Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Zinger-fest: Live-blogging the first 2012 presidential debate

By Michael J.W. Stickings and Richard K. Barry (with Marc McDonald, tmcbpatriot, and Frank Moraes, and a special guest appearance by Creature) 


Mr. President, I'm gonna win this by lying, dissembling, hiding my real views, not answering direct questions, acting all aggressive, stringing together complete sentences, treating the voters like idiots, playing right into the media's need for drama, and exceeding ridiculously low expectations by not drooling all over myself.

So here we go.

It all starts now, or so spin Romney and his surrogates, hoping (against hope) that the debates, starting tonight, can be the "game changer" (yes, there it is again) they need it to be, what with the campaign -- and their chances -- slipping ever further away.

This is obviously a great deal to hope. And even as they've been playing the expectations game to make Obama the favorite to "win" (therefore making a strong showing by Romney all the more meaningful, a win of its own, though their efforts are now beyond parody), they've been building up the expectations around the significance of the debate itself, turning it into the campaign's defining event to date.

Yet contrary to the relentless media spin -- and the media do this to build up the drama, and therefore to build themselves up, not just to boost their ratings but to enhance their self-aggrandizing image of themselves -- presidential debates mean very little, historically speaking. 

Think back, if you can, through the mists of time. What debate ever mattered in any significant way? Sure, there were some memorable lines -- zingers -- along the way, notably Bentsen's "You're no Jack Kennedy" in his Veep debate with Quayle in '88, but really you have to go back to 1960, when Nixon fared so poorly in terms of his appearance, looking sweaty and shifty, that to television viewers it was evidently a clear win for that very same Jack Kennedy, even if, on substance, it was a draw at worst for then-Veep Nixon.

But 2012 isn't 1960. Then, voters didn't get to see much of the candidates. So that debate was huge. But with the world of insane media saturation we live in now, voters can see all they want whenever they want. Sure, there are no doubt some undecideds who will tune in tonight, and no doubt some of them will have their views pushed or pulled one way or the other. But that's a tiny sliver of a mostly decided electorate that already knows a great deal about both Obama and Romney.

Which is why, while there will be some policy discussed tonight, it's really all about the theater -- and about creating some memorable moments. Hence all the talk, both from the Romney campaign and in the media generally, about zingers, as silly as that is.

Anyway, I don't want to take up too much time/room with this preamble. Richard and I, along with some of our contributors, will be live-blogging the debate tonight, and we hope you check back for that.

It's 7:59 pm ET now. (Richard and I just got off a pre-debate conference call with the Obama campaign.) We'll be back at 8:45 or so to get it rolling.

Make sure to check out our friend Mustang Bobby's debate thread as well. (Update: He unloads some great zingers.) 


8:51 pm - Okay, let's do this... And start by playing the expectations game... Obama is a much better orator than debater. He lost the debates to Hillary and then held his own against the near-comatose McCain. He tends to trip over his words and to be overly professorial. Romney, on the other hand, participated in countless debates during the Republican primaries and held his own under attack from his various rivals. He's tested, and he's got an arsenal of zingers ready to unleash. The debate, clearly, is Romney's to lose.

8:54 pm - Whatever.

Let's go to Richard (RKB):

RKB : I'm sure it doesn't mean anything, but the candidate's wives look very nervous. Hey, it's not like the stakes are incredibly high.

8:56 pm - Ann Romney looks particularly anxious. Maybe it's just her grotesque makeup under the hot spotlight.

8:58 pm - For what it's worth, I'm drinking a nice Ontario red (Cabernet). But I may have to switch to Bourbon to get through this.

8:59 pm - Great headline on a Chait post earlier today: "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" -- referring to Romney, of course. Key passage:

Romney's best hope is to detach himself from his party as best as possible. And here is where the 47 percent video really blocks his exit. He does not have a great gift for feigning sincerity. Romney may want to convince Americans that he truly cares about them, but a candid video of him speaking to his donors with evident passion will seem like a more authentic expression of his real views. And, given the state of Romney's party, justifiably so.

I wonder if Mitt's arrogant douchebaggery will make an appearance tonight. 

9:01 pm - And here's Jim Lehrer. Good times. Follow us through these 90 minutes, won't you? If you can stay awake. (See the Times's live-blogging as well. And here's the transcript.)

RKB : The conventional wisdom on debates is that a challenger on stage with an incumbent president gets to look presidential just by being on stage. I suppose that's true. We'll see how Romney looks at the start. His tension always seems palpable to me.

9:04 pm - Nice for the president to say Happy Anniversary to his massively popular wife. 20 years. Obama sounds fairly confident to begin, though as usual he lacks a certain eloquence, as if he's always searching for the right words. I see this as a virtue, as a reflection of his thoughtfulness, of his desire to choose his words carefully, but clearly the debate format diminishes him somewhat.

9:06 pm - And Romney makes a joke about how romantic it must be for Obama to spend the evening with him. Nice one. What he needed to ease the tension a bit. But he's not looking into the camera, it appears. I can't say I agree with his answer to this first question, on jobs, but he's speaking well, and seems confident.

And here's our newest contributor, Frank Moraes:

FM : Romney looks pained. Obama a bit stiff. Twitter is lighting up...

And our friend tmcbpatriot:

TMCB : I have just cracked a fresh bottle of Smoking Loon. Appropriate for tonight, I think.

9:10 pm : What's "Smoking Loon"?

RKB : I know it's all a part of the game, but the boilerplate spin from the campaign surrogates, all of them, gets tiresome.

9:11 pm : Agreed... Oh, here's Romney asking Obama a question, invited by Lehrer to do so. Yes, Mitt, you do have a $5 trillion tax cut in the works. Loopholes, whatever you intend to close, won't make up for it. But we're going to hear a lot about this "middle-class squeeze" tonight. It's what Mitt has to do to appeal to swing-state undecideds.

9:13 pm : Bullshit, Mitt. You aren't being specific about your spending cuts and tax loophole closures. And the numbers do not add up. "I like coal," says Mitt. Yes, he likes heating up the planet to the point of imminent apocalypse. Hoo-wah. Shouldn't he mention that he's in the bag for the oil and gas industry? As with everything else, his energy policies are competely retrograde -- and dangerous.

TMCB : Mitts flag pin is bigger than Obama's. I wonder if that is on purpose.

9:15 pm : Ah, good. The president is calling out Romney on those loopholes. When you add them all up, "you don't come close to paying for $5 trillion in tax cuts" and all the unnecessary military spending. So the burden ends up on the middle class. Obama needs to hammer this point home tonight. He needs to paint Romney as an advocate for his own kind, the rich -- which, of course, he is. 

FM : Trickle-down government is a good line. I suspect this is what the Romney campaign meant by "zingers." It makes more sense than jokes.

TMCB : I am looking forward to Mitt's Joe The Plumber moment. However, for Mitt it will be more like Roy The NASCAR Team Owner. 

9:18 pm : Romney's really trying to present himself as a man of the people, propsing tax cuts for everyone, not just for the rich. Again, Obama is right to point out that the numbers don't add up: "It's math, it's arithmetic." (Republicans don't believe in arithmetic.)

RKB : Romney's people obviously told him to soften his image tonight. I doubt things will ever get hot the way things are going in this debate. It's good that Obama is talking business. He's not ceding that ground to Romney... Okay, Obama is settling down now.

FM : Romney claims six other studies showed TPC study was wrong. This is a lie. THIS TALKING POINT DRIVES ME CRAZY!

TMCB : Romney is making a mistake here. He is trying to look tough by talking to Obama and not to the camera or the moderator. He is trying to bully the President. It is not going to work. Obama is trying to get Romney's dander up. So far so good.

9:22 pm : Republicans kills Bowles-Simpson, by the way, Mitt. Ask your running mate. The message for Romney tonight is jobs, jobs, jobs, it seems. I do like that the president is looking straight into the camera. He knows this is about talking directly to voters, not trying to beat his opponent.

9:23 pm : Yes, yes, yes! Obama connects Romney's plan back to Bush. 

TMCB : Smoking Loon is my favorite red wine. $8.99 and smooth as silk!

FM : King on CNN: This will come down to who Americans trust more. What insight! 

9:25 pm : Romney's really on the defensive over his $5 trillion in proposed tax cuts. It's a line that works and has the benefit of being true.

TMCB : Whoa, did he just say that he will stop funding PBS to a PBS host? Did he just fire Jim Lehrer? 

9:30 pm : A response from the Obama-Biden campaign to another Romney lie: 

Mitt Romney tonight said he wouldn't raise taxes on middle class families, but we know that's not true. As independent, non-partisan analysts have highlighted, to pay for his $5 trillion tax plan that would give $250,000 tax cuts to multi-millionaires and billionaires, Mitt Romney would have to cut key tax deductions that middle class families rely on, like the mortgage interest and charitable deductions. Paying for Romney's tax cuts means the average middle class family with kids would see their taxes go up by $2,000 a year. 

9:31 pm: Romney says Obama should have embraced Simpson-Bowles and run with it. I wasn't a big fan, and am still not, but the problem wasn't the president's commitment to that deficit-reduction plan but the Republicans' opposition to it, including Ryan's. The fact is, the Republicans were never going to give Obama a "victory" on anything -- even in this case, where Obama and the Democrats were prepared to give up so much in terms of spending cuts.

FM: Obama's discussion of "computer for your kid going off to college" is one of the best distillations of Keynesianism I've ever heard. Excellent! (And I'm cynical.)

TMCB: All the FOX news audience heard was Big Bird. He basically just said that Jim Lehrer is basically on Sesame Street. Oh and they will both be out of a job if Romney wins.

9:35 pm: Obama just made a reference to outsourcing, moving jobs overseas. Maybe too implicit, but of course he can make that point directly against Romney. 

9:36 pm: "Budgets reflect choices," says Obama. Yes. Absolutely. And the choice for Romney, Ryan, and the Republicans is a shifting of the tax burden away from the rich and onto everyone else (not just the 47% but everyone else). Not that the rich really face much of a burden today.

TMCB: Wow. Romney is a dick. He is trying really hard to look tough but in doing so he is just looking like a child.

RKB: That's a zinger? Romney's boys are liars?

9:38 pm: Romney brings up his business experience and bringing jobs home. Really? I thought he quit Bain over 20 years ago and that he had nothing to do with outsourcing. Isn't that what he's said? He's left the door wide open. Mr. President -- go for it.

RKB: I don't know if they're nervous, but I am.

FM: Perhaps the "zingers" were that they would never get past the first topic?

The Clinton 23 million jobs claim, while true, always strikes me as something that may have been due to Clinton but was also just timing. So I never like it. But I think it works.

Obama's Trump joke fell flat, but I laughed like hell.

Romney's "tax increase will cost 700,000 jobs" was strong. Obama didn't counter. I question the number. Perhaps a blog post tomorrow.

TMCB: Romney looks a little less orange tonight. 

9:43 pm: Romney accuses Obama of cutting Medicare for today's seniors. He's not. It's about cutting payments to hospitals. This is a winning issue for Obama. Time to talk about what Romney and Ryan would do not to today's seniors but going foward to future generations of seniors. Yes, Obama brings up Romney's "Vouchercare" plan. Hugely unpopular.

FM: Romney: "You'll never balance the budget by raising taxes." So you will balance the budget by cutting taxes on the rich who already have more money than know what to do with? (See: 10-year bond rates paying less than inflation.) This is pure supply-side, trickle-down economics. Haven't we tried this at length? Twice?

RKB: Obama is being too professorial, as his people knew he would. Romney's cliches are actually more effective in this setting. Although Romney is starting to sound like a prick. I guess he can't help it.

FM: Block-granting is just a way for conservatives to starve programs. But there is an upside.

9:47 pm: Wow, Romney refuses to answer question of whether he supports vouchers. All he wants to say is that his policies won't affect existing recipients. Of course you don't want the government telling you what health-care insurance you want, Mitt. You're a mega-millionaire. You can buy whatever health care you want. How about the tens of millions of Americans who would lose their access to affordable care if you were to get your way and repeal "Obamacare"? And didn't you do something similar in Massachusetts?

9:49 pm: Answer the fucking question, Mitt!

FM: Romney is tipping over into being really unlikable. And I think he already had that vote nailed!

RKB: Not that you asked, but I'm drinking white wine, although I should be drinking champagne, being one of those champagne socialists.

9:51 pm: More from the Obama-Biden campaign:

Mitt Romney has no credibility when it comes to reducing the deficit. The truth is that President Obama has already signed $1 trillion of deficit reduction into law as part of a plan to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion while asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share and investing in an economy built to last. Romney refuses to ask for a penny more from the wealthy – even pledging to reject a deal including 10 dollars in spending cuts for every 1 dollar of new revenue – and would have to raise middle class taxes or explode the deficit in order to pay for his $250,000 tax cuts for multi-millionaires and increased defense spending.

9:52 pm: I wondered earlier if Romney's arrogant douchebagger was going to make an appearance. It has, and it's taking over the debate.

FM: Obama brought in AAPR approval -- very good. Pointing out that repealing Obamacare would cost money and enrich insurance companies was excellent. No response from Romney.

Romney goes back to talking points: I won't screw current seniors and Obama cut $716 billion. Amazing!

TMCB: Obama is in governing mode right now. He sounds like a president. It is awesome. He is making points and leading, like he is in a meeting. Romney is out of his league here. He has no idea what to do here.

9:54 pm: Romney is clearly not qualified to talk about the facts. 

9:55 pm: Look closely at Romney. Look in them eyes. There's a glistening rage in there. Obama has him down.

9:56 pm: So Romney wants to repeal Obamacare, which, lest we forget, is based on Romneycare in Massachusetts. Obama can now say it covers tens of millions of people while also cutting costs over the long term.

9:57 pm: Romney keeps counting. Number 1... Number 2... Number 3... Makes him come across as an arrogant and condescending. Obama may be professorial, but at least he's likeable.

FM: Romney manages to trivialize Obama's position on Medicare. Obama wants to keep it the same for all. Romney, only those 55 and older. Will Obama correct him?

9:59 pm: Obama: "Insurance companies can't jerk you around." It's generally a popular position to go after Big Insurance. "We've seen this model works well... in Massachusetts... the identical model... it hasn't destroyed jobs..."

10:01 pm: "I like the way we did it in Massachusetts." And then says Obama did it wrong by pushing it through without Republican support. But of course Republicans weren't going to support anything given their policy of absolute obstructionism. Besides, Obamacare is a market-oriented package that closely resembles what Republicans themselves once supported before the party moved so far to the right. Sure, bipartisanship would have been nice. But Romney need look no further than his own party.

10:03 pm: Yes! Obama notes that it was a Republican idea. "We used the same advisers, and they say it's the same plan."

FM: Romney claims that a "study" found that 3/4 of small business owners were not hiring because of Obamacare. I know this is wrong. It was probably something like, "a study of tea party business owners." Most business owners are not hiring because of lack of demand. That's it.

TMCB: Romney just blamed homeowners for the collapse. 

FM: Romney forgot to mention: in Massachusetts, they used federal money to pay for their health-care reform.

10:07 pm: Just how desperate is Romney? He's bringing up death panels, that old Republican lie (see Palin, Sarah). But he's not answering the question again: What would he replace Obamacare with? He's scuffling.

FM: Romney's answers seem more scripted. Obama's seem more off the cuff.

10:08 pm: Obama notes, with the facts at hand, that the law prohibits anything like "death panels" -- any sort of mandated treatment. And he notes as well that this is an expansion of private insurance -- both Obamacare and Romneycare. But private insurers have to take everyone (e.g., coverage for prople with pre-existing conditions). Obama's on fire!

10:11 pm: Now Romney is trying to explain why he won't provide details, why he won't answer the questions. It's about principles! He's laying them out. Oh. Thanks. Very helpful.

10:12 pm: The Obama-Biden campaign on Medicare: 

Mitt Romney just repeated the false claim that the President made $716 billion in cuts to Medicare and has no plan to protect the program. The AARP endorsed Obamacare because it extended the life of the program by nearly a decade by reducing unnecessary insurance company subsidies and rooting out waste and fraud. Mitt Romney's plan would bankrupt Medicare by 2016, turn the program into a voucher system, and could increase costs for seniors by more than $6,000 a year – based on an analysis of his current plan. In fact, the savings Romney just decried were included in his running mate's budget, which Romney called "marvelous" and promised to sign into law. 

Basically, if you want to destroy Medicare, vote Romney.

TMCB: My wife just had a point. These two guys are not talking to the American people. The regular folks are not understanding any of this. They are both guilty of it. Romney, however, has not looked at the camera once.

FM: Romney is repeating the lie about his tax plan. The Tax Policy Center might as well not exist. How do you deal with people who can't be penetrated by facts?

10:14 pm: Preferably, you vote against them. 

10:15 pm: It's pretty rich for Mitt to bring up Massachusetts. He was there for a single term.

10:16 pm: Remember, when a Republican brings up "religious freedom," what is meant is the freedom to be a bigot and impose theocracy.

10:17 pm: See the comments section for some excellent contributions from a reader, Rich Freedman. I certainly agree that Lehrer is doing a lousy job so far, letting Romney run roughshod over the rules.

FM: I keep expecting to see Michael Dukakis pop up and say, "What are you? The Joe Isuzu of government?" Romney is playing Santa Claus. "There will be no pre-existing conditions AND no individual mandate!" He's talking nonsense.

Romney was a lot better early on.

10:19 pm: On the role of government, Obama actually has some thoughtful ideas and examples, while Romney, as usual, is full of right-wing ideological shit.

FM: Too big to fail is a huge issue: a $60 billion per year subsidy of the banking industry. But if Romney doesn't like Dodd-Frank, there is nothing he would like. And I think that's the case. See: corporate raider.

TMCB: Personally, I like Obama's approach here, He is smart and careful. I wonder how television viewers respond to this. Romney is all bluster. I just don't see voters seeing that as something good for the country over the long term.

FM: Still no one calls Romney on his "I'm not giving details because... negotiation!" All negotiations start with proposals. His answer is insulting to all voters. (And their children.)

10:23 pm: This needs to end. Soon.

FM: Both candidates look tired. Obama's lost his spark. But at least he's still making sense. Romney has started babbling. Seeing him talk at length really shows that his entire campaign boils down to, "Trust me! I've got ideas! But I can't tell you them because... negotiation!"

TMCB: Obama is so done with this chump. He is not a fan of what Mitt has to say and is done with him.

10:25 pm: Romney continues to avoid talking about what he'd actually do as president. Lehrer had to call him on it... finally. But Romney really does look desperate to me. His tone, his body language, it's all a reflection of inner turmoil. It's like he wants so badly to act the CEO and order everyone around, like this whole democracy thing is beneath him, like he wants his high school bully pals to go beat up the president.

10:27 pm: Meanwhile, while Obama certainly isn't shining, he's showing the calm and determination of a genuine leader. Only one of these two has looked presidential tonight. And it ain't Romney.

Ah, here's our friend and contributor Marc McDonald:

MMD: I've read a number of Serious Commentators in the Mainstream Media who've made the claim that "Obama just isn't a very good debater." But tonight, I think he's doing a great job. I think Romney is handicapped by the fact that he sat through endless debates with the bunch of blithering idiots known as the GOP field. Really, all Romney had to do to do well in those debates was to outshine the likes of clowns like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann. Romney really hasn't faced any challenging debate competition until tonight. As a debater, Obama may not be Christopher Hitchens -- but he's clearly good enough tonight.

10:28 pm: Great comment. Agree completely. 

FM: Romney's claims of bipartisanship are meaningless. He's was working with Democrats, not freaks. Does he really think that people will buy that the Massachusetts legislature is anything like the Republican House?

TMCB: When I watch Obama speak, I am reminded what a shitstorm he was handed four years ago. He is doing a stellar job. The Obama failure is a myth and a lie. It will not lead to his defeat. I just do not believe the American people are that dumb. They will not stay home and let Romney win. I just don't see that happening.

10:31 pm: Good final remarks by the president. And Romney once again brings up the "squeeze" and says things that just don't add up. He truly is the Pretzel Candidate.

RKB: Obama talking about Medicare is pissing Romney off and he looks annoyed. That is what Obama has to do. Romney looks bad on Vouchercare. This is bad for Romney. Romney just fucked up by saying he would rather have private Medicare.

10:32 pm: And that's it. Okay. So very anti-climactic. Now where's that Bourbon I was talking about?

10:33 pm: We'll have a lot of post-debate coverage, but I need to rest for a moment... Well, okay, this first. Wolf Blitzer is an idiot. He just said this was a really good night for Romney and that the expectations for Obama were so high. Does he actually ever think for himself? Can he think for himself? Or is it all about regurgiating Republican talking points? Romney won because he "held his own" with the president? Really?

TMCB: Romney is a fucking liar! It's astounding.

FM: I just realized: where's Romney's tan?

10:36 pm: I just can't listen to the morons on CNN. It's like they live in a different reality -- really an un-reality. Obama was "rusty," John King? Obama didn't go on the attack? "Romney at least held his own..." Please. Gergen: "We've got a horse race." Really? Romney refused to answer questions and was shuffling (and lying) all evening. I have a hard time believing this will move the needle all that much.

10:38 pm: Yes, what we're seeing here is that the media wanted Romney to win (if only because they want this to be a close race), and now they're thriving off their contrived drama.

10:40 pm: This is compete and utter bullshit.

FM: No, Romney. Dodd-Frank was extremely well thought out. Then it was gutted by your friends in Congress and the finance industry. That's why it is as bad as it is. If Romney were serious about its problems, he would be for changing it, not ending it.

The word on MSNBC (!) is that Romney was better. I guess I'm just too focused on policy.

RKB: Does anyone take Romney seriously as a champion of the little guy? 

10:42 pm : No one should... Okay, so it really does look like the immediate consensus is that Romney "won" the debate. He rose to the occasion and held his own, and wanted to be there, while Obama was professorial and detached. Again, though, I think this was the pre-conceived narrative the media were planning to run with in the event of a close debate without any real fireworks.

"Where was the passion," Stephanie Cutter, Obama's deputy campaign manager, is asked. I thought the president looked... presidential. Now she's asked if Obama didn't take this seriously enough. Yet more bullshit from the media.

TMCB : The pundits are off and running. I hate that they are talking about this like it was supposed to be a campaign speech. However, Obama is in governing mode is not as exciting as Obama in campaign mode, I have to admit.

10:49 pm : At most, I'll concede that Obama looked and sounded a little flat. But to me that came from being in control of himself, from remaining calm, from not getting too excited. Romney just acted the agressive prick -- counting, finger-pointing, with rage in his eyes, desperate to score points.

And, seriously, it's like the various "expert" pundits are all speaking with the same vocabulary (using words like professorial) and talking points.

Basically, they're saying Romney won because he came across as Obama's " equal," because he was more aggressive (currently the headline at But what did they expect, that he'd stand there drooling, unable to string a coherent sentence together?

MMD: What on earth is going on at MSNBC? I thought I'd mistakenly switched on Fox "News." Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz are claiming that Obama was a failure tonight. I hope this isn't the spin that the MSM is going to be picking up on in the coming days. Obama wasn't perfect, but he was hardly a failure.

RKB: We disagree. All the commentary will say Obama "lost." This will be very bad, though I don't know how much it will be reflected in the polls. 

10:58 pm : Maybe so, but if it was "very bad," it's only because of the way the media are responding to it. And yes, I feared that going in. It happened to Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004.

But I suppose this could reset the expectations for the next two presidential debates (the next debate being the vice-presidential one). Maybe if Obama shows some passion, like, say, by jumping up and down on Oprah's couch, the media will give him some credit. But of course far be it from the media to talk policy, to hold Romney accountable for pushing unpopular plans with math that doesn't even come close to adding up and refusing to answer questions about what his positions actually are what he would actually do as president. Much easier to say Romney was passionate and held his own and Obama looked like he didn't want to be there.

RKB : Don't think so. He just flat out won the debate. Carville said Obama didn't bring his 'A' game. I agree.

TMCB: Advantage Romney. Does this mean he now cares about the 47% and actually said anything truthful? Hardly. Does that even matter? Hardly. Sadly.

FM : Best line of the debate was Obama saying that being a leader is about "being able to say what you are going to do." Now that's a zinger!

11:03 pm : Gloria Borger and David Gergen. Okay, time to turn the channel. Borger may be the stupidest "neutral" commentator on TV. And Gergen, for all his success, is a remarkably shallow analyst. People thought Obama would win! He lost! We have a horse race! Are we to have no discussion whatsoever on what Romney actually said... and didn't say?

TMCB: Hilarious that the big takeaway from the debate is Romney's remark about Big Bird. It was really the only thing most viewers could understand I think.

11:08 pm : Well, that's it for us tonight. I'd like to thank my four wonderful colleagues for joining me tonight with their typically excellent commentary. For all my current frustration, it was a lot of fun.

And... we move on. We'll have some further thoughts on tonight's debate, as well as on so much else. Stay tuned for many more new posts from us tomorrow, and come visit us regularly for our ongoing extensive coverage of the campaign, both presidential and otherwise (Congress, state, etc.), as well as on various other political matters.

But let me close with a comment from one of our oldest and dearest friends, Creature -- our former associate editor and someone without whom this blog wouldn't be anywhere near where it is today. Creature, from State of the Day, retired from blogging last year, and is sorely missed.

Creature : I watched. It hurt to see the president not push back. Especially the $716 Medicare bit. Disappointed generally. I also hate this post-analysis because its all about style and not substance. I knew I should have tuned it out. 

11:26 pm : Yes, he does need to push back and be more aggressive, on Medicare as on so much else. As I said, he may not have been great today, but he was fine, and at times he looked very strong. But for the media, well, let's not rehash that. If it's style based on pre-conceived notions you're looking for, maybe Romney did "win." But that shows a complete lack of appreciation for substance, which, as we know, is oh-so-common at style-happy, drama-hungry outlets like CNN.

But hopefully this debate will provide the sort of recalibration we Obama supporters need so as not to take the race too lightly by assuming that it's already over. And hopefully the negative reviews will spur the president to do better not just in the debates to follow but throughout the rest of the campaign.

And thankfully, there really weren't any silly zingers.

Good night, everyone.

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  • It's cute how Romney's tie is red, and Obama's s blue. Color-coded candidates. Just in case you couldn't figure out which one is which.

    By Blogger Rich Freedman, at 9:39 PM  

  • Romney just implied "Death Panels". I thought we were past that.

    By Blogger Rich Freedman, at 9:58 PM  

  • Lehrer is letting Romney talk whenever he wants, instead of following the debater rules. We need a moderator who will actually moderate.

    By Blogger Rich Freedman, at 10:14 PM  

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