Debate Number 1

by Jeremiah Joslin

I was worried as I sat down for the first Presidential Debate of the 2012 political season.  There was Mitt Romney about to face probably the best most engaging orator in my recollection.  My concern was that no matter how dreadful his record for the last four years was, Barry would somehow make it seem like he has been on top of everything and that, as tragic as our economy is, he would insist that things are better.  I knew he would ignore the 350,000 or more jobs lost every week for the last 48 months or the 23 million people out of work and point to the 5 million jobs HE created.   I knew that somewhere along the line he would proudly talk about the growth in oil and natural gas production that took place during his administration.  I knew that Barry was good.  I knew that when he spoke people listened.  I knew that people often didn’t hear what he said.  They only responded to how he said it.  After all, we all know and the media has always said BHO was good at presentation.  They all said that Barry was the best ever at delivering a speech. 

Then there was Mitt.  I always thought he was a really smart guy who just couldn’t get his message across.  I understood him because I am an economist, but it’s not me he has to reach.  He was always the guy who knew what was wrong but always spoke as though he was on the outside looking in and not fully engaged with the people or engaging in his delivery.  Sometimes he said things poorly and spent wasteful time clarifying positions.  We all knew his history and what he’s done in business, in office and in the Olympics but he has not been able to get the masses beyond the “so what” response.  Many wondered about his plans and what was in them.  I was worried for him as Jim Lehrer opened the proceedings.

Then it began.  BHO did what we all expected in his opening remarks – things aren’t rosy yet but they are getting there.  However, he was not energetic or specific.  Barry seemed like he would rather be at home watching the thing than participating in it.  Mitt, on the other hand, rose to the occasion.  He showed himself as a CEO who is willing to collaborate with all parties leading from the front.  He was energetic, engaging and concerned.  He was so steeped in the facts of the last four years.  He took BHO to task at every turn.  Respectfully, Mitt demonstrated and continually called Barry out when his facts wrong – over and over again.  Never calling him a liar, Mitt debunked reports Barry sited as support for his positions referencing subsequent reports that demonstrated that the “facts” Barry kept using were erroneous.  It was an amazing switch for Mitt.  It was Mitt who showed that BHO had nothing to do with improving oil and gas production.  It was Mitt who talked about the real unemployment numbers and the BHO-increases in taxes.  It was Mitt who took the fight directly to BHO and BHO had no response.  It was Mitt who tried to engage Barry while Barry wouldn’t even acknowledge he was being spoken to.  It was Mitt who spoke to Barry while Barry looked away or spoke to Jim Lehrer.  While Barry took notes to which he never responded, Mitt looked at him and tried repeatedly to get substantive responses.  They never came.  It was Mitt who repeatedly told Barry that he was misrepresenting facts, while Barry seemed to be completely unprepared to talk about his record.  Mitt demonstrated why he was an effective CEO – a leader.

Mitt won that debate so effectively that David Axelrod began a defense minutes after it was over.  Now, BHO’s team is talking about how Mitt was the great presenter and BHO was just a good guy doing the best he could.  What a switch, what a switch.  You go, Mitt.  Keep it up.  If you win the election, you did it on your own experience and with the ability to clarify and solve problems.  You presented you plans again and correctly said that you will not be a “take it or leave it” president like our current one.  If you don’t, well, bad on us.