(An email I wrote about Obama’s performance in the first debate against Romney in 2012. I had forgotten just how catastrophic that performance was. It was a short lived catastrophe, though, as Obama came roaring back in the second and third debates and neutralized the damage he’d done to himself in the first. Interesting, though, how some of my ranted criticisms here apply to Trump’s first performance as well.)
Well, Obama’s fucking up the debate is not only the major event of this campaign…it is also possibly the greatest fuck up in American Presidential campaign history since, well, since I don’t know. I can’t think of a comparison. Maybe Nixon in his debate in 1960…except that was a close race at the time, not a blow out. The Dewey-Truman thing was a Truman surge but also the fact that his voters had been underpolled. Neither of these compare to this one. Obama was way ahead and was beaten decisively and worse yet humiliated on national television. Obama was utterly unprepared. He figured the race was in the bag and that he was so superior to Romney he could bat him away like a fly, I guess. His debate prep team ought to be banished from politics forever they were so bad. They failed completely, and I mean completely, to ascertain how Romney would debate. I have never seen such a failure. This was like Rick Perry’s performance in the GOP debates. This was horrible. Catastrophic. You have to be blindly partisan not to feel very uneasy about a guy that fucks up that badly when eye to eye with an opponent.
He’ll do better tonite, much better. Might even be declared the winner (in fact, if it’s a draw he probably will be declared the winner.) The other point is that he does not fuck up on the stump, and hasn’t since the debate, not even the next morning. His campaign has made zero mistakes except for the debate. Romney is far more likely to stumble, and once he stumbles he stumbles again, gets off message, and looks very unpresidential. And Obama’s press team is much better than Romney’s. Romney’s people failed to capitalize on the scope of their debate win and in fact let Obama pick up his momentum the very next morning, as if the debate had never happened. If Romney does stumble again, and he probably will, his team will not react with such efficiency. ANd to be honest, the press doesn’t like him. They’re dying for a chance to go after him again.
One of the things that so astonishes me about Obama and his debate prep team was that the election appeared to be virtually over and the only way Romney could possibly win was if Obama fucked up incredibly bad. They should have made absolutely sure–absolutely sure–that would not happen. If he tried to blow off the prep (which I think he did) they should not have allowed it to happen. This is all inexcusable.
Obama will still win…Romney’s surge will peak and things will lean Obama’s way again. I also suspect that the Obama vote is underrepresented because Obama’s voters are young and are undersampled in the polling because so many young people do not have LAN lines. This was one of the reasons that Obama’s vote share was underestimated in 2008. I also suspect that the Right screaming about Obama’s people making up the good job numbers had an effect, because of the paranoia enhancing and conspiracy credibility of the internet. You scream that shit loud enough, people believe it. The Right knew what it was doing. They knew what they were doing when the demonized Joe Biden after the veep debate too. Once that shit goes viral it begins to shift opinion. Remember the reaction to their Obamacare scare. And it took the job numbers conspiracy to get the more demented wing of the GOP fired up in the blogs and social media again, which is where you can shift opinion in days. A lie spread fast enough and some people will believe it. Not many that affect this race, but just enough of the undecided voters. Those cats aren’t the hippest people in America anyway, I mean who hasn’t already made up their minds? That is what the campaigns are working with now, the people who haven’t cared enough to decide already, and might well make their decision on the flakiest factors. Like the guy who wanted a president more like Bruce Lee. I mean what can you say? But you have to take them seriously the last two months of the campaign.
But I have to say again…Obama’s performance in the first debate is probably the single most catastrophic mistake in modern presidential election history. It was stunning, and it was entirely his own fault. And it’s no wonder that people began looking at Romney anew. Not necessarily because they think he is better, but because Obama looked so bad. You have to wonder about the hubris of a man and a campaign staff that thinks a national television audience can be blown off like that.
(Actually, the single most catastrophic mistake in modern presidential debate history was Jerry Ford emphatically declaring in a 1976 debate with Jimmy Carter that Eastern Europe was not under Soviet domination, nor would it be under a Ford Adminstration. That was weird…and handed Carter the White House.)