Someone asked me early yesterday who I thought was going to win the second presidential debate. I said, "Obama will get a narrow victory." And to-day I see an article headlined, "Presidential Debate Instant Polls Show Narrow Win For Obama". What did I base my prediction on? I figured that would be the result of Obama's change in strategy calculated for the criticisms he received for his performance in the first debate. People wanted him to not only acknowledge Romney's lying but directly provide counters. That's what he did. Romney, meanwhile, isn't truly flexible--that's why he has to lie so blatantly. He's not used to an arena where people remember and take issue with what he said and did a month ago and he has no tactics for it.
There were several extraordinary moments where it seemed like the whole format was about to collapse as the two men directly confronted each other--this was something initiated by Romney, Obama seemed more inclined to stick to the You Talk Then I Talk format. But it was during one of these exchanges that I feel the tide turned for Obama--Romney kept harping on government land Obama had kicked oil companies off of. It seemed like a more or less good argument that Obama, the Big Government liberal, wasn't actually responsible for the increase in U.S. oil production he kept talking about. Romney pushed until finally Obama said yes, it was true, he kicked those companies off government land, but it was because those companies weren't actually using that land. Obama even got a good tagline in the counter, saying he told the companies to, "use it or lose it." And suddenly the very facts Romney had brought up against Obama were working in Obama's favour and all Romney could do in reply was offer a sickly smile, which looked even worse because he'd broken decorum already. What, nothing to interrupt the president with now? Aw. It made it look sort of like Obama had been pulling his punches earlier out of respect for how clearly pathetic Romney is. Like Obama was saying, "Well, I don't want to take candy from a baby, but if it keeps making him throw up like this . . ."
Of course, the whole premise of the importance of oil drilling is pretty depressing, but oh, well. It's worrying about the beard as the head's about to be cut off, as the old man in Seven Samurai said, but if decapitation is inevitable we might as well be well groomed. At least Obama rather strongly made the case that he wants to explore alternative fuels in the debate.