By Teresa Welsh |
As a part-time college professor, I saw some of my students in the two presidential debates. Barack Obama slept through the first debate and Mitt Romney didn't do his homework before the second.
Tuesday night's presidential debate gave the phrase "enemy combatants" a whole new meaning. The first debate was a one-sided contest with Romney the only contestant to throw any punches. This time, the president gave it as good as he's got. Republicans often complain that the president practices Chicago-style politics—nothing could be further from the truth. Rahm Emanuel, the poster boy for Chicago-style politics and current mayor of the Windy City, must have been embarrassed by the listless performance of his former boss in the first debate. The president's nature, as he has been demonstrated throughout his first term, is to avoid confrontation and stay above the fray. But last night the president parried his opponent's blows and even took the offensive against the GOP nominee. Voters figure that if a president can't stand up for himself, he'll never be able to stand against the Iranians. Obama won last night because he did what Americans think the president should do: stand up and fight for what he believes. The other thing that the president wanted was a headline like this: "Obama fights back" from NBC News' First Read on Wednesday morning.
Before he escaped from captivity, Romney's dog Seamus must have eaten his homework. Normally journalists give politicians a lot of wiggle room when candidates "misspeak". But the former Massachusetts moderate and current conservative made a charge that was so egregiously wrong that the moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley, intervened to say that the president had spoken of and against terrorism in his White House statement the day after the our ambassador to Libya was murdered. Americans expect candidates to "embellish" the truth but Americans do want politicians to know what the truth is. Romney failed that test last night. When you get such a basic fact wrong, it undermines the credibility of all your statements. This mistake also wasted a good opportunity Romney had to beat up the president on his handling of the murders. And finally the flub also raises the question of whether or not the Republican candidate knows enough about national security issues to be an effective commander in chief.
The storyline going into the second debate was whether the president would bounce back from his first debate debacle and strongly refute Romney's charges. The answer is yes. The storyline going into next week's debate on foreign policy is whether Romney has the background and experience to be the leader of the free world. The answer to that question is no.
About Brad Bannon President of Bannon Communications Research
Judson Phillips Founder of Tea Party Nation
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College
Lara Brown Assistant Professor of Political Science at Villanova University