Thursday, October 4, 2012
Marcus Carey’s On the Marc: Round 1 is over, but there’s still a lot of fight left in candidates
There will be hundreds of people speaking about the first presidential debate today and I’d like to join the chorus. Yes I watched the entire thing, and yes I’ve read what both sides are saying this morning, but rather than just repeating things that others are saying I want to express a viewpoint based upon years of observation.
First, the debates are like many other campaign events. They are opportunities for the campaigns to get media attention. Take Fancy Farm for example. The church picnic is great, the barbecue is terrific, but the political speeches are a footnote, don’t draw the crowds to the event and end up giving people the chance to craft sound bites that will get quoted in the press. Why is this important? Because getting a message to the public costs money and using the press to get “earned media” is a windfall. The debates are now crafted with the same purpose in mind.
Think of the millions of dollars that will have to be raised to be spent beaming 30-second commercials into homes across America not knowing if the TV is even on, if anybody is watching it or if the person who is watching it can even vote. But getting the press to talk about you for a day or two “wall to wall” is worth a billion dollars.
Of course, if the press is speaking favorably of you that is far better than if they are speaking ill of you. But, I’ve said this before; if anything happens in politics you can pretty well bet that somebody planned it that way.
So, with this as a background, let’s consider what the media is saying this morning. With a few exceptions they have awarded the win for last night’s debate to Mitt Romney. But what are the things they are saying about President Obama? Is anybody saying that his plans for America were suddenly discovered to be bad for America? Not unless they’ve been saying it all along they’re not.
What the media is talking about is the debate “performance” of each candidate. Now think about this for a minute. Prior to the debates each candidate tried very hard to lower expectations. Each candidate tried very hard to influence public opinion to consider him the underdog. And what did last night’s debate accomplish? With two more presidential debates left Obama has now been dubbed the underdog and Romney will be expected to outperform his first appearance.
You might think this is a crazy idea, that nobody would intentionally do poorly in a debate, but in reality, this debate will fade from memory, the media will talk about other things soon, the vice presidential candidates will debate in Danville, Ky., next week and then just before the election two more presidential debates will be aired.
Might the Obama camp have planned it this way? Well, it is politics and few if any things happen by chance. Sure there are those special moments which crystalize debate moments in history, but is anybody talking about one of those today?
There were some good quips. There was a clear comparison made between the two philosophies, but a man as well managed as Barack Obama isn’t likely to let this one day, or even week of negative press, end his pursuits.
The bell has rung. Round one is over. It’s a three-round fight.
What is coming next is what we need to be watching for, and what I predict is that Romney is in for the fight of his life.
Marcus Carey is a Northern Kentucky lawyer with 32 years experience. He is also a farmer, talk radio host and public speaker who loves history and politics. He is a prolific and accomplished writer whose blog, BluegrassBulletin.com, is “dedicated to honest and respectful comment on the political and cultural issues of our time.” He writes a regular commentary for KyForward.