I suppose there are a ton of sports metaphors out there that could be used to describe last night's presidential debate. I'm not sure I want to drag any out though. Early on it became painfully obvious that Mitt Romney wasn't there to win any awards, or even the debate itself. He was just doing his best not to fuck up.
There were no more attempts to exploit the tragedy in Libya. That one burned him so badly in the second debate he ran from the topic yesterday like a rabbit who has just seen a wolf coming over a hill. In fact by the night's end it was hard to tell exactly what Mitt would do differently from President Obama when it comes to foreign policy. He sounded more like Obama's vice president than his opponent.
The one zinger came immediately after the Mittster lamented the fact the U.S. Navy now has fewer ships than it did in 1917. Obama responded with the sarcasm of a professor who is dealing with a complete dolt and is tired of doing so. "We also have fewer horses and bayonets," he said. The president went on to point out that the United States now has ships that "planes can actually land on, they're called aircraft carriers." After that Romney did everything in his power to redirect the conversation to the economy.
Mr. Romney what about the situation in Lower Slobovia? "Well Bob, as I was saying the other day the president has cost this country thousands of jobs which contributes to the increasing internal tensions within Lower Slobovia. Now if I'm elected I'll create more jobs, yada, yada, yada."
CBS's instant poll of undecided voters showed that 53% of them thought the president won the debate, while only 23% thought Mr. Romney did. The numbers were closer in the CNN poll. Obama won 48% to 40%. CNN's pollsters also found that 59% of those asked thought the president did better than expected.
This is all fine and good for Barak Obama, but I haven't seen the debate's ratings. You might beat the other guy like a gong for an hour and a half, but if everyone is watching the Bears-Lions game it doesn't do you a lot of good.
And the truth is millions of people in this country, especially those struggling economically, don't give a rat's ass about foreign policy. The general attitude among the dwindling blue collar work force when it comes to international crises is something along the lines of, "I don't care, drop some bombs on the bastards, then tell me when I'm getting my job back." The subtle nuances of diplomacy are are an unaffordable luxury when you're standing in the unemployment line.
The simple fact is that last night's debate probably had the least affect on the electorate of the three held. Mitt knew it and so did Obama. That is why he was swinging away so hard. He needed a knock out punch (sorry, there is that sports metaphor) to clearly prove the governor is unfit to be commander in chief. He needed a monumental meltdown on Romney's part that would play on the cable news outlets and over the net for days.That didn't happen. Obama won, but Mitt, while suffering a pummeling, made sure he didn't take himself out of the race.
So things are still too close to call and in the words of James Carville, "Its the economy, stupid." For the average American its always been that way and always will be.
Round three to Obama, but will it be enough? We'll know in two weeks.