How the Liberal Blogosphere Saw the Debate

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Ben Cohen
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Here's a round up of how the liberal blogosphere saw the debate last night. Not so good for Obama:

Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic:

I think that was pretty bad performance by Obama and an excellent one by Romney. This is exactly what Republicans wanted. Not to refer back to Fallows again, but I keep thinking about this section from his piece, where he outlines Obama's potential vulnerabilities.

Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast:

Look: you know how much I love the guy, and you know how much of a high information viewer I am, and I can see the logic of some of Obama's meandering, weak, professorial arguments. But this was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach, and his effete, wonkish lectures may have jolted a lot of independents into giving Romney a second look.

Obama looked tired, even bored; he kept looking down; he had no crisp statements of passion or argument; he wasn't there. He was entirely defensive, which may have been the strategy. But it was the wrong strategy. At the wrong moment.

The person with authority on that stage was Romney - offered it by one of the lamest moderators ever, and seized with relish. This was Romney the salesman. And my gut tells me he sold a few voters on a change tonight. It's beyond depressing. But it's true.

Josh Marshall at TPM:

Obama simply hasn’t pressed any points where Romney said things that were demonstrably false. A bit on his tax cut plan, but not much. But how does it play over the next week? Romney’s been holding back all the details on his plans, basically refusing to talk about him. He’s put a lot on the table here, made a lot of claims which simply don’t add up. Obama hasn’t pressed the falsehoods or math that doesn’t make sense. Does the press do it tomorrow? How well do these claims wear? That’s how we’ll know how each did.

Gary Younge at the Guardian:

Romney needed a game changer: a performance that could shift a race where he has been losing ground and rally a base that has been losing faith. To the extent that every game he has played up until this point he has lost, this was it. Finally his campaign has something to cheer about.

But for all that, it is unlikely, though possible, that it will fundamentally change the dynamics of the race. Some have already cast their votes and most have made up their minds. He is a long way behind almost everywhere he needs to be.

He won himself time and the chance for a hearing. Had he failed it would have been game over. For now he is still in the game.

James Fallows at the Atlantic:

If you had the sound turned off, Romney looked calm and affable through more of the debate than Obama did, and the incumbent president more often looked peeved. Romney's default expression, whether genuine or forced, was a kind of smile; Obama's, a kind of scowl. I can understand why Obama would feel exasperated by these claims and arguments. Every president is exasperated by what he considers facile claims about what he knows to be impossibly knotty problems. But he let it show.

It's a good thing for Barack Obama that there are a couple more sessions.

I think there needs to be a bit of caution from the media when it comes to overplaying the role the debate is going to have in the election. Yes, Romney looked a lot better than anyone thought he would, and yes, Obama looked pretty bad. But in the scheme of things it won't really matter unless Obama seriously flunks the next two (which is unlikely) and makes some serious campaign errors over the next few weeks.

The media spin after the debate is almost as important as the debate itself, and given Romney told multiple lies there is a ton of ammunition to hit him with in the lead up to the next debate. The media is going to be all over this, and I'd expect to see Romney's bump in the polls ebb away as the facts come in.

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