I’ve been a crappy, disconnected blogger recently. (Sorry.) I’ve been too busy building a surprisingly thriving family law practice–sadly, we’re splitting up more debt than assets, something that we’ll address in a piece soon–and, while I’ve been watching and engaging as best I can, I haven’t had the chance to weigh in on the campaigns at this crucial time since the first presidential debate in Denver.
Tonight was the final debate in a long campaign, something I’ve been thinking about since I wallowed in self-pity and fear for my nation after Election Day in 2008. Unlike in the two previous presidential debates, when I thought that Mitt Romney hit every point with precision and persuasiveness, tonight I feel as though he left quite a bit on the table.
In a certain respect, I debate for a living. Because of the nature of the Family Court in South Carolina, every hearing is on a case of first impression when it comes to the wonderful but taxed Family Court judges we have and, as a result, it comes down to oral argument and who can express their message as quickly and persuasively as possible. I’ve sat second-chair during custody hearings, watching when the case I prepared was being argued by another attorney — no matter how good that attorney is, they can never hit all of the points I want them to.
The question is never whether they hit every point I wanted them to hit. The question is whether they did enough to get the judge to hold in our favor.
The same goes for Mitt Romney. I wanted him to hit every point. Not only did I want him to underscore everything with a systemic message of “peace through strength,” I wanted him to hammer the president on the Benghazi attack timeline, on his lack of interest in intelligence briefings, and on his subordination of Israel and PM Netanyahu to Jay-Z and David Letterman on his presidential priority list. A good debater has a core set of arguments and themes to revert to whenever possible — I wanted these specifics to be at that core.
They were not. I was yelling at my television, pleading with Mitt to hit the president hard on Benghazi. Look at my Twitter feed.
That’s not to say that Mitt did poorly. He was positively Reaganesque in his boundless optimism, he appealed to the libertarian in me through articulating his streak of noninterventionism, and he framed the “peace through strength” argument beautifully while simultaneously delivering a blisteringly specific attack on Barack Obama’s “apology tour” — right after Obama walked right into the specifics by saying that he never apologized.
Throughout this entire engagement, Mitt Romney has been impressive as can be. He has been the candidate I hoped for in 2008 when he was the remaining alternative to John McCain. And he has, admittedly, been the antithesis of the candidate I worried about during the GOP primary process this time around.
And, while I stick with my months-long prediction of Romney by eight percentage points on Election Day, I find myself wondering what the next two weeks will bring. I still think that the president has something up his sleeve, whether it be conveniently leaked photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse, whether it be some sort of student loan forgiveness, or whether it be the relentless rehash of Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry’s indictment of Mitt Romney’s work at Bain Capital.
However, I don’t think that it’s going to be enough. While I worry that my perception of the race may be colored by my d0micile in a decidedly red state, I still feel this certain air of inevitability right now. I don’t see the yard signs I expected to see. I don’t see the rallies that we’ve seen, or that I expected to see. Instead, I see enormous crowds for Romney events, and I hear checkout-line conversations. People aren’t scared anymore. People are resolute. People know that they are not alone. And, dare I say, people are confident.
In order to erode that confidence, Obama needed a clear win of the sort that Romney had during the first debate. Obama did decidedly better in the final two debates, but he didn’t do enough. And, while I may never understand the wisdom of avoiding a discussion of the Benghazi attack timeline and the concealment of same from the American people, I trust that Mitt Romney did enough.
Much like how everyday Americans don’t need a poll or a debate or a speech to understand that there is something wrong with our economic engine, they don’t need a think-tank to tell them that there’s something amiss overseas, especially in the Middle East. Romney’s overall theme of “peace through strength” was good — it was positive, it had specific ramifications without getting bogged down in detail. And, for a challenger to an incumbent president, Mitt Romney did exceptionally well.
Now, let’s just see it translate to votes on November 6.