The not-so-great debate
Obama wins final debate, but no one shines
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Horses and bayonets got a lot of buzz, but aside from that, Monday night lacked luster.
The final Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney wrapped up Monday night on what was supposed to be a riveting, 90-minute discussion on foreign policy. It was more of the same instead, but without the same shine. There was still the same old catty back-and-forth of calling each other wrong, the zingers (“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back”), the aggressiveness and still the same amount of ambiguity.
And maybe that’s the best of things.
With only two weeks to go before Election Day, candidates and voters alike have seemingly moved past the passion and are now officially onto politics. It was the last time these two candidates will face each other, and any chance they’ve had to directly call each other out on falsifications and ambiguity is now gone. Now they have to rely solely on their own talking points. Now more than ever, the issues matter.
Maybe that’s why last night was still so vague. Romney had a point to prove after Olympic-sized gaffes about London this summer and immediate moves to jump on the Obama administration for its handling of the Benghazi attacks, but he never really made that point. Instead, a debate about foreign policy seemed rather focused on issues on our own soil. It was a good move for Romney – he’s already proven he can talk all day about the poor economy, factually correct or not – but despite foreign policy not really topping voters’ priority lists this election, it didn’t slip by anyone.
As for style, both were confident, but Romney was more cautious where Obama was aggressive. Obama criticized his contender for wanting to do the same things but just say them more loudly; Romney went after the president for attacking him in place of discussing the issues. But overall nothing was that loud, and nothing was that aggressive of an attack, leaving voters to at least make an attempt to focus on what was said or not said.
And because of all that aforementioned dodging, there was much left unsaid by both candidates. There was a lot of agreement on issues that didn’t get much airtime and a lot of unclear plans on the issues that did.
Two instant polls made the president the victor, though – CBS News respondents ruled in favor of Obama 53 percent to 23 percent with 24 percent saying it was a tie. He led in CNN’s snap poll 48 percent to 40 percent.
So Obama won the debate, but what does this mean in the next two weeks?
It means voters need direct plans on the issues and not just the incessant economy talks. Even with a sweeping debate, the president is still tied with Romney in most polls and within only a couple of percentage points in the rest. The lack of razzle-dazzle in the third debate only reaffirmed that.
This election race has seen swinging poll numbers, indecisiveness and piqued interest in the issues. People are really invested in this elections, and it’s made for an incredibly entertaining season. The polls have been tight, though, meaning whether or not President Obama gets reelected, this race should be an eye-opener for him. People are unsure about reelecting him – unsure they can trust him to turn things around despite his cries that it takes more than four years to repair the damage he inherited. The proximity of the numbers should inspire him to make some changes in office, even if he doesn’t get to run again when the term is concluded.
Moderator Bob Schieffer ended the evening with words of advice he took from his mother: “Go vote – it makes you feel big and strong.”The blinders are away, the debate hype is nearly gone and the podiums are packed up. It’s time to focus on direct issues so that all voters can feel big, strong and confident when they make their decision on Nov. 6.