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Samuel Getachew

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Sorry Obama, But Debates Are Won With Gusto

Posted: 10/04/2012 12:55 pm

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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  • President Barack Obama shakes hands with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney after the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Pool-Michael Reynolds)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama arrives on stage October 3, 2012 for the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney make their way to their lecterns October 3, 2012 after shaking hands for the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wave October 3, 2012 after shaking hands as he arrives on stage for the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) participate in the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012, moderated by Jim Lehrer (C) of the PBS NewsHour. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) participate in the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012, moderated by Jim Lehrer (C) of the PBS NewsHour. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) speaks during the first presidential debate with US President Barack Obama (R) October 3, 2012 at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US First Lady Michelle Obama (2nd-L) listens as US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012, moderated by Jim Lehrer of the PBS NewsHour. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama speaks during his debate with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012, moderated by Jim Lehrer (C) of the PBS NewsHour. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during his debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during his debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama speaks during his debate with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) participate in the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012, moderated by Jim Lehrer (C) of the PBS NewsHour. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) participate in the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012, moderated by Jim Lehrer (C) of the PBS NewsHour. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama speaks during his debate with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (L) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney finish their debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shake hands October 3, 2012 at the conclusion of the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

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    US President Barack Obama (R) kisses First Lady Michelle Obama in Denver, Colorado, on October 3, 2012 at the end of the first presidential debate with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

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    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney share a laugh October 3, 2012 at the conclusion of the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shake hands October 3, 2012 at the conclusion of the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney share a laugh October 3, 2012 at the conclusion of the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney walk towards their wifes October 3, 2012 at the conclusion of the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

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    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney listen as moderator Jim Leherer speaks October 3, 2012 during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

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    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney look down October 3, 2012 during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (top) speaks during his debate with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (bottom) at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during his debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks to moderator Jim Lehrer during his debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

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    US President Barack Obama (2n-L) and First Lady Michelle Obama (L) join Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (2nd-R) and his family at the conclusion of the first presidential debate on October 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

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    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, greet the audience after his debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama speaks during his debate with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during his debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) greets Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) following the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) greets Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) following the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) greets Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) following the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama gestures on stage following his debate with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican challenger Mitt Romney (L) participate in their first debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and US First Lady Michelle Obama (C) walk on stage before Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) following their first debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) arrive for the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stands with his wife Ann and family following the first presidential debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stands with his wife Ann following the first presidential debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican challenger Mitt Romney shake hands following their first debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican challenger Mitt Romney (L) participate in their first debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Pool, Rick Wilking)

  • President Barack Obama smiles at moderator Jim Lehrer during the first presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Pool, Rick Wilking)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama answers a question during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Mitt Romney, Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney participate the first presidential debate in Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Pool-Michael Reynolds)

  • President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Pool-Michael Reynolds)

  • President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Pool, Rick Wilking)

  • President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Pool-Michael Reynolds)

 

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