Wednesday, October 3, 2012

First Presidential Debate

My quick impressions.

President Obama was hesitant, thinking on his feet instead of rattling off rehearsed lines. He didn't do a good job of defending his signature domestic achievements: guiding the economy through the worse recession since the Great Depression, financial reform to insure against a repeat, and health care reform to extend coverage to tens of millions of Americans and improve coverage for all. Obama missed many opportunities to point out that Romney's promises sound good, but there is nothing behind his "plans."

After the jump, my impressions of Romney and my overall winner.

Governor Romney promised to reduce tax rates to the tune of $5 trillion without adding to the federal deficit. He promised to increase defense spending by $2 trillion without adding to the federal deficit. He promised to implement all the great features of Obamacare, after repealing Obamacare itself. He promised to increase Medicare spending by $700 billion without risking its solvency, promising to offer it unchanged as an option for young Americans. He promised to implement all the great features of Dodd-Frank financial reform, after repealing Dodd-Frank itself. I kept wondering how his answers would have gone over in a GOP primary debate. I kept concluding that he wouldn't be the GOP nominee. In short, Romney sounded like the moderate Democrat in the debate. My guess is Republicans won't notice.

Win: Romney on strategy and style.


glbeach said...

I have to agree that President Obama was too hesitant. It was as if he was running a "prevent" defense in football rather than running an aggressive offense. And as so often happens in sports, the prevent defense often prevents you from winning.

It was perplexing to me that President Obama didn't point out - in so many words - that Mr. Romney has stated he supports the Ryan budget plan that includes the tax cuts, the defense department hikes, and so on . . . one of the only budgets ever condemned by the Catholic Bishops for 'harming the poor and vulnerable' ( And if he supports the Ryan budget, then his statements in the debate become nothing more than his latest about-face.

Likewise regarding the recently released tape regarding the 47%. Why did the President not question Romney's 'concern' Wednesday night about the middle class, given his earlier taped comments that show a very cavalier approach to the middle class?

On the whole, the President was too low key and gave the evening to Romney, but overall, neither side had a breakout or a collapse that is going to seriously sway undecideds or embarrass partisans.

Mark Steger said...

Besides the fact that Romney raced to the center in the debate, besides the fact that Romney made promises that didn't add up, Romney also racked up debating points with some of this:

Romney: "Let — well, actually — actually it’s — it’s — it’s a lengthy description, but number one, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan."

Um, no they aren't. Covering pre-existing conditions is a benefit of Obamacare that Romney promises to repeal. Romney will leave it to individual states whether they force insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. In short, Romney told a bald-faced lie and got away with it because he sounded so forceful, so in command of the facts and Obama fumbled in calling him out.

That's how you win debates.

Mark Steger said...

Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone spells out how Romney won the debate. Spoiler alert: "Mitt Romney turned in a polished performance in last night's presidential debate – and revealed himself to be an accomplished and unapologetic liar."