Thursday, October 04, 2012

Altitude Sickness

The same guy who lost all credibility on Conan O'Brien's show a few years ago is now saying O's debate performance was altered by Denver's mile-high altitude.  It's amazing they'd let such a moron opine about anything on national TV, especially anything remotely tied to the sciences.  But notice--neither he nor the bobble headed peanut gallery were denying the obvious--that Mitt spanked the president badly.   If you're left with 'altitude sickness' as an excuse it had to be an awful performance.

So what about that bad performance?   I tweeted earlier about whether "O threw the fight last night?"  That wasn't to say he intentionally lost, just that he pursued a cautious strategy due to the horrid state of the economy because, well, it's horrid and he's president.

Mitt did a great job.  He probably shocked Team O with his crispness and lucid handle on the issues and deft use of the rhetorical scalpel.   It's doubtful they were expecting him to be that good.  But Obama knew going in he couldn't defend his promises.  He didn't cut the deficit in half.  He said he'd be a "one-term proposition" if the economy didn't come back.  Solyndra was a failure.  Unemployment went above and stayed above 8 percent despite promises that the Stimulus would keep it down.  Cash-for-Clunkers didn't work.  Growth is under 2 percent, we lost our top credit rating and we're 5 or 6 trillion more in debt than when he started.   Easy to spin those facts in front of a partisan crowd or on a commercial; hard to do it with someone standing 10 feet away refuting them.  

Just imagine how Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain or even Bachmann would have taken him apart on this.  Easy pickins.

So my guess is he laid back a little and decided not to get too confrontational defending the indefensible.  Obama isn't that bad in debates.  He likely wanted to get through and get back to the prompter today.

Assuming that's correct here's a possible play.  Two more debates are coming, along with one for the Veeps.  The next one is a town hall format on both foreign and domestic policy.  Obama loves town halls and crowd reaction will probably be allowed.   That's the better venue to mention the 47 percent, with crowd reaction.  Had he used it last night with the dead audience it would have opened the door for Romney to cherry pick some things from the Hampton speech or even talk about the Khalidi tape.

Round three is foreign policy moderated by Schieffer.  By that time it's highly possible the military will be engaged in eastern Libya hunting down AQ terrorists.  And of course UBL is still dead.  So they might figure they've got that one as well.  That could theoretically send O on an upward trajectory going into the final week with most of the debate discussion about his domestic problems long out of the way.   And we all know the media does love them some Democratic comeback.

Not to say it'll work--Mitt might have his own cards up the sleeve, but these folks are forever strategizing and playing games.  They all think they're smarter than any Republican ever born.   So we'll see. 

MORE  10/4/12

Indefensible.  Romney said the deficits were 'immoral'.  Obama did not disagree.    

BETTER OFF?  10/5/12

Pundits have scoured the debate with a fine-tooth comb looking for takeaways and zingers; the main takeaway has been O's surprisingly poor performance. 

But considering the state of the economy, did Mitt come away with a "are you better off" moment to really crystalize the situation for indie voters and make them want an alternative?   Maybe, but it's not clear.  By Obama rope-a-doping some of his replies and refusing to counter-challenge Romney on various economic points the story has become his 'poor debate performance', not 'wow, things really could be better'.  Obama suddenly healed from altitude sickness and was out talking about 'lies' in Romney's plan, which is also a trend on the internet. 

Mitt's goal in the town hall debate has to be convincing people there and watching on TV that they are not better off, America is not better off, and we have to change horses.  He needs some kind of 'moment' to drive that home. 

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