The first of four Presidential debates took place in Denver, Colorado last night and if you didn’t see it you didn’t miss much. With a couple of candidates that agree on significantly more than they disagree and a collusion between the major political parties to keep out third parties, difficult questions or anything else that’s not tightly scripted nothing happened that did anything more than give partisans something to get worked up about.
Legendary film producer Robert Evans notes at the beginning of his great autobiography “The Kid Stays In The Picture” that ‘there are three sides to every story: your side, my side and the truth and no one is lying’. The meaning of this is that everyone views events with their own set of biases and this colors their otherwise objective account of events. This Evans’ quote is perfect for the Presidential debate aftermath but while neither side may be ‘lying’ both sides are spinning hard. The reality? We’ll talk about that in a moment.
With so much of the electorate already ossified in their support of either Obama or Romney it’s not entirely clear who these debates are targeted at. There’s a great myth among the media and political elite that there’s a huge group of ‘moderates’ or ‘undecided voters’ on whom the election hinges. That’s highly doubtful–what will determine who wins in November is how effectively they motivate their party and ideological base, get out their vote and suppress the other guy’s ability to do the same. And while both sides scream that ‘dirty tricks’ are the province of their opponent neither party is shy about bending or breaking rules to help them get or stay in power.
So who really won? I’ll preface this by saying that I’m a Libertarian and I’d vote for a Mariah Carey/Nicki Minaj ticket before I’d vote for either Romney or Obama. Both men flip flop more than a freshly caught trout, can’t wait to go to war with Iran and support any number of policies that undermine the freedom of lawful Americans. They both support the NDAA which allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens without cause or due process, both support the Patriot Act, and both want to grow government and the power of the Presidency on the flimsiest of justifications. I find both men downright contemptible. In other words, I’m reasonably objective.
In terms of the actual debate, Romney cleaned Obama’s clock. He was prepared, on point, concise and gave answers as opposed to talking points. Obama rambled, got sidetracked on tangents and was clearly intimidated by Romney’s preparation and focus. I still wouldn’t vote for either man to serve in any office more powerful than PTA President but all spin aside Romney was far more effective in the first debate.