I see some of you are eagerly commenting on last night’s debate on the earlier debate thread, so I thought I’d give you a fresh one.
I watched most of the debate. Eight p.m. at my house is not a good time to concentrate on anything. But I saw enough to conclude, as so many others have, that the president got stomped. “Listless” is the word that kept popping into my head as I watched Obama sleepwalk through a train wreck.
Everyone says that the debates don’t change the dynamics of a presidential race very often. President Barack Obama better hope that remains the case this year. Last night’s debate wasn’t even close. Mitt Romney thumped Obama in Denver. It was, as they say, an old-fashioned ass-kicking. Any Democrat who pretends otherwise is either deluding themselves or trying to kid you.
Will it shift the dynamics of the election? Perhaps not. The best Obama’s supporters could say last night is that the President avoided the kind of blunder that might hand Romney an obvious advantage. Maybe so but that kind of defensive mindset seemed somehow to have seeped into Obama last night. He seemed sluggish, even lethargic, hesitant, distracted and oddly unable to land any heavy punches on Romney. Much of the time he was pictured on the split-screen with his head down. Doubtless he was scribbling notes but it had the effect of making him look weary and disheartened. Defeated or despondent, even.
The Daily Dish has a great roundup of reax here.
You can find a transcript of the debate here.
One of the most surprising aspects for me was watching Romney dance, dubiously at times, to the moderate center, while the frowning, drowsy president barely protested. It’s a failure that may very well change the course of the election, although First Read wonders whether some of Romney’s more remarkable dance steps will come back to haunt him:
If Romney won the instant reactions from last night’s debate, it is more than possible that the Obama camp can win the next 24 hours. Why? Because Romney said several things that could make life difficult for him today or in the next debate. First, Romney declared, “I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans.” But in addition to supporting the extension of the Bush tax cuts, which are skewed heavily to the wealthy, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center says that Romney’s tax plan would give the Top 0.1% an average tax cut of more than $246,000. Next, he stated that “there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit.” While he has said his plan will be paid for, he’s yet to lay out any SPECIFICS on how he’ll pay for it. Romney also said, “I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding.” But the Ryan budget plan, which Romney has said he’d sign into law, leads to long-term spending reductions in education. And Romney also didn’t disagree with the description that his Medicare plan would consist of “vouchers” for future retirees. Winning a “debate” is always a two-part deal — the night itself, and then the aftermath. This is now an opportunity for Team Obama and a challenge for Team Romney.
So now, against my better judgment, I toss it to you, oh Commentistan. Let’s see how long we can go before someone decides to deploy the word “ghetto.”