My own "format" for watching/listening to the debate was a little haphazard because of evening chores, but it went like this: I watched it live on TV for about a half hour, then drove somewhere and listened on the radio for about half an hour, then came home and watched the end of the debate live and then the general pandemonium among the MSNBC panel of Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, et alia as they tried to come to terms with what a terrible debater their champion, Barack Obama, actually is. Then I watched the 20 minutes or so I had missed while performing my St. Francis of Assisi duties in San Rafael.
Impressions gained by my multi-media encounter: Barack Obama does better if you're only listening to him and not watching. Mitt Romney does pretty well either way. If you're watching and listening to Barack Obama, you get the full effect of his overall weakness. The fidgeting, the downcast eyes, the lame hand gestures, and (his true Achilles Heel) that dreadful insertion of the long, drawn-out "Aaannnnnddddddd" between phrases as he tries to think of what to say next.
Paul Krugman, on his mysteriously-named "Conscience of A Liberal" blog, had this to say:
The hard-hitting and effective campaign against Romney led many people to believe that this wasn’t going to happen again. But in the first debate, there was Capillary Man once again.Actually, Krugman knows exactly what this is about and doesn't want to say it because his conscientious liberalism won't allow him to. Barack Obama doesn't have what it takes to argue his positions successfully. He doesn't know how to marshal facts on the fly, synthesize them into a forceful, cogent argument, and go for the jugular of his opponent's many weaknesses (as opposed to the capillaries, as Krugman notes). How the the rich scion of a prominent family, who dismantled American businesses for a living, who serially evades taxes, who won't disclose how little he pays to the government each year although he's seeking to become chief fiduciary of the country, who stashes money in the Cayman Islands, and who stated on videotape that he has nothing but contempt for about half the American public too broke to pay federal income taxes - how a guy with all these liabilities (we're talking about Romney here) could escape utterly unscathed after an hour and a half of discussing almost nothing except taxes and entitlements - I really don't know what that is about.
I really don’t know what this is about.
Except to avoid Krugman's disingenuous posing: the same fecklessness in Obama was evident in the Obama - McCain debates, but John McCain was such an inconceivably lousy candidate, crotchety, incoherent, often nonsensical, that it didn't matter. Now it matters, and the Democrats have a huge problem on their hands.
It's only too bad that Obama wasn't debating Jim Lehrer. Actually, what I'd really like to see is a Jim Lehrer versus Bob Schieffer debate, one-on-one. The winner would be the first guy to remember why he was there.