“The hirsute and somewhat elderly gent keeling over in the G.O.P. green room was John Bolton”
In 2005 and 2006, [John Bolton] spent a year and a half camped out on the East Side trying to insult as many U.N. officials (and foreigners in general) as he could. In reaction to questions about why Romney had enlisted head cases like Bolton to his foreign-policy team, his flacks frequently pointed to the presence of less fearsome figures, such as Robert Zoellick, the former head of the World Bank. But who knew that Romney had also enlisted Katrina vanden Heuvel and Kofi Annan as advisers? Not I, anyway.Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at email@example.com
Why President Obama won’t be able to use the same debate style as Biden next week
By virtue of his position and his personality, Barack Obama cannot comport himself in the next debates the way Biden did this evening. But Obama sure as hell should be studying the detailed defense Biden offered of the administration’s record and plans, his willingness to go right at the other side’s policies, and his overall “Game On!” attitude from the first second he began to speak. Seriously, Biden himself and whoever helped prepare him for this evening should be feeling very good about what they did. (As Romney and his team did a week ago.)Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
How Romney and Ryan’s policies merged into one during last night’s debate
Thursday’s debate marked Ryan’s settling into the running mate’s traditional role: Less superstar than junior partner. It’s a role that two recent Republican campaigns had seemed to erase, with the heavyweight Dick Cheney followed by the controversial superstar Sarah Palin giving the position an unusual heft. But Biden has served in a fairly conventional, secondary role, and Paul Ryan settled Thursday into that position: Less Cheney or Palin than, say, a slight and wonky Al Gore. Ryan’s role was to stump for his boss, to absorb attacks on his own record without complaint or rebuttal, and to reflect as many of them as possible back on the opposing ticket.Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at email@example.com
A theory on why national polling is diverging from swing state polls
The apparent split between the national vote and the electoral college has some analysts, like Nate Silver, groping for an explanation, but the answer seems fairly obvious to me: Swing states have been soaked in political information for months, with round-the-clock advertising, campaigning, and local news coverage of candidate love-bombing. The non-swing majority of America hasn’t. New information from the debates is more likely to change your mind if you just tuned in to the Denver debate than if you had been hiding under your sofa while Obama and Romney pounded down your front door.Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Obama campaign is already running debate “fact checking” ads in swing states
One reason for Obama’s performance: He came prepared to address claims Romney made on the campaign trail
Romney won the debate in no small part because he adopted a policy of simply lying about his policies. Probably the best way to understand Obama’s listless performance is that he was prepared to debate the claims Romney has been making for the entire campaign, and Romney switched up and started making different and utterly bogus ones. Obama, perhaps, was not prepared for that, and he certainly didn’t think quickly enough on his feet to adjust to it.Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at email@example.com
What role did Jim Lehrer play in the outcome of last night’s debate?
Lehrer is an affable and admirable journalist at the end of a very distinguished career, but most of the sounds he emitted last night seemed to be fragmentary sputters, as he tried unsuccessfully to interrupt the candidates and maintain control of the discussion. He did not ask forceful or original questions to challenge either candidate’s assumptions or misleading statements on the trail. Instead, he again and again asked President Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney simply to clarify their differences—a civic-minded sort of request, but about as far from Ted Koppel’s biting inquiry in the heyday of “Nightline” as it was possible for a moderator to move in such an important forum. Left largely on their own, the candidates spoke in their rehearsed dialects in a random, repetitive pattern. They almost seemed disoriented by the lack of control. “Jim—I—you may want to move on to another topic,” Obama declared after twenty-one consecutive minutes of dense, mostly opaque exchanges about tax policy at the start of the debate.
Oops. Rick Perry