This is just an off the top of my head impression of tonight’s presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Sometimes an analysis like this is better than pouring over a transcript because in the end, most people are just going to watch and judge on what stuck with them. I’ll tell you what stuck with me.
Although Barack Obama got a few more minutes speaking time during the debate, it sure didn’t seem like it. While Mitt Romney came obviously prepared with facts and figures, Obama largely stuck to his talking points, even in the face of criticism by Romney. The contrast between those talking points and Romney’s dismantling of Obama’s record was evident early on.
It was Romney that came with the irrefutable facts. Obamacare is going to cost Americans thousands more in health care costs, contrary to Obama’s claims. Unelected bureaucrats are going to decide what kind of healthcare you are going to receive. Employers are hesitant to hire because of Obamacare costs, Doctors and hospitals are threatening to drop Medicare patients because it won’t be cost effective to continue to treat them. He even pounded home the fact that Obama was gutting Medicare by taking $700 billion dollars out to help pay for Obamacare and still the costs would rise. All Obama could do is stick to his talking points. He even ended up praising Romney for what he did in Massachussets. If your opponent is praising what you have done, you’ve brought your A game. I actually thought Romney did a pretty good job swatting away the Romneycare albatross. He made the case that it was unique to that state and not applicable to the entire country. Romney’s plan in Mass. is not an unmitigated disaster and Obamacare looms as an economy killer. Obama had no answer.
The subject turned to education. Obama tried to suggest Romney didn’t care about education…Romney cited that Massachussets has the number one schools in the nation. While Obama talked of hiring more teachers-something he said Romney didn’t want to do, he was unable to make a case. Romney said the billions wasted on green energy schemes-largely run by Obama donors could have gone to hire 2 million teachers. Ouch.
When it came to the role of government, it was clear that Obama was for big government-as long as it suits him, and Romney was for smaller government, with power in the hands of individual states as laid out in the 10th Amendment. He laid out the contrast. If not for a supermajority his first two years and illegal executive orders, Obama would have accomplished nothing. Romney on the other hand had to deal with an 87 percent Democratic legislature in Massachussets and actually got things done. Romney was a little more diplomatic in his assessment, but he said essentially the same thing. No, Obama couldn’t respond because he knew Romney was right.
Just flipping the channels after the debate, it was clear that Republicans and Democrats alike felt Romney won the debate decisively. Disturbingly though, when I tuned in to CNN, they had a panel of hacks that included none other than Van Jones. When did he become an authoritative pundit? Even he though, conceded Romney won the debate. Not to be outdone, MSNBC had Chris meltdown Matthews, Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz, and Rachel Maddow among others on one of their panels. The loons were out, but the consensus was the same: Romney won the debate. Even Bill Maher, who contributed a million dollars to help re-elect Obama Tweeted that it looked like Obama did need a teleprompter.
The only poll that has any real weight with me is Rasmussen. They have the race very close right now. It remains to be seen what kind of bounce Romney gets for this debate, but he will almost certainly get something. Two more coming up and a Ryan/Biden matchup. What looked shaky just hours ago is looking much better tonight. Time will tell.