The first presidential debate was indeed disappointing. I think we have all been so blown away by President Obama's masterful orations in the past and we've shaken our heads smugly during so many Romney foot-in-mouth moments that we were expecting a complete massacre (a lion in the ring with a kitten) but what we got was a much more even-tempered debate.
We were bored. And that is what is so disheartening.
Because we are a nation of immediate gratification, constant entertainment, and sensationalized everything it seems that we have lost the ability to look beyond the showmanship and actually process real content. So according to the media and word on Main street, Romney won the debate. But clearly, if you take the time to read the fact-checks it is evident that in his quest to impress, entertain, wow and otherwise captivate America with his confidence and banter, Romney was very liberal in his representation of the truth.
Today, back in VA for another round of canvassing, one of the other volunteers piped up during training to ask how we should respond to conversation about the debate. The trainer immediately launched into his rehearsed defense, "It was disappointing the President was clearly tired, but he stuck to the facts and Romney changed the platform he had been running on for the previous five months..." Another volunteer, an older gentleman seated in a corner, interrupted briskly: "Don't defend him! We don't need to defend the President. Romney is nothing but a salesman, a clever, sleazy salesman who would sell his own mother to win votes." We agreed that this would be the message in our post-debate talking points.
In another conversation about the debate later this evening I expressed my frustration with the fact that Romney, based purely on style and bravado, has been said to have 'won' the debate. A friend of a friend at the restaurant table leaned in and stated frankly, "that's because 40% of America is retarded." Excuse the derogatory and politically incorrect use of this term - I cite verbatim But is it true? Are we, as a nation, dumb? Do we need to have political discourse processed and then regurgitated to us in bite-sized palettes by the media like vulnerable little wolf cubs to be digestible?
It's a sad thought indeed and one that I hate to even entertain, being an optimist who likes giving people the benefit of the doubt. Also, I think making this claim is not much better than Romney's notorious comments on the 47% of us who don't count to him and feel entitled to life. But, what then is at the root of this senseless mob-like mentality of 'whoever talks over the moderator most and takes the most cheap shots wins.'
What do you think? Is this primeval blood lust reminiscent of the age of gladiators? Is it subliminal media manipulation? Or is America just plain dumb? Do you think that Romney really won the debate? And what should and does 'winning' entail?