Romney 1, Obama 0

October 4, 2012

If you missed the presidential debate last night, you missed a good one!  But if you like, really all you need to know is:

“You’ve been president four years!”

In my opinion, it was Romney’s best line of the evening—and it was a good evening.  (Here’s that part again with more of the context around it.)

Romney had other good lines, too, but he didn’t mainly deliver “lines” last night; he delivered substance and detail, real criticisms of President Obama’s record and real policy proposals for the future.  That made it seem all the more strange and weak that Obama’s main line about Romney seemed to be (and, at least on NBC, Obama damage-control spokesman David Axelrod’s main line about Romney after the debate still seemed to be) that Romney refused to get specific about his plans.

If you didn’t watch the debate but want to get some idea, take five minutes and watch both candidates’ closing statements.

In my opinion, Obama looks tired, and looks as if he knew he had been beaten—not that Romney doesn’t look tired from the evening, too, but Romney actually has something to say, and still knows how to say it.

Substantively, it kept happening that Romney had actual answers to Obama’s arguments, answers that Obama let stand, presumably because they were true.  I didn’t notice it going the other way so much.  (Obama sometimes responded to Romney by just repeating the same argument that Romney had already neutralized.)

Example:

  • Romney says Obama’s tax on “individuals” making over $250,000 a year (or whatever the number is) will actually hit a lot of small businesses.
  • Obama says, Yes, but 97% of small businesses will not be hit.
  • Romney says, Yes, but those 3% of small businesses create 50% of the jobs; so the tax would destroy a lot of jobs.
  • (Obama says nothing.)

Example:

  • Obama says that we should eliminate some esoteric provision of tax law that can, depending on how you look at it, be understood as a “subsidy” or “corporate welfare” for oil companies.
  • Romney says, Sure, when I start looking at how to cut the deficit, probably that provision won’t survive, but you wasted $90 billion on subsidies to “green” companies like Solyndra—that’s 50 years’ worth of this “subsidy” to oil companies.  That’s a lot of irresponsible spending.
  • (Obama says nothing.)

I’m not the only one who thought Romney came out looking much better than the president last night.  CNN, being liberal, tries to downplay it (and chooses to cap the story with what has to be the most unflattering possible picture of Romney), but in a CNN poll (random sample, 430 Americans), Romney won by an enormous 42-point margin:  67% of people who watched the debate thought he won, while only 25% thought Obama won.  Not to put too fine a point on it, Romney did better than anyone else ever:

“No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that question since it was first asked in 1984,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

How badly did Obama lose the debate last night?  So badly that the guys at Daily Kos became unhinged—the latter actually seems to think that CNN has some kind of conservative bias, and he thinks CNN should be “punished” for it!  I see where Daily Kos’s reputation (i.e., for being totally unhinged) comes from.  The more reasonable of the two, apparently when his readers corrected him in the comment section, realized that he hadn’t known what he was talking about and tried to walk it back some—“I wouldn’t go so far as to cry scandal or shennanigans”—but it was too late.  The other writer has also, even more belatedly, realized that he didn’t know what he was talking about (update at the top of the original post as of this writing), but is conspicuously less willing to back down.  (Bonus:  Bizarrely, he also refers to a “church of Science”, metaphorically but as far as I can tell not ironically.)

A couple of last thoughts:

  • It was good that the candidates were allowed to have a real, back-and-forth debate on substantive policy questions.  People have complained that modern presidential debates are not really debates; I think it’s a good point.  This one was much more like a debate, whether because it had been planned that way or because the candidates and moderator chose to make it one.
  • With his record and this economy, I think Obama is beset by a real Catch-22:  If he promises to do something he has done already, the obvious answer is, You already did that, why didn’t it work?  If he promises to do something he hasn’t done yet, the obvious answer is, Why didn’t you do that any time in the last four years (especially early on when you had control of both houses of Congress)?  I think Obama fell into both traps over and over again last night, e.g. on reducing the deficit.  Four years ago, he promised to reduce it by half, but instead did the opposite:  Every year of his presidency, the federal deficit has been more than double any federal deficit ever before Obama.  Every year of his presidency, the federal deficit has been more than a trillion dollars, which could not be said of any deficit ever before Obama.  Don’t take my word for it; take it from US Government Debt .us (which links to its sources):

Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh today both suggest, Some liberals in the media are pretty disappointed at Obama’s performance last night, but it’s their own fault:  For four years, he basically hasn’t faced a tough question.  With no practice, is it any wonder if he can’t explain or defend his positions very well?

A couple of other good lines from Limbaugh today (quoting from memory here):

“He was wandering in search of a thought all night long.”

“Obama came off worse in the debate last night than in his debate with Clint Eastwood—and that’s saying something.”

The Republican Party also thought Romney did a pretty good job last night:

The Democrats have also put out an ad already, but the best they could think to say is that Romney was too dominant:

I was struck by that, too, last night—to a certain extent, Romney seemed to be in charge, and at a couple of points I thought Obama conspicuously submitted and let him.  I thought it made Romney look strong and Obama look weak.

Hat tip to Hot Air.

Of course you can also find commentary on the debate at National Review Online (current headline: “Mitt the Superb”) and elsewhere.

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7 Responses to “Romney 1, Obama 0”

  1. Snoodickle Says:

    Can you imagine Rick Perry on this stage? I kept trying to last night and it was making me laugh.

    P.S. If Obama “wins” the next debate, will you acknowledge as much?


  2. […] Last week I related that, according to a CNN poll, 67% of people who watched the debate last Wednesday thought Romney won, while only 25% thought Obama won.  Today Gallup reports an even bigger Romney win: Those who viewed the debate overwhelmingly believe Romney did a better job than Obama, 72% to 20%. Republicans were nearly unanimous in judging Romney the winner. But even Democrats rated Romney as doing a better job than Obama, 49% to 39%. […]


  3. […] than a week ago, after reflecting on the first presidential debate, Yuval Levin at National Review Online made a prediction about the liberal news media’s […]


  4. […] other news, Romney’s ascent in the polls since the first debate continues to expand into new metrics.  Yesterday I noted that Romney had pulled ahead of Obama in […]


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