Prof. Daniel PipesDaniel Pipes is president and founder of the Middle East Forum, author of 12 books, several books, president of the Middle East Forum, is considered one of the world’s foremost analysts on the Middle East and Muslim history. He warned of militant Islam's war with the USA years before 9.11 and called Arafat's bluff at Oslo.
This evening's presidential debate, the second between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, featured some very sharp disagreements over facts that almost no viewers can judge (such as the licenses issued for drilling in federal lands) and agreement on the topics where viewers have strong opinions (such as capitalism).
Perhaps this debate will move those few undecided voters in Ohio, Virginia, and Florida, but it leaves the rest of us judging the debate according to which candidate we'd rather have as a dinner companion.
Put differently, Romney missed an opportunity by not discussing larger issues but letting himself get mired in details.
Obama got away with saying that he had characterized the attack on the Benghazi consulate as a terrorist incident because the moderator confirmed his point (Moderator Candy Crowley helped Barack Obama on Libya, but not for long). In fact, he misrepresented the facts when he said "The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that … this was an act of terror." (Actually, he called it "senseless violence.")
Reince Priebus, the Republican party chairman, instantly seized on this inaccuracy and accused Obama on Fox News of lying and others are sure to follow suit. This inaccuracy will likely haunt Obama over the next three weeks and turn the Libyan fiasco into an even bigger problem for his reelection campaign.
That will matter more than who "won" the debate.
Cross-posted from History News Network and the writer's October 16, 2012 blog, with full permission.