THE TRUTH CLINIC: Will style or substance elect America’s next president?

By James Breedlove

If the first presidential debate is any indicator it appears that the Nov. 6 election will be decided by style points and not issue substance.

A CNN headline blared, “Post Debate CNN Poll Has Romney With Landslide Win Over Obama 67% to 25%.”

After reviewing the debate tape there is no doubt that Governor Mitt Romney was more aggressive and stayed on the offensive as he continuously bulldozed over Moderator Jim Lehrer to attack President Barack Obama’s performance over the past four years. Governor Romney definitely outdebated President Obama.

Clyde Prestowitz, a recognized expert on globalization, economic competitiveness and author of Betrayal of American Prosperity stated that, “Romney had more energy, spoke more fluently, had better zingers, was more focused, seemed to have a better understanding of the issues and a better grasp of facts, showed more empathy with the voters and demonstrated a better sense of humor.

Obama looked and acted as if he really wanted to be someplace else — maybe celebrating his wedding anniversary. His delivery was hesitant and halting. He got bogged down in minutiae, never hit any of Romney’s weak points, presented no compelling vision for a second term and made claims that could easily be shown to be factually fuzzy. “

The president’s lackluster performance has had pundits, prognosticators, presidential historians, and baffled Obamaites scurrying to explain what-happened-to-Obama?

The urgency to unravel the unprecedented Obama debate debacle has produced a long list of unverified speculations that range from Al Gore’s theory that the president was adversely impacted by being exposed to the rarified air in Denver to Dr. Michael Eric Dyson’s supposition that the president did not get up in Governor Romney’s face for fear that his white constituency might perceive him to be “an angry Black Man” and therefore, a “dangerous Black Man.”

These are the kind of “tongue in cheek” (I’m assuming) assertions that have provided the talk shows, social media, and a confused public with fodder to keep the debate on the hot topic list.

However, considering the tremendous issues at stake Americans need to pause and decide if they can afford to select their president based on a candidates showmanship at a single debate?

At the beginning of the debate Moderator Jim Lehrer stated that he had selected questions that addressed the economy, jobs, the deficit, healthcare, the role of government and governing.  Each discussion topic was allocated 15 minutes.

The debaters went over the time limit on the first question, covered topics out of order, and for all intents prevented the moderator from controlling any aspect of the debate,  As a result it was difficult to ascertain if questions were answered and especially how would the economy be energized, jobs created, and government controlled.

The instant post-debate poll found that Obama’s 7 percentage point lead over Romney had narrowed to 5 percentage points, 48 percent to 43 percent.  The online poll surveyed 536 registered voters and had a credibility interval of 4.8 percentage points. Yet dedicated Obamaites were cringing based on this small sampling.

It became apparent during the rumble in Denver that Romney has suddenly transformed himself into a centrist who cares for the middle class, loves immigrants and will tax the rich.  He has flip-flopped on just about every position he espoused during the campaign to become the Republican nominee.

The real question between now and Nov. 6 is whether independent and undecided voters, especially the suburban women and Latino segments, will see Mitt Romney as a savvy political opportunist or a refined Bain scammer who is simply elevating his corporate raider concept to the public treasury.  Is he no longer the no-tax Grover Norquist owned conservative that he was during the primaries?

On the other hand we do know that Obama has been consistent in his efforts to protect and preserve the middle class in spite of the unmitigated opposition of the Republicans.  Why he did not use the obvious counter arguments in the debate is still the big mystery.

He has consistently used key points of differentiation in his campaign stops such as saving the auto industry and its hundreds of thousands of jobs, the elderly Medicare voucher scheme, the no pre-existing conditions position, and the 47 percent moocher attitude.  He is an arduous campaigner and did a good job of debating in the 2008 election cycle.  Could it just possibly be that his pitiful performance at the first debate is part of a well-conceived plan?  One thing we know for sure.  The President does not telegraph his knockout punches.

Obama and Romney have two more debates before the election.  While the debates are nothing more than shame entertainment that should be relegated to the professional entertainers (John Stewart and Bill O’Reilly) they have become part of the election game.

Therefore, the Obama team needs to show up prepared to play the game better on Oct. 16 and Oct. 22 even though the President did not appear to suffer any permanent damage from his lackluster showing in the first debate.

Comments or opinions may be sent to the writer at: www.jaydubub@swbell.net.

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