Drunkblogging the Last Presidential Debate
I have C-SPAN. I have an ice bucket. I have a Canadian whisky, the name of which I'm too embarrassed to type. I have a certain glee, knowing I won't have to drunkblog another presidential debate until the Democrats and/or Republicans start going at it again in 2015.
What would I like to see tonight? I'd love to see Romney hammer Obama on the Benghazi timeline, and on the deaths caused directly by Fast & Furious. But that's a gut-level want, dictated by four years of moronic and deadly amateurism in the West Wing and at Foggy Bottom. It's not what Romney probably needs to do tonight.
What Romney should due is display commander-in-chiefness. To show that he'll provide continuity where that is required, and to show professionalism everywhere else.
I think he's up to that.
Obama still needs to reverse his three-week slide. So I expect him to come fully armed with Axelrod/Plouffe talking points, which will have nothing to do with actual foreign policy, and everything to do with energizing his base and driving wedges between Romney and his base.
It's going to get ugly, because for Obama, it has to be.
5:44PM On C-SPAN, I just heard for the first time ever, somebody give a shout-out to their tax attorney. Although if ObamaCare goes into effect, I expect to hear a lot more of those.
5:45PM Backstage, Bob Schieffer is undergoing his pre-show ritual of having a giant syringe of adrenalin injected directly into the place where his heart was.
5:52PM The gentleman just done speaking expressed his hope for a "spirited and enlightening" dialog. I expect he'll be half-right.
5:53PM Ann looks great. Michelle looks washed out in her oddly high-topped outfit.
5:53PM Here's Doddering Bob. But don't let the doddering act fool you. He knows exactly what he's doing.
5:54PM "We want a debate that is worthy of the presidency," says Schieffer.
Lincoln and Douglas could not be reached for comment.
5:57PM Dear liver, please forgive me for the sins I am about to commit...
5:59PM I haven't heard this many throats being cleared since the headmaster showed up for an assembly with his fly undone.
6:02PM "Good to see you again," said Romney.
Given the last few weeks, that might not have been a very friendly greeting.
6:04PM Obama: Stop nodding.
6:05PM Romney is spending a lot of time on the setup, not a lot of time on What It All Means.
6:06PM "We can't kill our way out of this mess."
Obama, the reckless cowboy!
6:07PM "My first job as commander-in-cheif... "
This is the incumbent's greatest strength.
6:07PM Obama: I'm making friends around the world.
C'mon, Mitt - hammer him on that one.
6:09PM Obama is doing the Death Stare again. It's better than Denver when he stared at his shoes, but it reminds me of the health care summit when Ryan challenged him.
6:12PM Mitt has hit twice now on women and the Arab world -- aiming for those suburban Moms. And now Obama is hitting on Romney's "recklessness."
6:16PM Obama is hitting on Iraq -- which is just a replay of his 2008 campaign against Hillary.
6:18PM Obama is hitting hard, and Romney isn't hitting back on policy, just on how the world is messed up.
We know the world is messed up. What we need to know is:
1) What Obama has done wrong.
2) What Romney would do differently.
6:22PM "The Libyans stand with us." Perhaps, Mr. President. But are they in control of their own country?
6:25PM Mitt's looking mad now. But it's his own fault for not hitting Obama on bad policy.
6:28PM That was a strange segue by Obama into nation-building at home or some such. I'm not sure what money he hasn't spent domestically.
6:29PM Next segment: What is America's role in the world?
6:31PM "America must be strong, America must lead." Romney, shifting the debate back to getting the economy to grow.
Obama, meanwhile, has turned his Eye Lasers up to "Obliterate an Entire Planet."
6:32PM Obama: Foreign policy is hiring teachers and Solyndra. Or something.
6:33PM Obama: Foreign policy is tax hikes for solar panels. Or something.
6:35PM Romney: Foreign policy is training programs! The Federal government already has about 40 different training programs. Zero, to me, seems like a better number than 41.
6:38PM Obama, quit interrupting. Who do you think you are, Joe Biden?
6:40PM Obama Interruptus.
He started off so strong in the first half hour, but in the last ten minutes he's coming across as completely unpresidential. That's a big win for Romney.
6:43PM Mitt looking more presidential, talking about the age and size of our Air Force and Navy. Obama, meanwhile, has turned his Eyeball Lasers up to "Ishtar."
6:46PM Not sure I've ever seen a President look smaller than Obama getting snarky about aircraft carriers and nuclear attack subs.
6:47PM Yesterday, Axelrod said Iran's currency was down 50%. Today, Obama says 80%. Who's right?
6:51PM Obama denying reports of a deal to recognize Iran's nuclear "rights."
6:55PM "It's essential for a president to show strength from the very beginning." -Romney
That, Yoda says, is why you fail.
Obama: "Nothing he said is true."
6:57PM "America has not dictated to other nations; America has freed other nations."
That's gonna leave a mark.
7:02PM Romney nicely driving a wedge between Obama and Jewish voters. But Florida is already won.
7:03PM Huh. Obama killed Osama. That must be the October Surprise.
7:05PM What I would like to hear from either candidate is how us training up 315,000 Afghan soldiers is better than the Soviets having trained up thousands of Afghan soldiers.
7:10PM Seriously. Both of you. Stop pretending anything good is going to come out of Afghanistan, other than our troops.
7:12PM Did I just hear Schieffer say "Obama bin Laden?" Everyone on Twitter is telling me I did. Did you hear it? #Fail
7:15PM Final segment. My liver, lacking lungs, somehow just breathed a sigh of relief.
7:25PM It's not too early for some final thoughts.
It's saddening to have been right, when I wrote that Obama would bring the snark. He did. Not very often, but when he did he came across as small and mean. That was the Obama we saw in Denver. At his best, he came across as the commander-in-damn-chief, which is exactly what he is. But most of those flashes came in the first 30 minutes.
Romney needed to come across as a potential commander-in-chief. You know, the same guy we saw in the last two debate. And we saw that guy again tonight -- at least in the last two-thirds of the show.
As I write these words, Obama is trying to school Romney on job creation, and all I can think is, "Who does he think he's trying to [REDACTED] fool?"
That, I think, is as fine a coda for this debate, for this series of debates, as I can muster. Obama has run far and fast from his own record. Romney, I'm sorry to say, hasn't always hit him for that as much or as strongly as I think he should have.
But is Romney credible?
Yes. Romney is credible. Perfect? No. Credible, yes.
And that's a win tonight.
Obama came in with an impossible task, to act as a spoiler and to appear presidential.
And that is why he fails.