From Left to Right: the Media Analyzes the Presidential Debate

By: Fern Sidman

The analysis of the third and final presidential debate between President Barak Obama and Governor Mitt Romney was presented with alacrity on Monday evening, October 22nd, by media personalities representing all facets of the political spectrum. In a departure from previous debates, the focus of this debate was foreign policy and was hosted by CBS’ Bob Schieffer.

The reactions of the television “talking heads” and pundits varied widely, with most concluding that President Obama, clearly on the defensive coming into the debate with his poll numbers slipping in the last few weeks, took an aggressive posture and pounded his opponent.

In his post-debate analysis, FOX News personality, Sean Hannity, said, “Obama didn’t miss an opportunity to ‘spike the football’ on the killing of Osama bin Laden. But the President refuses to address the “war on terror” as it applies to radical Islamists.” Referencing President Obama’s sardonic remark about the US Navy having less ships now that it did in 1916 because now they have more aircraft carriers and less bayonets and horses, Hannity commented,”Trying to present Governor Romney as a foreign policy lightweight, Obama attempted to paint a portrait of his opponent as a man who is out of touch with modern military strategy.”

The folks at the patently pro-Obama MSNBC network had their say as well. The Reverand Al Sharpton said, “Romney appeared as though he was ‘hugging’ the President.” Likening Governor Romney to a boxer, Sharpton said, “His strategy was to clinch, embrace and agree. Romney stood for nothing tonight. Whether I agree or disagree with him, I want to hear what his positions are and he was like jello tonight. Also proffering her perspectives on the results of the debate was Rachel Maddow who consistently lambasted Romney for “denying that he ever held previous positions on foreign policy issues and this shows a deep character flaw.” She opined that for President Obama, his choice during the debate was to decide whether he was going to “impeach Romney on his switching of positions or to talk about the economy.” She added that, “Romney did a lot of damage to himself because of his presentation of basic factual errors and his lack of preparedness.”

A CNN post-debate poll showed that 48% of those watching the debate favored Obama to 40% of those who favored Romney. On the question of which of the candidates is a stronger leader, the poll revealed that 51% thought Obama was as opposed to 46% of those who thought that Romney was. When asked who could better handle the job of “Commander-in”Chief,” Governor Romney received a 60% approval rating and President Obama received 63%.

On the subject of the relationship between the United States and Israel, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer noted, “President Obama bristled when Governor Romney took him to task for not visiting Israel during his first trip to the Middle East after being elected in 2008.” He also referenced President Obama’s recent appearance on CBS’ ’60 Minutes,’ when he told his interviewer that Israel is “one of our closest allies” in the Middle East, and contrasted it to the statement Obama made during the Monday evening debate in which he said Israel was the “greatest ally” of the United States.

Boldy critiquing President Obama’s position on the US military was FOX News contributor and former vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin who said, “President Obama has displayed a lack of respect for our military troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has withheld their paychecks so he could pay for ObamaCare and he has hindered their ability to vote in a war zone. He has cut $1 trillion from the military budget and has blamed Congress for the sequestration. I really wish the media would call Obama out on these facts.”

Dominating the debate agenda was the position of the candidates on how best to deal with the rapidly escalating Iranian nuclear program. Media pundits conjectured that Governor Romney did not want to appear as a “loose cannon” or a “war monger” and stressed his focus on strengthening sanctions against Iran rather than focusing too intently on the military option. CNN presented a question of “Who is being reckless with Iran?” They gave it an “incomplete” grade as they said neither candidate offered concrete plans for a military intervention, despite the fact that both said they would “have Israel’s back” if attacked by Iran.



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