My Thoughts on the Second Presidential Debate

Tim Bean

10/17/2012

 

Photo by: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

So last night was the second of the three scheduled Presidential debates.  For those of who watched already know, it was a town hall style format; where the audience members ask the candidates questions.  Despite my suspicions on how, or who in the audience is selected to ask their questions, this style of debate is my favorite; simply because the people are those who are asking questions that they are ostensibly concerned about.

There was and still are concerns about the moderator’s (Candy Crowley) statements prior to the debate and the way she actually conducted the debate.  I personally think Ms. Crowley acquitted herself quite well.  She was not fully bulldogged by the candidates, yes including President Obama; she was fairly consistent trying to keep the candidates on point, allowing the candidates to have exchanges over their responses to the audience’s questions, and in keeping the debate progressing along, in order to allow more questions to be asked.  So I give Ms. Crowley kudos for her efforts in and actions as moderator.

With regards to the debate itself, well, someone apparently gave President Obama a vitamin B-12 shot, because he was a whole heck of a lot more engaged, animated, and actually looked Mitt Romney in the eye.  So, it was much more of a debate than the first one, where the President sleepwalked through it and got widely panned by both supporters and detractors alike.  So a big thanks to the President for actually showing up last night.

I thought much of the questions asked were very good, appropriate, and in many respects on the issues.  Some of the others, particularly the last question, were/was a little on the softball side of things; but hey, that happens in all debates.

There were some questions where both Mr. Romney and President Obama actually squared off and went toe to toe, for instance with the question asked about the role of the Dept. of Energy in attempting to keep energy prices down.  Sadly I don’t believe either candidate actually answered the question directly, though they did exchange accusations towards each other and essentially calling one another liars.  There was another question asked by a young woman about the pay disparity between men and women.  Neither candidate in my opinion adequately answered the question, and in President Obama’s retort to Mitt Romney’s answer he suddenly went off on women’s health care issues; which is important, but really isn’t what the question was about.  I really wanted someone to point out the fact that according to many studies women actually do earn as much as the male counterparts (sometimes more), where the wage disparities appear is the fact that in many instances some women leave the work force upon having children; sometimes for just maternity leave, and sometimes for a couple years to rear their children.  They then come back to the work force; in either the same or similar positions and they come back at the same (sometime less, sometimes more) incomes than when they took that time off.  So, let me ask this, is it discriminatory to pay ANYONE less money who has not been in the workforce for ANY reason and for however long it may have been?  I have a friend who is a stay at home dad, and now that his kids are old enough, he is ready to return back to work.  He was a bond trader in Chicago prior to he and his wife (his wife was completing her Ph.D.) having children.  Without going into all of the gory details he knows that because he has been out of work for a number of years now that he will not be making near as much money as he was before he left the workforce.

Sorry, I spent so long interjecting my thoughts on that question, but I thought I should say something regarding that question.  With many of those who take the time to read any of the things that I have written on this site knows, the candidate that I like, support, and have endorsed – Gov. Gary Johnson – was not invited to this or any other debate, so upon listening to both of these guys debate I did so with an eye of skepticism and doubt.  Quite honestly, while, as I mentioned earlier, this debate was far more spirited, I rarely, if ever, thought the questions were actually answered.  To be fair though, it is typical of politicians to never directly answer any question, regardless of its complexity.  In short, politicians respond to questions with a mouth full of fuzzy rhetoric that may satiate in the instant of the moment, but upon reflection you come to the realization that the question(s) were answered in generalities, platitudes and sometimes placating language.  So, now for the big time question, who do I think who won this debate?

Well, again, the President actually showed up to this debate, so in picking “winner” it wasn’t and isn’t as clear cut as in the first debate.  In my opinion I thought Mitt Romney again did a good job, simply because he has the advantage of being able to use the President’s track record against him.  However, there were several instances where I thought President Obama did a good job of using Mitt Romney’s past remarks against him.  What astonishes me is that the Democrats have not seized upon how Mitt Romney only served one term as Governor of Massachusetts, because his approval rating was in the gutter following that one term; but I guess that is neither here nor there?  Anyway, I give a nod to Mitt Romney in answering many of the early questions, and President Obama did a good job in maybe not answering, but definitely putting Mr. Romney in his place with some of the later questions.  So, while many might think I am copping out here, but in my honest opinion I would say this debate was essentially a tie.  If pushed and cajoled I might give an ever so slight edge to Mitt Romney.  Now please don’t take this to mean that I agree with what either of these two guys’ answers, because I don’t, but since there were only two candidates on the stage, and thus having to decide which of these two guys “won,” the best I can muster is an ever so slight shrug of the shoulders and a “meh” to Romney, but that is if I were pushed to pick a winner, otherwise I’d call it a split decision.

 

A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.  (Nelson Mandela)

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