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“SNL” Will Hold Ammunition on Final Debate


Sadly the bayonets won’t be sharpened on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend even though President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney gave the NBC satirical show plenty of ammunition Monday night.

That’s because “SNL” is airing a repeat of the season premiere with Seth MacFarlane this weekend.

Hey, the cast has to get a week off some time and the November sweeps are coming.

It’s too bad that the “SNL” bye week comes now, since it would have been so easy to predict there would have been sketches on bayonets, President Obama’s aggressiveness and Romney’s sweating and prevent defense passivity.

MacFarlane was one of the many tweeters throughout the 90-minute debate, including some one-liners about the President’s trending comment on Twitter about “bayonets and horses” to Romney about the decline of naval ships since 1916.

Chuck Todd

As predicted here Monday, network analysts were pretty passive and reluctant to declare a winner in the third and final debate before the instant polls came out.

The only clear winner was moderator Bob Schieffer, who didn’t trend on Twitter because he played a referee who didn’t get in the way of the conversation and was hardly noticed.

Perhaps the most telling post-debate comment came from NBC’s Chuck Todd, who noted that if there hadn’t been any pre-debate polls you would have thought that a more passive Romney thought he was ahead because he didn’t respond directly to any charge made by an aggressive President, who acted like he thought he was behind.

Interestingly, the pre-debate story was that this final debate mattered because the national polls were so close. After the debate, CBS’ John Dickerson and some Republican analysts suggested it didn’t matter much if at all. Huh?

Then the instant polls came in. CBS’ poll of uncommitted voters gave it to the President by a landslide, 53-23, with the rest undecided. CNN’s poll that skewed more Republican had the President winning 48-40. ABC’s scorecard on “Nightline” by former Republican campaign advisor Matthew Dowd and the moderator of the second debate, Martha Raddatz, gave the President the win, too.

Similarly, a CBS poll declaring President Obama a winner in the second debate had a much higher margin of victory than the CNN poll declaring him the victor.

The President’s back-to-back debate wins might make some Republicans sweat as much as Romney did Monday in Florida. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was the only one who I heard bring up Romney’s sweating, which reminded some old-timers of what happened to Richard Nixon in his famous 1960 debate with President Kennedy.    

Some Republican analysts – notably CNN’s Alex Castellanos and ABC’s Nicolle Wallace – seemed to suggest Monday that the calm Romney could turn out the winner among undecided voters because he looked calm and presidential and shifted the foreign policy subjects to the economy.

The “looking presidential” strategy wouldn’t seem to be a difficult standard to meet. Can you name the last presidential nominee who didn’t meet that easy standard? McCain? Kerry? Gore? They all looked presidential.  

Equally, strange was the idea that Romney had won by losing well and agreeing with the President so often. NBC’s “Today” opened today with the headline that read “Fire and Nice.” I don’t think I should have to tell you which nominee fit those descriptions.

 A CBS poll that showed that Obama had improved his standing with uncommitted voters by 22-12 percent over Romney seemed to contradict the claim that you can win by being nice.

The analysts were playing nice with Romney. Consider this: If President Obama had performed like his challenger did Monday night, do you think analysts would have been so nice?

Come to think of it, President Obama did perform like Romney in the first debate. And justifiably got hammered for it. The media’s reluctance to do the same with Romney seems to be out of fear that it would get hammered by Republicans claiming they were pro-Obama. The people in CBS’ poll didn’t seem to have that worry.

The question that is open to debate is whether the third debate mattered that much at all. There is a view that the first debate that changed the race is the only one that really mattered and the President’s wins in debates two and three weren’t as important.

That very well could be true. But if Western New York is any indication, that won’t be because interest in the second and third debates lessened that much. The second debate had a combined 41 rating here on all the channels that carried it, which was higher than the 39 rating for the first debate had on those channels. To put the debates in perspective, the Buffalo Bills’ 35-34 loss to Tennessee Sunday had a 33.3 rating. In other words, the debates outscored the Bills games here.

The combined local rating for Monday’s third debate was 37.6, which still is impressive when you consider it was opposite a Monday Night Football  game (7.9 rating) and San Francisco’s game 7 win over St. Louis for the National League baseball title (4.1) and also was supposed to focus on a subject – foreign policy – that many Americans don’t care about that much. So WNYers were still very interested in the final debate.

If President Obama loses the election in two weeks, he will forever regret his performance in the first debate.

If President Obama wins, the bayonets will be out on the Romney strategists that told him “nice” was the way to go in the final debate to look presidential.


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2 responses to "“SNL” Will Hold Ammunition on Final Debate"

  1. Rob says:

    I’ll keep it brief for simpletons like Doug:

    I don’t know what station(s) you were watching but the majority seemed to declare Obama the winner, which you even acknowledge a few sentences later.

    More than just Republican analysts seemed to think the third debate didn’t matter as much as the first two. The casual observer doesn’t rank foreign policy as high on the attention span as the economy, plus I’ll bet this is the lowest rated because of the content. You’ll see no bounce for either side and this thing will be just like 2004 (as predicted) with Ohio being the holy grail.

    I can’t recall but another pundit mentioned Romney’s sweating. I didn’t notice that as much as that one strand of hair that was dangling around. The hairspray must have missed that!

    I disagree with you that McCain looked Presidential during his campaign. Dole, Perot, Dukakis and even Bush Jr in 2000 all fumbled as looking “Presidential.” What makes that an advantage for Romney is that he didn’t look that part at all until the first debate which then opened some eyes and closed the gap.

    I didn’t see many analysts playing nice with Romney as much as they said he was too nice during the debate. Most seemed puzzled at the approach.

    This was a little long Doug so my apologies. In the spirit of the blame game, I blame Alan for bringing up some good points of discussion!

  2. Larry says:

    AP, can I just say I hate this channel 2 countdown thing. I like to switch at night and am between 2 and 4 to mix it up and I can’t stand this countdown. Want a bad idea

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