class, appeals to the everyday person, but remained fatigued and uninspired throughout the debate, disappointing viewers and leaving them questioning his ability to fix the economy in a second term.
The good news is that there are more debates. One which features the vice-presidential candidates where, here’s hoping, Biden will point out the fundamentalist and right-wing fanatical ideas of Paul Ryan, and two more that consist of Romney and Obama going head-to-head once again.
So, perhaps, I couldn’t remain completely neutral in this analysis but, admittedly, I’m still hoping that Obama continues to Barack my world.