Tim Kowal

Tim Kowal is a husband, father, and attorney in Orange County, California, Vice President of the Orange County Federalist Society, commissioner on the OC Human Relations Commission, and Treasurer of Huntington Beach Tomorrow. The views expressed on this blog are his own. You can follow this blog via RSS, Facebook, or Twitter. Email is welcome at timkowal at gmail.com.


  1. The self-pity was a bit much; if Romney and his super-PACs can’t get his message out, someone’s not doing their job. But he did get in some good zingers.

  2. Romney was definitely sharper in terms of timing and delivery. His big winners were the jokes at his teetotaling. I think he made a mistake by going for the sharper political jabs. The only one that really landed was the “Brought to you by the letter O” one.

    Obama bumbled around a little bit. I think he suffers in that the best way to score laughs is by making fun of yourself and all the good jokes got told four years ago. I’d call this a loss for him, except that by playing it safe while Romney crossed the line, he managed to seem more in the spirit of the thing than Romney did. That’s might be enough to make it a tie.

    The whining was annoying. Mitt’s “The media doesn’t pay attention to me”, and Barack’s “I sucked at the first debate” were both painful to listen too.

    Since I just watched the speeches as video clips, I missed seeing who went first. They both made the exact same Cuomo joke — If I were the person who spoke second, I’d definately have skipped it.

    • Nobody watches the Al Smith dinner or forms any voting intentions based on doing so. Hence, there’s no winning or losing to be done – in fact the whole point is for there not to be.

      As far as I could tell, Obama wanted to be there less than he wanted to be at the fist debate. His opening line I thought was disarmingly ingenuous, paraphrasing: ‘At this moment the voters of Ohio are preparing to make the important decision of who will be president for the next four years. What exactly are we doing here, again?” Quite. I’m pretty sure he meant that very sincerely.

      And good for him. What a revolting event.

  3. Romney was surprisingly good with his delivery. I particularly liked his joke at the end about the Catholic Church bringing God’s love to children. Not sure why that one didn’t get a bigger laugh.

  4. Thus far, I’ve only heard Romney. I thought he was at his best and funniest when he lampooned himself. When he went after Obama and the media on pointedly political issues, it seemed a bit inappropriate. It just didn’t seem the proper venue, since some of the criticisms he was making are actual talking points for his campaign, and using that venue for those doesn’t really leave your opponent an appropriate time to respond. Those would have been fine at rallies and whatnot, but every time he went after Obama, I was sorta thinking, “Seriously? He knows this isn’t a political event.”

    Maybe I don’t really understand how these speeches usually go and this is the norm and I’m concern-trolling, but that was my amateur, knee-jerk reaction to his speech. When I get a chance to listen to Obama’s, if he indeed did the same, I’ll either offer the same criticism to him or rescind what I’ve offered to Romney.

    • Kazzy, fair enough. I actually felt a little uncomfortable for Obama and imagine I’d not appreciate some of the remarks were the shoe on the other foot.

      • Here are the transcripts. I thought Romney was tougher, but as a matter of degree, not kind. [Romney went first, so alan was right–Obama should have killed the Cuomo joke.]



        I thought it did Romney some good because he seemed to fit into the occasion, rather than seeming he just dropped in from Neptune, which admittedly has been a problem.

        • he seemed to fit into the occasion, rather than seeming he just dropped in from Neptune, which admittedly has been a problem.

          Yes, indeed. I thought so too. If this Romney had been present thruought the campaign, I think things would be very different right now. He was accessible, self-deprecating, showed a sense of humor (obvs), was personable. He’s obviously comfortable in those surroundings. He’s quite obviously uncomfortable in … other surroundings.

        • Thanks, Tom. It seems Obama was much less on the attack (I read, didn’t listen or watch). A quip about Ryan’s marathon “gaffe”, a joke about Mitt’s name… otherwise it seemed largely focused on making fun of himself.

          All-in-all, I’d say Mitt’s jokes seemed funnier… but it struck me as far more political than was appropriate. Again, I fully submit that I don’t know how these events usually go, but it seems sort of unbecoming to take jabs at someone who is in zero position to respond. Had Mitt said any of this at a rally, it’d all be fair game. At a non-partisan fundraiser? I dunno.

          • Edge is good in these things: in the old days it never saw the light of day let alone TV. I’d say a 5 is about right. Obama was a 3 or 4, Romney about a 7. And if you’re going to go 7 it did help that it was funny. You go 7 and the jokes fall flat = nasty. Jerk. Death.

          • Oh, yes. Romney had more of an edge. I’d argue too much edge. But that might just be a matter of taste. The jokes were there and were good ones. I think it tended toward bullying, but there was enough humor to make you wonder about which side of that line he was on; as you say, had he not been funny, he would have blasted through it.

          • I gave him 2 points too much on the aggression scale there, but y’know, one size don’t fit all. The fact that it was Romney the Boy Scout pulling it off was kind of fascinating. Had it been Obama the Cool Guy, starting to trail in the polls, it would have come off as hollow and desperate.

            Romney’s been pulling it off, the complex conundrum of respectfully giving the incumbent a drubbing. There’s no “right’ way to do it until you do it.

            My old friend Jay Homnick is absolutely thrilled up the leg with how Romney’s been achieving what was thought to be a delicate if not impossible task just a month ago.


            Watching the town-hall debate between President Obama and Governor Romney on Tuesday night, I kept murmuring to myself: “This is unprecedented. No one has ever debated like this before.”

            The moment the debate ended, the ponderous voice of one the CBS Newsasurauses came on and said: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have just witnessed something historic. The nature of Presidential debate has been transformed forever.” My daughter quickly high-fived me, as her faith in Daddy’s omniscience was confirmed. Meanwhile, the oldster on the screen – probably kicked in the shins by outraged colleagues — walked his statement back to an extent, saying only that both sides had set a new record for rancor.

            Baloney! This was not historic because of both sides. This was historic because of one side. Namely, Governor Romney, or perhaps — as one questioner (intentionally?) addressed him — President Romney. To put it simply, Willard “Mitt” Romney, the Mormon guy, the starched-collar guy, the high-falutin’ guy, the out-of-touch guy, the too-polite guy, walked out onto a stage and delivered the best performance in the history of televised debates.

            Yes, he was better than my personal hero, Ronald Reagan. Better by a long shot.

            It seems Jay’s overdoing it, but if you think about it, the turn in the polls for Romney has been bigger than for Reagan.

          • If Obama had been aggressive and Romney self-deprecating, O. would have been the classless guy not knowing how to behave at a non-partisan charity event. But lots of things are OK if you’re a rich Republican.

          • Honestly, that was a line I thought didn’t work at all because it’s pure self-pity.

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