I will confess, I didn't watch the First presidential debate but I happened to watch the second and third debates and thus my interest in American politics was piqued. I thought I’d give a brief commentary about my view of the candidates and their performances. I will be focusing on debating style and to an extent the substance of their responses.
In a debate, one of the most important aspects is portraying to your audience why your point of view is more right and applicable to the situation and therefore better than your co-debater’s point of view. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to pick up on a point your co-debater has made, pick it to pieces and show why it is wrong in the circumstances and then show why your own is right. This was what President Obama did and what Mitt Romney wrongly viewed as President Obama attacking him. No, dear Mitt, Barack was simply using one of the most basic tenets of debate. One used by Mitt in the earlier debates albeit more aggressively, it is surprising how short your memory sometimes is Mitt.
While their responses especially in the third debate were more balanced and eloquent, I would opine that Obama’s use of this method gave him a slight edge over his opponent, an edge that may just prove costly to the Romney camp. I will use a simple example. Person A likes Orange and Person B likes Mango, now in order for either person to get me to go for either Orange or Mango they have to tell me what one has that the other doesn’t. What advantage one has over the other. That is the same principle used in debate and one that President Obama used to perfection in the last debate.
With regards to responses, Mitt Romney did a poor job of presenting himself. I noticed several occasions when Obama would point out a failing or something Mitt had previously opposed and 5 or 10 minutes later Mitt would ‘take the opportunity’ to stress his support of or clarify the issue. The debate to me took on a feel of a boxer who keeps getting hit, goes back patches his wounds, gets hit again, goes back etc. It was just like a child whose parent points out areas of improvement and the child goes back to improve as each area is mentioned. Mitt Romney seems to me like a man who lacks conviction and direction. He is unstable and will change his mind and go with whatever he feels is the trend du jour. This is not what you want to see in a leader.
In terms of how they answered, both candidates were on a level playing field. However, in terms of technique and the substance of their responses, Obama had a clear edge. If Mitt did not keep going back to try and cover his tracks he may have had a fighting chance. But too many contradictory statements and gaffes have marked Mitt Romney to me as a man that can not be trusted. If I were American I would cast my vote for Barack Hussein Obama. ‘The devil you know’ they say, ‘is better than the angel you don’t.’