Obama Falls Flat

05 Oct, 2012

Barack Obama is known, respected and admired on both sides of the aisle, for his ability at public speaking. Yet on October 3rd he delivered an astonishingly lackluster performance in which he seemed nothing short of disinterested. Romney went into this debate armed to the teeth; Obama however seemed equipped for nothing more than a successful walk through airport security.

His challenger, on the other hand, proved the exact opposite from start to finish. Although Mitt Romney is no doubt respected and admired for a good many things, his propensity in oratory skills is not among them; or rather, it wasn’t until last night. It wasn’t merely Romney’s debating style that left him on top, it was also the passion with which he presented his arguments and the unyielding manner in which he defended his positions and policies when he felt the President had misrepresented them.

It may have been a steep, uphill battle, but Romney was undoubtedly successful at changing his image for the better during last night’s debate. Obama had no hill to climb, no serious battle to face. Most polls have always, thus far, shown Obama to have a higher favourability ranking than Romney.

Going into the debate, the polls and pundits were unanimous in saying that Romney was the underdog, by a long shot according to many. Yet with the debate now over, even many steadfast Democrats will admit that Obama had a dreadful night. In the words of political commentator Chris Matthews, no fan of Romney’s, “He was enduring the debate rather than fighting it.”

In a video released on September 17th, Romney made one of, if not the single most significant gaffe of his campaign thus far. He noted, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what […], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.” One would think that someone in Obama’s position would at the very least hint at that comment, and how that comment would translate to his opinion of said 47 percent.

As for the $716 billion cut which Romney mentioned countless times during the course of the debate, one would think that Obama would have at least mentioned that Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan had a supposed “cut” to Medicare of guess what, $716 billion, in his now famous/infamous budget plan as well. In fact, this “cut”, or put more accurately, spending reductions, would come at the expense of insurance companies and hospitals, not Medicare beneficiaries as Romney suggests.

What was perhaps most startling was Obama’s complete lack of a response to one of Romney’s strongest comebacks. When Obama went on about the idiocy of tax cuts to wealthy companies like ExxonMobil and the oil industry in general, Romney struck back with stark ferocity. In a demonstration of his readiness and sharpness during the debate, Romney made a quick reference to exactly what provided these tax cuts to the oil industry and pointed out that it had been in the books for decades.

Moreover, Romney noted that much of the tax cuts actually benefits the numerous small businesses engaged in the oil industry throughout America. The dagger, however, was in assailing Obama for speaking of cuts to the oil industry when he had in fact given the equivalent of “50 years” of tax cuts to it to the green energy industry within a single year. Romney dug the dagger deeper still by pointing out that around half of the businesses that benefitted from Obama’s $90 billion in subsidies have since gone out of business.

Romney not only attacked Obama’s record but also cleverly made a point of tooting his own horn. When education came up, he pointed out that under his governorship, Massachusetts became number one in the nation in education.

When healthcare came up, Romney spoke about his hugely successful Health Care Insurance Reform Law upon which the president himself modeled Obamacare. He even used his record on passing his healthcare reforms in a democratic state with a democratic legislature to demonstrate that he would be able to work across the aisle in Washington D.C., something which he said that Obama had been unable to do.

All the while, it seemed as if Obama was merely there because he had nothing better to do. It wasn’t as if Obama had no accomplishments to speak about, he merely chose not to speak of them. Sure, he may have been saving his success with regards to bringing an end to the terror of Osama Bin Laden for the next debate, which involves foreign policy, but his immensely successful auto bailout was surely of consequence to domestic affairs, which is what last night’s debate was concerned with. Yet Obama chose to remain so uncharacteristically silent on basically anything that could have given him an edge.

This debate has not only reassured the Republican Party but also will surely reignite what has been a faltering campaign as of late for Romney. The camp of the incumbent, however, will have a good few things to worry about. Why was Obama so seemingly unprepared and ineffective during the debate? Why did the President not even hint at the 47 percent debacle? How was the United States of America’s most famous living orator bested on his own turf by Mitt Romney?

The next Presidential debate, concerning foreign and domestic policy, will take place on October 16th.

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