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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Romney by Points, Obama Still Underpresent, Candy Crowley Not the Greatest Hall Monitor

I saw President Obama still finding it difficult to sound cool and calculated without his trusted teleprompter. Romney also not captain of the debating team still did better.

obama-Romney 2

I made the mistake of letting the CNN feed linger beyond the hour and a half of the second presidential debate tonight, and so I realized, as I often do in these cases, that the folks around the discussion table and I come from alternate universes—very close, many of the same details on both my and their planet Earth, but still different universes.

They said something about the president being forceful and challenging Romney at every turn, reversing the trend, stopping the bleeding.

I saw President Obama still finding it difficult to sound cool and calculated without his trusted teleprompter. Romney is also not the captain of the debating team, but compared with his opponent he came across coherent, strong, self assured.

This has nothing to do with my opinion of which one of these two men is better suited to be president, only with their performances tonight. And I’m beginning to think a freestyle conversation, just like a structured debate, is not something President Obama is good at.

I took copious notes, so I’m ready to do the play by play to make my point, but first a note about tonight’s moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley: decidedly not Martha Raddatz. Where Raddatz was authoritative while allowing Joe Biden and Paul Ryan some moving room to make their points – Crowley was all about making sure the next Hofstra student got a chance to ask his or her question. Instead of helping the candidates, she tripped them, consistently denying both of them the chance to respond to one another’s charges.

I wanted to hear those responses, and definitely cared more about what either candidate had to say about the other’s allegations than I did about whether or not every kid on Crowley’s list got to show America how bright they were (they weren’t—you got the feeling each question was an obvious softball for one of the candidates, Romney even thanked one of them for a question that served his campaign needs, letting him massage away the 47% freeloaders thing).

Crowley was less informed, less agile, less introspective, and in the end far less effective than Raddatz. To her credit, though, she was equally annoying to both candidates, cutting them off about the same number of times when they were in the middle of saying something interesting, or just going to.

So, now, the play by play.

The first question was: How can you reassure me that I will have a job when I graduate. It brought on a minor clash between the two men over the Detroit bankruptcy. Romney said that what he meant by his “let it go bankrupt” remark was that GM and the rest of the big car makers needed to undergo a court monitored Chapter 11 procedure, and emerge prosperous in the end. He lied, of course. He meant let them drop dead–check out You Tube. Obama managed to capitalize on the opportunity and called Romney on it, developing the point into an attack on Romney’s record in business and as governor.

But even that early in the game it became obvious that no matter how good a strike Obama will get tonight, he couldn’t hit it out of the park. He ended up making the necessary argument, but his delivery was choppy, he paused to think way too frequently in mid-sentence, in a manner that almost made me lose interest in his final answer.

He reminded me of those endless debates he had with Hillary, back in 2008, when Obama just couldn’t deliver the knockout punch. It’s not his strong suit. He’s not eager enough. Maybe he’s not that kind of a fighter. He is better at jabbing for points and avoiding being knocked down. But that makes for boring television.

Both candidates were stiff and reserved on the question “Do you agree that it’s not the job of the Energy Dept. to lower gas prices.” It was a strangely phrased question, too, not dealing with the issue of whether or not gas prices were too high, but with government’s role in tweaking them.

Of course, Romney took it to the arena of gas prices being too high (up from $1.80 under Bush to $4 today – although I thought it was more like $2.50 under Bush), saying Obama cut drilling licenses on federal land. Obama explained there were too many license holders who didn’t use them, and those were eliminated. He sounded presidential for a brief moment, showing deeper knowledge than his opponent of the working of government. But he didn’t relate specifically to the actual price shifts at the pump, letting Romney win the round on points.

On tax deductions and tax credits, Romney set the record straight on his own tax policy. He will not reduce taxes on the rich and will not increase taxes on the middle class. Addressing one of the main items Democrats present as his plan, Romney was forceful in saying it ain’t so.

Obama said he cut taxes 18 times and reduced taxes by $2,500. He added that it’s Republicans in Congress who are holding the middle class hostage, until they’re allowed to to cut taxes for the top 2%.

Romney challenged him quite comfortably, avoiding any reference to the stonewalling Republican House, naturally. He promised he would bring tax rates down, emphasized that he’s not interested in cutting taxes for the rich—they will continue to pay 60% in income taxes.

No, they won’t, of course, because their teams of attorneys would make sure of that. But Romney sounded extremely confident in stating, for the record, that he didn’t have a soft spot in his heart for billionaires.

Obama said Romany’s math doesn’t add up. He challenged Romney to show specifics. How would he cut taxes and increase spending on the military, for instance, without adding deficits?

This is one of Romney’s weakest points, and so he attacked Obama’s deficits, and didn’t offer specifics on his own plan. And Obama let him get away with it. This time it wasn’t the moderator’s fault. Obama remained seated and let the opportunity go by without hitting Romney hard on his “voodoo” economics .

In what ways do you plan to rectify inequalities in the workplace for women’s pay?

This was a softball for Obama. Romney, who answered first, proceeded to talk about his record as governor, with Massachusetts hiring more women than any other state. He promised flexible hours, so mothers can keep their jobs and take care of their families (when do these women sleep?). He attacked Obama on women’s unemployment under his stewardship. Well, sure, if you have 20 million unemployed Americans, 10 million are liable to be women. But Romney scored better than his opponent on women in the workplace, and for a Republican this is found money.

Obama attacked Romney on Planned Parenthood, which Romney had said he would eliminate. Once again, the president missed out on one of his biggest advantages over Romney. Even women who plan to vote Republican are afraid of what that would do to Roe V. Wade. Planned Parenthood survived a congressional attack this year and is thriving because women across party lines support it. Republicans this election year have made countless blunders on a woman’s right to abortion and contraceptives – and Obama was unable to deliver a good blow with that one?

Romney did very well on the question of what’s the biggest difference between Romney and Bush, which was tailor-made for him. He said he agrees with Obama on the failure of the Bush administration on deficits, and said Obama is making them worse. It was almost fun to watch Romney hit that one skillfully.

Obama attacked Romney, saying his policies promote the same tax cuts that brought us from surpluses to deficits under Bush. He attacked Romney on his outsourcing to China and on investing in companies that sell surveillance equipment to China. And he said Romney is worse than Bush on social issues, because Bush wasn’t against Planned Parenthood.

Really? This is when you finally turn on the Planned Parenthood attack? Phrase “too little too late” mean anything to you?

There’s no doubt about the difference between the two candidates tonight: Romney was smoother, more fluent. Obama was choppy. It’s a matter of personal style. Obama’s attempts to interrupt Romney were halfhearted. Romney didn’t do it as many times—or so it appeared—but when he did, he was robust, his heart was definitely in it.

A Black gentleman said he voted for Obama in 2008, and asked what the president has done since to earn his vote in 2012.

Obama reviewed the highlights of his record, and it was becoming more and more obvious that he was off his mark tonight. His speech just didn’t flow, he didn’t seem confident. He came up with the facts and figures, but he continued to sound hollow, continued to fail to be excited about his own record.

Romney delivered a simple attack on Obama’s record, and it worked. He listed Obama’s failures with conviction. I didn’t think he was a lot better than his opponent, but enough to sound like the more energetic of the two.

On immigration policy, Romney said that he’s for immigration, but will not grant amnesty to illegal aliens. He attacked Obama on not enacting the laws he promised four years ago, to reform immigration policy.

Obama was hesitating on what should have been his softball to hit into the parking lot. He was good on the facts but, again, not exciting. He was good on the Romney record supporting “self immigration” and the Arizona “papers please” law, but failed to make even the most elementary Democratic plea about compassion and the lives of countless individuals who are already contributing to American society.

In this clash between two styles of speech, Romney’s continued to work better tonight.

Romney hits Obama on immigration policy. It was amazing to see him hitting the president hard on not living up to his promises on an issue that Obama should own.

Obama’s counter attack was reluctant.

Then Romney hijacked the discussion to discuss his investments—an Obama charge from half an hour earlier—saying Obama’s pension fund also invests in China. He tried to engage Obama in revealing, basically, how much money he had, to which the president answered what we all know: a lot less than Romney. Score half a point to Obama.

Obama started sounding better when he noted that Romney’s adviser on immigration is the guy who designed the “papers please” law in Arizona. But he didn’t do much more than that with this gold nugget of a talking point. It was hard to watch – like sitting in the stands watching your kid’s team losing because he or she missed a free throw…

The question “Who denied enhanced security for the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya and why?” had only one great Democratic answer, which Joe Biden delivered last week: Paul Ryan did, when he slashed $200 million for embassy security from the budget.

Obama was really bad on the Benghazi question. He tried to sound commander-in-chief like but came across underpresent. He accused Romney of being irresponsible, sending out a press release while the action was still going on. Good point, but he couldn’t in his wildest dreams connect Romney to the abysmal intelligence failure that led to the consulate quadruple murders. Hillary said earlier that half the buck stopped with her – she accepted responsibility for Benghazi but it was someone else’s fault. Obama should have said: It was Congressman Ryan’s fault. End of discussion. Because otherwise that whole affair made the Administration look awful.

Romney sympathized with the losses, ignored the press release thing altogether, and accused Obama of going to fund raisers while the action on the ground was still going on and an ambassador had just been killed. He was strong and forceful – but still no knockout.

Obama defended his record on Benghazi, and sounded injured, telling Romney it’s offensive to say he doesn’t care. These people work for him, of course he cares.

The CNN experts later said this was among those big all-time presidential debates moments. I didn’t fall off my seat. But what do I know, they could be right.

Then Obama scored a point on fact checking, when Romney challenged his statement that he called the Benghazi attack an act of terror on the first day. Candy Crowley confirms. That was a win for the president.

But when Obama told Crowley to repeat out loud that, in fact, he called it an act of terror on day one, he sounded actually angry. He suddenly appeared very much aware of the tough night he was having, and that things were not going his way.

I believe Obama only had about four really good minutes, near the end. It started with a softball question to both candidates: What do you believe is the biggest misperception that Americans have about you as a man and a candidate.

Romney lapped it up and came across great, talking about how he’s really embracing 100% (not 47%) of Americans. And added some stuff about believing in God.

Obama said he does not believe in government-created jobs, as his opponents claim he does. But he believes everybody should have a shot, and everybody should have a fare share. He then delivered the first good attack of the night, saying Romney’s behind-closed-doors 47% comment betrayed his real scorn for the elderly, the veterans, the unemploed etc.Alas, too ,little too Late. Match goes to Romney, but I don’t expect this debate to have a dramatic influence on the polls. According to a CNN/ORC International nationwide poll conducted right after Tuesday night’s debate, 46% of voters who watched said the president won, 39% said Republican nominee Mitt Romney did.

Nobody calls me from these polls…

 

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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15 Responses to “Romney by Points, Obama Still Underpresent, Candy Crowley Not the Greatest Hall Monitor”

  1. Stephen Leavitt says:

    At one point near the beginning when they were circling each other, I thought they were going to start physically punching one another, and then I thought Obama might try to bite off Romney's ear out of sheer frustration.

    The rising pitch of Obama's voice.

    When Crawly said both were right on Benghazi and the Rose Garden, the twitter world very quickly starting passing around links to the the transcript, and Romney was right.

    Obama scored talking points with his righteous indignation on Beghazi, just as he was using the deaths politically, like he claimed Romney did.

    Romney's pension question back at Obama, showed the President to be a hypocrite. He almost sidestepped it with his joke, but the point was made.

    In the last question, when asked to talk about himself, surprisingly, he was the last person he wanted to talk about, and instead spoke about Romney.

    Overall, Romney won the debate on points, but there was no knockout blows.

  2. Good analysis. Would like to challenge a couple of your conclusions. On the issue of Bengazi and security budget cutting that Biden faulted Ryan for: 1) my understanding was that the final state dept. budget had bipartisan support, with the vote 149 dems for and 147 repubs for. 2) When asked by the congressional committee recently if budget/money constraints had any influence on the decisions made regarding Bengazi security, Ms. Lamb (the lady in charge) said "No."

    On the issue of the president calling Bengazi a terror attack in the Rose Garden on September 12, he did not specifically apply those terms to Bengazi. "Acts of terror" was used in a more generic sense, and further, his and his surrogates' language in the days to follow in NO WAY blamed the events on a terror attack planned for 9/11. I invite you to go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/from-video-to-terrorist-attack-a-definitive-timeline-of-administration-statements-on-the-libya-attack/2012/09/26/86105782-0826-11e2-afff-d6c7f20a83bf_blog.html, for a timeline of statements. Obviously, anyone can excerpt portions of statements to influence their own point of view, but I think any fair-minded person who listens to or reads the entire statements of these individuals in their context will conclude that the administration for some days (if not weeks) was trying to associate the Bengazi attack with the stupid YouTube video that nobody had heard of. Why would the current administration spend $70,000 of our tax dollars to make mea culpa (we're sorry, it wasn't us) commercial to play in Pakistan? And of course, there's Susan Rice, Jay Carney, Hillary, and even the president's own statements many days after the event appearing to link what happened in Bengazi with the video. Eventually they would add, "we're still investigating."

    You've given a fairly reasonable analysis of the debate otherwise; just be fair on Bengazi, too.

  3. Terri Kleinsmith says:

    Obama said he rarely looks at his retirement account. No wonder we're in such bad financial shape. If he doesn't keep track of his money, why would he keep track of ours?

  4. Zev Guber says:

    Yori,
    Your responses are a bit glib and presumptive. You totally miss Romney lack of core values. He has suddenly become a supporter of the middle class, contraception and women, as though "binders of women" were an expression gender equality. Romney might be believable were he to acknowledge the condition of the country at the moment Obama was elected. How bad was it? The markets and banks were in free fall. There was an unfunded war, which carried VA obligations many generations forward. Maybe a bit of humility in you commentary would change the tone which might enable more worthy insight.

  5. Charlie Hall says:

    Actually, Crowley and Obama are correct, as a simple examination of the transcript shows. Furthermore, the very next day the State Department told Congress that they considered it highly likely that the attack was premeditated. The idea that the Obama administration dismissed the likelihood that the Benghazi attack wasn't random is probably the most shameless lie of the campaign so far.

  6. Charlie Hall says:

    Fail. Obama doesn't have much of a pension compared to Romney, and he doesn't have any control over his financial assets as they are all in a blind trust.

  7. Yori Yanover says:

    Zev — I'm a registered Democrat and cannot bring myself to vote Republican even if I actually agree with Romney — and I don't. I was covering a boxing match, not promoting this or that boxer. Within the context of a bout — I thought Romney was a little better.

  8. Yori Yanover says:

    Charlie — let's take a pushke and go together to pick up contributions for him for when he retires.

  9. You're wrong Charlie. In fact, even Candy Crowley herself said that "Romney was right in the main, but used the wrong word" – which still is nonsense.

    The transcript was clear – he was giving comments about 9/11 and spoke about how Americans won't be cowed by "acts of terror" then went on to say that "Today, four more Americans died" and never called that a result of terrorism.

    Obama and his admin then spent the next weeks talking about how this was caused by an internet video, even when asked point blank whether it was terrorism.

    Are you really so easily fooled by what someone says, despite the clear and obvious reality around you?

  10. Yori, that's sad for you. Obama has been a disaster. As a Jew you should know better.

  11. Charlie – FAIL: Obama has a bigger pension that Romney:

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/49450057

  12. Florida is now a Romney state in most of the polls. This could only happen with significant numbers of Jews supporting Romney over Obama. A trend may be developing with Romney receiving a lot more Jewish votes than any poll has indicated.

  13. Everyone needs to get out the vote for Romney, especially in the swing states. If you live in NY, CA , or any other non-swing state, do everything in your power to help Romney win in the swing states! Victory is insight, but your help is crucial to Romney's and America's victory!

  14. Dave Francis says:

    Illegal aliens are being given our jobs, when there is still suffering from 24 million Americans without work? They smuggle their unborn babies into the country, so that taxpayers are forced to cover their every monetary need? Neither the Democrats nor Republicans will pass the “Legal Workforce Act or the “Birthright Citizenship Bill” to stop either travesty. Join your local TEA PARTY of the rising 41 million Americans or Legal Residents and they will not only get these laws passed, but halt the illegal immigration once and for all. The TEA PARTY is being absorbed into the Republican Party, with the intent to alter the direction that both corrupt parties are taken us? The TEA PARTY “The Peoples Party” can no longer sit by and watch the Democrats spending our hard-earned dollars to support the illegal alien invasion; placing official obstacles to halt energy companies drilling for oil on the “Peoples Lands”.

    Closing down coal mines in Virginia, after the companies spending millions of dollars to produce clean coal, while this administration allows gasoline prices to leap upwards. Learn more about the healthy agenda of the TEA PARTY at TEA PARTY.ORG. The only Americans, residents and illegal aliens who are going to collect any bounty under President Obama returning are the “Freeloaders”. The wealth people have accumulated isn’t even going to make a dent on the 16 trillion dollar meltdown, with 4 trillion placed on the backs of all of us. One thing the rich accomplish is risking everything, but in addition creates jobs, hundreds of thousands or millions of good jobs.

    In the eyes of a Liberal Progressives, an 81-year old grandma with a cardboard sign of the TEA PARTY is more lethal than a crazed terrorist zealot with a machete whose sole intent is to murder. The Obama administration will not even call these fanatics “Terrorists” or murderers, even after the Twin Towers massacre of 9/11? If the Global Communist Obama Czars were to grab America they would: Burn all American heritage books; Destroy the red, white and blue; Shred the U.S. Constitution; Defund and disband our military; Eliminate free speech; Takeaway our guns. I hope you get what I am saying here. The world is falling apart because America is falling apart. Islamic terrorists smell the weakness in Obama—and they will take advantage to strike.

    The coming year the new president could face: Crash of the dollar; Wall Street failures; Unemployment hitting astronomical highs; Work force vilification; Nuclear War in the making with Iran. The 37 Liberal communist Czars in the Obama government are determined to rip the heart out of this sovereign nation. He is already distributing Food Stamps to foreign nationals and he has already promised to pass a Comprehensive Immigration package if he wins in November. If that wasn’t enough, with the Sanctuary City in California spending 160 million dollars every two months, according to the Department of Health Services, the Liberals want to grant drivers licenses to illegal immigrants and migrants. AMERICA’S LAST RESORT IS THE TEA PARTY, BEFORE WE GIVE UP OUR FREEDOMS FOREVER.

    The Tea Party must be a positive force for America. Return decay into growth; Immorality into wholesome traditional values; Sick spiritually into Judeo/Christian values; take away our right to free choice; Political ineptness into conservative government and rid ourselves of “Political Correctness”. I have never condoned violence to change a political nightmare, but the American people are sick and tired of the Liberals destroying our freedoms. It is not beyond anybodies imagination that these political idiots at either state or municipal level, are going to be in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle? If you read the ultra Liberal-Communist-Marxist and extreme socialists Journalist and newsmen in the Huffington post, New York Post, the Los Angeles Times and other corrupted news media so you are being programmed for a new world order, that is part of Obama’s ideology. This President and his Czars were adamant in allowing the United Nations have a specialized world tax to fulfill their agenda, behind our backs.

    I do not know what the American public thinks about Donald Trump and those people classified as “Birthers”. Something is very odd about President Obama’s background, that two plus two doesn’t add up to four? Anybody who believes in the “Rule of Law” and doesn’t want to squander his/her votes on superfluous issues should read about the investigation in Hawaii, Kenya and Indonesia and read about to many fishy irregularities. Personally, I am voting as an Independent, with the emphasis on voting into Congress as many TEA PARTY LEGISLATORS AS I CAN INTO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY TO CHANGE IT AND GET RID OF ALL THE CORRUPTION IN BOTH PARTIES. Go to TEA PARTY.ORG and collect the true information about the lies mainly coming from the Obama administration. That’s all they have left after the dismal performance in 4 years, lying, as they try to promote a Socialist agenda for another 4 years.

  15. Dave Francis says:

    President Obama has promised without contradiction that if he wins the White House back, he will pass a blanket AMNESTY, a mass amnesty, a definite and negative Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will crucify the American job seekers to the majority of the 20 million or more illegal aliens. This will be unimaginable to the millions of working mums, dads who will pay for the illiterate, the people who come here illegally that taxpayers are financially supporting. Every day our hospitals are filling up with the sick people from around the world, for the price of a airline ticket or using guides to bring them through our borders. They are smuggled themselves into this land and taking advantage of our lenient laws. The U.S. courts demand we must care for every need, without ever paying one single penny into the pool.

    Unless the TEA PARTY in the very near future exerts influence on state and federal policies, America will continue to sink like the ill fated HMS Titanic in a financial disaster. Some state voters have got smarter in outing Senators and Congress man across the board, replacing them with moderate Conservatives of the TEA PARTY leadership. Our country has being crippled by additional spending by the Democrats, but what should concern us is influence of the courts, namely the U.S. federal courts. For decades now state taxpayers have been forced to pay the way for illegal alien children, because there is a badly interpreted law, which makes every child of a foreign person the right to citizenship, if they can smuggle mostly unborn babies into our country. Originally it was that slaves after the Civil War could be granted citizenship. Not that any pregnant female could enter the jurisdiction of the United States and claim citizenship for their child? The highest court has never visited this law previously and either of political parties seemingly has ever entertained to vote on an amendment, so that only the children of one valid U.S. citizen have a right to claim citizenship. This is the origin of the DREAM ACT OBAMA EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE LAW, which has been simmering in silence for many decades. The cause and effect of children/ unborn fetuses smuggled across the border or on an international flight.

    Our government does nothing about the birthright tourists, who come here and having delivered their baby here leave the country. Under the present law the child is entitled to a U.S. passport for future use. At a later date the parent or parents return with the child in tow, who is now eligible for a free education, free health and other services? At an even later date the U.S citizen can sponsor the immediate family members and this is yet another immigration issue called CHAIN Migration. This simple method of legal entry draws approximately 8.000 more people to the United States. However other than the birthright tourists as it so called, around 400 thousand pregnant women manage to wangle their way through borders or a port of entry, carrying a human seed in their body undetectable and become a massive financial cost on states and the federal government. The children grow up in America and the parents avail themselves of a child’s welfare payments, which accumulates into billions of dollars a year. This of course is the Origin of Dream Act children, which the illegal parents are entirely to blame and should be held accountable.

    Across the country the majority of states are subject to this law, costing taxpayers’ unknown numbers of dollars annually, within the estimate of 113 billion and constantly rising. The example is the county of Los Angeles as in Year-end closing 2011 figures from the Department of Public Social Services reported that over $646 million in welfare and food stamp benefits were issued to illegal alien parents for their native-born children, announced Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. The $646.2 million consisted of $258 million in CalWORKs (welfare) and $388 million in Food Stamps) — a $21 million increase over the previous year. “With the $550 million for public safety and nearly $500 million for healthcare, the total cost for illegal aliens to this one County taxpayer exceeds $1.6 billion dollars a year,” said Antonovich. “These costs do not include the hundreds of millions of dollars for education.” Even with these billions of dollars staring in the face of an America drained by the poverty stricken from other countries, the city council has given the go-ahead for driver’s licenses for people who criminally entered America and now collecting free health care, free education for their children and Section 8 cheap housing.

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