Big Bird overshadows President Obama in first debate
The first presidential debate was watched by 67.2 million people on Wednesday night. 10.3 million Tweets exemplified the enormity of the social presence watching the debate. It certainly had its ups and downs. Both candidates had been downplaying the significance of the first debate. As I stated in my blog, Denver, Colorado to host the first presidential debate, I wasn’t buying into the rhetoric from both camps. This first debate, historically the most watched one of the three, was especially vital for Romney to “win” to have any chance of winning this election.
While Mitt Romney looked presidential with his assertive responses and demeanor, the president surprisingly seemed aloof and out-of-character. I expected this debate to frankly well be a debate. I understand that it was the president’s 20th wedding anniversary, but that doesn’t excuse his performance. Al Gore’s claim that the “altitude” played a role in his poor performance was not only ludicrous but hysterical. Chris Matthews, anchor on MSNBC, was on the verge of tears. He ripped the president on his performance. His conclusion was that the president needs to watch MSNBC. I couldn’t help but laugh at the comments said by some of these pundits.
The truth simply is twofold. First, the president similar to his predecessor did not take the first debate seriously enough. Practically every weakness pointed out of his 2008 debates wasn’t corrected (i.e. demeanor, his lack of brevity, easily becoming defensive). Secondly, and probably most importantly the president can’t defend his record. He can’t defend the stagnating economy. Blaming everyone but himself becomes redundant and tiresome. At some point the president has to take ownership of his “failures.” He can’t preach of his “successes” without taking ownership of his “failures” as well. I don’t really care what presidents have done in the past. His presidency was supposed to be different. I expect more from and of him.
Probably the most talked about moment from the debate was Romney’s remark of essentially defunding PBS. The candidate said he “loved Big Bird” but didn’t want to continue to borrow money from China to pay the network. His remark was classic pandering to one’s party. The GOP doesn’t like NPR and occasionally accuses them of liberal bias. Therefore, they’d like to cut funding that goes to both PBS and NPR.
The government currently funds about 15% of the operational budget for PBS. The rest of the budget is met from donations. I don’t think defunding the network would end “Sesame Street.” However, I don’t think they should. Why risk it? Because a bunch of men are mad at an executive from PBS. I’m sorry but I grew up on Sesame Street. Count Dracula helped me learn to count. Cookie Monster was and still is my favorite character. So Mitt don’t mess with Big Bird and friends. I think there are more important areas you could cut to decrease the deficit. This notion of cutting funding is another example of children paying the price for “adults acting like children.” We saw it in Chicago when the CTU went on strike. Romney’s “Big Bird” comment wasn’t well received by the public. Big Bird was referenced on Twitter with 17,000 tweets per minute. A mock Big Bird Twitter account quickly surfaced during the debate mocking the debate and Romney.
Another criticism of the debate was of the moderator, PBS Jim Lehrer, or lack thereof a moderator. Lehrer had moderated 15 previous debates. Anyone who watched his show knows that he presents short, concise questions and allows the debaters the rest of the time to answer the question. At times he was overruled by both candidates. Overall, I don’t think he did as horrendously as the media portrayed him as during the post coverage. I thought it was just okay. He should have been more assertive in maintaining the structure of the debate style.
I’m looking forward to the vice presidential debate on Thursday night. It will be moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News. I believe the candidates will be sitting at a large table, in contrast to the presidential debate where the candidates stood behind podiums, before the moderator. They will be asked questions on foreign and domestic policy.
What were your thoughts on the debate?
Who “won” the debate?
What were your thoughts on the moderator?
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate