Political Animal


October 03, 2012 10:33 PM Debate Live-Blog V: Role of Government & Closings

By Ed Kilgore

Guess Lehrer’s going to snuff Segment VI, so we won’t find out how he views difference between “role of government” and “governing.”

* BHO may be filibustering a bit here. Mitt’s going to have to cook in that “final word.”

* “Role of government” clearly item Mitt wants to go to town on. This sounds very scripted. Musta thought “trickle-down government” really a killer line.

* Really, really wish BHO would go after Mitt’s backpack vouchers. Ah, Mitt brought it up!

* BHO dodging vouchers, just going into the budget. Ugh. Will he at least mention student loans? Yes. More filibustering. Nice dig on “borrow from your parents.”

* Mitt brings up Green Jobs on education discussion? Man, they must have some dynamite focus grouping on Solyndra.

* Hilarious! The day after the election Mitt’s going to sit down with Cantor and McConnell and Norquist and DeMint and get his marching orders, probably via his vice president.

* Interesting to see Obama deliver the “tough leader” rap.

* Did Mitt just thank Obama for “tuning in?”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • bubbaroy on October 03, 2012 10:40 PM:

    VERY disappointing performance by Obama....

  • T2 on October 03, 2012 10:43 PM:

    No, Romney was saying "tuning in" for the audience. Pundits are handing this to Romney.
    And maybe so......but he had to, didn't he? But anyone looking at substance would be not happy with either. If you don't care about policy, Romney sucks, but Obama hardly put up a fight. The real loser? Jim Lehrer and the format.

  • Anonymous on October 03, 2012 10:44 PM:

    What James Fallows says:


    "I don't think this session is likely to change a huge number of votes. But from my own parochial perspective, I do feel better about my assessment. And I know what the next stage in campaign narrative -- 'Romney comeback!' -- is going to be. Perhaps also this will give more leverage to Obama associates to sit him down and say: Look, you can be beat."

  • T2 on October 03, 2012 10:46 PM:

    Sorry, it's late....I meant to say "if you do care about policy"...

  • TCinLA on October 03, 2012 10:51 PM:

    The sock puppet the president sent to stand in for him was a total, unmitigated failure. If Obama thinks that the debates don't matter, he should go back and look at what happened to Gerald Ford when he said there was no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe in the 1976 debate and what effect that had.

    This was the piss-poorest debate I ever saw a Democrat do and I have watched every one since 1960. I am reinforced in my belief that the only reason I am voting for this failure is he's the only wall we have to the American version of the 1933 German elections.

    What a moron Obama was!

  • John B. on October 03, 2012 10:54 PM:

    Instead of 'zingers' it seems Obama practiced sonambulism -- putting the audience to sleep with windy, winding, hesitatingly um'ing and ah'ing -- and he missed just about every big fat target he was given. I'm no saying Romney won adherents. I'm just saying Obama helped Romney's cause with the MSM which was primed, anyway, for the "comback" chapter in their predetermined narrative.

    Only the Villagers will care in 48 hours, and their minds were made up the moment they saw a black man who wasn't one of them moving into their neighborhood.

  • castanea on October 03, 2012 10:56 PM:

    America loses when people think that debates are about "putting up a fight." Too many on the left think these things are (1) about drawing blood and (2) entirely self contained.

    Romney lied. We all knew he would, and I am glad that Obama didn't call him a liar. That would have gone over poorly in the media tomorrow morning. The meme, "All the President could do is call Romney a liar," would have been broadcast continually.

    Obama made good points. Stop thinking he should have been the perfect debater that deconstructed every point that Romney tried to make.

    And now it is the role of liberal bloggers and commenters on liberal blogs, and just about anyone who really gives a damn about America, to begin to announce and dissect every lie that Romney told.

  • Sparko on October 03, 2012 10:57 PM:

    For all the panic here, I think the final word is that Romney was a liar by and large--and lost his cool over and over. Romney needed to channel Obama tonight and did not. I muted Romney many times. Romney was even more unlikeable than I thought he was. All the wringing of hands is a little premature here.

  • Charles on October 03, 2012 11:01 PM:

    I think that once everything shakes out, this debate will be remembered for Romney interrupting Lehrer and the President. Most of us, I believe, have a certain level of skepticism that prevents us from willingly believing anything either of the may say, but anyone who watched saw that. The details will get murky. They'll get fuzzy, but you'll remember that.

    And in a country when the only moment any member of the media talks about from the 2000 debates is Gore's sigh, I think that's what's going to happen.

  • onowhere on October 03, 2012 11:04 PM:

    Obama got smacked around the ring, but no knockout. Romney was prepared, but may have overplayed his play. Romney wins on points, whether true or not.

  • c4Logic on October 03, 2012 11:04 PM:

    Look--they only had 45 minutes a piece to make their arguments. Romney was aggressive, rude, and repeatedly lied and mis-represented his own positions--he would make a great liar in chief. Obama was factual and restrained, calm. If you want an aggressive sociopath who will say anything to win your consent--vote for Romney--if you think this aggressive dissembling is a winning strategy--you're filled with too much heat and not enough light.

  • onowhere on October 03, 2012 11:05 PM:

    Obama got smacked around the ring, but no knockout. Romney was prepared, but may have overplayed his play. Romney wins on points, whether true or not.

  • sjw on October 03, 2012 11:06 PM:

    Sometimes "leading from behind" doesn't work. Like in a debate. Sometimes letting yourself get pummeled over and over again is not good Christian humility but plain old stupidity. Read the sad/bad reax from Obama supporters ... even his freaking assistant campaign manager gave it to Romney. What was on view tonight was the wimpy Obama, the one who let himself get rolled the summer of 2009 on health care, in the 2010 midterms, in 2011 in the budget standoff ...

  • Th on October 03, 2012 11:07 PM:

    I think all the undecideds turned this snooze fest off a long time ago.

  • Diane Rodriguez on October 03, 2012 11:09 PM:

    I'm with Sparko on this one. Like Al Sharpton is saying on MSNBC when the video of Romney's statements are compared with his previous positions, his plethora of lies embracing popular positions will be evident.

    I guess the pundits are responding to Romney's pressured speech and fast talking while saying very little. Romney's diatribe on governance and bipartisanship was especially sickening - a screed on Mom, Apple pie and the American Way from on high. Good ol' Chuck Todd is creaming his jeans I'm sure.

  • Th on October 03, 2012 11:09 PM:

    At least Obama didn't keep saying being Prez was "hard work"

  • del on October 03, 2012 11:11 PM:

    Style over substance, that's all I hear. Style over substance. Why not use more zingers instead of talking to us like adults, that we would understand the substance of their policy versus the style and zinger they presented it in? Why not be rude and show that we are more privileged than the decorum of the debate, the rules that were set forth before hand. That's the rub, there was style but not substance in what Romney presented and when the information is examined, not by what his talking heads said after the fact, but what he said in the debate, I believe there will be reevaluations.

  • greenfairy on October 03, 2012 11:11 PM:

    I don't think it was Obama's finest hour, but I hardly think Romney "won." He kept his phony grin on, babbled, and frequently dodged the questions. Obama looks greyer and more tired than he did 4 years ago, but after all, he's the president. I'm hoping voters will cut him some slack for that.

  • cwolf on October 03, 2012 11:22 PM:

    Jim Lehrer seemed to be a bit over the hill.
    Can't put my finger on it, but he was bad.

    Obama blew the 2nd half hour bad but was superior by a large amount in the 1st set. He recovered to edge out the 3rd.
    Overall, the pundits will opine their much needed "Romney Rebounds Line" but those will fade when the youtubes of Romney hit the internet.

    I'm especially referring to the particularly creepy eye movements Romney occasionally made during Obama's turns,,, probably only viewable live on CSPAN, because they featured a side by side split screen of O & R throughout the whole debate..

  • rick on October 03, 2012 11:22 PM:

    They should've rigged Romney up to a polygraph machine and run a split screen so all low information voters could see the needle run off the chart. How could anyone win a debate against this wall of bullshit put up by Romney. Obama did not counter these lies and flip-flops as strongly as he could have. Makes me wonder if its he's playng 11 dimensional chess with this baffoon or simply outplayed by a dirty fighter. I think Romney's over-aggressiveness and annoying smirk just might come back to bite him.

  • Doug on October 03, 2012 11:40 PM:

    Which Romney "won"?
    The one at the debate or the one in the 47% video? The Romney who was Governor of MA and set up Romneycare or the one who wants to repeal Obamacare? The one who tells one audience that President Obama "cut" Medicare by $716 billion or the one tonight who couldn't keep his lies about that straight?
    To paraphrase Dr. Suess: "Oh the commercials we'll see... "