If you dig deep enough into a CNN story called, “Obama and Romney: Middle class promises will be hard to keep,” you’ll run across a video entitled “The debate in 99 seconds.” It represents one of the better exchanges about the economy.
It’s a far cry from the way MSNBC’s pundit Chris Matthews and many other progressive observers have described the debate. I recall being in a room of fifteen while watching the debate. Most were surprised that the president did not score a clear victory. However, that does not mean that he didn’t show up or that he was the clear loser. Someone in the room said that Romney was able to go toe-to-toe with the president. That became the consensus among the group until Matthews’ tirade turned the focus from the debate to the punditry.
In many ways, the fact that the progressive media was so critical of the president gave a green light to the mainstream press to also interpret the debate as a knockout blow for Romney. The interpretation of the debate then became the primary event; the debate itself was an afterthought. This is what trickled down to the public in general.
I wish that American citizens had been able to see the debate and not have their minds addled by the pundits. It’s quite possible that the electorate would have felt that Romney acquitted himself well, better than might have been expected. It’s also possible that some would have been disturbed by the times when the president seemed to have a lack of engagement or energy. But if one looks at “The debate in 99 seconds,” one can tell that the president had fine moments. He was far better than many described him. He did indeed go toe-to-toe with Romney.
Watching the pundits is somewhat like an addictive drug; we continue to be lured back. What’s important is that we are interpreters of the pundits. They really did a number on President Obama in Debate #1. If we’re going to watch the post-debate commentary in the future, let’s do it with a jaundiced eye and not forget to think for ourselves.