Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Debate: Who Won, Who's Lying About It

Heading into last night's debate, much of the discussion in the media was about the "expectation game" and whether each candidate would meet or exceed expectations. In other words, most members of the media hedged their bets - meaning they didn't have the guts to tell you what they really thought.

The fact is, Mr. Romney's campaign set the bar so low, if he didn't make an outright ass of himself - as he did in many of the GOP primary debates - he was going to have exceeded the expectations of most Americans who expected the President to win the debate handily.

As you may have noted in our Wednesday edition, unlike much of the rest of the media, we didn't hedge our bets. We don't lie - and we won't start now. We thought the debate wouldn't live up to the media hype - and it didn't.

That didn't stop many of our ethically challenged colleagues in the wider media field, who began spinning the debate in favor of Mitt, the moment it ended, as though their careers depended on it. Chances are, their careers do depend on their lies making the presidential race appear closer than it actually is, so their corporate master's ratings, clicks, and copies stay at high levels. Funny how the threat of losing something important can focus one's ability to lie.

As we already noted, though - we don't lie. So here's what really happened at the debate last night.

At best, the debate was a tie. At worst, Mr. Romney lost.

The debate leaned heavily on the economy, with four of six sections devoted to the economy. The moderator, PBS' Jim Lehrer, was surprisingly weak, allowing for Obama to talk much longer than he should have, while allowing Mr. Romney to walk all over him. Multiple times, Romney bullied his way past Lehrer and attempted to take control of the debate, much as he did with Gov. Rick Perry in the GOP primary debates.

We'll agree that President Obama spoke a bit longer at times than he should have. That said, his answers were highly detailed and fact-filled. On questions of jobs, taxes, debt & deficit, education, and earned benefits (entitlements), President Obama patiently went through details of his plans, their positive effects, and what progress had been made the last four years. On Obamacare, Obama simply bearhugged Romney to death with the facts.

On the other side of the stage, Mr. Romney was aggressive and at times petulant, like a spoiled child. As we already noted, Romney interrupted, bullied, and pushed his way through much of the debate. Romney also had virtually no details on ANY of his plans.

When pushed by both President Obama and Mr. Lehrer, Romney deftly and repeatedly avoided direct requests for specifics. Romney could not explain how he would pay for his $5 trillion tax cut - a plan he consistently lied about, multiple times during the debate. Romney insisted he wasn't going to reduce taxes on the wealthy - but refused to say how he would pay for any of his promises. What's more, Romney insisted his plans wouldn't cut other programs in the goverment, even though fact checkers have proven his math doesn't add up. Romney also insisted he was going to eliminate any Federal government program he didn't really think was necessary, including budget allocations to PBS - which is a power that Congress has, not the Presidency.

The truth is, Mitt Romney couldn't stop lying in the debate. As Jon Lovett of The Atlantic magazine pointed out:
Romney claims he never said Romneycare should be a national model. He did.
Romney claims he never promised to cut taxes for wealthy. His plan did.
Romney claims he won't change Medicare for current seniors; repealing Obamacare will do exactly that.
Romney claims he covers pre-existing conditions - in every meaningful way, his plan does not.
In short, Mr. Romney lied about nearly everything important, while giving next to no details. He even lied about Massachusetts schools being number one. That designation belongs to Maryland, actually - and has for the last four years.

Overall, the debate wasn't very exciting.

President Obama was measured, head down, writing notes throughout the debate. He was the fact-filled, wonkish scholar President that America has come to know and trust over the last four years.

Mr. Romney was the plastic corporate executive with the fake laugh, who's ready to push snap judgments, even when he has no facts. Romney had no details about any of his plans, had more than a few toned-down zingers, and had enough lies to keep the fact-checkers going until the next debate.

In a nutshell, Mitt Romney needed the debate performance of his life. He didn't give it - which means this debate wasn't a win for Romney - no matter how hard anyone tries to spin it.

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