Thursday, October 18, 2012


It's possible that this is a head fake from the Romney camp, but I hope not:
Mitt Romney's campaign indicated Wednesday they have no plans to rein in the GOP nominee during the third and final presidential debate.

Romney's aggressive performance Tuesday night -- directly challenging President Obama and quarreling with moderator Candy Crowley -- had Democrats and even some Republicans arguing he came across as too assertive, which could turn off undecided voters.

But Team Romney claims their candidate won the night with his argument on core economic issues, which are the leading concern among voters. And Republican strategists say that Romney has more leeway to adopt the role of the antagonist because it's Obama who is so heavily reliant on personal favorability to buoy his poll numbers....
I agree with Kos that what we saw Tuesday night was "the re-emergence of dick Romney" -- and the temperament contrast between the two candidates was the dominant impression of the early moments of the debate. Romney interrupted, acted physically aggressive, rudely demanded respect (from the president, from Candy Crowley), and was generally unpleasant. Romney was like that throughout the debate. Unfortunately, Obama, who found a sweet spot early on (polite even as he was assertive), began to interrupt the proceedings himself, in a near-Romneyesque way, by the end. I think his interruptions may have even undermined how he came off in the debate's most talked-about moment, the exchange on Libya. He might have done better to let Romney vent and fume and then undermine him with the fact that he'd actually invoked terror in the Rose Garden on September 12.

Look, I really liked the more aggressive Obama. But pundit conventional wisdom becomes voter conventional wisdom, and this just provided an opening for the pundits to sum up the second debate as "infantile aggression: both sides do it." That's how Andrea Mitchell summed up the debate last night on NBC:

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I think Romney will be rude and unpleasant in the next debate. It's going to be on foreign policy, and I assume Libya will come up early. Romney's going to come out guns blazing on Libya, still determined to prove, not that the president's policies are bad for America, but that he, Mitt Romney, is right. That's Romney's style. That's his motive force. And as for the rest of the debate, Romney's entire foreign policy is "I'm more macho than the Obama the girlyman," which is sure to get his juices flowing.

So Obama should stand his ground. But he should he match firmness with as much civility as he can manage. Let Romney sputter and fume.


Victor said...

Watch Alec Baldwin do a version of Mitt the businessman, from his great monologue in the movie, "Glemgarry Glen Ross."

I tried to find the whole monologue, but was forbidden from viewing it.
Still, this scene could easily have been played by Mitt.
"ABC Mitt" - Always Be Closing Romney.

Let's hope he keeps trying to be ABC Mitt.
If you've ever bought a new car, or a used one, oe went to some time share presentation, you've met this guy.
And most people who get to meet this guy - they HATE this "Closer" guy!

DocP said...

I'm sure that Romney's bullying affect went over well with the tea party louts, but it may not read so well with other voters. I also noticed something in addition to the bullying: At times, Romney reminded me of an old hag sharing some lascivious gossip when he was "intimately sharing" criticism of Obama with the town hall audience. It was weird and, to me, unsettling.

I am not a die hard Obama supporter, and unhappy with having no real choice, but Romney is beginning to disturb me greatly.

Kathy said...

I know we're the collective proverbial frog, sitting in the water as it gets less and less civil, but perhaps Tagg Romney's publicly expressed wish to punch the President of the United States in the face will wake us up. At the very least, I hope he gets a little visit from the Secret Service.

Danp said...

By framing debates as playoff games with a winner and a loser, the media will always find a way to make Romney a winner or at least come up with a tie score. Obama will NEVER win this game. The most important thing he can do is to not let Romney get away with a lie. Interrupt immediately! The more often the better.

BH said...

Kathy, if Tagg's anything like Pater, the only way he'd punch anything besides a pillow is with a gaggle of his preppy acolytes in tow, and at odds of at least 7-1.

And what is it with that name? "Tagg" sounds like a handle generated in Wasilla. Then again, so does "Rafalca" to my primitive ear.

: smintheus :: said...

Obama will be declared the loser if he doesn't match some of Romney's aggressiveness. It's not just the media's obsession with machoness; voters want a president who'll stand up to bullies and fight for them. They also want to see their president able to get a word in, and without fighting for it Obama will be talked over by Romney and given short shrift by the moderator.

Romney is always going to come across as an aggressive jerk and will initiate the rudeness. So Obama did just right by letting him start the nastiness and then pushing back.

White Hat said...

"pundit conventional wisdom becomes voter conventional wisdom"

Not necessarily. For example, the pro-surge "PCW" during Iraq didn't prevent 67% of voters from disapproving of the war and its escalation. It only succeeded in silencing pols who would otherwise have opposed it. Another example: the Tea Party, widely panned by smartypants pundits but popular anyway.

Voters/consumers make up their own minds about what to buy. They can be influenced of course, but not so much by pundits. We read their stuff so it's easy to believe others do, but we're a tiny minority among voters.