Monday, October 1, 2012

Discussion: Romney vs. Obama

The debates are upon us. Commentarama will be open for comments before and during the first debate. But before we get there, let's have some fun and test our prognostication skills. What will Romney do? What should Romney do? Ditto for The One. Will there be a clear winner, and if so, who will it be?

For what it's worth, here's my guess: Romney will "win" the debate. He will finally give an outline of his economic plan in an "almost finished" version. I'm wildly guessing that Obama will make the first move, touting his own "plan," and challenging Romney to come up with one that doesn't "reward the rich and impoverish the middle class." At which point, Romney will oblige him.

I don't expect any Ronald Reagan moments, and if I'm right, I hope the conservative chatterers don't continue their litany about how he should be more like Reagan. It only gives the Democrats ammunition. Ronald Reagan was unique, and we'll be very fortunate if we see another like him in our lifetimes. Romney is no Reagan, nor should he be. He has all the skills necessary to trounce Obama on the economy (which is the main theme of the first debate), but I suspect he won't inflict a mortal wound. At best, he may get a sense of what is working with the public, and what isn't.

I also predict that Romney will be largely gaffe-free. I just hope that his handlers haven't convinced him that he needs to go overboard trying to appear to be a "regular guy." Al Gore listened to that advice, and he just came off as a sighing, "earth palette" boor. If Obama tries more of his soaring, empty rhetoric, I suspect Romney will refrain from rising to the bait. He knows we need a leader, not a pompous orator, and on that basis, he is just naturally better at being human than Obama.

I just wish that Romney could find a way to mock Obama's speaking style (he probably won't). Chin jutted out, head tilted slightly upward, look to the left, look to the right, but don't make genuine eye-contact with anyone. The last time a national leader did that routine, his name was Benito Mussolini. All that's missing is the arm-folding at the end of the speechifying and the furious affirmative head-shaking.

I am also predicting that Romney will concentrate on the "misery index," though he won't call it that. Right now, the OK stock market numbers and anemic growth in GDP seem to be working in Obama's favor. Romney should (and I think he will) talk about the thing that really matters to an immense number of Americans--the unemployment figures. But he will need to talk about real people who are out of work, trying desperately to find work, and finally giving up when no work is available. That would help with his "caring" image, and at the same time take some of the edge off his 47% misstep.

I suspect that he will also go heavily into what he will do to get big government out of the way of business recovery, allowing small and medium-size businesses to start hiring those real people again. He should avoid statistics as much as possible, as devastating as they are. The average Joe just really doesn't comprehend those statistics, and it tends to make Romney look wooden and wonkish (which is what we actually need, but doesn't win hearts or elections).

He will bring up Obamacare as the biggest boondoggle in American economic history, but how much he will go into repair/repeal is beyond my current gift of prophecy. He will point out the unsustainable rate at which Obama has put us farther and farther into debt and deficit, and with a little luck, will make the message clear that all the talk about this being Bush's fault is just nonsense. Bonus points for him if he mocks Obama's claim that he is only "10% responsible" for the present and future economic malaise and debts.

I won't hazard a guess as to what it will be, but some time during the debate, Obama will tell at least one clear and easily-refuted lie. I hope Romney is prepared to go on the attack, rather than say something like "I disagree with the president on that issue."

Finally, even though the theme is the economy, I do believe that some time during the debate, one of the two is going to bring up the dangers of what is going on in the Middle East. It may be foreign policy, but it is having and will continue to have a serious effect on the American economy. Romney needs to have a Kennedy-like moment of "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty." That would show our support for Israel without actually referring to the specifics or getting into a debate over who likes Benjamin Netanyahu and who doesn't.

I don't expect any huge surprises, and I expect Romney to look intelligent and statesmanlike. I expect Obama to stick largely to his scripted talking points, look like what he thinks a president should look like (after all, he isn't really a president, he just plays one on TV), and stutter if he has to go slightly off-script. It's a tossup as to which accent Obama will use--crypto-Harvard or Possum Holler.

Your predictions? Your thoughts? Your comments?

Note: I will once again be in Bakersfield in the morning and early afternoon, with no computer access. I'm excited to see what you all think, so I will get back online as early as I possibly can.

13 comments:

rlaWTX said...

I like your plan for Romney's debate. I hope that his advisers are up-to-date on their Commentarama... :)

I doubt that the MSM will say that Romney "won" even if it so beyond clear that he did so. I hope that he is ready and willing to slap back when slapped, inevitably, by TOTUS.
I don't remember the '08 debates - was TOTUS able to stay on point without his wordy friend telling him what to say?

I want to watch because I want to know what happens, but I don't want to listen to TOTUS' droning or the biased moderator/questions. I have clients Wed pm (YAY Practicum), so I'll be home just after the fun starts... we'll see if my mental health is strong enough at that point.

T-Rav said...

I think Romney ought to utterly hammer Obama on two things. 1) The statistics of how badly the middle class has suffered and lost ground during the past four years. 2) The emptiness and idiocy of electing a man because he doesn't seem like a blue-blood square. "Do you care more about whether you'd like to sit down and have a beer with your President, or whether your safety and prosperity will be improved by that President?" That, in effect, is what he should say and keep saying.

In connection with this, I think it's necessary for Romney to start saying more about what he would specifically do as President to fix the economy. I realize why they've been keeping it mainly in terms of broad policy goals, but he really needs to make the case for why his plans are better than Obama's for turning things around, and to do that, he has to lay out what those plans are.

Joel Farnham said...

All Romney has to do is put the scowl on Obama's face and keep it there. I predict that after a few questions, Romney will score one or two points on Obama and for the rest of the evening, the cameras will attempt to stay on Romney. The reason is Obama will have a scowl. Scowling Obama = Bad Optics. It will more face time for Romney than Obama.

As for zingers, I am sure there is a website on the Internet producing zingers for Romney. I also think Obama has a few of his own despite his saying he won't use zingers.

Tennessee Jed said...

A very strong plan.I agree with rlaWTX that the legacy media will say at least a draw for B.O., and Chris Matthews will embarrass himself AND use "home run" in conjunction with lotus.

I think Romney ought to be able to pound Obama on his lies and mis-statements, and broken promises.

T-Rav said...

A comment so nice, Jed had to say it twice! :-)

They say Romney's going to be relying heavily on zingers during the debate. I hope there's more to it than that.

rlaWTX said...

T-Rav: I wonder if "they say" are the same ones saying "he could still win, if only"...

AndrewPrice said...

I have no idea how the debate will turn out. I hope Romney is aggressive, but we'll see. We'll be covering it on Wednesday though!

Individualist said...

Well this one will be moderated by Jim Lehrer so I guess we will get questions that are aimed to sound fair and open but will mostly be asked in a way to support the meme's currently being spouted out by the MSM. There will probably be a question for Romney asking him if he is worried the polls show him losing.

but I am not worried about this Romney is able to handle these questions and turn it around on the moderator. I doubt that Obama will be asked any questions that matter.

We won't hear about Solyndra, the bailouts (except with the assumption they saved us).

We may hear Lehrer question him about the stimulus but that will be guarded so as not to offend the people at PBS.

I almost don't want to watch it because I am certain no real questions will be asked.

IF they wanted a real debate they'd have the questions asked by Hannity and Bob Beckel. That would certainly create challenging questions for both sides.

Individualist said...

So what are the politics of Candy Crowley (she moderates the townhall debate).

She came from NBC to CNN so I am guessing to the left of Hugo Chavez......

Every one of these debate moderators is works for liberal MSM organizations and if they are Republican it is probably in name only....

That God for Univision, by virtue of being "hispanic" the MSM can't attack them for actually asking tough questions of Obama.

T-Rav said...

rla, no, these are some bloggers who've gotten leaks, or at least that's how it seems. So this would appear to be indirectly from the Romney people.

On a related note, why are campaign staffs so perpetually stupid?

rlaWTX said...

T-Rav: I think campaign staffs, at the lower echelons, often attract idealists (no grey areas) and those who do not need an income on which to eat. At the upper levels, they attract those who were once one of those 2, are professional staffers, or are a friend of the candidate. None of these 4 categories of people are any smarter than any other group. Therefore, you have the good, the bad, and the ugly (ugly = talks too much, usually out of turn and to the wrong person)...

BevfromNYC said...

I am too nervous to speculate. I think both will look over-rehearsed. Romney just needs to be confident in what he believes and clear in his objectives. Reagan was great because he was both...as they say - Romney needs to be Romney. He doesn't need to be a buddy or a friend or anyone who you'd want to have a beer with. He needs to be clear and confident and Presidential.

But whatever he does, Obama will be touted as better by the MSM...just wait.

T-Rav said...

rla, I got involved because I was an idealist. Does that put me in the "good" category? <:-)

I think that's probably right; I also think (and this is merely from my own observations) that the longer you're part of a campaign staff, the more the idealism wears off and you start to get involved in personal politics and sealed off from the rest of the world. Kind of like academia, only with an actual impact on stuff.

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