One might be perplexed that given all the ways the President’s campaign has painted Romney as a bogeyman, Mr. Obama didn’t do much of that in the debate. Of course he didn’t have to, with his nasty ads flooding swing state airwaves; why sound nasty personally? And yet, by leaving all that stuff out of the debate, Obama may convey that it’s just garbage voters should ignore. Which it is. And what can you say of a candidate willing to fling lots of mud — except when the target is standing right there.
For example, the President’s only mention of “shipping jobs overseas” referred to a supposed tax break, which Romney quite effectively refuted. But not a word calling Romney himself an “outsourcing pioneer,” which might have been uncomfortable for the challenger, if only because it takes more than one simple sentence to answer. I’m almost sorry Romney wasn’t thusly forced to defend economic reality.
The one attack the President did insist on pursuing, repeatedly, was the “$5 trillion tax cut” canard. Democrats seem so in love with the “tax cuts for the rich” accusation that they just can’t let go of it, even though Romney did have a simple one sentence answer: I’m not proposing that. (He isn’t.) Not only might that good clear answer have been foreseen, but for the President to invite it again, giving Romney further opportunities to call him, well, “inaccurate,” was to me the dumbest thing in the debate.
On that point, I was glad Romney followed the script I gave him. There was another one too: saying that wealthier people (like me) will have to see their Medicare benefits reduced. Though he didn’t stress it, and nobody seems to have picked up on it, I think that was both new and important as a first step toward the highly necessary concept of means-testing such programs. With Democrats allergic to the word “cut” regarding any entitlement spending, it’s interesting to hear the party they accuse of coddling the rich proposing to cut benefits for the rich.
Maybe this is still a horse race after all.
UPDATE 10:20 PM: The President’s been going around the country today saying the Romney in the debate wasn’t the real Romney. As if he’d hired some impersonator. And Obama still insists the real Romney does want a $5 trillion tax cut (for the rich). Oh, please. Give it up already.