by Ken Brewer | October 23, 2012 | Opinion
After the second presidential debate, the conservative pundits assessed it as either a tie or gave President Obama a slight edge. Having recent experience in judging high school debates for the past two years, I felt this was appalling. However, I had not scored it (as if they had!), so I could not say definitively, and to go over it and write it up two or more days later was pointless. That is why I decided to score this last debate. Again, I disagree with the pundits. To quote Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”
One of the fallacies in scoring these debates is to score all points equally, when they obviously do not have equal political weight. Therefore, I weighted the points in this way:
- (A) economy, to include jobs and prices – 4 points;
- (B) entitlements – 3 points;
- (C) foreign policy – 2 points;
- (D) budget & debt = 1 point.
In order to score a point, the candidate must back his assertion and the opponent must not be able to refute it. In order to refute a point, the candidate must back his refutation. If neither candidate can prove his point or his refutation, then no points are given.
Another problem is in assessing lies. To score a lie it must be refuted by the opponent. If there is no refutation, then, in essence, no lie is counted. If a lie is proven in the debate, it calls into question the validity of the candidates complete debate performance. In other words, nothing he says can be taken as true without outside verification.
I will not keep the reader in suspense as to my assessment of the winner and loser. Obama lost by a score of 15 to 4. This is not simply due to my weighting of the voter relevance of the questions, but to not scoring ties. If I do what I believe the media does and give all ties to the President by default and exclude the concluding statements, then I have a very close debate, with Romney just edging Obama 13 to 12.
If you watched Sunday’s game, you will recall that Dallas did not truly win that game. The Carolina Panthers lost it! In that same way, Romney did not win the debate last night so much as Obama lost it. I was very disappointed in Governor Romney’s performance. The problem largely lies in the questions that I scored as ties and the one big question on Libya and the Middle East that I gave to Obama. Romney had his reasons for not attacking Obama on Libya, but it should have been done! An example of a tie that is very troubling was Schieffer’s question on Israel where he asked if the candidates would state that an attack on Israel would be considered as an attack on the United States. Neither candidate answered this definitively, and I find that fact quite troubling. Does anyone else see the danger that Iran might just take this as a green light to go ahead and nuke Israel, no matter who wins the election?
As to the matter of any lies being proven in the debate, Romney did not effectively refute any of Obama’s lies, although he told several. However, in the summations, Romney effectively trounced President Obama. Obama basically blamed Bush by saying that Romney would give us more of the same failed policies, while offering no new policy of his own. Romney not only briefly reiterated Obama’s failed policies, while citing his own 5 point plan, but pointedly noted that he has a record of being able to work with the opposition.
Finally, there is the all important matter of appearances and audience perception. Obama, particularly following Romney’s “apology tour remark, appeared petulant and even juvenile at times, repeatedly interrupting his opponent. His face showed his irritation at Romney. In other words, he was very un-presidential! Romney, in contrast, did achieve the appearance of being both presidential and knowledgeable, which was, I believe, his primary objective. Unfortunately, Romney sacrificed several opportunities to completely discredit Obama in order to achieve this objective. That is why he did not so much win the debate as Obama lost it.