Debate Numero Uno: Rope-A-Dope

Intentional use of Spanish there, because despite being a critical domestic issue, immigration policy didn’t really get discussed. Nor did women’s rights or LGBT rights, which are fairly important issues to a majority of the country.

Obama won tonight and despite what the TV pundits say, here’s why: one of Obama’s hallmarks is fighting the war rather than the battle. Sarcastic comments about eleven-dimensional chess aside, a presidential campaign is a chess match that requires planning at least three or four moves ahead to win. Zingers and campaign finance reports matter less than having a coherent strategy for the duration of the race. Obama showed that tonight. Yes, he came across as passive and unimpassioned, but deliberately so. My friend @NathanEmpsall disagrees with me on this, but a tie goes to the incumbent in practically every election for office from small-town mayor to President of the United States. And what the president did tonight — provided he goes on offense in the next two debates (a critical quid pro quo) — was brilliant. Romney desperately needs his rabidly conservative and restless base to turn out en masse in November, and that base does not tolerate moderates. The president managed to get Romney to reveal himself as the moderate he is (whether by conviction or convenience) in backing RomneyCare, Social Security, regulation of big banks (!). The conservative electorate has never been thrilled about the guy, and for Romney to reveal his moderate tendencies is a major tactical error on his part. Yes, I know the idea was to appeal to independent undecideds, but Romney’s in the difficult position of having to appease a base (and a conservative media) far to what seems to be his right while trying to pick up undecideds who probably don’t agree that contraception is evil or that the LGBT agenda is a threat to freedom. Obama put Romney in the position of having to choose between the hard right that helped nominate him or the independents he needs to win a general election. Romney took the bait; a classic rope-a-dope by the president. Provided Obama comes out swinging in the remaining two debates (for which he’s also lowered expectations, manipulating the media aspect of this process as well), Romney’s in a tough place. He needs both hard-core conservatives and moderates to support him, but appeasing one set risks the support of the other. Clear strategic win for the president.

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~ by Benji on 3 October 2012.

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