Election 2012

Barack Obama is Not Jed Bartlet

If you thought Barack Obama was an Aaron Sorkin debater, you don't know who Barack Obama actually is. From David Plouffe's book via The New York Times:

Mr. Obama was “not a strong debater,” as Mr. Plouffe put it in the book. He derided “the whole exercise of boiling down complex answers into thirty- or sixty-second sound bites.” So his staff was more than a little nervous when he went out to face Mrs. Clinton, one of the most formidable figures in the party. “This could be an unmitigated disaster,” Mr. Axelrod said after the candidate took the stage.

In the end, Mrs. Clinton did win, according to the pundits. Mr. Axelrod’s minimalist verdict? “Well, that could have been a lot worse.”

The president disdains bullshit debate "performance" contrivances. The left, which embraces intellectual honesty and authenticity, ought to embrace that with open arms.

  • bphoon

    Barack Obama is Not Jed Bartlet

    I know, but goddamnit, sometimes I wish he was. Man, that clip makes me smile no matter how many times I’ve seen it…

    But, unlike Martin Sheen in that clip, Barack Obama didn’t have a script to memorize beforehand. He had facts and figures, a big-picture vision of America and, regardless of what you may think of it, a strategy in mind. He presented these in a thoughtful, calm manner that many misinterpreted as boring. He did this in the 2008 presidential debates and has done so in every news conference he’s held. That he didn’t light up the screen like some insincere flim-flam artist speaks well of him in my mind; he left that kind of crap to Romney and focused on what really matters for the good of the country. The contrast, to me, couldn’t have been sharper.

    I saw an AP piece in the paper this morning that called Romney more “presidential” than Obama. I guess, if you ignore all that he had to say, you might call Romney “presidential” in his appearance but I don’t buy it. I mean, please remind me how putting out a stream of policy flip-flops and lies makes one “presidential” again? I watched an actual president do that for eight years from 2001-2009 and I never thought he was particularly “presidential” in doing so. Rather, I view as “presidential” having a command of actual facts and figures, having an overarching vision for America and fighting to bring that vision to fruition for the good of all Americans. That’s what I want in a President and I’ll take “wonky” and “professorial” any day over someone who is all presentation and no substance.

    On the other hand, we do well to remember that GWB had neither substance or presentation on his side in the ’04 debates against Kerry but still managed to rig…er,win…the election.

  • “The president disdains bullshit debate “performance” contrivances. The left, which embraces intellectual honesty and authenticity, ought to embrace that with open arms.”


  • gescove

    “The left, which embraces intellectual honesty and authenticity, ought to embrace that with open arms.” I do. I did. That’s why I thought the President was thoughtful and solid. My impression was that he kicked ass… but it was subtle. It’s also why I thought Rmoney was a lying sack. I was quite perplexed why anyone thought that he somehow “won”. I am confident that Rmoney gathered up enough rope in that outing to hang himself two or three times over.

    • Nefercat

      I agree with you 100%. I watched the debate and thought he did fine. On Huffpo yesterday, the big headline was “Romney Wins.” Under that headline was a clump of others, all noting his non-stop lying. Really? That was a win?

      One of the biggest complaints abut Obama’s performance is that he didn’t fight back against Romney’s *lies.* So Romney = liar will be the starting assumption for the next debate.

  • roxsteady

    I couldn’t agree more Bob! The left also has a disdain for sound bite, bullshit talking points, so why would they expect a man who doesn’t do that to suddenly start? I still cling to my first impression that Obama kicked Romney’s ass! I just didn’t expect the media to be so willing to dismiss facts when that’s what a debate is based on. In running away from all of his positions, I thought the media would pounce. Lesson learned. I will say this, I’ve seen enough comments from actual people and heard lots of them call in to Stephanie Miller’s and Bill Press’ radio show to know that they ALL knew that Romney stood on that stage and lied his ass off. I think he’ll pay a huge price for this. Just remember how many people likely saw Romney on 60 Minutes a couple of weeks ago stating that the uninsured could just go to the emergency room. Now, he’s talking up healthcare? He’s done and today’s jobs numbers will only help Obama.

  • Nanotyrannus

    Well let’s be honest. This was not a “debate”. It was a network sponsored campaign event featuring both candidates at the same time. And the “debates” have been that way ever since weak candidates figured out they can just say anything they want and ignore the questions presented to them. Had it been a debate of the issues, the president would have “won” handily. I know that sounds like I’m running my own version of “spin”, but the notion that the president is lazy, unfocused, uninformed or “not too bright” based on the debate is utterly ridiculous.

    I don’t think people and the pundits realize that we’re all ready to answer back the many lies and indignities uttered by Romney and his surrogates at a moments notice. But the president? I’m fairly certain he doesn’t spend his day glued to HuffPo/Salon (and how fucking depressing would that be?) pouring over everything that’s said. The president didn’t arrive at the debate with a holster full of zingers because in the days and hours before the debate he was probably too busy BEING PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

    I didn’t watch the debate and I’m not really concerned. I’m confident in what the President is doing right and I’m confident Mitt Romney will step on his dick again sometime in the next 24 hours (and hopefully we’ll get to use my favorite line from a Molly Ivins book – “He didn’t just step on his dick. He stood there and stomped on it”).

    So Mitt looked a little more human than usual. Meh. It was all the humanity the Cylons could muster and now it’s spent. Bring on the next fail.

    • zirgar

      What he said.

    • “….but the notion that the president is lazy, unfocused, uninformed or “not too bright” based on the debate is utterly ridiculous”

      Jeff Greenfield, rightwing fellatiator pretending to be a journalist, actually called the President “clueless” during the debate. WTF?! One can rightfully argue the Pres. was tired, distracted, unenthusiastic…but clueless?

    • gescove

      God I miss Molly Ivins.

      • bphoon

        Myself. Unrelated to this post, but my favorite Molly Ivans line comes from the introduction to her 2005 book on Bush’s first term, Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America: “Our biggest problem with the Bush administration is that for us it’s deja vu all over again. We spent six years watching the man as governor of Texas, the basis for our 1999 book, Shrub. We were tempted to begin this book by observing, ‘If y’all had’ve read the first book, we wouldn’t’ve had to write this one.’ Cooler heads prevailed.”


    • muselet



    • Victor_the_Crab

      Thank you for saying what needed to be said.