Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Where Are These High Expectations For Romney's Debating Skills Arising From?

I browse many liberal news outlets and blogs throughout the day, but there's only a select few that I make sure I check out every single day. One of those sites is the Maddowblog, run by one of my favorite political bloggers, the great Steve Benen. Steve's a ridiculously smart dude, and I tend to agree with him on 99.999% of all things related to politics. Hell, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I haven't disagreed with him on ANYTHING since I started following him in 2009. At least, until now.

See, Steve made a post on Thursday talking about the expectations being set for the Presidential debates. It was a typical post, until we get to this part:

For what it's worth, putting aside all the rhetoric and gamesmanship, I tend to think Romney's strength as a debater is wildly underappreciated. Obama's good, but don't assume he'll cruise through these events.
The definitive, must-read piece on this was James Fallows' recent Atlantic cover story, and it helps explain why the former governor is formidable in this format. But one doesn't have to buy into Democratic spin to realize Romney is easily the best Republican debater since Reagan.

Granted, that sets the bar fairly low, given that McCain, Dole, and both Bushes struggled in this area. But I get the sense most observers simply assume that President Obama will easily out-class his challenger in their three meetings.

I'm not nearly as sure. Romney benefits from having gone through a series of debates this year; he's taken a lot of time off for prep; he's quicker than most of the recent GOP candidates; and he realizes this is his last meaningful chance to change the trajectory of the race. If Democrats expect Romney to falter in the debates, they're making a big mistake.
I'm sorry, but I can't see that being the case at all. Look, I'm not saying Romney's a drooling pinhead like Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann, but using a word like "formidable" to describe the former Mass. governor isn't even close to appropriate.

Yes, once could possibly make the argument that Romney was the best debater during the primaries (an argument which I would also take issue with), but that's like saying the you're the tallest guy at a midget convention.

Obama won't need to do much to beat Mitt. The guy has proven himself to be incapable of not saying at least one memorably idiotic thing every time he opens his mouth. Romney doesn't need Obama to make him look bad. Sure it helps, but Romney himself is his own worst enemy.

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