Mr Liberty Live Blogs The Hoftra Presidential Debate

As Ladyliberty1885 (hereafter LL) has indicated, I will be “drunk blogging” the second presidential debate tonight.  She seems to be under the impression that my verbal comments were quite amusing during the first presidential debate and first (and only) vice-presidential debate.
I tried to explain this was mainly due to the fact that I was sitting around in my underwear for each of the previous debates, and that doesn’t translate well into a “drunk blog.”  She was unconvinced.
I should mention a few important points about the format I will be using:

  • I will be drinking.
  • There will be no consistent format.  Time stamps will be arbitrarily inserted if I can remember to do so.  Most identifications will be made with abbreviations, nicknames or epithets.
  • I will use quotes to characterize the speech of candidates (or the moderator), but please don’t take these words to be exact quotes.  While I will try to render the words of others as accurately as possible, I’ll be doing all of this “on the fly.”
  • I reserve the right to get so completely bored that I type at great length about something unrelated to the actual presidential debate.  I should probably warn everyone that’s likely depending on the volume of bourbon consumed.
  • I reserve the right to express my unrelenting cynicism about the debate format and the moderator.  I have no confidence that CNN  has actually managed to assemble and solicit questions from a few score genuinely undecided voters, and I have no confidence that moderator Candy Crowley can resist the temptation to insert herself into the debate as a full-blow participant.
  • I will be drinking.

So welcome, in the words of the inimitable Philip J. Fry, to “a crummy world of plot holes and spelling errors.”  The fun begins below.

9:45pm.  On a programming note, I’m watching the debate on PBS in the hopes Big Bird shows up with a sob story during their preliminaries.  I’m drinking Ancient Age bourbon and will brook no criticism of my choice.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the celebration of identity politics on PBS prior to this debate.  There’s certainly nothing tendentious about that.

I should avoid sarcasm, I suppose, as I’m occasionally so dry as to render my point ambiguous.

10:00pm or so.  Let’s play The Feud!

The usual suspects are on the PBS color-commentary panel–if you can call anything involving David Brooks colorful.  That wasn’t a racial joke.

Candy is giving the rules.  She looks better here than in pre-debate interviews.

Romney won the coin toss and elects to duel with the sun at his back.  The first question is from a recent student about how Romney will ensure there’s a job for said student in the future.  The poor kid looks as nervous as hell–I bet he doesn’t interview well.

Romney’s answer is the usual boilerplate, but well delivered.  He looks confident and pretty personable.

Obama’s answer wanders a touch–he has bullet points, but they range far afield.  I felt there was a risk he would wander off into “prepared remarks” mode too easily, and I’m interested to see if he can rein that in.

A sensible re-direct/re-focus from Candy to Romney.  He gets in a good point about folks dropping out of the labor force and gets to sling some numbers.  He wanders as well–to Detroit.

Obama gets aggressive on his chance at Candy’s re-direct.  Romney “doesn’t have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan–that the people at the top get to play by a different set of rules.”  He’s going all out, but it was an awkward delivery.  Romney is obviously miffed.

10:10pm or so.  A question about gas prices to Obama citing his Energy Secretary’s remarks about not lowering gas prices.  Obama answers that the solution to higher gas prices is, in essence, investing in any other energy except petrolium.  It’s about the Platonic ideal of “efficiency” that somehow magically resolves the problem.  He’s doubling down on green energy.

Romney doesn’t repudiate green energy, but hammers Obama’s record obstructing fossil fuel development in the US.  Will he mention the dollars squandered on green energy?  He doesn’t mention Solyndra–maybe he’s saving it for later.

Romney hammered Obama.  Obama’s response seems week by comparison.

Obama cites the drop in oil imports as part of his success–but that’s what happens when an economy tanks, Barry!

Romney gets aggressive, but it’s too aggressive.  He looks a bit like a bully.  It’s a town hall, guys.  I credit Candy with letting it go a bit, though.  Romney settles down and brings the exchange back to gas prices and the Keystone pipeline.  A fairly good recovery.

Obama gets to respond, and he takes the tack that gas prices were so low when he took office because the economy was in shambles.  That’s not a bad argument if your audience is full of economists, but the “high gas prices equals prosperity!” line won’t work with normal humans.

Romney needs to back off.  He’s obviously agitated by having Obama lie about him so blatantly, but he has to calm down.

The next question is about taxes and Romney’s plan.  Romney gets to talk about his plan, which is a bit of a gimme, but you know Obama has been studying hard on this one.

I actually learned something new about Romney’s plan–he doesn’t plan to tax interest, dividends and capital gains.  I have probably heard all this before, but the sweeping nature of that caught me off guard.

I predict another spat of cross-talk and rule lawyering to come.

Obama keeps referencing Romney’s philosophy or some equivalent mental disposition.  Obama’s entire strategy goes back to the “this isn’t the real Romney” theme.  It’s annoying.

Romney is responding.  I’m so sensitive to him being too aggressive because, to win, all he has to do is show up as human.

I’m biased, but I get the feeling that Obama in his response is just making numbers up.  He has Romney increasing the the deficit over ten years by 8 trillion now.  I almost feel like Obama has confused his talking points.

Romney looks smug listening to Obama, but I don’t blame him.  Obama sounds like he has no idea what he’s talking about.  Romney re-directs back to Obama’s record, which is wise.  I don’t think he needs to hammer how badly Obama mangled Romney’s plan–I think even the Democrats in the audience realized that.

10:35pm or so.  And it’s a question about the bogus statistic about pay disparity in the workplace.

Will Romney have the guts to say it’s a bogus statistic?

I had to pee, so I missed part of Romney’s answer, but it sounds like he’s bragging about his own mini-Affirmative Action plan while he was governor.  It’s annoying, but I suppose it seems sensitive to the lady folk.  Ah, now he’s moved back to “jobs, jobs, jobs,” and I think that’s safe ground.

Obama does a smart thing and moves the conversation to health care. . . and contraception.  It was inevitable, and I give Obama credit for the smooth transition.  Someone should tell him, though, that it’s creepy to talk indirectly about your daughters’ birth control.

A question premised on the notion that “it’s all Bush’s fault.”  Romney needs to slap  her down.  And then Romney spoils it with the rule lawyering.  Damn it.

Now he’s back on track.  He’s distinguishing himself from Bush without quite throwing Bush under the bus.  It’s a cautious line, but he walks it with class.

Romney admits the Republicans are too cozy with big business, and he starts to talk about small businesses.  Very slick move, very apt, and very welcome.

Once again in his response, Obama tells you what you’re supposed to believe about Romney.  This is a strategy that is wearing thin.  It’s wearing so thin, in fact, that I’m going to have a cigarette.

10:55pm or so.  Romney is hitting the Obama record in general.  I don’t know what the question was, but Romney’s in his element on this one.  His delivery, in general, is a damn-sight better than Obama’s staccato-weird delivery.

Romney is playing the notion that Obama is a nice guy with good intentions, but his policies are systematic failures.  I like it.  It has a good beat and you can dance to it.

11:00pm or so and the topic is immigration (illegal immigration, specifically).  Romney is going first.  I feel like he’s been talking a long time, which is fine by me.

Obama’s answer is reasonable enough.  I’m not sure there is a horrendous conflict between the visions of the two men, but I figure Obama will try to imply there is.  I have no idea why he drug his daughter into that attempt.

Now Obama is playing the rules lawyer.

And Romney is being a bully again.  This is wooly stuff!

Candy is just a terrible moderator.  She can’t decide if she wants to play it loose or play it tight.  I’m speaking of the rules, you dirty people.

LL just cheered because someone finally asked a question about the killings in Benghazi.  Obama is trying to criticize Romney’s press release shortly after the events of Begnhazi, and he used the phrase “that’s not how a Commander-in-Chief operations.”  He’s just walked into it.

Romney brings up the spontaneous demonstration fabrication.  “The day after that happened, the President of the United States flies to Las Vegas for a fund raiser.”  Romney isn’t pulling punches on this.

Benghazi is a loser for Obama, so he’s acting indignant.  Romney isn’t doing well sticking it to him, though.

We now know on which side Candy is playing.  I have to say, the mention of Benghazi was truncated and very disappointing, and the memory to come out of the exchange will be Candy defending the President with the most grotesquely literalist interpretation of the White House spin following the attack.

On the question of firearms, I don’t hear anything weird–neither candidate wants to touch the 2nd Amendment with a ten foot pole.

Whoa, Romney brings up Fast and Furious.

And Candy uses a re-direct to steal Romney’s thunder.  But Romney uses some political judo to make a brag about his bipartisanship.  That was nifty.

Obama’s response isn’t noteworthy, but I do want to complain . . . about . . . his delivery . . . of his . . . lines.

Lord,  have mercy–when will it end?

An “off-shoring” question, and Romney addresses the larger issue of business climate in the US.  He’s somewhat vulnerable on this (in a superficial sense), but I hope he keeps hammering the overall business climate issue.

When Romney forgets he’s in a debate, when he feels like he’s just explaining something to one person, he’s at his best–he’s amazing in that context.  Perhaps that’s why I’m so averse to him appearing as a bully–I prefer the Romney that comes out when he’s explaining something he’s passionate about to someone else.

Damn, Candy, shut up!

Mr. President, one American running ten robots IS a high-skilled job, and it replaces the labor of ten Chinese workers.

What I think is the final question leads Romney into religious territory.  It’s not overbearing, but it’s a means to talking about compassion and empathy.  A nice theme to emerge is “we don’t have to settle.”

Obama brings up the 47% comment.  He does it at a point where Romney can’t respond–it’s the closing questions.  Very sneaky.

Candy was an awful moderator.  She couldn’t decide what sort of format she wanted to run, and when she tried to be decisive it was awkwardly timed.  I’ll have more thoughts after another smoke.

10:45pm or so.  I think it was a draw overall.  Obama was definitely more aggressive (and more impressive) in the last debate.  Romney was solid except for the occasional foray into unnecessary complaints about getting his time, etc.

When Obama gives a weak answer, let it go–trust the viewers to realize it’s a weak answer and don’t dignify it with an interjection.

Candy was a terrible moderator–she was inconsistent with her “touch.”

To be fair, the entire debate felt torpid.  While this particular debate was a draw, I think it was a net loss for the President.  The ambiguous outcome only makes people less likely to tune in for the last debate.

On a side note: watching PBS, I’m struck by what a weasel David Brooks is.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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