SAN DIEGO, October 4, 2012 — The mainstream media has been throwing a hissy fit over Romney’s obvious Wednesday night victory. Television news commentaries are many and varied but they can be more or less synthesized like this:
“Sure, Romney had a good night, but that was all because of style. It had nothing to do with his points. And Obama was off his game. You see, Obama is such a nice guy, he would never think of attacking an opponent. He was also ahead in the polls so he felt the best thing was to simply be calm and not rock the boat. Obama still looked very presidential while allowing Romney to treat him like a punching bag. Well… Just wait for the next debate. Obama will be ready. No more Mr. Nice guy.”
But leave it to climate expert Al Gore to offer a better explanation; the climate.
“I’m going to say something controversial here…Obama arrived in Denver at 2 p.m. today – just a few hours before the debate started. Romney did his debate prep in Denver. When you go to 5,000 feet, and you only have a few hours to adjust – I don’t know…” (Current TV Post debate interview, October 3, 2012).
Good idea, Al. Why didn’t the rest of us think of this? Since altitude contributes to the over all feel of climate, we can make a case that Obama experienced climate change.
On the other hand, Gore might be on to something profound and symbolic. A kind of climate did seem to be a contributing factor last night. By losing control of the discussion, moderator, Jim Lehrer created a new climate where our two candidates had far more chance to confront each other directly. In other words, by accident, America witnessed something much closer to a real debate.
Generally, the liberal media moderators set the tone of the evening by subtly sneaking their own views into the questions like a Trojan horse.
Lehrer tried. He threw softballs to Obama such as:
“No, about the idea that in order to reduce the deficit there has to be revenue in addition to cuts.”
“But, Mr. President, you’re saying in order to get the job done, it’s got to be balanced.”
It didn’t work. The debate raged on between a very comfortable, energetic Romney and a surprised looking president. Poor Obama never knew what hit him. Had he been able to select a lifeline by phoning a friend or polling the audience, he might have tried. He came close by reminding Lehrer that he “may want to move on to another topic.”
But Lehrer’s loss of control did not prevent Obama from having ample time to defend his four year record. Unfortunately, confronted by his opponent for the very first time, Obama’s sound bites and sanctimonious platitudes about “the rich needing to pay their fair share” were no match for an honest challenge. America saw the real Mitt Romney, not the greedy, out of touch monster floated by Obama campaign commercials. The Romney who showed up last night was a successful businessman who actually understands economics, a man sympathetic to the poor and middle class, but caring enough about them to explain why Obamanomics simply doesn’t work. It was like hearing an announcement that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.
The Obama campaign will make very sure this doesn’t happen again. If they thought they could get away with it, they’d probably cancel the next two debates, explaining that “the American people aren’t interested in arguments, only the issues.” That won’t work. It would look like Obama was throwing in the towel. Instead, they’ll see to it that the next debate stays under the protective wing of an “objective” moderator.
We already know that one of the debates will be full of “town hall questions.” But the moderator will select which questions to use. Count on questions about Romney’s 47 percent statement and Bain Capital. Don’t expect to hear about recently surfaced Obama videos regarding wealth redistribution or racism during Hurricane Katrina aftermath. The past will also be off limits. Rev. Wright will not be mentioned. Neither will Bill Ayers.
Then again, the moderator might make an exception and allow a question about young Romney allegedly bullying a gay kid. We’ll also hear questions about Republicans being on a “war against women” because they show too little sympathy for female law school students who can’t afford contraceptives. The real persecution of women in countless Muslim countries will not be brought up. Their plight is not a politically correct problem
And so, our friend Al Gore came close. There was climate change on Wednesday. But with a little careful nurture on the part of the mainstream media, the environment can still be saved. The next debate is likely to bring back the kind of “debate” climate we have all grown to know and love.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.
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