American politics are becoming little more than a boxing spectacle

BY CONNOR BURNS ’13
Senior Staff Writer

American politics borders on blood sport. At the end of the day people are competing for power over one of the highest offices to ever exist in the course of human history. The contest is necessarily contentious.

Mitt Romney decisively won the first presidential debate. However, I must bring up he used a series of factual inaccuracies and pivoted heavily to the center, probably misrepresenting himself on a series of issues. Bizarrely, he targeted Big Bird as a sign of government waste.

Following the debate, he immediately jumped in the national and state polls, a lead he appears to be sustaining.

This is typical for challengers after a first debate, as it is the first time that they appear on stage and on the same level as the sitting POTUS. Although the morning after the debate unemployment was announced to be officially below eight percent for the first time in Obama’s presidency, many political commentators saw an obvious momentum for the previously anemic Romney campaign. Since the convention, Obama had dominated the election narrative. The first debate changed that and the election has tightened.

Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan had their only scheduled debate Thursday. Biden, notoriously gaffe-prone, delivered what liberals widely consider an effective beat down on a series of issues President Obama had whiffed on a week before. Biden quickly delivered, drawing blood on Romney’s 47 percent video, bringing up tax returns, and questioning the Romney/Ryan ticket’s commitment to the middle class.

At the same time many pundits and bloggers criticized Biden’s demeanor as condescending and immature. Considering his strength in terms of substantive debate, that charge seems unlikely to stick. In any event Biden aptly framed the terms of attack the Obama campaign wishes to bring against Romney.

VP debates typically don’t matter and this one will likely be forgotten as well, but it changes the momentum for Tuesday at Hofstra, and establishes a better position for Obama there.

Few people predicted Obama would need to stabilize his campaign after the first debate. The bar was set exceptionally low for Romney’s performance, and substantively it’s not clear to me that Obama lost, though Romney performed better telegenically, always smiling and looking up. The media—and the entire left—panned his performance. Those same liberals who contemplated moving to Canada after Obama’s first debate performance of 2012 reacted with ecstatic revelation to Biden’s debate performance, but neither debate matters overly much.

Although Romney has begun to be able to define himself, Obama still has his number.

Mitt Romney has far, far too long to go to have any realistic chance of winning the election. Obama’s lead in Ohio forces Romney to win all of the other states in play in the 2012 Electoral College, which is impossible. Ohio received too much help from the auto bailout and has too low of unemployment for Team Romney to open up a lead there or even to close the gap.

Although the recent polling represents great progress for Romney (and a vindication of lying and false centrism), his campaign is in too deep a ditch, especially if the economy continues to improve. Although he recovered from freefall, a Romney victory remains an extremely remote possibility.

Questions? Email Connor at cburns@fandm.edu.

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