Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Presidential Debate Viewer's Guide

[Apologies for the lack of postings; we've been swamped with other work]

After watching the debates in several president election cycles, certain trends and predictable outcomes become evident. With that in mind, here is a viewer’s guide for the presidential debates between Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the two debates to follow and also generally applicable to the upcoming vice presidential debate between VP Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan. This guide will be supplemented as events warrant.

The presidential debates are scheduled for tonight, October 16, and  October 22, and the vice presidential debate is October 11. Apart from the Town Hall format on October 16, apparently each debate moderator will apparently serve as the sole questioner, unlike some of the previous presidential debates where a panel of journalists posed the questions.
Admittedly past performance does not guarantee future results, and your mileage my vary as they say.

Given that the debate moderators, as usual, are from the conventional Beltway liberal media, however, these prognostications are more likely to be accurate than not . Moreover, a significant portion of the questions will be posed in the form of accusations at least when directed to Romney (or Ryan).

Warning: If you are going to do any drinking games -- which are not recommended by any means -- remember to drink responsibly, and never drink and drive.

Camera wise: In the televised debate format, Democrats have been traditionally much more savvy about making eye contact with the American people. Republicans in general foolishly try to make eye contact with the moderator or panelists, who are really irrelevant.  Based on precedent, expect Obama to look directly into the camera and Romney not to, unless his handlers were smart enough to prepare him otherwise.

[Comment: Romney should say that Obama left the economy unguarded in the same way that he left the American embassy unguarded in Benghazi, Libya.]

Buzzwords: Watch for multiple mentions of “tax cuts for the rich,” “working families” (which in realty usually means non-working families), “paying their fair share,” and referring to the American people as “folks.” Dishonorable mention: "let's be clear," the economy “was in a ditch,” “millionaires and billionaires,” and "fiscal cliff."

47% guaranteed: It’s a given and appropriate that the moderators will press Romney on his controversial and ill-advised “47%” comments. The moderators will not press Obama, however, on comments about redistributing income, that entrepreneurs didn’t build their businesses, or that small-town voters are “bitter clingers," or the recently released 2007 speech.

Good  government: The moderators will proceed on the assumption that all government programs at face value are valid and effective (despite rampant waste and fraud and that many are counterproductive) and try to put the pressure on anyone (guess who?) who wants to even incrementally reign in out-of-control government spending.

At least one of the moderators or Obama himself will accuse Romney of having no foreign policy experience even though Obama in 2008 had neither foreign policy nor domestic policy experience and to this day has no business experience.

Gaff-tastic: A gaffe by Romney will be huge news. A gaffe by Obama will be downplayed.

Dog eat dog: Expect at least one reference to Romney putting his dog on the roof of his car. Expect no references to Obama eating dog (which he admitted to in his autobiography).

Big issues: Based on their questioning, the moderators will assume that the two of the issues keeping voters up at night are same-sex marriage and abortion rather than the economy and unemployment. With that in mind, at least one moderator will badger Romney about his pro-life views but will not question Obama for his support of “partial-birth” abortion.
Crazy supporters:  The moderators will also badger Romney about Todd Akin’s idiotic, insane statements but won’t ask Obama about any of the equally crazy things that his supporters have said.

Timing: The moderators will interrupt Romney when he runs over the time limit to answer a question. The moderators will not interrupt Obama when he runs over the time limit to answer a question.

Townies: The audience will likely be loaded with Obama supporters, especially in the Town Hall format. With regard to the latter, virtually all the audience questions in the Town Hall will be posed by individuals who are facing real or imagined hardships and believe that only a government handout provides a solution to their problems. It will be revealed later that at least one of the questioners was a plant  from the Obama campaign.

Getting personal: The moderators will pose potentially embarrassing or tacky questions to Romney about his background, personal wealth, or religion. No such questions will be posed to Obama.

 In touch: At least one of the moderators will accuse Romney of being out of touch with ordinary Americans. No moderator will ask Obama if he is out of touch with ordinary Americans even though he flies around from one celebrity fundraiser to another on a military jet and has played more golf than any U.S. president in history even during national or international crises.

Flop sweat: At least one of the moderators will ask Romney about flip-flopping on issues but will not ask Obama about flip-flopping on issues even though both men have done the same.

Outsourcing: Bain Capital, Romney’s former company, will come up in the context of outsourcing jobs overseas. It will be up to Romney to bring up that the Obama administration has given millions of taxpayer dollars or loan guarantees to politically connected companies that have outsourced jobs overseas.

That’s nice: At least one of the moderators will insist each candidate say something nice about the other. Awkward and a complete waste of precious debate time.

The winner is...: It’s a given that Obama is much more skilled debater than Romney. If Obama does well in any or all of the three debates, even narrowly, the mainstream media will deem it a clear win for Obama and that the election is over, etc. If Romney does well in any or all of the three presidential debates, the headlines from the mainstream media the next morning (or that night) will declare the debate to be a “draw.” Romney will also be determined by most so-called reporters to be either too negative or not aggressive enough.

Fact-checkers: Leftwing fact check groups will be tweeting like there is no tomorrow even time Romney "lies." A lie is defined these days as a political disagreement. Rightwing groups are more even-handed, in part because many of them are lukewarm on Romney in the first place and examine the facts rather than engaging in spin. Guess which fact-checking organizations will get the most attention from the mainstream media.