Election Update: Presidential debate performance disappoints

Matthew Housiaux

mjhousiaux12@ole.augie.edu

One word comes to mind when referencing the first debate of the 2012 presidential election: underwhelming.

For an election that seems even more crucial than normal in determining the political future of the U.S., neither Republican nominee Mitt Romney or incumbent Barack Obama as a glint of hope for the November election.

Romney was undoubtedly the more energetic of the two candidates and, to his credit, was a far more skilled verbal sparring partner than his opponent. However, since a large portion of what left his mouth was a mindless platitude that contradicted a majority of his campaign, there is little to brag about.

Obama, meanwhile, fared even worse. It wasn’t just because he stammered and seemed unprepared. Additionally, he may have been guilty of that sin which can oftentimes spell death for a political campaign: disinterest.

As Romney bemoaned the fate of middle class families with a voice that cracked with emotion, Obama listlessly ran through policy details and made a few half-hearted attempts at catching Romney with his hand in the bogus rhetoric cookie jar.

Romney answered Obama with surprising ease, if not grace. In order to provide direct retorts to the President’s jabs, he frequently ran over the exasperated objections of moderator Jim Lehrer.

It’s difficult to say what this means in a larger political context, especially when comparing various polls available on the popularity of the  candidates.

Depending on which of the two polls released Sat. Oct. 6 you view, Romney is either still behind Obama by five points (45 percent versus 50 percent according to the Gallup Poll) or leading by two percent (48 percent versus 46 percent according to Rasmussen Reports).

Despite the odd disparity between both polls, the easy and correct assumption to make is that Romney’s campaign is getting a second wind, which is remarkable when considering his summer’s worth of publicity gaffs, one of which directly insulted 47 percent of the American populous.

In fact, if the debates were to continue on a similar trajectory, there is no doubt in my mind that Romney would win the election. However, it is likely certain factors will prevent that from happening. Obama’s shaky and occasionally bored-looking demeanor will very likely be corrected by the time the next debate rolls around.

Additionally, although many of his arguments about the economy fell flat, Obama’s stances on social issues, including rights for women and homosexuals, tend to reflect popular sentiment. Far more than did Romney, whose party is continually associated with another major publicity gaff–a scientifically and politically incorrect comment about rape by Missouri congressional candidate Todd Akin.

In the end, this is an unfortunate lesser of two evils election.

I find Obama to be the preferable candidate and think he is the most likely to win, but that does not necessarily make him the best option available.

Perhaps Ralph Nader is running again this year?