Sunday, October 14, 2012

Barack vs. Mitt

According to commentators, surveys, and basically the majority of the world, Mitt Romney was the clear "winner" in the first presidential debate that took place at the University of Denver. Those people felt that Obama lacked enthusiasm, that he was too soft, too timid, not having enough aggression towards the former Governor of Massachusetts. Was Obama really that "terrible", as John Geer, Vanderbilt University's political science chariman, stated in a CNN article? Did Romney's "performance" really reshape the presidential race, as his supporters believe? Will the televised debate really play a significant role in the outcome of the 2012 election? Many believe the answers to these questions are a definite yes, but I think we should take a big step backwards and try not to get brainwashed by all this debate drama.

After watching the debate live on CNN, I felt like I had just walked down Broadway in New York City and caught a Thursday night show. What the world watched that night was certainly a show. It was as rehearsed, set up, and practiced as a Broadway musical. The two actors this night just happened to be President Obama and Governor Romney. They each stepped on the stage smiling ear to ear, heading towards each other, meeting in the middle for a greeting. They rehearsed the hand shake, each making sure to shake affirmably while putting their other hand on their opponents arm to show strength. It was obvious they had a dress rehearsal, each candidate wearing identical navy colored suits with an american flag pinned on the left side of their suit jacket, as well as identical looking crisp white collared dress shirts. The only difference in their attire was the different colored ties. They really spiced it up, Obama going with the blue polka dots and Romney going with the red stripes. I wonder why each picked that color...hmm?? After reaching the podiums, this happy story turned into a violent drama with much suspense.

Coming into the debate, most of what was said referred to what Romney "needed" to do because he had been under fire from many of his fellow Republicans. There certainly wasn't as much talk as to what Obama's strategy should be. But, those commenting basically said he needed to stay calm and collected. I say that Obama did just that, he just may have been a little excessive in his calmness and collectiveness. I will also agree that Mitt Romney did hold his own throughout the debate, setting the tone, and that Obama did miss some opportunities to punch back at Romney. Will the nation take into consideration that Romney has been debating all throughout the primaries, and Obama has not done this in four years, so he may be somewhat rusty? Do citizens want some sort of instant gratification, or will they actually sit down and weigh all of the facts? That we will have to find out and see. According to an analysis by Gallup, however, only two elections in the past half century have been affected by the outcome of a televised presidential debate.

Furthermore, I believe there was one major cause for all the disruption after the debate over Romney's "victory", and the split screen told the story precisely. Romney was not scared to go toe-to-toe with the incumbent President. The President, on the other hand, looked down, shook his head, took notes, and had little eye contact with Romney for most of the night. Therefore, that one major cause was body language. The audience got the sense that Obama did not even want to be there debating that night. Obama was criticized for being too cool, almost like he didn't want to get his feet wet. Essentially, I felt the outcome of the debate was based for the most part on body language. Will the outcome of the November election be based mainly on body language? To simply put it...NO.


1 comment:

  1. This is very insightful. I would love to see what you think about tomorrow's debate. It would be great to compare the two 'performances.' I agree with your point about the staged character of the debate. I wonder if the format tomorrow will make a for a livelier exchange. It's a 'town meeting' so questions will be posed by 'ordinary citizens.' What's perplexing to me is that people seem to be more concerned by how the candidates look or behave than what they actually say and what they actually intend to do.