Romney was extremely well-prepared and came across as someone more than ready to do the job for which he is running. ...Obama’s facial expressions seemed to alternate between grimly looking down at his podium and smirking when Romney said something with which he disagreed. Snapping at debate moderator Jim Lehrer — more on that later — didn’t help Obama either. ...WaPo
That seems to describe it pretty well, judging from the very brief replay I heard in the middle of the night -- after not watching or hearing debate itself. Obama seemed to consider Romney an unnecessary evil, a slick bore -- professional and self-serving. Which is pretty much the way many of us see Romney. But the president might have done better to aggressively put him out of the way rather than avoid engagement. As it was, Obama exhibited a democratic tolerance towards a candidate he sees as a threat -- yes, but also as a snake-oil salesman.
Romney's self-serving rhetoric goes hand-in-hand with wily dishonesty and, as the Times points out, Romney was off-track on a number of issues.
... Among other misleading statements, Mr. Romney falsely stated that Mr. Obama had doubled the deficit. “The president said he’d cut the deficit in half,” Mr. Romney charged. “Unfortunately, he doubled it.” ...
The Times did some fact-checking through the debate. A few catches:
Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney repeatedly sparred over whether Mr. Romney has proposed a $5 trillion tax cut.
It is true that Mr. Romney has proposed “revenue neutral” tax reform, meaning that he would not expand the deficit. However, he has proposed cutting all marginal tax rates by 20 percent — which would in and of itself cut tax revenue by $5 trillion.
To make up that revenue, Mr. Romney has said he wants to clear out the underbrush of deductions and loopholes in the tax code. But he has not yet specified how he would do so. ...NYT
That's been a constant throughout Romney's campaign.
Mr. Romney said that Mr. Obama’s health care overhaul would allow the federal government to “take over health care,” an assertion rejected by the president.
The 2010 health care law clearly expands the role of the federal government. But it also builds on the foundation of private health insurance, providing subsidies for millions of low- and moderate-income people to buy private insurance. ...NYT
And, of course, it's also state-based. Not to mention the fact that insurance companies love it: they get a lot more paying customers. As for the legal viability of the new law, it's been given its pass by the Supreme Court.
One Republican "talking point" that annoys many of us is the one that asserts "half the companies backed by the president’s green energy stimulus program have gone out of business," a line Romney pushed last night.
That is a gross overstatement. Of nearly three dozen recipients of loans under the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program, only three are currently in bankruptcy, although several others are facing financial difficulties. Mr. Romney also said that “many” of the companies that received such loans were supported by campaign contributors. George Kaiser, a major fund-raiser for Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign, was an investor in Solyndra, the failed solar panel maker, but there are also examples of Republican and Democratic campaign contributors who also invested in firms supported by the loan guarantee program. ...NYT
That's what a federal venture capital fund, aka "loan guarantee program," is for, after all.
And talk about boring, Romney tried to foist off on his audience the old canard about Obama's having cut "$716 billion from Medicare" once again.
While fact-checkers have repeatedly debunked this claim, it remains a standard attack line for Mr. Romney. ...NYT
No complaints about Obama's integrity so far. But the day is young...
One commenter's assessment: "Romney: B; Obama: C; Lehrer: F; Audience: A."
Another says, in effect, Get Rid of John Kerry!
I think it's true that Obama sees himself as socially and intellectually superior to Romney. So do many of us -- unashamedly. But Obama would do well to tone that down a bit and let Romney bring himself down with his own elitist attitude.
Romney had that funny look on his face whenever President Obama was talking. Somewhere between a person who is trying to overlook an unpleasant smell and a guy who is trying to restrain himself from pointing out that his car is much nicer than your car.
Obama seemed tired or bored, and he fell way behind in the much-anticipated battle of the zingers. The president thinks these debates are ridiculous, and he may well be right. But, truly, it would have been a better idea to keep the thought to himself. ...Gail Collins, NYT
Obama? "Socially and intellectually superior" to a white man, son of a "wealthy industrialist"? Damn right he is. Frank Bruni catches the same, more subtle contrast between Obama and Romney -- while many Americans are seeing, simply, black and white.
Romney wouldn’t acknowledge any missing details in his proposals. He didn’t cop to any loopy magic in his budget arithmetic. He was assertive, speaking with less hesitation and more pep than did the president, whose manner during a few stretches of the debate was weirdly lethargic. Romney didn’t so much unnerve Obama as zonk him out. He was human Ambien.
He toggled between light and heavy, scathing and upbeat, and demonstrated improved (though not great) control of that annoyed, tight, fake smile that plays so disastrously into his cartoon image as “a wealthy plutocrat married to a known equestrian,” in the inimitable words of Haley Barbour. ...Bruni, NYT
"Wealthy plutocrat" versus natural aristocrat.
Mitt Romney talks real pretty.
His command of the art was likely gained selling his Mormon religion in France while I and my fellow draftees were sweating out the nights on ambush, and the days on recons in force in South Vietnam. It's likely, years later, his talent was invaluable at Bain Capital, making and breaking companies and the lives and livelihood of their employees and former employees.
A guy who can sell Affordable Care in Massachusetts and condemn it for other Americans, dismiss 47% of Americans as freeloaders but pretend otherwise in debate, promise to slash taxes but raise spending for the military and still balance the budget...... that's the man for president for some, like Ross Douthat and David Brooks, who triumph in appearance in politics over substance.
But a smooth talking liar is still just a liar to me. ...commenter John McBride
If, like me, you avoided -- or just plain missed -- the debate and want to experience one spoonful but not the whole bowl, then Daily Intel has nice 3-minute video summary. I'm still back in the same dilemma about Romney: what is it that makes this man handsome but not attractive?
Paul Krugman on the debate ... in short: "...Enough with the theater criticism; Romney needs to be held accountable for dishonesty on a huge scale."
That's not just a gratuitous slam on Krugman's part. He backs it up with a short demonstration that "the fact is that everything Obama said was basically true, while much of what Romney said was either outright false or so misleading as to be the moral equivalent of a lie."
Of course, lies don't matter. Presidential candidates are an almost exact equivalent of football teams. You've already decided, a long time back, which team you back, and that your team is never, ever unsportsmanlike. Come the evidence that your team's coach has many disintegrating bodies of small children buried in his backyard, and you'll find a way to say that the district attorney has "exaggerated the whole story."