Is Romney Smarter, Better Informed, and More Spontaneously Eloquent Than the President?
Peter Lawler is Dana Professor of Government and former chair of the department of Government and International Studies at Berry College. He serves as executive editor of the journal Perspectives on Political Science, and has been chair of the politics and literature section of the American Political Science Association. He also served on the editorial board of the new bilingual critical edition of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, and serves on the editorial boards of several journals. He has written or edited fifteen books and over 200 articles and chapters in a wide variety of venues. He was the 2007 winner of the Weaver Prize in Scholarly Letters.\r\n\r\nLawler served on President Bush's Council on Bioethics from 2004 – 09. His most recent book, Modern and American Dignity, is available from ISI Books.\r\n\r\nFollow him on Twitter @peteralawler.
Well, if all you had to go by is tonight's debate, you'd have to say yes.
Romney's presentations were clearer, tighter, more incisive, more eloquent, more factually detailed, and more savvy and nimble than those of the president. He certainly didn't looked stiff or overprogrammed, and he had the confidence of a leader. It seemed he was really enjoying himself.
Bill Maher on Obama's performance: "I hate to say it, but he's looking like he really does need a teleprompter." The president's comments were often halting, vague, somewhat inarticulate, and distracted and perfunctory. Even his closing statement was flat and pretty empty.
I'll leave it to others to flesh out the details. But even MSBNC's Chris Matthews admitted than Romney won big, as did famous Obamaite bloggers such as Andrew Sullivan. I'll add, of course, the verdict of the registered voters in the CNN poll: Romney won 67% to 25%.
Here's THE HUGE HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS DEBATE: This is, as far as I'm concerned, the first time a Republican presidential candidate decisively won a debate according to the objective standards by which any expert would judge a debate.
The last and only other time a Republican might have won by any such standard was Reagan over Carter in 1980. In that case, the victory, if there was one, wasn't overwhelming. And it was more that Carter stumbled than Reagan was all that impressive.
No Bush ever won a debate by such a standard, although Bush the younger benefited from the quirky, "issue-laden" behavior of Gore and Kerry.
Nixon, Ford, McCain, and Dole were, on balance, hurt by their debating. Reagan's second debate against Mondale was a vast improvement over his first one (which was full of "senior moments"), but his performance was hardly dominating.
This debate record has caused Democrats to believe that they have plenty of evidence that Democrats are smarter, more eloquent, and more competent than Republicans, and when Republicans win elections, it's because other, less relevant factors come into play.
But, you know, it might really be true that Romney is really smart and really capable. The president is going to have to really hustle to be his match next time.
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- He talks about how some writers can overdo it by adding too much research, or worse, straying from their outline for too long.
- James' latest book, The President is Missing, co-written with former President Bill Clinton, is out now.
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It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.
- The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
- The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
- Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
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