First of all, a round of applause for Bob Schieffer. Schieffer is a left-winger who has in the past fallen prey to that poisonous seduction that convinces journalists the virtue of their political opinions trumps the virtue of doing their jobs fairly and well. Last night, Schieffer resisted that temptation. He did an excellent job as moderator, better than Jim Lehrer, who wasn’t half bad, and than Candy “Creepy” Crowley who, in a just world, would now have a job more in keeping with her skills… like, say, selling apples out of a cardboard box in Times Square.
As before, I think all those not totally blinded by partisanship saw pretty much the same debate. Governor Romney brought the strategy, opting not to attack on current issues still in play but to make more general remarks on Obama’s apologetic approach to foreign affairs and on the ways in which our weak economy weakens us abroad. The president was aggressive to the point of seeming snarky and sneering but played the “I AM the commander-in-chief” card effectively. In debate-world, he seemed to win.
But debate-world is a post-modern place where people score points for looking presidential, being aggressive, delivering zippy zingers and throwing one’s opponent off his train of thought. These essentially show-biz considerations are very important to journalists who are essentially in show business. To the voters? I think none of them matters a damn except (and it’s an important exception) when they seem to reveal something true about the candidate or the race. That is to say, I think journalists report on appearances. People vote on the closest thing to the truth they can find.