Was Jim Lehrer a Replacement Moderator?

Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, gamingvulture.tumblr.com. And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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13 Responses

  1. Will Truman says:

    I actually thought that the debate was far more interesting for what Lehrer did and did not do. I thought the specific format of the debate (“you have two minutes to answer”) would have constrained it in a way to make it not just less interesting, but less informative. There may be an argument that the moderator should put “feet to the fire” and be more confrontational. I understand the idea behind it, but I have a natural skepticism towards it.

    It reminded me of Bush vs Gore Debate 3, which was up until now the best debate I watched live. BvG-3 still beats this one in terms of entertainment value, but this one seemed more… I don’t know… insightful?Report

    • Ethan Gach in reply to Will Truman says:

      I should probably note, that listening to it rather than watching it, the debate doesn’t come off nearly as lopp-sidedly, I don’t think, even being as liberal as I am.

      What did you find insightful about it, out of curiosity? Being that you’re on the high-information end of the voter spectrum, I’d be curious what you felt you learned from it.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Ethan Gach says:

        I found it indicative that Romney is willing to acknowledge (or even advance the notion that) things are more complicated than the soundbites he’s been putting out. He’s at least willing to tip his hat towards concerns that he has up to this point seemed dismissive of. Perhaps the biggest thing for me personally is that he seemed much more in his own element taking the posture he took last night than he has in the more recent past taking on the right-wing moniker. A lot of people will dismiss that as irrelevant, but I’m not quite willing to.

        On Obama’s side, his ownership of Obamacare and his attempts to sell it. He didn’t do a remarkably great job on that, but the interest was there. There was also a discernible lack of interest in running against the GOP congress. Both of these surprised me and I consider them to be important going forward (or at least where he wanted to go forward).

        To be honest, I tend to be dismissive of the actual stances that politicians take in debates, and their specific proposals. So I’m reading a bit more into abstract things.Report

  2. Chad says:

    I just wanted to hug Jim Lehrer and tell him that everything would be okay. He’s got those big, black muppet eyes.Report

  3. Michelle says:

    Romney made Lerher his biotch. I’ve seen several replays of his exchanges with Lerher and they make me wince. Romney was downright rude and disrespectful, obsessed with “the rules” and making sure he got the last word. This strategy isn’t new to Romney. He pulled similar stunts during the Republican primaries and said stunts didn’t make him appear likeable but more like the school yard bully or the guy in class who always blurts out the answer before anybody else gets a chance.

    I don’t know if the results would have been different had Lerher done a better job moderating. Obama blew several chances to blow Romney out of the water on Romney’s prevarications. He’s yet to master the pithy response. However, I did think that Lerher’s questions were lame. How many minutes did he spend formulating them? This was the best he could do?

    I disagree with Will in that I found vast swaths of the debate to be boring. Next time I clearly need to watch the debate beer in hand.Report

  4. MaxL says:

    I read some liberal commentary this morning and wonder if we were watching the same debate. I actually thought it was a pretty dull affair. I worked late, so just watched them on the DVR without any commentary before or after. Romney was definitely on offense and left a few pitches hanging out there that Obama didn’t hit. Otherwise, Romney was going through point by refutations and Obama was rambling. I ended up turning it off just before the closing statements but was really surprised to see Sullivan and Chris Matthews freaking out. The debates never play out like a a screeching hour of Hardball. Thank God. Is that what they were hoping for?

    These debates aren’t aimed a me, I was never going to change my vote and I don’t pretend to know how it played to undecideds in the swing states (the only voters that ever matter, right?). The memorable lines for me were “All you folks under 55 better listen to this part” and “Are your plans just so great for the middle class that you’re afraid to show them to anyone?” I’m predisposed to take Romney’s proposals with a grain of salt; Bush cured me of believing anything I hear from Republicans in debates, so I am sure I am a bad judge at knowing which lines Mitt was especially pleased with.

    Maybe the next two will be more interesting than that one.Report

    • Michelle in reply to MaxL says:

      My husband, the quant analyst, actually thought Obama one. He found Romney frenetic, unfocused, and repetitive, and saw Obama as responding coolly with a decent command of the facts.

      Go figure.Report

      • Kim in reply to Michelle says:

        my husband (a sometime quant analyst), also felt that Romney was hepped up higher than a kite on caffeine. ‘course, he also said romney won.Report

      • MaxL in reply to Michelle says:

        It was a strange, almost of wonky debate. I think it is something of a pattern with liberals to think they will win any debate on the facts alone so their disappointment is par for the course this morning. And no matter what, Romney was going to declare himself the winner. That those two things happened at the same time is either coincidence or one of the first signs that somebody is awake at the wheel in the Romney campaign.

        It’s funny, but I would bet that if Obama had veered as far to the right as Romney did to the center, the liberal critics would be going even more crazy. Do conservatives mind at all that Romney introduced a rather new platform last night? Democrats have been tacking to the center in the primaries since 1984 at least, so my sense is that they wouldn’t cotton to going even further rightward in a debate. But there seems to be a sense of persecution among conservatives and evangelicals, so maybe they are able to shrug off as a necessary evil the need to speak differently in mixed company?

        I know that last sentence is rough on conservatives, but it’s just a thought, sticky stuff on the wall and all that.Report

  5. Nob Akimoto says:

    Lehrer was terrible.

    And his questions reflected his biases as a white, comfortably middle-class, straight dude in spades.

    That is to say, even if his questions had been asked, the questions themselves were wholly inadequate and made a joke of the notion that this was about “domestic policy”. Should’ve just come out and said it was an economic debate.Report

    • During the ‘cast, I actually asked what the third debate was going to be precisely because I wondered if they had separated economic issues from social issues (and socio-economic like immigration). Maybe they’ll focus on the social issues in the town hall, but I agree that it was a pretty glaring omission.Report