The second debate between Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama last Tuesday was a relief to Democrats as everyone seemed to agree that Obama gave a lively performance. Anything else would truly have been a complete disaster for the President’s reelection campaign considering how much Romney has gained since the first debate; FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver lowered Obama’s reelection chances from over 80 % down to a substantially riskier 65 %. This time, both Obama and Romney were alert and hungry… but in the end, a feisty Obama will always trump a feisty Romney. One of his greatest victories of the night was clearly showing why he’ll be a better president for women and immigrants than Romney – and that’s a pretty big constituency.
Conservatives knew that this was a loss, and quickly started looking for someone to blame. As expected, moderator Candy Crowley took heat (just like the previous two moderators; this has to be one of the most thankless jobs in the industry), but unfairly so. As always, one of the most ridiculous claims came from Rush Limbaugh who complained that if we lived in a world that still has “journalistic standards”, Crowley would have been fired for having been so obviously pro-Obama. First of all, Limbaugh doesn’t know anything about journalism; all he knows is political manipulation, and that’s a different art form. Secondly, Crowley was certainly balanced in her approach. As is clear in the clip above, on The View, her job was not to simply let people ask questions without any kind of follow-up; any idiot could have done that, even Limbaugh. She was there as a journalist. When she fact-checked Romney on part of his Libya remark, she did her job – and fair and balanced it was, because she followed it up by acknowledging that as a whole, Romney was right. And still, conservatives started foaming at the mouth. Not attractive, especially since they have recently started attacking fact-checkers for questioning their candidates’ statements. Bill Maher frequently talks about a conservative bubble where the truth no longer matters; I’m beginning to see where he gets it from. If Romney believes in fair play, now is the time to jump in and point out the fact that Crowley did defend what he said after pointing out his minor mistake.
These days, Mark Hamill of all people seems to have turned into a political commentator. Last night, he appeared on Current TV’s The Young Turks where he reacted against Romney’s aggressive questioning of Obama at one point. Amusingly, he pointed out that the President is not an employee whose answers don’t come “fast enough for the CEO”… but in the end, we do love to watch an aggressive performance. I’m sure Hamill hated watching Obama in the first debate and loved Joe Biden in the vice-presidential debate. We do want to see these guys show some passion, a genuine belief in what they’re saying and fighting for. I also have to say I really appreciate this town-hall format where the candidates engage with one another in a more tangible way than they do standing behind a podium.