Green Room

Thoughts on the Recent Presidential Debate, and the Real Reason Why Obama Lost to Romney

posted at 2:22 am on October 7, 2012 by

Redstate blogger Loren Heal once made the excellent point that “everyone knows something that isn’t true”. In other words, everyone has, at at least one point in their lives, believed–nay, knew–something to be true that was actually 100% false. In fact, throughout history, it has not at all been uncommon for large swaths of certain populations to “know” something to be true that was really false. For example, in the Middle Ages, everyone knew that the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth until Christopher Columbus and Galileo set them straight. Puritans knew that if you dunked a woman in a pond and she floated, then she wasn’t a witch. Most small children believe in Santa Claus, and a lot of political activists act like children and petulantly hold on to ridiculous beliefs long after they’ve been debunked (see birthers and 9/11 truthers as exhibit A).

And now, most importantly, everyone in the MSM and most supporters of President Obama believed in two universally known truths: that Obama is a “great debater” and that “Mitt Romney is a bumbling idiot who hates poor people”. However, both of these “known truths” turned out to be egregiously false.

Let’s take the first “known truth” that President Obama is a “great debater”. As Jonah Goldberg recently pointed out, “Obama is the single most overrated politician of my lifetime”. Yes, Obama is a good orator, but he has never been a good debater.

Did any of you watch the 2008 Democratic primary debates? I watched all of them (I know, it sounds a little embarrassing). Obama consistently lost to Hillary Clinton in debate after debate; but, predictably after every debate, Obama’s lackeys on CNN and MSNBC would declare Obama the winner even though Hillary had just cleaned his clock. (It was as if black was white and up was down to those people–ironically, only Fox News covered the Democratic debates honestly and would declare Hillary the winner.) Now, even though Hillary would usually defeat Obama in the primary debates, she never really went for the jugular in most of the debates because she was probably terrified that the liberal media would call her a “racist”, just like they did her husband and anyone else who dared to criticize Obama.

However, by April of 2008–after twenty debates–Hillary finally realized that the liberal MSM was NEVER going to give her a fair shake and that they clearly wanted Obama to win. (As Robert Stacy McCain succinctly put it, their basic attitude towards her was, “Hey, lady, why don’t you quit already?”) So therefore, Hillary decided to unleash hell on Obama in the Pennsylvania debate (which was the twenty first debate). Also, Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos finally–after twenty debates–got up the nerve to ask Obama about Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers (you know, two real truths, not “known truths”). In response, Obama got a “You can’t ask me that!” look on his face, and then took his ball and went home by flat-out refusing to participate in anymore debates. Oh, but not before his buddies from the MSM and the JounoList (a group of 400 or so “objective journalists” who were secretly using their columns to campaign for Obama) wrote a strongly worded letter to ABC complaining about Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, and implied that their questions were racist.

Now, I ask you, would a truly great debater feel that he needed that much protection and shielding by his lackeys in the press? Highly doubtful.

Furthermore, many conservatives feel that John McCain (who was a decent debater during the Republican primaries) basically threw Obama softballs during their debates because, after the financial meltdown, McCain knew that he was going to lose the election so he figured that it wasn’t worth having the media hate him as well, or label him as a “racist” on his way out the door.

So, in a nutshell, there you have it. A false “known truth” that Obama is “a great debater” was created by a press that was colluding for him–all the while, Mitt Romney has had the press, literally, colluding against him. Since April of 2008, President Obama hasn’t really faced a truly assertive and engaged debate partner, or had his assertions strongly challenged in any way….that was until he walked onto the stage with Mitt Romney and had no JournoList members or liberal MSM lackeys to bail him out. However, liberals on cable news have already started blaming Jim Lehrer and his relaxed format for Obama’s defeat. (See a pattern here?) However, I seriously doubt that any of them will actually write Jim Lehrer a letter calling him a racist….that’s a card you can only play once, if at all.

Now, onto debunking the second “known truth” that “Mitt Romney is a bumbling idiot who hates poor people”.

It is a clear fact that the MSM has gone out of their way to portray Mitt Romney as a bumbling idiot who hates poor people. Don’t believe me? Well, just watch any cable news show that isn’t on Fox (and even some on Fox), or read any column about Romney written by a liberal pundit and you will see what I’m talking about. In fact, SNL recently had a cold opening where the actor playing President Obama basically said “things are really bad and I should lose, but look at this moron I’m running against.” (See the embed below.) Oh, and if SNL runs with a particular theme, that means that it is now part of the zeitgeist and is officially and accepted as a “known truth”.

Furthermore, SNL even had a skit where an actor playing Mitt Romney was singing in the shower about how much he hated poor people and how “poor people hate getting jobs”.

Well, people are entitled to their opinions–or “known truths” if you will–but not their own facts. So, without much ado, here are some real facts about Mitt Romney: he is a successful businessman who is worth around a quarter of a billion dollars, he was a successful governor of MA (and had the number one education rate in the country), he rescued the Salt Lake City Olympics, and he is WAY more accomplished than Barack Obama was when he first ran for president. In other words, it would be close to impossible for a stupid person/bumbling idiot to accomplish what Mitt Romney has throughout his life.

Second of all, did any of you watch the Republican primary debates this past spring? I watched all of them (I know, another kind of embarrassing admission) and I found Mitt Romney’s debate performances to be extremely impressive. In fact, most pundits freely admitted that Romney usually won most of the debates–and even when he didn’t out-right win, he never gave a weak performance. Not to mention, Romney was able to give consistently strong debate performances with seven or eight people on the stage going after him at once, whereas Obama wasn’t even able to consistently hold his own against just Hillary. Therefore, this assumption that Obama was destined to beat Romney in the first Presidential debate was totally detached from reality.

And lastly, John Hawkins wrote an excellent, well-researched article that demonstrated the fact that Mitt Romney has given a great amount of money–and most importantly, a lot of his time–trying to help poor or needy people. So, again, this “known truth” that “Mitt Romney is a bumbling idiot who hates poor people” was created in fantasy land.

Now, here’s the rub with regard to Obama and his campaign believing the “known truths” that Obama is “a brilliant debater” and “Mitt Romney is a bumbling idiot who hates poor people” (Obama once told a reporter, “You know, I actually believe my own bulls**t.”)–eventually you run into a wall called “reality”. And, that’s exactly what happened to Barack Obama when he walked out on that stage with Mitt Romney last Wednesday night. Charles Krauthammer sums up the problem with Obama’s strategy of demonizing Romney perfectly when he wrote the following:

He pulled off a tactical coup by coming right out of the box to undo millions of dollars’ worth of negative ads that painted him, personally, as Gordon Gekko — rapacious vulture capitalist who doesn’t just lay off steelworkers but kills their wives — and, politically, as intent on raising taxes on the middle class while lowering them for the rich.

The Romney campaign had let these ads go largely unanswered. But a “kill Romney” strategy can only work until people get to see Romney themselves. On Wednesday night, they did. Regarding the character assassination, all Romney really had to do was walk out with no horns on his head. Confident, smiling and nonthreatening, he didn’t look like a man who enjoys killing the wives of laid-off steelworkers.

Yes, reality….well she is indeed a harsh mistress. She will pop your faulty preconceived notions/”known truths” just like a needle does to a balloon. Every pundit and their mother has been on TV the last couple of days whining about how “unprepared” Obama was. But hey, who would take the time to prepare to debate a “bumbling idiot”–especially if everyone you know tells you what a “great debater” you are (whether you really are or not)?

The real problem isn’t that Obama “didn’t prepare enough”, or that “Romney cheated” (rolls eyes)–the real problem is that Obama believed his own press. That, and reality finally caught up to him (she will catch up to you eventually). Michael Barone hit it out of the park when he wrote the following:

The mainstream media has been playing protective guard around him for the last five or six years. He has seldom faced tough questioning, having managed to avoid open press conferences (as I recall) since last June. And of course mainstream media is extremely unanxious to ask him embarrassing questions about a whole host of issues. To his credit, moderator Jim Lehrer didn’t zero in on these things but didn’t prevent the interaction between the candidates from raising such questions.

Obama suffered tonight from his lack of scrutiny from mainstream media. As I like to say, there is nothing free in politics, but there is some question about when you pay the price. In this first debate Obama paid the price for the hands-off treatment he has received from mainstream media. His talking points, advanced by his spokesmen in the confidence that they will not be seriously challenged, were refuted by an energized and articulated and well-informed Mitt Romney. He stood there petulantly and pathetically, nonplussed by the fact that his flimsy talking points were effectively challenged.

Last Wednesday night, Obama and his campaign finally “paid the price” for believing in falsehoods that had no actual basis in reality.

In conclusion, please allow me to put it this way–no one still believes that the earth is flat, no one still believes that the sun revolves around the earth, and no one with half a brain still believes that Mitt Romney is a “bumbling idiot” or that Barack Obama is a “great debater”….not anymore.

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Nice, and all very true. I would just add two other things:

He’s not a very good debater in part because he’s petulant and thin-skinned, and to paraphrase John Wayne from El Dorado, “The more thin-skinned he is, the better I like it.”

Worse, in addition to not being very quick on his feet, he’s not a very original or deep thinker. He has simply memorized a litany of liberal cliches, and when those cliches have to be used in different or novel way, he is at complete loss. Pull a lever and you get a cliche, but that’s all there is. Hence, the reason his speeches are so dependent on the teleprompter.

He continues to believe he is a superior intellect when almost nothing supports that view. (If Tribe at Harvard or Edley at Berkeley have evidence that he’s genuinely a gifted intellect, let’s see it.) Of all the liberal press that he believes, this is probably the most unforgiving reality.

EastofEden on October 7, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Thanks so much for the kind words and the great insights. Your points about the president being thin-skinned and not quick on his feet without a teleprompter (and that most of his speeches/debate performances are full of liberal cliche’s) are excellent.

Again, I always appreciate it when my readers provide well-thought out insights.

Take care, and have a nice Sunday. 🙂

Sincerely, Susannah

Susannah Fleetwood on October 7, 2012 at 11:39 AM


What you wrote about was pretty much a systematic failure as opposed to a one night disaster. Obama didn’t fail at one level, he failed at all levels, and the failure was not at the surface but rooted in the very system that comprises the person and his support.

The only way to overcome a systematic failure is to change the system. One can gloss over it, but if it is stressed hard enough, the breakdown will occur again naturally.


How do you view the upcoming debates? Do you think that Obama can paper over his deficiencies sufficiently enough to get him through the two events? Or do you think that his failures run so deeply that it has gone beyond his control and the next two debates will go at least somewhat poorly for him?

JackBurtonJr on October 7, 2012 at 12:28 PM


I think that if President Obama and his team are truly honest with themselves about Obama’s obvious shortcomings (one being that he is, in all honesty, a weak debater), then they can probably get the President to up his game a bit. Obama is an intelligent man, so I’m sure that he could learn to perform somewhat better (or less embarrassingly so) if he practiced and prepared really hard.

However, as far as actually performing really well–or well enough to consistently beat Romney (someone who is already a really good debater & who has been preparing hard for years), well I just don’t see that happening. A reasonably intelligent person can learn to appear more coherent and knowledgeable (instead of asleep at the switch) with some intense practice sessions; however, really mastering a new skill (like the art of debating well) takes years of practice.

Just my thoughts. Take care, and thanks so much for your highly interesting (and well thought out) insights! Have a nice Sunday. 🙂

Sincerely, Susannah

Susannah Fleetwood on October 7, 2012 at 1:23 PM

I caught a lot, but not all, of the debate. The most glaring thing to me was the President’s attitude. It wasn’t even so much what and how he said things but how he looked and his body language. He can practice all day everyday until the next debate but if he doesn’t check his attitude he won’t come off well.
The other thing I noticed, at least in the parts I saw, was that Jim Leher seemed to be reasonably unbiased. He just asked questions without the rambling spin that I’ve seen other moderators add before the question. Hopefully that trend will continue for the remaining debates. Either way, it seemed like Mitt Romney was able to get his points in even when he was cut off or not given a chance to respond to something the President said.

hopeful on October 7, 2012 at 2:27 PM


The president’s attitude has always been that way in every debate. During the 2008 Democratic primary debates he spent much of his time sighing, ummming, and looking down. The most memorable quote from all of those debate performances was the dreadful, “You’re likeable enough, Hillary”. (Cringe.) Obama acted no differently with Romney–it’s just that this time, his behavior was fully on display for the whole nation to see (oh, and it was probably made worse by the fact that he was so out of practice). In other words, I fully agree with you that this is something that his team absolutely HAS to work on with him, otherwise it won’t really matter what he says because his presentation is simply so amateurish.

Take care, and thanks for the insightful comment. 🙂

Sincerely, Susannah

Susannah Fleetwood on October 7, 2012 at 5:57 PM

The fantasy world Obama backers occupy was also exposed by their railing against Lehrer for daring to allow Romney to interrupt him – although he allowed Obama to arrogantly dismiss his time calls, and to have 4:29 more speaking time over the course of the evening, and even gave Obama hints to start his replies on three occasions.

They truly believe it is the duty of the press to protect and honor Dear Leader.

Adjoran on October 7, 2012 at 8:38 PM

Adjoran, as I indicated in my column, I strongly agree with you in that the left looks ridiculous railing about Lehrer–especially since (as you pointed out) Lehrer actually gave Obama more time than Romney!

Take care, and have a nice evening. 🙂

Sincerely, Susannah

Susannah Fleetwood on October 8, 2012 at 12:19 AM

In the next debate, I fully expect Obama to be snotty, spiteful and try to run right over the moderator (not a really hard task given that the moderator is a hard-core O supporter)in an effort to keep Romeny from getting more than a couple of words out. He’ll be so determined to “win” this debate, he will make an even bigger ass of himself than he did with the first one.

catsandbooks on October 8, 2012 at 1:08 PM

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