Well, I was only partially right about tonight’s debate.
As I stated before the debate started, I expected Pres. Obama to come into tonight’s debate aggressive, and he certainly did. He was more than just aggressive, however, oftentimes flashing anger and contempt in his facial expressions, and those emotions also came out in some of his answers, especially his tirade against Mitt Romney on bayonets and horses, which I’ll get back to.
Where I was wrong was on Romney’s reaction to the president. I expected Romney, as he did in the second debate, to become equally as combative, which I think is what the Obama campaign was also looking for, but he didn’t. Romney largely avoided the confrontations President Obama tried to set up, instead focusing on the issues, namely the economy, rather than take the bait and get bogged down defending himself against the president’s personal attacks. Romney’s goal was to appear knowledgeable and presidential on foreign policy, reassure Americans that he would not engage our military into another conflict, and press his advantage on economic issues. Romney passed on going after the president on Libya, which I thought could have been his toughest critique on the foreign policy front. It will be interesting to see how this strategy was viewed by people watching at home.
President Obama’s strategy to go all out on attacking Romney was obvious, but I think it seriously missed the mark. The president’s goal was to draw Romney into another debate about Romney. For the most part, Romney defended himself on these attacks, but went right back to listing his own plans for the presidency. The problem for the president‘s strategy was that his attacks made him look as if he weren’t even the president. It made him look as if he were actually still a candidate who’d never set foot in the Oval Office trying to get the job in the first place, and was behind in the polls. Obama’s entire performance smacked of desperation and contempt. It was an ugly, petulant display in my book, but the only real evidence of what America thought of it will come two weeks from now on election night.
My Take: I thought that there was such a stark contrast between both men’s approach tonight that it’s hard to really guage who won. I’d say that in terms of sheer attacks, President Obama clearly won. In terms of substance, Gov. Romney won because he was the only person on stage who bothered to give any substance. It amazes me that the sitting President of the United States went through three presidential debates without articulating any real agenda for a second term. In terms of style, Romney clearly won as well. His goal was to look presidential, and he succeeded. The president looked angry all night long, and sounded like a desperate candidate trying to fight his way back into the race.
Finally, to President Obama’s rant about “bayonets and horses.” I guess the president has never even seen a military assault rifle up close, but I’m pretty sure that just about every soldier or marine that has a bayonet (their combat knife) knows that it clips right on to their rifle. Perhaps someone should also show the president a picture of the statue of the Special Forces operator in Afghanistan RIDING A HORSE that was just unveiled in front of the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan. Horses have been widely used in the Afghan war to traverse terrain that modern military vehicles couldn’t.