Expectations for The Big Debate

With Mitt Romney continuing to lose ground among voters who view him as out of touch, Republicans are trying hard to gin up expectations for the Obama-Romney debate. John McCain says it will be "one for the history books." Chris Christie says the debate will "turn the presidential race upside down." The hyperbole is echoed by some journalists, like Chris Cillizza, who today writes the debate will be a moment when "everything and everyone stops" and likens it to the Superbowl of politics.

I think many people will tune in to see how many times Mitt sticks his foot in his mouth and shows his disconnect from ordinary Americans. [More...]

I also think the debate's importance is highly exaggerated. Since it will run on all major networks, many will watch because there's little else to watch. This year, 111 million people watched the Superbowl, which ran on only one network. In 2008, 52.4 million watched the first Obama-McCain debate. In 1980, more than 80 million people watched the Jimmy Carter-Ronald Reagan debate.

Still, tens of millions of viewers is nothing to sneeze at, so the question may be whether Mitt can do anything at this point to overcome his earlier mis-steps about the 47% ("My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives”) or these gems?

TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 1, 2012) -- In an interview with CNN, Romney noted that he is "not concerned about the very poor," citing the social safety net for that segment of the populace.

DETROIT, Mich. (Feb. 24, 2012) -- While speaking before the Detroit Economic Club at Ford Field, Romney listed not two, not three, but four American-made cars that he and his wife, Ann, owned. Among the vehicles: "a couple of Cadillacs."

Here's a fun version from 1985:

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    Obama is going to be so confused (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by observed on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:24:17 PM EST
    by zingers, unable to respond coherently, that he will be seen searching the far walls for a teleprompter.
    It's going to be brutal.
    When Mitt asks Obama to release his grade school transcipts, Obama's going to collapse.
    I can't wait to see the slaughter!

    The ultimate revenge for the outrage of '08? (none / 0) (#17)
    by jondee on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 03:03:32 PM EST
    And Romney is what that you'd make that prediction?

    Some sort of embodiment of lighting-quick-on-the-feet intellectual improvisation?

    The less Stepfordian one will carry the debates and that's Obama


    ROFL (none / 0) (#21)
    by observed on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 11:10:28 PM EST
    Only the 1% don't need a "snark" tag to get my point.
    For the reading impaired---it was an obvious joke.

    Reading impaired.. (none / 0) (#22)
    by jondee on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 12:29:00 PM EST
    is that another snark, or do you actually mean it this time?



    My expectation for the Big Debate.... (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 10:32:00 PM EST
    is that it is going to be a zoo around here.  So glad I don't have to be anywhere near DU on Wednesday.

    Tough TV choice for Wednesday night (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by ruffian on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:23:47 AM EST
    One show has contestants performing overproduced challenges in an artificial surrounding in an attempt to show they are at the same time likeable and alpha enough to emerge on top...

    and the other is Survivor...

    Best debate analysis evah! (none / 0) (#19)
    by caseyOR on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:56:15 PM EST
    Excellent comment, ruffian. You have framed the dilemma for viewers, and described both events, perfectly.

    If I ever bothered to give ratings I would give you multiple 5s.


    Oh, you are too kind (none / 0) (#20)
    by ruffian on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:49:55 PM EST
    I just watch too much Bill Maher....he does those juxtaposition riffs all the time!

    one for the history books? (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 02:44:08 PM EST
    possibly, if one person getting so soundly trounced by another, on national tv, in front of 10's of millions of viewers, is considered history making. usually, it's just considered sad. they are attempting the bush move, lower expectations of romney's performance, to the point where, if he is able to breathe and talk simultaneously, he'll be seen as "winning".

    don't think it will work this time.

    I agree BTD. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 02:51:05 PM EST
    I think most of the people watching will be partisans, people who have already made their mind up, although undoubtedly some undecideds will watch.

    What will be interesting for me (and hard to watch for here in the sticks in China) is how the media will spin the debate. As Somerby has noted numerous times and Lemieux over at LGM recently posted (apparently tired of roasting hippies over his pragmatist fire) that Gore easily won that debate in 2000, it was only the Media in constant spin mode about Gore's sighing (and who doesn't sigh at stupid liars anyway?) that Bush won the debate. Luckily the President isn'y nearly as hated as Gore was, as much as some want us to believe that he has been the most aggrieved President in History.

    Back to espn to finish reading about my noble, yet losing Seahawks.


    D@mnit! (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 02:57:38 PM EST
    They were driving for the go-ahead score and were intercepted with only 25 yard to go. 2 and 2 ain't bad I guess. :(



    Except no one outside Seattle (none / 0) (#7)
    by Anne on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:59:52 PM EST
    thinks they really have more than one win.

    It was just dumb of Gore (none / 0) (#4)
    by brodie on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:23:37 PM EST
    to do that gimmicky, exaggerated and unspontaneous sighing.  Especially knowing that year the MSM was working overtime, as per their script, to nitpick and denigrate him and his campaign.

    Politically tone deaf Al was that year.  He should have trounced W but good in all three encounters, leaving even the brain dead undecided squarely in his column and putting the election out of reach.

    Sounds to me like Al missed benefitting from a really strong-willed highly placed aide (ie not Shrum, Daley or Brazile) who would have the cojones to tell him in no uncertain terms in prep that all his gimmickry was just going to feed the media trolls and could cost him the election and fer chrissakes (slap!) snap out of it!


    The first poll after the debate showed (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by MKS on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:29:39 PM EST
    that Gore won handily.

    Then, conservatives spliced together a tape of the sighs, and the next day started their spin campaign.  They won.

    Food for thought.


    Of course. The Rs are usually (none / 0) (#6)
    by brodie on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:44:28 PM EST
    better at going on the attack.  And Al was a fool for giving them and the MSM easy material to splice together.   And I recall Tweety going from praising Gore as the winner on day one to doing a 180 and declaring him in effect the loser on day two after getting briefed by Rove's media squad.

    And the sad thing is it's usually the weaker or disadvantaged opponent who needs to rely on non substantive stuff like stage gimmickry.  But of course Gore was the one with the far superior command of the issues, and he wasn't trailing in the polls.

    Not a (ahem) naturally gifted politician.


    A sales manager (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by NYShooter on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:23:50 PM EST
    I once worked for said to me, "people buy from people they like. It's much more important to be likeable than to be smart." Bush/Gore proved that point perfectly.

    I remember watching that debate and Bush came across so clueless that as his clumsy, dumb-ass remarks kept piling up you half expected a referee to toss out a towel and call it off. Then Gore, instead of seizing the moment,  became the poster boy for "seizing defeat from the jaws of victory." Instead of taking the high road, showing sympathy, and empathy, for his confused, dimwitted opponent, went into his adolescent "Horshack" imitation: "ooh, ooh, I know, I know, call on me, teacher." Who likes a wise-ass, know it all, dweeb?

    My heart sank; I wanted to run up there, slap Gore across his face and scream, "Idiot!" Here, he's got this fool on the ground, squirming and babbling incoherently, but, instead of the crowd rooting for Gore they're rooting for this fool to get up, and beat Gore's self-important butt bloody.


    The rest, as they say, is history.


    Tweety has admitted he voted (none / 0) (#8)
    by MKS on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:19:09 PM EST
    for Bush.  He kept calling Gore the bathtub ring of Bill Clinton.  He was so morally outraged at Clinton that he voted for Bush??

    Bush simply schmoozed Tweety during an interview on Tweety's show.  Bush shrewdly said his favorite historical figure was Churchill, Tweety's favorite, and Tweety just ate it up.  


    It wasn't that he voted for him... (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by unitron on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 12:48:47 AM EST
    ...it was that he was practically campaigning for him every time he went on the air.

    Never fear (none / 0) (#10)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:28:50 PM EST
    Obama has been getting the Bush treatment from Tweety.

    Churchill again.. (none / 0) (#16)
    by jondee on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 02:56:52 PM EST
    why is it that he's so much more revered here than he is in England?



    I've always wondered why the French (none / 0) (#18)
    by shoephone on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 03:37:05 PM EST
    liked Jerry Lewis so much. That whole "Hey, laaa-aaadddeeee!" cr*p alwaya drove me up the wall. And we're talking France here. Land of Beaudelaire, Ravel, Piaf, Truffault, Renoir.

    And somehow... The Nutty Professor.

    There's no accounting for taste.

    But Americans do seem to like combining bluster with memorable slogans of the "blood, toil, tears and sweat" variety. Especially when the speaker was one of the victors.


    Too bad he hadn't mastered... (none / 0) (#13)
    by unitron on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 12:15:05 AM EST
    ...the Mr. Spock single raised eyebrow of skepticism instead.