Finally. With one month to the election, with voting already underway, tonight we hear the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Welcome to the 2012 Presidential Election Edition in the continuing saga of "Live Blogging the Live Bloggers blogging the Debates!"
The Dividist fondly recalls when he conceived this series to cover the first 2008 Republican debate, lo those many years ago, and first asked the question:
"There are plenty of bloggers covering the debate live tonight, but is anyone covering the live bloggers? The Dividist rushes in where other, more sensible bloggers, fear to tread."Our productivity has tapered off this year. We simply could not maintain the pace or interest through the never ending Republican debate marathon.
Now, there is some question whether this exercise, or even live blogging itself, makes any sense in the era of facebook and twitter stream of consciousness. No matter. The Dividist is on the case.
As always, we select a variety of bloggers from across the political spectrum,and attempt to live blog their live blog efforts. I don't know who we will include, in the past we've used used Daily Kos from the left, VodkaPundit or HotAir from the right, look to either David Weigel, Reason or Cato for a libertarian point of view and the Moderate Voice, and/or Donklephant as a centrist blog. Andrew Sullivan is usually a reliable live-blogger, as is Chris Cillizza's Fix and CNBC will be tweeting.
If past is prologue we will likely guess wrong about which blogs to monitor and will be scrambling once things get started. Refresh your browsers for latest content once the debate is underway. Because of the derivative nature of this enterprise, I do run quite a bit behind the actual debate. Just setting expectations to lower the bar. Is that not what these debates are all about? Lowering already low expectations?
PREGAMEChris Cillizza's Fix: "what better way to celebrate the first debate between President Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney than some live-tweeting of the proceedings! It’s like watching the debate on a couch with a few of your friends. And some random music references.Come for the debate! Stay for the hilarious stream-of-consciousness commentary."
CNBC: "The first presidential debate is likely to focus on economic issues as President Obama and Mitt Romney clash over the size and role of government. Here are some topics that could come up. "
The Dish - Sullivan:"Both candidates are banking on the "second screen," assuming many viewers will be watching with a laptop or mobile device close by, this year’s debates are likely to the most social and digital in history."
Daily Kos: "There is, of course, only one way to get through a debate where you know you'll have to endure listening to Mitt Romney: by drinking—regularly and repeatedly. So we're asking you, the Daily Kos community, to help out ... the Daily Kos community ... by coming up with a drinking game to make tonight's debate (more) tolerable."
Vodka Pundit - Stephen Green:"Tonight’s format will be Sunday-show style, with both candidates seated at a table with moderator Jim Lehrer. There is even time set aside for genuine give-and-take between the contenders. But I think the table is a mistake for Mitt Romney."
Stinque: "After a week of Expectations Management and Earnest Discussions about whether Americans really give a shit, the moment is finally upon us: The Big One. The Rumble in the Bunghole. Alien vs. Predator. "
Reason Hit and Run: "Tonight Reason staffers will entertain you (hopefully while you play along with the official drinking game!) as we tweet the first head-to-head debate between two fans of big government; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and incumbent President Barack Obama (D). "
DIVIDIST - Allright, I've got this thing cued up and a few live bloggers identified.
We'll be updating when the debate starts in about 5 minutes. Time for a beer.
And we're off....
1st Question - Jobs, Jobs, JobsChris Cillizza's Fix: "The Fix @TheFix Obama VERY on talking points. Asked to respond to Romney critique on trickle down govt, he talks about...education!"
CNBC: "janewells @janewells "Middle class" three more times. #drink #CNBC2012"
The Dish - Sullivan:"9.07 pm. A nervous but competent beginning by Obama, but I'm struck by the visuals. Romney just looks like a classic president and Obama a very different one. The visuals are with Romney. And his answer was a total re-boot on compassion. This first round goes solidly to Romney. "
Daily Kos: "6:15 PM PT: Okay, so Romney says he won't cut taxes on the wealthy. But he will cut taxes on middle-class families. And we won't add to the deficit. It doesn't take a genius to see that kind of a plan doesn't add up. The math just doesn't work."
Vodka Pundit - Stephen Green: "6:05PM Ah. I see. It’s all BOOOOOOOOOOOSH’S fault. Drink if you didn’t see that one coming. Oh, and GM. Drink. 6:07PM First real laugh of the night goes to Romney, for apologizing for being the “romantic” element of the Obama’s 20th anniversary."
Stinque: " Tommmcatt: "Math is hard, Barry!"
Reason Hit and Run: "Peter Suderman@petersudermanRomney, while noting his 5-point plan, is actively restraining his psychic-Powerpoint-conjuration ability."
Dividist: That beer went fast. I need another one.
2nd Question - Debt and Deficits
Chris Cillizza's Fix: "The Fix @TheFix Dodd-Frank and Simpson-Bowles have both been mentioned tonight. Nerd debate."
CNBC: Eamon Javers @EamonJavers "I love Lehrer, but he's lost control of this thing. Still, the debate is revealing the differences between the candidates. So a good debate."
The Dish - Sullivan: "9.25 pm. Romney is running on Bowles-Simpson! And he's relating it to alleviating human suffering. A devastating round for the president. Romney has taken charge, even as Obama has spoken more. And Romney has now managed to make this into a status-quo versus change dynamic. Just terrible for Obama so far, in my opinion. And again, he keeps looking down to write. He should look him in the eye."
Daily Kos: "6:32 PM PT: Romney says Obama should have fought for Simpson-Bowles. Then Lehrer asks but do you support it? Romney says no, I have my own plan. And Obama should have taken Simpson-Bowles and modified it and proposed it. And Obama says: that's what I did."
Vodka Pundit: "6:24PM Obama keeps saying “math,” but Romney keeps using numbers. You do the math. 6:25PM It’s… mind-blowing… for lack of a better word, watching Obama trying to run on Clinton’s record. Just…Just…The audacity of total crap."
Stinque: Mistress Cynica "9:32 pm I’m mostly listening rather than watching (drinking Mr Cyn’s homemade chardonnay here). At first Mitt sounded genial and Obama sounded stiff, but now it seems Barry is hitting his stride and Mitt is sounding shrill and desperate."
Reason Hit and Run: Nickgillespie@nickgillespie "This chart by @veroderugy shows just how much Obama has spent per capita real dollars. Bush was bad, Obama awful."
Dividist: Blogger is screwing up my formatting Beer is not doing it. Whiskey. Laphroiag Single Malt. Neat. Will fix formatting later.
3rd Question - Entitlements
Chris Cillizza's Fix: The Fix @TheFix "For those who dismiss importance of demeanor: Remember that people are electing a leader not just a set of policies."
CNBC: janewells @janewells "Trillion" three more times. Closing in on "middle class" John Carney @carney Obama seems lost in details. Not getting any message out at all. Junior colleges, wind mills John Harwood @JohnJHarwood Obama absolutely LOVED using Trump as weapon to hit Romney"
The Dish - Sullivan: "9.45 pm. Finally, Obama began to make sense on Medicare. He made a simple, comprehensible case, and actually looked the boomers in the eye, when he said so. But Romney equaled him on this subject. I notice that as soon as Obama starts to speak, whatever he says, the green line of male approval goes down. It's the gender gap illustrated live. 9.44 pm. How Obama has managed to give Romney the advantage on Medicare in this exchange is political malpractice. Its not just an advantage so far. It's a wipe-out for Romney."
Daily Kos: "Talks about how his grandma was independent because she put her money into Social Security—and it helped her be independent in her golden years. Obama says sometimes the word "entitlement" makes it sound like this is dependency, but explains that it's not. He's not directly hitting the 47% thing (at least not now), but he's clearly setting himself up to raise it, at least reminding viewers of what Romney said."
Vodka Pundit: 6:45PM "You would turn Medicare into a voucher program.” Which is, like, totally uncool after I cut $716,000,000,000 out of it. 6:47PM Romney has been practicing his split-screen face. When Obama is speaking, he looks like I hope I look, when my six-year-old is trying to sell me on a line of total crap."
Stinque: Benedick "9:49 pm God it’s boring. I mean, really! I can’t take any more. This has become a race between a man who knows how to knot an exquisite tie and a man who doesn’t."
Reason Hit and Run: "Ed Krayewski@edkrayewskiIn 1984 Ronald Reagan asked Democrats to stop scaring old people relying on SS about their checks being taken, what Obama's doing now."
Dividist: Too many tabs. Chrome is blowing up. I'm way behind. More whiskey. Red Label. Double.
4th Question - Obamacare
Chris Cillizza's Fix: The Fix @TheFix "Good stuff here for Obama. Calling out Romney for "secret" plans on everything."
CNBC: Downtown Josh Brown @ReformedBroker "Mitt Romney: Day 1 repeal Obamacare, Day 2 foreclose on Downton Abbey" 23m janewells @janewell Wow. "Obamacare" two "middle classes" and one "trillion" in a single breath. #drink #cnbc2012"
The Dish - Sullivan: "10.08 pm. Romney has somehow managed to turn healthcare into a fantasy decision between grim rationing bureaucrats versus patients and hospitals. It's an amazingly good performance, given the facts and arguments he has to deploy. In response, Obama is stuttering, detailed, wonkish, ineffective.10.12 pm. Finally, Obama manages to point out the vagueness of Romney's hazy alternatives. But Romney, who just rolls over Lehrer. Yet another round to Romney. I don't think Obama has won a single exchange in this entire debate."
Daily Kos: "6:57 PM PT: Romney says he likes Romneycare more than Obamacare. Maybe because Romneycare covered abortion? 6:58 PM PT: That "study" cited by Romney saying people are less likely to hire because of Obamacare is a bogus study from the Chamber of Commerce, I believe."
Vodka Pundit: 7:03PM "Wow. Obama looks mad, now that the subject is the ill effects of the law bearing his name. I mean, I CAN BURN YOUR SOUL WITH MY EYEBALLS."
Stinque: texrednface "10:11 pm If you listen to tapes of Romney explaining the Mass. RomneyCare plan, the difference is it was presented as PUNITIVE. Listen to it. That’s the only difference between ObamaCare and RomneyCare> Ronald Reagan, Tip O’niel drink…I’m out of booze"
Reason Hit and Run: Ross Douthat@DouthatNYT "This is actually an amazingly wonky debate. I mean, filled with nonsense of course, but by the standards of pres. debates remarkable." nickgillespie@nickgillespieObama: "We need to fix entitlement spending but I will absolutely not allow anything to change."
Dividist: Where did I leave that medical marijuana? I hate it when that happens.
5th Question - Role of Government
Chris Cillizza's Fix: The Fix @TheFix "What's hard for Obama: he has to defend his four years as prez. Romney can keep away from details cause he hasn't been prez."
HotAir: Dan Mitchell @danieljmitchell "Biased moderator. Gridlock is a good thing. Our Founders wanted factionalism to restrain Washington" #debatedenver
The Dish - Sullivan: 10.14 pm. "Obama's description of the role of government is actually elegant, and eloquent. Invoking Lincoln was great; invoking Eisenhower would have been even better. Education is the key. But hearing Obama defend his record, after hearing Clinton, is painful. Truly painful." 10.17 pm. Romney is even sounding Reagan-like and compassionate right now. The Etch-A-Sketch is shaking, and the old Romney is back, with coded appeals to his base. And then he adds onto that a litany of woes currently experienced. Again, even after Obama's eloquent answer, Romney is better."
Daily Kos: 7:24 PM PT: "Mitt Romney says the job of government isn't to pick winners and losers ... instead it's too make the the private sector be more efficient. Excuse me?"
Vodka Pundit - Stephen Green: Harry the Spiller: "I’m having a Constitution orgasm listening to Mitt read the preamble with the ” Creator” part intact."
Stinque: Targa: "Romney’s bullet points are now outlines. Those outlines will be summarized by bullet-pointing… the…. basic…. outline… that was… bulleted. Romney seems defensive and “itchy”.
Obama appears calm and cool. Nothing about this debate has inspired me to decide one is/was better than the other. They are both jockeying for that middle ground. IMHO."
Dividist: Darling - Did you notice where I put the heroin?
Wrap Up - Concluding Comments & Reactions
Chris Cillizza's Fix: "The Fix @TheFix "My 2 biggest takeaways from the debate: 1. Obama's grimness 2. Romney's hyper-competence." http://ow.ly/ecQrN #debates "
HotAir: "Rachel Maddow claims there was no winner in this debate, which, when you adjust for the curve that MSNBC’s grading Obama on, confirms that this was an utter landslide for the GOP. Back to the drawing board for Team Hopenchange, says Chuck Todd."
The Dish - Sullivan: "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."
Daily Kos: " 7:38 PM PT: Al Sharpton: "No doubt Mitt Romney was at his best tonight. But his best is not good enough." 7:41 PM PT: Maddow ticks off a list of things missing from the debate: 47% remarks, nothing on Bain, nothing on women's rights, nothing on immigration, nothing on union rights, nothing on abortion, nothing on Romney's Massachussets jobs record."
Vodka Pundit - Stephen Green: "Obama, peevish, scripted. Romney, relaxed, and owning the stage like one of the “big, swinging dicks” from Wall Street, which Obama both despises and relies upon.
And that’s the trick tonight, isn’t it? Obama has always relied on the big money men in private, while disparaging them in public. But what happens when he comes up against one of them in the most public way possible? Now we know the answer, and it ain’t pretty. The president appeared small and petulant and reactive. Romney looked presidential and secure and proactive. There was only one president on the stage tonight, and he doesn’t (yet) hold the office."
Stinque: nojo 10:32 pm "Two men enter. America leaves."
The Dividist will sleep on it. More analysis tomorrow. And we'll try and fix formatting. Maybe...
CNN Polling was definitive:
"Denver, Colorado (CNN) – Two-thirds of people who watched the first presidential debate think that Republican nominee Mitt Romney won the showdown, according to a nationwide poll conducted Wednesday night. According to a CNN/ORC International survey conducted right after the debate, 67% of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the faceoff, with one in four saying that President Barack Obama was victorious. "No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that question since it was first asked in 1984," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland."The spectacle of watching Obama proxies twisting themselves into knots in order to to lower expectations over the last two weeks comes to mind. Apparently they failed to set expectations low enough. Or perhaps aiming low is just a really stupid strategy. This quote attributed to Michelangelo Buonarroti seems apropos: