Monday, 01 October 2012 13:54

Chehardy: The Big Debates—TP, Obama, Romney

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obama-v-romneyThe Debates.  President Obama and Challenger Mitt Romney have been spending the past several weeks preparing for their upcoming debates.  These series of debates are crucial for both candidates and especially so for Mitt Romney.  In fact, a mediocre performance by Romney dooms his campaign.



Already expectations for the debates are being down played by the Obama campaign.  All of this is hype which is attempting to set the bar low for the President so that his performance can then be said to have exceeded expectations.  But regardless of Obama’s performance the debate performance for Mitt Romney is critical.  He must do well.  He must do very well.  He must show he is capable of being President and that he is prepared for the job.

The target audience for the debates by both campaigns will be those voters who have yet to make up their minds.  The campaigns will also be directing their messages to those voters who have chosen a candidate but are not deeply committed to that candidate meaning they could change their minds by Election Day. 

It will be interesting to see if the media presses the President on his economic and foreign affairs policies both his successes and his failures.  And will the media press Governor Romney on the specifics of his economic plans and his view of American foreign policy?  Will the moderator(s) of the debates stand for stump speeches by the candidates or will they press the candidates for specifics?  Will Governor Romney stand toe to toe with the President and challenge his statements?  You know the President will challenge Romney’s claims. 

Debates can affect the outcome of elections.  In 1960 the winner of the Kennedy-Nixon Debate depended on whether you watched the debate on television or listened to it on the radio. Those who watched television thought Senator Kennedy won.  Those who listened to it on the radio thought Vice-President Nixon won.  Kennedy won the election.  In 1992 President George H. W. Bush kept looking at his watch during his debate with Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.  Clinton was elected.

Every word uttered by the candidates in the debates can be seen and analyzed by the viewers.  But the media will scrutinize those same words and tell viewers what the candidates said or meant to say as if viewers cannot make up their own minds.  Pundits will substitute their interpretation of what the candidates said and meant for what they say the candidates said and meant. Finally, the opposing campaigns will take those same words out of context and twist them into campaign commercials that benefit them.  Regrettably, many voters will be influenced by what the media and the pundits say about the candidates and what the campaigns say about each other.  Even the fact checkers can be biased.  So your best bet is to watch the debates yourself and make up your own mind.  If you don’t others stand ready and willing to do it for you, and in a democracy this is not good.

The Times Picayune.  As is typical for most mornings I woke up and headed down the stairs and out the front door looking for the morning paper.  Then it hit me.  The morning paper that I grew up reading no longer exists.  I picked up what had been left on the front walkway of my house and headed back inside.  It bore the bad news of another Saints’ loss.  Morning news in New Orleans and the metro area has been changed forever. 

The internet is the future, and now the question is whether or not a three day a week newspaper can survive at all.  We have become a society of the instant and the spontaneous.  When it happens anywhere in the world, we can know about it in just a few minutes if not seconds.  We don’t have to be in front of a television or run to the corner for a special edition of the paper the way our grandparents and great grandparents did.  We get it on our computers, our mobile phones, and our iPads.  You can read the Wall Street Journal on line, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.  You can get your local news online as well.  Television and radio web sites have it all. 

If the Times Picayune wants to survive, it needs a more friendly online paper.  Maybe that is coming.  And if it is it needs to get here quickly or it won’t matter because readers will permanently go elsewhere for local news.   Just three times a week won’t cut it. 

Tomorrow morning I won’t be walking outside in my pj’s because the morning paper won’t be there to greet me.  I guess I can take some solace that a few trees will live and survive another day.

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Lawrence Chehardy

For thirty-four years Lawrence Chehardy served as Assessor of Jefferson Parish. He has been the leading authority on Louisiana’s property tax laws. In addition to his political commentary and public speaking engagements, Lawrence Chehardy is a founding member of the Chehardy, Sherman, Ellis, Murray, Recile, Griffith, Stakelum & Hayes Law Firm and serves as its managing partner.

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