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Jim Lehrer Did Not Fail As Moderator, President Obama Did Not Debate As Energetically As Needed

October 4, 2012

This morning the reviews are coming in from all sources about the performance of President Obama during the presidential debate.  None are the type Democrats want to read.

But equally scathing are the reviews about the moderator, Jim Lehrer.  Many are expressing dismay with his performance during last night’s presidential debate.  Before I get to the thrust of this post there needs to be some background.

I have been watching Jim Lehrer on PBS from the time I was in high school, when the program that is now the NewsHour was only 30-minutes, and was co-anchored with Robert MacNeil.  I can say with all honesty I absolutely love Jim Lehrer, and have the utmost respect for his journalistic capabilities and insight.

I understand many wish some of those things I find so remarkable about Lehrer would have been more on display during the debate.

I would argue for the most part they were.

Many pundits had felt Leherer would demand specifics, and make the debate as informative as possible.  But if one looks at the topics covered, and the amount of facts and figures thrown out from each candidate it is hard to argue that the debate was not substantive.

One can always argue–and I d0–about some of the facts thrown out by Mitt Romney–but that is the nature of any debate.

Many feel the best debate is where the moderator is more a potted plant on the stage, and not a main player.  I am sure Lehrer was intending to be more demanding in getting more topics covered, and more specifics presented for the viewers.

But with the abrasive way Romney ran over the rules and the moderator it is hard to fault Lehrer to the extent many are doing this morning.

The focus of any angst over the debate must be placed at the feet of the two candidates on the stage.

President Obama is someone I am truly impressed with.  I find his intellect refreshing, and his ability to reflect and analyze complicated matters one of his strongest assets.  While he was not my first choice in the 2008 Democratic primaries–nor was Hillary Clinton—Obama won me over with his smarts.  Pure and simple.

I wanted that man who wowed a nation in 2008 to step out on the debating stage last night, and push the facts.  I understand that a national campaign of this type is draining, and that there is no way for me to know the extent that the job he has wears and tugs at every ounce of his energy every day.

Yet the debate was the moment where Mitt Romney needed to be put into  a corner that he could never recover from.  The twisted ideas and flawed logic that Romney has touted for months needed to be contained once and for all.

The person who could have done that job last night was President Obama.

Placing blame this morning on Jim Lehrer is not fair.  He is not the person who was supposed to take the fight to Mitt Romney.

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