We’re back watching our friends on CNN for the second presidential debate. Tonight’s debate is the dreaded town hall debate format. I dread it because the questions are inevitably weak. Asking Willard Mitt how he’s different from George W Bush is a question for a Romney rally not a national debate. That type of question just begs Obama to go with a negative response in his rebuttal which he happily obliged.
Romney worked hard all night to not actually answer questions. Mitt also continues his policy of making it up as he goes along. His answers to questions about taxes would be funny if he weren’t a candidate for the highest office in the land. He basically says, “I’m cutting taxes by 20% for everybody don’t ask me how I’ll pay for it. I’m a business man so it’ll all add up. Trust me!”
Mitt’s again brought back the five point unicorn plan. Nobody ever asks him how this vague plan actually works. Mitt also claimed he knows how to make the economy work because well you guessed it, he’s a business man. He says that at least 20 times in each debate.
Mitt also made a weird comment about looking through binders full of women when he was hiring for his cabinet when he was governor in Massachusetts in response to a good question about equal pay for women. I don’t really know what to make of that. First, he didn’t even pretend to answer the question asked. Binders of women sounded like one of those magazines with mail order brides. My wife is from Massachusetts so hopefully she’s not in Mitt’s binders.
Obama came out swinging. He actually had a pulse. This is the Obama that people expected in the first debate. He’s making his case and defining the differences between himself and Willard Mitt. He’s also keeping Mitt on his toes. He seemed much more comfortable and interested this time around. Though like Mitt he adamantly refused to answer questions, especially that Iraq one. I think this debate format serves him better than two candidates sitting at a table.
There were a few moments where Mitt tried to show his toughness by getting in Obama’s face. One time I thought he was going to tackle the president. Obama coolly looked him off though. Mitt always badgers and hectors his opponents and the moderator and then turns to the moderator for assistance when his opponent tries to turn the tables. I bet he was no fun to play with as a kid. Candy Crowley actually fact checked Mitt in the middle of him answering a question. A moderator actually challenging a candidate? How novel.
The audience questions were decent though generally focused on something specific to the questioners’ individual circumstance. A woman even asked a gun control question. Who let that woman in? Didn’t she get the memo that the NRA has decreed no more gun laws and our politicians just rolled over? Good answers on this one from both candidates until Willard Mitt tried to make a babbling point about Fast and Furious (why bring up a Tyrese movie? I kid…) and single moms.
It’s always a bad look to shout down the moderator. Both guys were guilty of this bad habit last night. Also there are a lot of “recent studies” in this election. If one of these guys could give us some honest context on these “studies” I’d actually care about the “studies”. Instead they’re self-serving props. I also wish one of these two would tell us how they plan to pay for all these tax cuts. The wife kept asking for Willard Mitt to define what he believes constitutes the middle class. I suspect Mitt’s middle class has an income a bit higher than most other people’s definition of middle class. Anyway, she fell asleep waiting for an answer.
CNN is back with their parade of talking heads. Again they reduce this to a horse race. You can always tell which CNN partisan’s candidate lost because that pundit declares the debate a draw and tries to find the one sliver of the debate where his preferred candidate controlled the debate. Playing that role last night was former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer. He tried hard and actually reduced his peers to laughter. There was also lots of post-debate back patting for Candy Crowley from her CNN pals. Though the bar was kind of low after the Jim Lehrer debacle in the first debate. The main thing I learned from the post-debate chatter is CNN loves itself, its pundits and its pointless collection of technological terrors.
A quick thought on the VP debate. Biden did his thing but all the laughing and interrupting grew tiresome. Then again Biden could have been laughing at flashbacks of episodes of The Munsters every time lil Eddie Munster aka Paul Ryan spoke.
We’ll be back next week for the debate rubber match.