Cliff Notes on the Final Debate: Not a Game-Changer

Obama looked more comfortable than Romney, and overall I think Obama probably “won”.  But the election is not going to hinge on foreign policy, and both men knew it. The way they both kept pivoting to domestic policy was nothing short of comical.  Romney’s first pivot at least made a bow in the direction of foreign policy when he said America needs a strong economy to have a strong military… but then he spun off on his five-point plan.  And how the hell did they get into an argument over education policy and class sizes?

Romney spent a lot of the debate agreeing with various aspects of Obama’s policies, such as drone attacks and standing with Israel.  I thought Romney came back strong in defense of the “apology tour” meme after Obama denied that he had been apologetic.  Romney quoted some of Obama’s criticisms of America on that tour, and hit the president hard for “skipping Israel” while visiting Arab countries.  Obama took some of the punch out of that by talking at length about his visit to Israel while he was a candidate.

Pet peeve: Romney twice used “Democrat” as an adjective.  I love ya, Mitt, but Democrat is a noun; the adjective is Democratic.

Obama partisans were pumped up by the president’s zingers — “we have fewer horses and bayonets,” “the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”  But I wonder how well that kind of obviously scripted sarcasm plays with undecided voters?

It was odd that Romney had both the first AND the last word — were those separate coin tosses?  Seems to me that one candidate should open and the other close, and the winner of the coin toss gets to pick whether he wants the first word or the last word.

The New York Times has a transcript up less than an hour after the end of the debate.  Amazing. (Fortunately I haven’t used up all of my 10 free stories this month.)  The transcript also solves my problem of what to use for an illustration — when all else fails, use a word cloud from


4 thoughts on “Cliff Notes on the Final Debate: Not a Game-Changer

  1. Apt description and good blog. My prediction before the debates was that in having to re-win the Republican fantasy league through the convention, Mitt was going to have to backwalk some of his policies and the lateness would make him appear desperate. Not quite desperate, to his credit, from how well he has done in the debates. Win/loss doesn’t matter. I think Obama still needed to jab, Mitt wanted to dance and hoped for an opportunity for the knockout that neither got. Your comment on the undecideds was again apt: my 19yo is shockingly sensitive on decorum and doesn’t divine the issues. Mitt sunk himself deep in on his own pittard when in 2008, he went all anyone-but-Obama when he opposed anything having to do with the auto bailout. Bad political advising at the time with respect to borderline states, maybe what will be written in history about the election.

  2. Kirk,

    I’m totally with you on the noun vs. adjective issue. It speaks very poorly of a presidential candidate when they can’t even use proper English when referring to the opposing party. He’s either ignorant or insulting, and either one isn’t good.

  3. dano, I’m not used to having you agree with me. I kinda like it. Mark, I haven’t ever heard him use that term before, I’m hoping someone spoke to him after the debate so he doesn’t do it again.

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