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Opening Arguments


I agree with just about everybody else in the free world that Mitt Romney won the first debate against President Obama, but I don't think it was quite the beatdown some think it was. Yes, Romney was good, but sometimes the other team helps you win, and Obama was just awful. Republicans in danger of becoming overconfident should remember that the next debate is a town hall format in which the questions will be asked by "undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization."

Any time I’ve watched a town hall debate with participants chosen in this way, it seems to me most of the “undecideds” skewed left. Who, by October 16, will be sincerely undecided? My guess is a bunch of that crowd will be disillusioned former Obama supporters who might not be looking for information so much as rationales for not abandoning their guy.

Tip for the Romney camp: Prepare as if the entire audience will be from a 2008 Obama rally.

Another word or two about these so-called undecideds—by October 16, the truly undecided might also be the woefully uninformed. This can lead to simplistic and even silly questions, questions that ramble endlessly, taking up precious time before getting to a point, or even the completely irrelevant “boxers vs. briefs” inquiries.

Not sure about the "skewing left" part, but  "undecided equals uninformed" is about right, and I think the audience-participation format probably favors Obama. Romney is clearly the best in a head-to-head matchup, but this will be a less-formal setup of the kind Obama seems to like.

Oh, and by the way, you "undecideds" are really starting to annoy us:

You’re an undecided voter. Your time is up. The rest of us are sick of pretending to care about you, saying nice things to you, doing your damn laundry.

[. . .]

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, after many years of sitting with you during past presidential debates: we don’t like you. Not because you can’t make up your mind, but because you won’t.

This is by a New York Times writer who clearly prefers Obama, so he made the wrong decision. But at least he made one. At this late date, how hard do you have to work at staying so uninformed you don't know which of the two candidates most closely matches your philosophy?


tim zank
Fri, 10/05/2012 - 9:25am

""undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization."


what could possibly go wrong?



Fri, 10/05/2012 - 10:46am

At this point, with so few genuinely undecided voters, a wonder what anyone gains from these debates anyway. Obama looked like someone had slipped him an Ambien, and he definitely blew it. But I'll be interested in seeing the next round of polls. A lot of people have already voted.

I'd like to see the debates a little earlier in the campaign season, when they might actually mean something.

Of course, if all they're going to do is exchange glittering generalities, maybe we'd be better off with no "debates" at all. Neither man actually said anything.

Harl Delos
Fri, 10/05/2012 - 12:21pm

Those "few undecided voters" are controlling the election in eleven states, and they determine the winner.

If nothing else, the questions might answer the question "why are those voters still undecided"?

Bob Heinlein said that democracy was based on the notion that a lot of people would be wiser than one person, which is absurd to anyone who's dealt with committes, while dictatorships are based on the equally absurd notion that one man is wiser than many.  More and more, I think that the Mexicans had it right when they made somebody absolute dictator for a year, after which time, they gathered together and cut his still-beating heart out and held it high for all to see.


Rebecca Mallory
Fri, 10/05/2012 - 2:32pm

The discussion of voters brings to mind the statement from Sir Winston Churchill.  He said that the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

That statement is sarcastic, mean spirited, and perspicacious.


Fri, 10/05/2012 - 7:11pm

May I assume, then, that you are opposed to Democracy? Or are you, like Churchill, simply drunk?

Rebecca Mallory
Sat, 10/06/2012 - 6:10am

You may assume what you like.  But remember the words of John Gay:

Pride is increased by ignorance;

Those who assume the most know the least.

Harl Delos
Sat, 10/06/2012 - 5:35pm

“Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober.” -- Winston Churchill

They used to use literacy tests in some southern states to keep certain people from voting.  White folks got easy questions.  I'd be willing to accept a trivia test based on knowledge of wrestling, the Kardashians, Survivor, Big Brother, and other reality shows, provided that it was people who knew the answers who were excluded from voting.

Or perhaps they could list twenty names for each race, and no party affiliations, so that if you weren't an informed voter,  only about 10% of your votes would go to someone with half a chance of winning.

Sat, 10/06/2012 - 7:40pm

To Ms. Mallory:

"Those who assume the most know the least."

Do you really not see the irony here?

john b kalb
Sun, 10/07/2012 - 3:28pm

Small Place ......: When you "assume" you make an "a**" out of "u" and "me".   I'm am unsure about Ms Mallory, but I am certain about you!

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 9:29am

Thanks for sharing that chestnut, Mr. Kalb. I'm sure no one has ever heard it before. I'll get off your lawn now, so you can stop shaking your cane at me.

Christopher Swing
Tue, 10/09/2012 - 11:26pm

This thread was flawless comedy courtesy of Mallory walking right into rakes, and then Mad Kalb Disease has to break out and make it sad.