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Samuel Getachew Headshot

Sorry Obama, But Debates Are Won With Gusto

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For the average elector, the substance of a politician's argument is secondary to that of his or her delivery or style. That might explain why Mitt Romney won the first of three presidential debates last night.

As far as the pundits are concerned, America's best (current) political orator ( perhaps next to Bill Clinton), Obama, failed to explain himself and looked tired last night. Mitt Romney looked energized, witty and alert. This just might be what is wrong and broken about the American political discussion as well as ours in Canada.

Should we not be as concerned about what was said rather than how it was explained? Should we worry about the delivery or the message in political debates while ignoring substance? Should we care for "knockout punches"?

President Obama explained earlier this year how he has failed to tell his administration's record. In his absence, Mitt Romney helped him last night.

In Canada's last election, Michael Ignatieff had the idea and substance while Harper was good at communication. Harper, who literally lived his adulthood in retail politics, was able to soundbite his arguments while Ignatieff philosophized his vision and acted like the Ivy-league professor that he is.

A man of Michael Ignatieff's calibre should not have been humiliated on election day, yet that is what happened. It seemed he had a vision, yet it was misunderstood by the elector.

Last night, Mitt Romney was able to simplify everything using average English instead of the kind he acquired at Harvard. He remarked how Obama is for extensive regulations, the creation of big government via health care and an advocate for higher taxes.

Obama failed to answer these accusations and shrugged them head on. At best, he failed to use soundbites that are easy to take home or quote.

Most of the night, Obama also looked at the moderator who was seated a bit lower than the stage and for those watching the debate on TV, it looked like Obama was either reading, writing or at worst, falling asleep. Romney looked at his adversary the whole time and seemed like he was explaining and selling himself to his equal.

That made Romney look presidential.

For an average American elector who is more concerned about Jennifer Aniston and who is leading in American Idol, Obama failed to capture their imagination. In 2008 -- Obama was able to do that by using catchy phrases like such as "Yes We Can."

This time he seemed like he was lecturing Americans minus his signature passion.

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