We should be used to the “setting expectations game” by now, but during this week’s round of Sunday shows, Robert Gibbs may have taken the art form to a new, amateurish low. Referring to the upcoming presidential debates in October, the Mouthpiece-in-Chief prepared the nation for Obama’s verbal defeat at the hands of the much more experienced Mitt Romney.
“Mitt Romney I think has an advantage because he’s been through 20 of these debates in the primaries over the last year,” the former White House press secretary said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Romney, Gibbs said, “even bragged that he was declared the winner in 16 of those debates. So I think in that sense having been through this much more recently than President Obama, I think he starts with an advantage.”
Because even as wonderful as President Obama is in all things, the one thing he’s not really good at is, you know… talking.
Shortly after that, Bill Clinton appeared with Bob Scheifer on Face the Nation and, when asked how he thought Obama was doing in the election, said, “even if the debates are a draw, we should be OK.” (No link to video yet.)
What we’re seeing here is a pattern of painting Romney as some sort of Goliath of the debate stage, with Barack Obama as David, valiantly struggling to stand up for the little guy. This fits in well with the populist struggle that Obama’s team is trying to portray, and also builds in a bit of an insurance policy in case Mitt catches the President flat footed on questions of the economy, jobs and the Middle East.
But that’s never the deciding factor anyway. It all comes down to the moderators who, unfortunately, set the starting point for each exchange. And Mitt doesn’t have a history of simply smacking down the moderators when they go grossly out of bounds the way Gingrich does. And what will the questions be… at least the ones which will comprise the thirty second sound bites that come out of these shows?
Who here thinks it will take more than three questions for the phrase “47 percent” to pop up?