by Jeff Swanson
I was talking to a liberal the other day. He and I have a funny rapport. Once, years ago, we had quite the political clash. I try not to be so vocal in settings where politics should be left at the door. A workplace, for instance.
Sometimes, you have no choice. The rhetoric goes too far and the the facts need to be heard.
That was a few years ago. Since then, we’ve come to a gentleman’s agreement that we would keep politics on the ‘surfacey’ stuff. That was until the debates weren’t looking terribly good for his chaps.
See, the thing is, it’s easy to be generous when your guy is in office. I imagine that was the life of a liberal during the Bush years.
Nonetheless, he asked me what I thought of the Presidential Debate Redux at Hofstra. To which I noted this is what debates are about, a good toe-to-toe battle. Facts aside, it was a good fight.
He gave me quite the incredulous look and said, “You mean, you thought the debate was at all close? Romney got creamed!” I’m sure he had a ‘dude’ added to the end of that.
Thus is the life of an acolyte at the alter of Obama.
Romney didn’t get creamed. Neither did Obama. Honesty says the debate was a good battle. Polls say it was a good fight. Candy Crowley says too much.
I’ll say often; I’m well skilled at making boneheaded moves.
The next thing I say to my liberal friend is, “Well, I think it gave some energy to the base, like Biden did last week. I just wonder if it gained Undecided’s. I know Biden was good for the base but ultimately, Ryan seems to have squeezed out the win for the middle folks.”
It was Dem-ageddon. I had set off the chain of catastrophic events. I had performed a blasphemous act. I thought that the Democrat didn’t do a good job. I’m shocked there wasn’t a charred crater remaining where I once stood. My friend went a bit ballistic, more accurately, it was ballistic-lite, “Are you kidding? You think Biden lost that? Were we watching the same debate? Biden killed him!”
I mildly pointed out that polling didn’t back that up. He told me that ABC News polling didn’t seem to think so.
I told him that it appears Joe bested Ryan simply because he had some bluster but I’m not sure that won the day. I also pointed out that Ryan at minimum didn’t lose and possibly made a small inroad. Perhaps with the Undecided’s simply because his demeanor was more calm.
My friend said….here it comes….wait for it:
“You mean like Obama did in the first debate?”
I’m not sure sure that was what the President did the first time around. Since that time, Democrats are watching the score.
And therein lies my greatest hope; that Democrats are looking at points on the scoreboard. Did the VP score? Did the President call out Romney?
On points, a winner could be debated. Undecided voters rarely make their decision based on facts. If they did, Undecided’s would be, well, decided.
It’s about trust. Or as the oft frustrating David Gergen stated, “But I did want to make a point: On style, I think Paul Ryan won the debate. And that is, Biden, the dismissive laughs, the interruptions, the sort of shouting — I think that Ryan was calmer and frankly more presidential. On style, not substance, I think it was a Ryan victory. On substance, I thought it was a draw.”
An Undecided is never ‘gotten’ by a ‘gotcha’.
This is a point lost on my liberal debate foe. He’s looking to spike the ball in the end zone. I’m not a fan of end zone spiking. Legendary Minnesota Vikings football coach, Bud Grant, said of end zone spiking and telling the team to not partake, ‘Act like you meant to be there because it’s your job’.
The again, he was purported to have said, ‘If you want a big crowd at your funeral, die young.’ So, there’s that.
Remember that Obama won solely on style points in 2008. We should be mindful of that. Republicans spent much time trying to score points with distractions of pastors, anarchists and a non-existent voting record.
Style won in the end.
Perhaps this election, the style that is most relatable is one of trust. That facts with a sense of stability in a candidate is going to win the day.
It is, perhaps, not just what you deliver but how you deliver it.