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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Romney Strong in Debate but...

Timothy Birdnow The first debate is over and the analysis/spin has now begun. As always I have my own thoughts on the matter and present them as I see them. What can I say? Romney did well, but he did not knock Obama out. He could have; several times Obama was set up for the K.O. and Romney let him escape, largely, I am sure, do to his consultants who told him not to go after the President "personally". This fear of offending the few undecided voters with the truth is another term for cowardice, and is part of why the GOP has not become the majority party in America. The Democrats have no such compunction. As a result, I would call this debate a draw, or perhaps even a narrow Obama victory. Even if one does not believe the polls (and I don't) the best we can say is that it is nip-and-tuck and the President has the natural advantage because he gets free advertising from the media and, well, he's the sitting president. That counts for a lot. Romney needed a big win today. This should have been his best debate, being on domestic issues. Obama is most vulnerable on domestic issues. Romney did well in this, but failed to deliver the knock-out punch. First, let us praise Caesar before burying him. Romney's first challenge was overcoming a duplicitous moderator. Jim Lehrer is a PBS icon and a staunch liberal, and Lehrer tried very hard to move to new topics AFTER any Obama response, thus depriving Romney of rebuttal. Yes, he let the debate get out of hand, but it got outof hand because of it's fundamental structural problems, and those problems stemmed from Jim Lehrer. It was Lehrer who chose the questions, and it was Lehrer who controlled the tempo of the debate. Lehrer seemed happy to allow Obama to filibuster, and quick to move along when Romney refused to allow the President to commit serial lying. Romney did well in this, demanding rebuttal time. One thing that any Republican must learn to do is not allow the media to control the terms of any discussion because they will twist that discussion against them. The GOP should never have allowed Lehrer or other mainstream media types to moderate the debates, but since they did it was up to Romney to prevent them from abusing that privilege. He did it quite well. Romney also challenged the president directly on several occasions, and managed to do so with a look of bemusement - even while being challenged. Obama often scowled or smirked during the debate, and in that regard Romney came across as more adult than Obama, who frequently looked petulent or angry. Romney at one point said Obama was entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts, an oldie but a goodie. But he kept letting Obama off the hook when it came to details - and Obama capitalized on that, saying Romney seemed to always be a man with an unclear plan. The discussion of energy was a great example; Romney had a winning hand here, yet he managed to blow it. He started by saying he was a big fan of "green" energy - something he should never have conceded. Green energy is a boondoggle, a hopeless failure destined to remain a failure. It was DESIGNED to be a failure, because the real goal is not to provide as much energy as we need but to power America down. It was a scam devised to reduce America's energy usage, and Romney did not necessarily have to come right out and say that but his accepting the "green energy" premise automatically damaged his credibility. Romney did tap dance around Obama's failures in energy, but studiously avoided bringing out the big guns. Why didn't he mention the Administration's stoppage of oil drilling in the Gulf, and that the Administration directly disobeyed a court order to resume? The Administration was found IN CONTEMPT OF COURT and yet Romney did not mention this minor detail. Why not? He said "I like coal" (and that will be on a new commercial for Obama I assure you) but didn't explain that the U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of coal - and that Mr. Obama actually said in a speech that he would bankrupt anyone trying to build coal-fired generators. He did not mention that Bill Clinton tied up our clean coal in the Grand Staricase Escalante National Monument and suggest that we should revisit this issue. did touch on Obama's veto of the Keystone Pipeline, but did not pursue it. And he spoke nary a wit about hydraulic fracturing - something the Administration has been slow to embrace. Romney did mention the fact that our gasoline prices have doubled but did not drive the point home. He could have explained how high fuel prices drive up prices of all things, and how this slows job growth. He blew it here. Romney listened to the advice of the geniuses with their gigantic brains in the GOP who told him to be nice and not attack Obama personally. Telling the truth is an attack, so Romney had to skip over this lightly. When asked about the roll of government Obama said its first duty is to protect the citizenry. Romney had a gift there; he could have spoken about the failure of the Administration in Benghazi, letting American citizens be killed when intel suggested an attack was coming. He failed to discuss Fast and Furious, which led to the deaths of American citizens and a very large number of Mexicans. Those kind of mistakes are inexcusable; Obama was teed up, ready to be sliced. Then Romney flubbed the question as well. He began by pointing to the U.S. Constitution, and I thought a brief lecture on the enumerated powers would be forthcoming. Nope. He began speaking about the Declaration of Independence instead, obviously confusing the two documents. The Declaration has at best a sentimental value to how we perceive the roll of government; its the Constitution that actually defines the roll and scope. The Constitution was a perfect bludgeon for Romney to use as Obama has gone around it repeatedly. Romney should have mentioned Obama's many Czars, which is his way of appointing radicals to power who would not pass Congressional advice-and-consent. In fact, Obama once said he doesn't like the Constitution because it only says what government can't do to people and he wanted a huge expansion of the document so that it would say what government must do FOR people. Romney should have nailed him with this. Romney should have nailed Obama on making an end run around Congress in his war against Khadaffi in Libya, too. Once again, he blew it. Not to say Obama didn't tell some tall tails. I knew he was lying from the very beginning because his lips were moving. Obama reiterated at one point the nonsense about Abraham Lincoln and land grant colleges and his nonsense about Lincoln and the transcontinental railroad (a project started long before Lincoln). But these gaffes are minor compared with the general arguments being made by Mr. Obama. The problems with the national debt presented an interesting challenge; Obama put forward the unsupported accusation that Romney had no budget plan other than to cut taxes for the wealthy, and Romney was maneuvered into the position of defending himself with "no-uh!" because how does one rebut a sneer? He knew this was coming, and should not have played this game. He should have attacked, attacked, attacked. Obama has spent more money than any President in U.S. history and Romney should have demanded Obama account for this. Romney ended up in the classic "have you stopped beating your wife" defense; he shouldn't have. Romney should have asked why his party refused to pass a budget when they ran Congress, why the budget Obama presented was DOA even among Democrats. He did a good job of pointing out that the President was a staunch opponent of eliminating the Bush-era tax cuts before he supported their repeal, much like John Kerry's "I voted for it before I voted against it". But Romney just never seemed too upset by anything the President did, and he should be; the man is wrecking the country. Therein lies one of Romney's problems; he is a man without passion. He seemed bemused by the whole thing, when he should have shown some anger. Not rage, or off-putting anger, but he should make it clear that he wants to be president because America is driving over a cliff. Obama used that very analogy about the GOP, and Romney could have thrown it back in his face. On healthcare my heart broke; Romney could not possibly dispute the individual mandate as an act of tyranny. This would have been a slam dunk with any other candidate, because they could also point out that the SCOTUS will be firmly in the hands of Obama if he is re-elected and they have already ruled Obamacare constitutional. Oh, and Romney could have pointed out that the Administration argued this was a tax, thus breaking the pledge of not raising taxes. it is, in fact, a HUGE tax. Romney missed his opportunity. The problem with this whole debate was that we did not get a contrast of kind but of degree. Romney and Obama agreed in principle on everything, just not how fast or how far to go. We were treated to two Progressive candidates, two dogs arguing over the same bone. The public may well think the devil they know is better than the devil they don't, and if we are going to get the same programs either way then why not go with the more open Prog? What we did not hear from Romney was that we need a fundamental change. That is absolutely critical, but he failed. Many people understand the mortal peril the Republic faces, but many more only sense it intuitively. What was needed last night was for Romney to put a face on the dangers, to speak to the nagging fears in the public perception. People know something is terribly wrong, but many don't know exactly what it is. Most people understand that the country is spending far more than it can afford, but they don't understand why and they don't understand how long we can continue. Romney never once gave a figure on how much time we have left. He let Obama claim social security is fundamentally sound - a preposterous claim as it will begin going bankrupt next year. Yet Romney let Obama skate on this ridiculous claim. We are getting a rerun of McCain's lamentable campaign from Mr. Romney. Frankly, Little Bo Peep should have been able to skunk the President, who is unpopular and has done a miserable job. He is lazy an inattentive, too, and Romney never once uttered the word "golf" or spoke about lavish vacations taken by the Bride of Bullwinkle, Michelle. Why not? Obama has tried to paint Romney as the moneybags on the monopoly board, yet Obama is infinitely easier to charicature. How about that Spanish vacation, in which the First Empress booked 600 rooms in a five star hotel? How about Obama's flying in the owner of the pizzaria PI from St. Louis because he had a yen for faux New York pizza (PI isn't even decent St. Louis style pizza). How about the use of private jets by Mooch? Oh, but we mustn't attack Obama personally! Frankly, I'm tired of this. This election is about getting out the base, and it will turn on partisan turnouot, not the last-minute decisions of the few empty headed people who can't make up their minds. Granted, we don't want to scare them off, but we don't want to make their vote the only one that matters. What about the military vote? Obama has been systematically disenfranchising military voters, and Romney never mentioned THAT. It's all about turnout. Mitt Romney didn't screw up, but he didn't bring it either. He has got to up his game. To do that he needs to stop listening to the RINO consultants he has surrounded himself with and start going after Obama. He needs to take pride in the accomplishments of the past. (He never once mentioned Ronald Reagan, not even when Obama said that cutting taxes has been tried in the past and failed; he could have mentioned Reagan and even John F. Kennedy). And he never mentioned Obama's radical associations. Nor the fact that Obama's Administration is lousy with former employees of Goldman Sachs, nor that he has been heavily influenced by George Soros. Obama is the billionaire's candidate, not Romney, and Romney should have made that plain. Mitt Romney is campaigning in a manner that we all feared. If he doesn't come to his senses and change course he will lose - and America will die. It really is that simple. This election is far too important to dismiss as a gentleman's disagreement, a normal part of the election cycle. It's for all the marbles.

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