Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Obama has made a compelling case to be Emperor of Lilliput, while surrendering a claim to retaining his current office along the way."

As a "debate nerd" I've got to rethink my approach to the Presidential Debates.

The point is not to treat these debates as hermetically sealed tests of the contestants skills. That's not what they are about because they are about the real world, and treating them as something apart from the real world permits the kinds of things we saw perpetrated by Obama and Biden, who contradicted each other (on Libya) and contradicted the facts that we knew (in so many ways, such as Obama's misdirection that military spending hadn't/wouldn't go down, when his own White House OMB shows the reductions planned for military spending in the next several years.)

The debates ought to be about the first virtue - prudence - which is nothing less than an awareness of the truth. If the presidential debater doesn't display prudence, then they ought not be president.

Shannon Coffin at NRO notes:

President Obama’s candidacy for president in 2008 and, to some extent, his entire presidency, has been built on an aura of grandeur. Big, bold ideas by a big, bold man — or so he would have us believe. It has always been a case of political tulip-mania, but nothing burst the bubble with the American voters in his first four years.

The Colorado debate was the first dent in Obama’s inevitability strategy. Mitt Romney looked and sounded more informed, energetic, and presidential. But what has happened to the Obama campaign since can only be described as self-inflicted wounds. Sesame Street and Big Bird, binders full of women, bayonets and horses, these things called aircraft carriers. These aren’t the utterances of mindless surrogates who spew talking points on command, but instead, have been stump lines and debating points perpetuated by the president of the United States.

The net effect? President Obama looks childish and churlish. His challenger looks and sounds presidential. In most elections, a presidential candidate seeks to remain above the fray, letting others do his dirty work for him. But not President Obama. He seems to relish the insignificant, the one-liners, the zingers. This has led many to declare that Obama has won the last two debates “on points.” But elections are not about debating points. Obama can rack up all the technical victories he wants in debates (and for my part, I actually don’t think Obama won last night’s debate, but we don’t need to debate the debate too much today). In the process of winning style points and landing jabs, he has diminished his “aura” and more importantly, his office.

And that, too, is a way of failing the test of prudence.

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