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October 04, 2012 9:41 AM Mitt Gets Away With It—For Now

By Ed Kilgore

So other than the fading echoes of Republican celebration and Democratic angst from last night’s presidential debate, and the wait we will now have to endure to see if it made any tangible difference in the contest, what should we actually carry away from the event?

I’ve already confessed myself a non-expert on the “visuals,” and on the “energy level” of the candidates, because I honestly don’t give a damn about any of that. What Mitt Romney needed to do last night, however, was relatively clear: reintroduce himself to swing voters as someone other than a distant plutocrat, and fill in the gaping holes (of omission and commission) in his policy agenda. With quite a bit of help from Barack Obama, he achieved both of those goals, at least temporarily, and in that respect he “won.”

But it came at a price. Jonathan Bernstein summed it up nicely last night at WaPo:

Romney’s policy positions are even more of a shambles now than they were previously. Romney’s position, over and over again, is to simply bluff it on policy. His tax plan continues to be the most obvious one, but it really happens across the board. Romney insisted tonight more than once that his tax plan will keep taxes the same for the wealthy, cut them for everyone else, and not add to the deficit. Forget about the Tax Policy Center; just that much is obviously incoherent and impossible. And, more to the point, it’s clear he’s going to keep on insisting that it adds up, no matter how clearly it doesn’t. But it’s not just that; on every policy, he’s just going to insist that the consequences of his plans that anyone might not like simply don’t exist, so that he’s for sweeping spending cuts but insists that no particular program that anyone brings up might lose any funding, or that he’s for repealing Obamacare but those with pre-existing conditions will magically be protected.

In other words, Mitt Romney lied a lot, and his lies extended beyond his own policies to those of the president (particularly in health care and “green jobs”). His self-representation, moreover, as a deeply caring moderate who shares the president’s goals but is far more eager to reach across the aisle, must have caused some bitter laughter behind the scenes in conservative circles. But because the president, presumably quite deliberately, chose not to depict Romney as a liar and a phony, Mitt largely got away with it, at least for the moment.

Jon Chait believes that Romney has finally pulled off his “etch-a-sketch” moment, reinventing himself as the moderate Republican he once seemed to be in Massachusetts, at a moment when conservatives were too terrified of defeat to object, as they certainly would have earlier in the year if he had hedged on his tax cut plan, let his heart bleed all over the stage for the unemployed and suffering, and begged for a chance to work with Democrats.

But atmospherics aside, what did Mitt actually change last night? He’s long claimed his tax plan wouldn’t increase the deficit, and wouldn’t reduce the relative tax burden on high earners. Last night he said he wouldn’t pursue it if his plan violated either of those principles. But since he’s denied repeatedly there’s any risk of that, why should anybody believe he’d somehow sacrifice the crown jewel of Republican policy—tax cuts for the wealthy—when he’s in office, surrounded by Republicans clamoring for it? But you’d best believe a lot of assurances were going out last night from Team Mitt to conservative opinion leaders denying anything had changed other than how Romney chose to frame and defend his tax plan.

Had Obama more effectively counterpunched last night (or had Jim Lehrer not provided the most passive moderation of a debate in memory), Mitt might not have been able to pull off this feat of prestidigitation. After all, when you think about it, Romney is now saying the high-end tax cuts that Republicans want more than life itself just won’t happen unless he can come up with revenue offsets that don’t change the tax burden, and also get through spending reductions that he’s consistently refused to identify (yea, promised to oppose when it came to most popular spending categories). It’s all a gigantic house of cards. And even if you buy the ludicrous assumption that Romney was sincere in his desire not to upset anyone with his policies, his party won’t for a moment let him actually “move to the center.” Hell, they spent the entire primary season roping him in, and even if they let him posture and maneuver a bit right now, the rope’s still around his neck and their brand is on his posterior.

Obama continually talked around the central problem, attacking the vagueness of Romney’s policies and near the end, finally just coming right out and saying Mitt’s hiding something. But he could not bring himself to say out loud that Mitt’s a serial dissembler who owes his political soul to extremist ideologues and depends strictly on a hidden-hand presentation of his record and agenda. I guess it wouldn’t have been “presidential.”

I lost count of the missed opportunities for Obama last night, and I realize a lot of this represents 20/20 hindsight. But if Obama’s goal coming in had been to expose Romney’s dishonesty, he sure passed up some ripe targets. Why didn’t he ask (as virtually everyone expected him to do) Romney to distinguish his economic policies from Bush’s? Why didn’t he mention the Ryan Budget, crafted by Romney’s running-mate, and representing a vast, extremist policy agenda that Mitt has promised to implement as quickly as possible? At a minimum, when Romney was doing his cringe-inducing number near the end about how desperately he wants to sit down and reason with Democrats (in contrast to Obama’s partisanship, no less!), why not challenge him to promise on the spot that he’d refuse to let his party cram through the Ryan Budget on a party-line vote, which is precisely what it intends to do?

I dunno. Perhaps the theory is that with over a month left, Romney can’t possibly keep up his endlessly self-contradictory juggling act, and the job of giving him a push off the stage is best left to others. And maybe that’s right. But it was sure painful to watch Mitt Romney prevaricate for 90 straight minutes last night and then get carried around the room on the shoulders of supporters and media commentators who didn’t seem to notice the distinct smell of brimstone in the air.

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.

Comments

  • martin on October 04, 2012 9:57 AM:

    Yesterday, while getting my 2min hate from Limbaugh, I was instructed to ignore all of the polls and pundits after the debate because the fix was in and they had decided in advance that Obama was the clear winner, the Mitt failed and it was all over.

    So if the ditto head swing voters are following orders properly, they must now think Obama has won. Content means nothing, Rush is king.

    Of course, I full expect Rush to deny everything today.

  • Edgewater Joe on October 04, 2012 9:58 AM:

    What you just described is what happens when "journalists" and media decide how someone debated is more important than what was actually said. We'll see what happens in the next 24 hours (presuming the job numbers change the narrative one way or another tomorrow) and beyond, but just as Lehrer needed to be fed his pudding and get put to bed, the pundits -- and I am looking at you, MSNBC -- need to do their job and not get sucked into the atmospherics.

  • Tom on October 04, 2012 10:07 AM:

    I can imagine an ad that shows Romney saying one thing during the primary debates (then an etch-a-sketch shakes) then another thing at last night's debate.

  • Russell Sadler on October 04, 2012 10:08 AM:

    Romney did not shine last night. He shined us. Romney revealed himself to be the nakedly ambitious grifter that he is. He bullied the moderator into silence and proceeded to ignore the time limits and filibustered the evening, dominating the time of possession as we say in soccer. Throughout the evening he repeated the lies he has been called out for during the last 36 weeks -- see Steve Benen's series Mitt's Mendacity. It was shameful. Then Romney denied repeatedly that his much touted tax plan would reduce revenue by $5 trillion over ten years. That threw the President who didn't really know how to respond. Despite the rules for the "debate" carefully negotiated and agreed to by both sides. Romney isgored them when it suited him and demanded they be enforced when he wanted them. Obama appeared deflated.

    Obama's base wanted him to go for the jugular, despite the fact that's not hia style and never has been, so the liberals turned on him and said they were disappointed - again. I'm guessing few minds were changed.

    I won't waste my time watching the next debates -- Romney has turned them into political porn just like everything else he touches.

  • stormskies on October 04, 2012 10:09 AM:

    This is such a fucking commentary about our stupid country: never mind the actual substance, the actual reality of something, but focus on the superficiality as in Brian "I am not a corporate cum slut" Williams sniveling to the Obama man, who was trying to talk about the substance, that this was a "TV presentation".

    To me buffoon Romney looked looked like a scared little boy up there who was almost hyperventilating as he plowed through one lie after the other. The actual reality.

    Yet to corporate sluts like Williams, et-al. this did not matter at all. What a commentary about our country, and of course the corporate media itself.

  • c u n d gulag on October 04, 2012 10:12 AM:

    Lehrer SUCKED!
    Obama SUCKED!
    And Obamaís performance last night SUCKED the air out of every Liberal-leaning personís hopes for the next 4 years.

    Obama didnít talk about a single Liberal/Progressive issue!
    NOT ONE!!!
    Women and choice? NOT ONE mention of women!
    Unions? Not one mention of unions.
    Uhm, Mr. President, who exactly do you think is giving you the lead you had going into last night?
    Confidence Fairies?

    After the Democrats spent 3 days talking about Democratic creation of, and support, of Liberal/Progressive polices for 80 years, all he mentioned was some tepid support for SS, Medicare, and Medicaid.

    And as for Simpson-Bowles:
    Thatís not Liberal/Progressive!
    Not in English. No even in the original Austrian.

    Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

    If the President loses, he has no one but himself and his performance to blame.
    Not only did he let Mitt get back in the game, he gave the MSM 4+ weeks of horse race bullshit to jircle-cerk one another off to.

    And where were Obama's balls?
    Was he keeping them warm and safe at the hotel, ready to go back to the romm, put them on, and have some sexy-time with Michelle on their 20th Anniversary?

    I hope she made him sleep on the couch last night!
    And tell him, "No more nookie 'til you put your balls back on and beat Mitt over the head with them in the next debate. And you'd better you win on November 6th, Wimpy Obambi, because you know that couch? We're going to build a Monk's cell around it, and you can be Saint Francis of No Ass-see!"

    Jayzoos H. Keerist in remedial Aramaic class, did you learn NOTHING from Clintonís speech in Charlotte?
    DONíT ANSWER THAT!!!

    Maybe for the next debate, Obama should say heís lost his voice, and have Bill Clinton take his place.

  • T2 on October 04, 2012 10:13 AM:

    It seems a bit late in the process to be wondering when everyone, Media included, is going to wake up to the fact that Romney's house-of-cards is built on lies and carefully crafted mischaracterizations. Actually every one has figured that out long ago. And it apparently does not matter....it's factored in. He and Ryan both lie, and they know it, and they know that we know it. The fact that Obama didn't spend his allotted time segments last night exposing the lies is beside the fact. It's a given, it's been accepted.

    I watched last night and saw a hyper-prepared liar do his act. And without fear of rebuttal, he did it well. President Obama appeared to be an old man, almost doddering for the most part. A man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. A man who knows that every single word he says can cause world-wide events good and bad. And opposing him was a man who simply says whatever he wants to say, true or false, and carries no responsibility for any of it. And that man was called the "winner".

  • jonny bakho on October 04, 2012 10:14 AM:

    Obama has always been weak on economics and the economy.

    Romney is passionately Wrong about economics and the economy and insists that he is right (either because he is clueless or because he needs to dupe the rubes).

    Obama takes the Centrist Republican position of trying to reduce the deficit without first creating jobs and putting people back to work. This policy will not create jobs and it will not reduce the deficit precisely because it does not create jobs. Obama is a deficit hawk who believes cutting the deficit is a higher priority that job creation. A strong progressive "Jobs First" Democrat could have easily made the case against Romney- his policies have a history of failure to create jobs and will lead to higher deficit. However Obama is a deficit hawk and that poorly positions him to answer the jobs question.

    Romney has a tax cuts for the wealthy first policy that has historically failed to create jobs and has simply increased inequality.

    I would rather have weak than wrong, but I would much rather have a more progressive "Jobs first" agenda.

  • AMS on October 04, 2012 10:18 AM:

    Romney may have won a clear victory on style points, but he also came off as a know-it-all, a bully, someone who doesn't play by the rules, and more than a bit of a jerk. At times, he seemed almost manic. Last night, I really saw for the first time why Romney's opponents from both parties loathe the man.

    Obama is a very, very smart man and his passing on multiple opportunities to call out Mitt's lies must have been a deliberate choice. In hindsight, maybe it was the wrong choice, but there were pitfalls for the President in taking Mitt's bait, too. With so many lies-per-second being fired from the Mouth of Mitt, the President would have been reduced to playing whack-a-mole for 90 minutes, making the President look even more defensive than he did and allowing Romney's untruths to shape the entire debate. I also blame Jim Lehrer, who did a terrible job of reining in Romney, allowing him to take over as de facto moderator.

  • Stetson Kennedy on October 04, 2012 10:18 AM:

    Another whopper Mitt told last night was, in response to Obama stating he would raise taxes to Clinton-era rates for anyone in the top 1% of earners, was to claim that the top 3% of small businesses (which could, tecnically, fall under that category) employ 25% of the workers in America today. On the face of it, that didn't make sense, so I did my own fact check.

    According to the Small Business Administration, the last count of small businesses in the US was just over 24 million, but only 6 million of them have employees!. 3% of 6 million is 18,000. Now, consider that, by definition, small businesses are those companies that employ 500 people or less. So if all of those 18,000 firms employed 500 people (dubious at best, but stay with me), that would add up to 9 million employees. There are currently 133 million employees in the US. Last I checked, 9 million wasn't 25% of 133 million.

    Am I missing something?

  • N.Wells on October 04, 2012 10:18 AM:

    My take was a bit like Jon Chait's: I felt like I was falling into an Etch-A-sketch world - instantaneous Etch-A-Sketch, all the time. The world of Mitt is like George Orwell channeling Lewis Carroll.

  • Neil Bates on October 04, 2012 10:21 AM:

    I want to repeat what I said two posts down, with some enlargement:

    In my opinion, the "verdict" on this debate shows how debased our commentariat has become. Instead of focusing and grading the way genuine debate referees do, they fixated on superficialities: which candidate showed energy, or agression, or "enthusiasm." These are shallow personal considerations, good for pumping up a horse race but diverting from demanding substance, arguing for one's position, and so on. Mr. Romney kept saying his tax cuts and extra military spending wouldn't result in lower revenue and even higher deficits, without explaining why we should believe him. That would be a big mark down by any authentic referee (as any high-schooler would find out), but the commentariat didn't care much. Even many of the media "factcheckers" went along for Romney's deceptive ride, being silly enough to point to his *just repeatedly saying* his plan would work somehow, as if that were a supporting argument or rebuttal of criticism. Finally, his arrogant bullying of Moderator (such as it was) Jim Lehrer was disgusting, I am shocked there is not widespread outrage over it. The whole episode was pathetic.

  • Wapiti on October 04, 2012 10:23 AM:

    Well, Romney did tell that story about how his sons would insist on things, even if they were told multiple times that their facts were wrong.

    One wonders where they learned that trick, but I digress.

    I expect that we'll see that homey little story in a campaign ad, that story about people who repeat their story, again and again, even when they are told it's not the truth.

  • sjw on October 04, 2012 10:24 AM:

    Sure, it's the media's job to fact-check Romney and call out his manifold lies. But don't hold your breath ... And please, don't forget that last night's event was a debate, and in a debate it is first and foremost the debater's job to call out the lies. Obama didn't do that. He wimped out. Laid down. And let us all down. The best we can hope for today and in the days following is that Romney's lies are exposed by Obama's surrogates and that Romney entangles himself even more in his web of deceit.

  • berttheclock on October 04, 2012 10:31 AM:

    I thought the slogan was "Once a Marine, always a Marine". Last night, Mr Lehrer, you were no US Marine. You, certainly, had not cleaned your M-1.

  • Anonymous on October 04, 2012 10:35 AM:

    If it is any interest to you here in Canada Obama is considered to have one the debate by an 87% margin.

    Hmmm

  • Gandalf on October 04, 2012 10:39 AM:

    The problem with dogmatic idealogues no matter what side of the spectrum they're on is that if they don't get their way they scream like babies. If Obama doesn't give liberals everything they want he's an abject failure in their minds. Teabaggers want their way even if every single other person in the country is hurt by it. And you know what I'm sick of it. most people in this country are just not that invested with either sides radicals and perhaps they'll start to wake up and squash these assholes.

  • jjm on October 04, 2012 10:46 AM:

    I agree with Russell Sadler's comment above. Mitt was nothing but a supersalesman, or a CEO working the board.

    What did he say of substance? Nothing. He spent the whole time trying to erase the fallout from his 47% comment by claiming he's for the middle class. (Of course his team thinks that 200,000 dollars a year is a middle class income, but never mind...)

    What he did was provide the Obama camp with a whole slew of video moments to put up against others where Romney did the opposite.

    I noticed that after the MSNBC commentariat, two of the lesser lights (Matthews and Schulz) in terms of insight were bitterly disappointed, but Chris Hayes, who is a real cut above in intellect, was starting to 'get' Obama's strategy.

    What was Obama's strategy? He got Mitt to disavow entirely most of the meat of of his own program plans.

  • RaflW on October 04, 2012 10:49 AM:

    The part that just fries me up is Mitt's lies about pre-existing conditions and the saintly private market.

    Let me tell ya about the f'ing private market. My partner took a buyout at work to go back to school. COBRA was insanely expensive. So he applied for private insurance at the co where he's been insured for 15 years.

    They denied him coverage. Because: 1) acid reflux (which is managed with OTC drugs from Costco) and 2) plantar fascistic in one foot (which is manages with exercises and orthotics in his shoes).

    That's it. That's the pre-existing conditions that caused a denial.

    Now, my partner is smart and didn't back down. He got his general practitioner and his podiatrist to write appeal letters, and he got coverage (and, more importantly, erased a denial from his record - a record that ins cos share with each other and leads to a cascade of denials and thus uninsurability).

    The current system is totally f**d. Mitt Romney's "plan" would be only to cover the continuously covered. In this case, my partner would have squeaked thru. But 10s of millions wouldn't. I saw data last night that 89 million Americans had a coverage lapse in like a 5 year period in the mid aughts.

    And today Mitt's surrogates are admitting that his pre-existing conditions cant last night was crap. Will this get traction? I doubt it.

    If Mitt becomes President, we'll have the shit-sucking private market, for-profit health insurance crisis we've endured for the past 20 years.

  • jomo on October 04, 2012 10:49 AM:

    We were all hyperventilating during the GOP convention about the Ryan speech and the lies it put up. And the MSM came around - though none of us thought they would. We have to ensure that it happens again. Romney has left a trail of lies and flip flops in this debate - and Obama has a great team that should make the point emphatically in the swing states.

  • BJ smith on October 04, 2012 10:58 AM:

    I am so with jonny. forget the damn deficit until America is back up & running. The Repubs could give a crap about it except when there is an election pending.If this country is dumb enough to mess up Medicare,( wake up seniors!), Medicaid, & SS by privitizing all, you will never forgive yourselves.Not to mention women's healthcare being sent back to the 50's by the biggest liar to come along in a long time,probably Nixon.ex:he might as well have ask, where did you get an idea I would extend Bush tax cuts & by the way we need regulation. It was lie after lie after lie. Sadly, no one seems to think the truth important any longer.

  • beejeez on October 04, 2012 11:03 AM:

    Can't help wondering what the Tea Partiers are making of the debate. Seems to me that Romney was doing his best to sound like a centrist Democrat, which, you would think, would infuriate them.

    Unless it was about race all along, in which case they're probably dancing in the streets.

  • June on October 04, 2012 11:04 AM:

    It had been my hope that the Prez was being prepped to respond to Romney as one would to a crazed con man, and not as one would to "a good man with whom I have some philosophical differences." Well, that hope was dashed last night. The Prez was solid, but his stubborn reluctance to acknowledge that "politics is perception" seemed to be back in full force.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on October 04, 2012 11:05 AM:

    I didn't turn off the tv with a clear winner/loser. While I did feel that Obama's performance was a little tepid, I wasn't terribly disappointed. His arguments were subtle albeit a bit windy at times, but I appreciated a few of his points. He definitely didn't play up his accomplishments enough. If he had played up his accomplishments more the need to disembowel Mitt would certainly diminish.

    But, Mitt... I found his performance to be quite bizarre. He made a whole lot of pompous declarations ("Decreasing the deficit is a MORAL obligation!"--and so is giving the the Defense Dept $2 Trillion, evidently...) that he didn't really follow up with details. Not to mention that he was at times agreeing with Obama but declaring that he would repeal the same exact thing he just agreed with. After Mitt's rants I was just left wondering: Well, if regulation is good, why do you want to repeal Dodd-Frank? If you're going to repeal Obamacare, why are going to replace with essentially Obamacare?

    If Mitt was selling something, I was hard pressed to figure out just exactly what he was selling... He kept saying "My plan...", but I felt like I missed the part when he actually explained what his plan was.

    I also found Mitt's belligerence toward Lehrer to be greatly WTF-inducing. Lehrer tried, to no avail, get them to talk specifics, but maybe he should have asked more direct narrowly tailored rather than open-ended free form questions.

  • 4jkb4ia on October 04, 2012 11:10 AM:

    This came up in the discussion of Dodd-Frank and unhelpful regulations. I was yelling at the TV that this happened because Congress decided to punt to the regulatory agencies and you, Mitt Romney, may not know enough not to get Congress to punt again. (I appreciated seeing that our host yells at the TV too.) If Mitt is the person he portrayed himself as being last night and this same cast of characters comes back in the House, it won't be sweetness and light for him either unless Paul Ryan tells them this is what is best for the country.

  • zandru on October 04, 2012 11:11 AM:

    "Energy Level"

    This morning, even some of the reliable lefties were praising Mr. Romney's high "energy level" while deploring Mr. Obama's. From my point of view, collaborated by the gang at the coffeeshop, Romney came across as frantic, hyper (and not in a good way), as if he were on drugs. In his 2min closing statement, he blinked about once per second. Weird.

    The President, in my opinion, retained his cool and didn't blather. I like that. I also liked his professorial, lecture-style delivery. Our current crop of pundits and talking heads must have done poorly in school and hated all their classes, as they have such a visceral reaction against any cool, organized and analytical delivery of information.

    That said, I like the way Mr. Obama pointed out at least some of Mr. Romney's inconsistencies. Like other lefties, I wish he'd been more aggressive. But, he not only needs to act Presidential, he must avoid becoming the "scary Negro."

  • Chasm on October 04, 2012 11:13 AM:

    Rmoney did NOT say he wouldn't reduce the share of the tax burden on upper income earners, he said over and over that he wouldn't ask them to pay a "greater share" of taxes. Keeping the ratio the same, and cutting middle class taxes, of course, means that upper income taxes will by definition go down too... but as far as I can tell, reducing their share of taxes is still on the table. Thats the problem with Mitt's weasel words, they slip by and nobody notices what he's really saying.

  • 4jkb4ia on October 04, 2012 11:15 AM:

    I can see why this is very frustrating. Even with relatively low blog consumption this election season, I can see why you should take a lot of what Mitt said with a grain of salt, and the people who actually craft the messages have the right to be upset that the president didn't take any of their hard work.

  • joanneinDenver on October 04, 2012 11:21 AM:

    Even tho it is a dark day for dems in Denver, we will be okay. So all you guys and gals back East, don't worry about us. We have been here before:

    Super Bowl 1978
    Super Bowl 1987
    Tebow 2011

  • LAC on October 04, 2012 11:22 AM:

    Romney is a grifter and only the wingnuts on the right and the pearl clutchers on the left are the ones swayed by this nonsense. He lied like a rug for 90 minutes, nervously and rapidly spoke over everyone like a used car salesman desperate for a sale, and showed that he will shed his positions like a snake sheds skin. While I too wish the president would have taken a rhetorical 2 by 4 to Romney's skull, Romney's pompous lying speaks for itself. I see a number of ads based on this charlatan's own words. The President maintained his cool and had substance in his words.

    And Jim Lehrer...waste of space. What happened?

  • RimKitty on October 04, 2012 11:29 AM:

    How funny. I watched the debate and thought that Obama had won easily because Romney lied, cheated and just flat denied his own policies. Then I heard the pundits, even MSNBC and thought maybe we hadn't watched the same debates.

    Instead of talking about the lies (except for Rev Sharpton who called it perjury) and the fact that Obama would have had to get down in the mud with snake oil salesman Romney and have a brawl to refute them, they just screamed about how Obama lost it.

    Maybe Obama wasn't on his game, but when the pundits get done with this, he will have lost because he didn't look at the camera enough.

    It's too bad you can't take the pundits out of it and just let the American people have their own opinions. My guess is Obama would win hands down, not just on substance, but because Romney looks more and more like a slimy lying Gordon Gekko.

  • Hue and Cry on October 04, 2012 11:37 AM:

    Again, a day later tells us some things... including that CNN is in the tank for Romney, desperate for ratings, and it is positively dreadful that CNN's known Republican Candice Crowley is hosting the next debate.

    Today it is gleaned that CNN actually had sampled *undecided white, southern voters over the age of 50.* It seems inherently biased/slanted/one-sided in terms of polling undecided voters--plus, CNN didn't describe whom they had sampled when divulging instant information to its audience last night. That is not up front and not fair, and it is clear that the CNN poll was influential in giving and advertising Romney with a 67% rating. It seems it was after that information that the pundits on other cable stations started freaking out about the president. (are you listening, MSNBC?)

    http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/10/03/top12.pdf

    And why not some questions or extrapolation from CNN about how the republican candidate denied saying he had no planned tax cut after yakking for almost a full year on an across-the-board 20% tax cut, even stating that plan in surreptitious remarks to uber-wealthy donors in the 47% videotape we all heard!

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on October 04, 2012 11:45 AM:

    Maybe it's just me, but even if Obama performed miserably, that doesn't mean that Mitt came off as the wondrous Messiah of America. I was pretty damned confused trying to follow Mitt's plans. Though described with much gusto, I really missed the appeal-factor. It was much like listening to someone merrily describe why shit soup is really, really wonderful, but still deciding to pass anyway. I can't imagine one of those mystical uninformed undecideds tuning in last night and being smitten with Mitt.

    Even if you didn't know that Mitt was lying, he didn't come off as likeable, if such a thing matters. He was wired and belligerent and was in a rush to hit all 3,000 talking points. Even when Obama cut off Lehrer he managed to be charming ("I still have 5 more seconds...").

  • SecularAnimist on October 04, 2012 12:02 PM:

    Of course Romney's "policy proposals" are a shambles.

    They have never been anything but a line of BS and a pack of lies to bamboozle gullible dupes -- and for that purpose, the more incoherent they are, the better. After all, it's hard to present a coherent argument against complete nonsense.

    He has only one real "policy proposal" which is to drain the wealth of America into the offshore bank accounts of himself and his white-collar-crook cronies and financial backers.

  • SecularAnimist on October 04, 2012 12:05 PM:

    It's the job of CNN and the rest of the corporate media whores to tell the American people that Romney won. They are just doing what they are paid to do.

  • Anonymous on October 04, 2012 12:11 PM:

    To call Jim Lehrer "passive" is charitable -- feeble-minded is more like it. He might as well have been Clint Eastwood's empty chair.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 04, 2012 12:25 PM:

    "I’ve already confessed myself a non-expert on the “visuals,” and on the “energy level” of the candidates, because I honestly don’t give a damn about any of that."

    And that's why Democrats lose.

  • Anonymous on October 04, 2012 12:42 PM:

    Romney bugs the cr*p out of me and I couldn't listen to him without yelling at my TV or having a stroke so I spent most of the debate doing other stuff and tuning in occasionally. What I heard from Obama was measured (can we use that word instead of negative ones being said?). BUT he did tend to go on about certain points too long and so missed opportunities due to time restraints to rebut other Romney lies. Bullet points should be his modus operandi for the next two debates. Get them out first then explain. OTOH, the lies and changes of position coming out of Romney were so fast and furious, the president must have been caught off guard. And then he needed to explain his own positions, too.

    Romney was a bully, no doubt about that. And smug. Many people don't look on that kindly.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 04, 2012 12:49 PM:

    @Anonymous 12:42 pm:

    "Romney was a bully, no doubt about that. And smug. Many people don't look on that kindly."

    Then why did 2 of 3 say Romney "won" the "debate?"

    Face it: Obama sucked huge donkey genitals last night.

  • roseb on October 04, 2012 12:52 PM:

    If America elects Mitt Romney we deserve the mess we'll have created, which won't look too much different than it did in late 2008.

    A European told me that we don't deserve President Obama; that he is too good a leader for Americans to appreciate. I think she's right.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 04, 2012 12:54 PM:

    @ c u n d gulag @ 10:12 am.

    Excellent!

  • Garrett on October 04, 2012 1:21 PM:

    What could explain the President's performance last night? Do you remember rope-a-dope? Let the opponent whale away and wear himself out while you observe strategy and tactics finding the best spots for counter-punching in the rounds to come.

  • TCinLA on October 04, 2012 2:09 PM:

    The Obamabots can whale away all they want with their excuses of this clusterfuck performance by the President, but they will not be able to hide the fact that it was a CLUSTERFUCK!

  • thebewilderness on October 04, 2012 3:34 PM:

    The thing that struck me, and caused me to turn it off after a half hour, aside from the Mendacity of Mitt, was the way he turned his attention to directly hectoring and berating the president for his failure to clean up the Republican mess fast enough.

  • LAC on October 04, 2012 5:45 PM:

    If the wingnut dweebs want to stop in and gloat, at least learn to spell. It is "wail" not "whale" - there is a difference. A whale is a mammal found in the ocean. For example: "Bin Laden's corpse is located at the ocean floor, with whales to keep it company.

    And to wail is to cry out loud, to lament a sad fate. Such as "The wail of wingnuts after November 6th should have been expected because of the CLUSTERFUCK of a candidate they picked.

    Here endeth the lesson, TwitCinLA...

  • Doug on October 04, 2012 6:42 PM:

    Well, I guess that's definition for "CLUSTERFUCK" that I hadn't heard before, TCinLA.
    I presume it's a real CLUSTERFUCK when the Republican nominee for President stands in front of 50+ million television viewers and basically disavows his entire platform?
    I guess it's an even greater CLUSTERFUCK when said candidate is now on record with 50+ million witnesses in support of positions to the left of Blue Dog Democrats?
    Or a CLUSTERFUCK of monumental proportions when that candidate blatantly and enthusiastically lies, on record, to those 50+ million viewers?
    Last night Romney wrapped a noose around his own neck and began the month-long process of slowly strangling his campaign for the Presidency. Romney has four weeks to try and balance the demands of holding onto his "base" while adding as many non-insane Republican and "independent" voters to make up a majority. Last night did NOT help him in that effort.
    If Romney wants to commit political suicide in fron of the entire country, I fali to see how President Obama letting him is a CLUSTERFUCK...
    (ps: I supported HRC)