October 4, 2012 By Jack Jodell
The long awaited and greatly heralded first presidential debate of 2012 has come and gone. My first humble impression is that it was an overall draw. I rated President Obama much higher on sincerity, substance, truthfulness, and specifics. I rated Romney higher on enthusiasm and slightly higher on delivery; he appeared more excited and slightly more alert than did Obama, who looked slightly tired at times. But Obama more often looked right at the camera than did Romney, speaking directly to the public in all but his summation. There, at the very end of the debate, Romney held the edge as he spoke directly into the camera and therefore the vast TV audience at that most crucial point. Obama clearly projected a more polished, presidential aura and showed much greater compassion and concern for his citizenry than did Romney; you could read it in both of their expressions. Romney at times exhibited the behavior of an overly eager and opportunistic salesman, several times interrupting moderator Jim Lehrer to sneak in a final comment. Yet he failed to deliver a satisfactory closing argument as to why he would be the better choice in the election than Obama. Needless to say, he didn’t sell ME.
Romney continued his big lies about how Obama had raided $716 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare, insinuating that seniors would suffer as a result. The truth of the matter, as Obama corrected him, is that recipient benefits are NOT cut but that the savings would occur in the form of reduced payments to gluttonous insurance companies and hospitals. Romney also lied about the $5 TRILLION in tax cuts he would provide for the very richest among us by claiming that it would be revenue-neutral, to be offset by vague, unexplained cuts in deductions and tax credits he failed to elaborate on specifically. He also lied by insinuation when he claimed there would be no cuts in our overblown defense budget and that he would increase that budget. He tried unsuccessfully to advance the notion that Obama’s sensible cuts were dangerous to our security. In doing so, he was parroting the nonsensical neocon advice of such warhawks as Bush advisor Dan Senor, a man who belongs in jail for his role in promoting the unnecessary and very costly war in Iraq.
It was interesting that, for this debate, shape-shifter Romney all but divorced himself from his party’s extremist right wing. This is of interest because he had actually been courting them for much of the past 18 months! I can’t imagine those in the reactionary Tea Party being too pleased with his defense of “Romneycare” in Massachusetts, especially since it is almost a mirror image of the hated Obamacare he and they have denounced for so long.
I fault Obama, and Jim Lehrer, too, for never calling Romney on the carpet for his indefensible “47%” remarks made disparagingly about a huge segment of voters during a fundraising speech caught on videotape last May! Romney should have been grilled and pounded into a corner for his insensitivity in this area, and it was a huge tactical blunder for the President to let him off without even one solitary mention of the incident! Obama also failed to grill him enough on his voucher plan for Medicare, which would destroy the system by allowing younger, unaware voters the choice to opt-out of the program to join a bogus new private one.
I don’t quite know exactly how the public will react to Romney’s performance. My guess is that he may have picked up a point or two, but I rather doubt that his stale, same-old, same-old Republican arguments against raising taxes on billionaires and reducing regulation will garner him much additional support. His claims about creating 12 million new jobs over the next four years rings hollow, too, especially because they have never been satisfactorily explained. Rombey will have to advance some very realistic, attainable goals to replace his shallow and hollow platitudes if he expects to win this race. I doubt that he will be able to. Nonetheless, onward we shall go…