Wednesday night, after the first 2012 Presidential debate, I wrote, "I have hope again for the first time in a long time that Romney might win."
In private discussions, I offered a couple of personal debate observations:
The best thing about the debate was the ability of the candidates to talk over the heads of the media directly to the American people. The vast majority usually hear or read an 'interpreted version' of a long format discussion of ideas. (I cannot tell you how many times I have been to a city council meeting, read the news account of that meeting, and asked [out loud] if the reporter was at the same meeting. I have watched many Congressional debates on C-SPAN. Network reports rarely matched what I saw with my own eyes.)
I said it will be difficult (but not impossible) for the media to re-interpret the debate to suit its pro-Obama ideology if you watched all ninety minutes. Those who did not watch (or had it on in the background but were not listening closely), will be told by the press that the President had the facts right but did not pursue them aggressively enough.
Thursday morning, 6:50 A.M., the day after the debate, I turned on Fox2 TV news. The debate discussion was centered on the 'Sesame Street' character 'Big Bird' and about how Jim Lehrer, the debate moderator, had lost control of the debate.
The two women newscasters were referring to Mr. Romney's comment that his administration would cut funding for PBS, where 'Sesame Street' is aired. Fox2 did not refer to Mr. Romney's observation that if a federal budget line was not important enough to borrow money from China to pay for it, that program would lose its federal funding.
On CNN's Newsroom with Carol Costello, guest speaker Jason Zandri, Wallingford (Conn.) Town Councilor, stated viewers "were ready to see a full on charge of the President but were surprised to see how strongly candidate Romney came out." In defending the President's poor performance, CNNs Carol Costello threw an opening to Mr. Zandri by saying "The format favored Romney not Obama."
Mr. Zandri (an Obama supporter) did not follow up on that pro-Obama comment but said the following. "The President had a certain mindset as to how the debate would go and Romney did something entirely unexpected. At that point the President was trying to regroup."
Mr. Zandri's comments (the President had a certain mindset but something entirely unexpected happened) reminds us that President Obama has had other serious misjudgments.
- During his Cairo speech (June 2009), Mr. Obama had a mindset that he could talk the Arab Street into removing President Mubarak and replacing him with leaders who believe in liberal democracy. Instead, the President has to "regroup" around the reality of the Muslim Brotherhood and anti-American riots (September 2012) on the Arab Street.
- Mr. Obama had a mindset that if he stopped building the missile defense system in Eastern Europe (September 2009), he would have more influence on the Russian government. Instead, the President has to "regroup" around the reality of the Russian government preventing U.N. action (August 2012) to defend the people of Syria from its own government.
- Mr. Obama had a mindset that he could deal successfully with an aggressive, expansionist China. Instead, the President has to "regroup" around the reality of a Chinese military bullying its neighbors and threatening war with Japan (September 2012) over several disputed islands.
- Mr. Obama had a mindset that he could remake the American government. Instead, the President had to "regroup" around deep-seated political realities within the Democrat Party, even at a time when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.
Neither Mr. Zandri, nor CNN, nor the network news establishments will discuss these observations about the President's mindset vs. reality. Nor will they fairly discuss the substance of the Romney debate arguments.
No, they will infer the President's poor performance as Jim Lehrer's failure to control Romney and interpret a Romney Presidency as a time without 'Big Bird.'