The headlines following last night’s debate were to be expected; jubilant cries from the mainstream media that President Barack Obama is back in front of the Presidential horse race.
But, besides doing so in a more forceful manner, the President did little more than make the same promises that he has made since 2008 — and bend the truth to embolden his weak record. Republican challenger Mitt Romney, despite the opportunity to distinguish himself as a conservative in a battle against leftist policy, spent much of the night dodging the President’s rightful accusations of his flip-flop-flips from left to right to moderate.
The only thing that could have made the debate less useful to voters wishing for a clear distinction between the two candidates would have been easily evadable softball questions tossed by presumably uninformed voters in the audience. And that’s just what we got. Anyone watching saw only kid-glove questions (certainly handpicked by Party elite) the audience members had for the two men vying for a seat in the Oval Office.
When asked about creating jobs and lessening unemployment by a 20-year-old college student, the candidates reached into a tried and true campaign grab bag of rhetoric about the importance of education and manufacturing jobs to the American economy. Obama also mentioned the 5 million jobs he keeps saying he has created, which many Americans seem to be having a hard time finding.
When the President called out Romney with the accusation that the former Governor wanted “to let Detroit go bankrupt” the ensuing argument strengthened the feeling that these two men are not all that different in how they would handle certain situations.
“And I know he keeps saying you want to take Detroit bankrupt. Well, the President took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did,” Romney said. “And I think it’s important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommended and ultimately what happened.”
Obama moved directly into his class warfare rhetoric, accusing Romney of having a financial plan that will only serve to make the rich more wealthy.
“Governor Romney says he’s got a five-point plan? Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan,” Obama said. “And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector, that’s been his philosophy as Governor, that’s been his philosophy as a Presidential candidate.”
One thing that was quite clear during the Presidential debate was where moderator Candy Crowley’s allegiances lie. Questions from audience members, as well as Crowley’s follow-ups, were laughably and blatantly pro-Obama.
Playing on the tired “Republican war on women” myth, Obama used a discussion about budget cuts to attack Romney on plans to cut funding to abortion-provider Planned Parenthood. The President even rehashed the already debunked political myth that the organization provides free mammograms to needy women.
“When Governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, there are millions of women all across the country, who rely on Planned Parenthood for, not just contraceptive care, they rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings,” he said.
Romney, didn’t help his own case greatly in discussing women’s issues, however it was not for lack of care so much as poor word choice. In a statement that will undoubtedly go down in Internet meme history, Romney claimed to be at the forefront of women’s social and employment issues when he discussed his “binders full of women” as Governor of Massachusetts.
“We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet,” Romney said. “I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.”
When the issue of the recent terror attacks that led to American deaths in Benghazi, Libya arose, the President floundered, just as his Administration did in the days and weeks following the attacks. But Crowley unashamedly jumped to his defense.
Romney pointed out that it took Obama a long time to admit the event had been a terrorist attack, but Obama said he had said so the day after in the Rose Garden.
When Crowley backed up the President’s assertion, he proclaimed with a hint of condescension, “Say that a little louder, Candy.”
Despite the tag-team effort against him, Romney pushed on pointing out that it was troubling to him that the President continued campaigning in the wake of the attack on the consulate.
Another question, this one focusing on the 2nd Amendment, should leave gun rights activists a little unnerved, as the answers given by both candidates do little to give confidence that either candidate believes in an unfettered right to bear arms.
Obama, in an act of outright dishonesty, nearly referred to any weapon that is not a sporting firearm as an automatic assault rifle and though Romney corrected him, the challenger promised nothing that would make the 2nd Amendment stronger.
Democrats will spend the day claiming their candidate won the debate, and Republicans will disagree. Unfortunately, with a clear difference on issues of financial responsibility, liberty and reckless war yet to be seen between the two men, it is America that continues to lose.