Last night the first Presidential Debate of 2012 between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney was held in Colorado. There has been a lot of post-debate analysis and I want to add my perspective.
First, a little known fact about me is that I was on the Thomas Jefferson High School Debate Team in Portland, Oregon. I was trained in Debate by our instructor, Mr. Claude Bonfiglio. I learned three things that year: (a) come to the podium prepared; (b) come to the podium precise; (c) come to the podium proud (confident).
Last night, in light of those three points, the President did not do his best. Romney came aggressive, a “rules be damned” attitude from the get-go, and there was oddly, in a national affairs debate, no mention of Romney’s 47% remark, Paul Ryan’s 30% remark, the GOP right-wing platform. It looked like a really bad Presidential press conference with a hostile reporter in the room with an agenda.
I think last night’s debate probably gave some confidence to the GOP. This morning on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, Presidential historian John Meacham related this to Mark Twain’s famous quote, “Twain said, ‘The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated . . . but he eventually died.” I think that overall Romney won the night on style but not on substance. The President seemed pre-occupied and as several journalists have suggested that he hasn’t been in a debate in four years and was rusty.
Whatever the reason, this is just round one. There are additional debates coming. It’s just round one.