Last Night's Debate
After watching the debate three words come to mind: Good, Bad and Ugly. First the good. Romney had a really good night; Stevie Wonder could see that he won the debate. He needed to. It is a perfect environment for him. I watched six Republican debates during the primary season and Romney frequently stood out because he aggressively insisted on replying to everything, regardless of the forum’s guide...lines. He is aggressive in these situations because he is in his element. He only has to relate to two people and he will try to boss them around. His aggression is what has made him very successful in business. That is the nature of politics and business. Governance is a different beast. He steamrolled over the moderator, disregarding rules and insisted in an almost bitchy demeanor to have more say. This attitude of 'my way' is a result of his business acumen. The problem is that the people of the United States of America are not a corporation, business nor a factory.
Yes, he won. But if we are honest with ourselves this debate was about the viability of the Romney campaign going forward. A poor performance last night would have written him off in some people’s minds. He was very clear about his desire to stay in the race and for that he should be commended. However, he displayed this by contorting the truth and facts in a way that detracts from the substance of his performance. The President several times mentioned the 5 trillion dollar cost of Romney’s tax cuts which is true. It is also true that Romney’s math does not add up. If you listened to the subtext of Romney’s denial of this claim he said that his lowering of rates and broadening the tax base would not add to the debt. He is right. The only way it works is if all major deductions that benefit the working class are eliminated. In which case all the flattening of rates in the world will still end up in the vast majority of Americans paying more taxes.
The bad. The president had a bad showing last night. No doubt about it. Some of this may be lack of preparation, and some it may be restraining himself from not telling Romney to shut up with his litany of lies, distortions and flip-flopping. I kind of wish the president would have verbally bitch slapped his opponent more than he did. He should have defended his record of results in spite of Republican anti-patriotic obstructionism. But then again, there are lots of reasons I am not president. The president needs to work on making his answers more concise, though he spoke directly at several points. He correctly pointed out that Romney has not and will not dissuade the more radical elements of his party if elected. The solution is a balanced approach to problem solving that the president advocated last night. That is something Romney will not be able to do if elected because he will be a hostage to the extreme base of his party.
And last, the ugly. Jim Lehrer is one of the last remaining journalists of integrity and it was downright dreadful to see him lose control of the format so quickly and early in the debate. Both candidates exceeded the parameters of time rules. The ugly manner in which Willard Mitt Romney repeatedly assaulted Lehrer and the format should be a cautionary tale for how Romney will treat the middle class if elected.
No candidate is perfect. Romney had a good performance last night, but nobody should mistake performance for substance.