My wife, who really ought to have her own blog, heard only the few minutes dealing with immigration and then China and summed up the candidates’ shared position as “We sure love immigrants, but we sure hate foreigners”.
I, by contrast, slogged through the entire thing. Here are my own less brilliant comments, typed in real time while watching the debate; not edited and perhaps in some cases not sufficiently thought through:
Preamble: Obama definitely wins “most illogical statement of the night”, or more likely “statement inspired by the most cynical possible view of voters’ intelligence”; see point 30 below.
1. Romney in a blue tie; Obama in red. Opposite of last time. Do they coordinate this?
2. Romney: “I know what it takes to create good jobs again, blah blah blah”. Okay. Are you going to tell us what “it” is?
3. Obama looking much more alive than last time.
4. Obama: “I want to build manufacturing jobs.” Goddammit, I hope Romney jumps all over this. It is not the president’s job to decide which sectors should thrive. It is, in fact, the essence of corruption.
5. Romney claims his 5-point plan creates 12 million jobs. To suggest that it is possible to make forecasts with this sort of precision is what we technically call a lie.
6. Obama going heavy on the class warfare.
7. Does Obama agree that it’s not the energy dept’s job to lower gas prices? This should be an easy “of course it’s not”.
8. Obama boasting about top-down planning of the car industry, govt setting fuel standards etc. I hope Romney jumps all over the “top-down govt” issue. Not optimistic.
9. Obama: Romney’s “got the oil and gas part but not the clean energy part”. Dammit, again, it’s not the president’s job to to “get” any of these parts. Will Romney mention this? Guess not.
10. Romney pushing energy independence. Obama unlikely to make a good case against it.
11. Crowley asks the right question: “Is it within the purview of the govt to bring gas prices down?”. Obama ignores the question.
12. Obama: “Natural gas isn’t just appearing; we’re encouraging it”. This is like Al Gore inventing the Internet. The govt does not produce natural gas.
13. Obama again with “We’re going to produce such and such a sort of cars….”. Dammit, if you want to run a car company, get a job at a car company. If you want to be president of the US, stop trying to be an auto executive.
14. Romney: If gas prices are up, then energy policy isn’t working. This is appalling. He can’t think of any legitimate reasons prices might be up?
15. Obama: “We’ve” built enough pipeline to wrap around the earth once. No, Mr. President, you didn’t build that.
16. Romney trying to walk all over the moderator, demanding time to respond to Obama; I doubt this looks good.
17. Romney reiterating that he wants a more progressive tax code (“I want middle income taxpayers to pay lower taxes”). Nobody around to make the contrary case.
18. Romney to eliminate all taxes on interest, dividends and capgains (yay!)…..but only for “middle income” taxpayers (boo!).
19. Obama says reducing govt debt is a moral obligation to the next generation. Fine. But he has also told us, in other contexts, that govt has no business enforcing morality. So how is this an argument for reducing debt?
20. Obama, who wants to run the car industry, favor manufacturing, etc etc, has the audacity to slam “top down economics”.
21. Romney wants to cut tax rates to spur small business. So—-favoring small business over big business? Is this any better than Obama favoring manufacturing?
22. More from Romney with the small business fetish. Bleh.
23. Obama calling a $5 trillion tax cut a $5 trillion “cost”. Sigh.
24. Obama descending into sheer demagoguery here: Saying Romney pays at a lower rate than laborers do, ignoring that Romeny’s income is almost all from capital, so what he’s paying are *surtaxes*.
25. I’ve lost count of the lies and illogic on both sides, but I think Obama’s a better liar; his demeanor makes him seem more believable (provided you don’t listen too hard to what he’s saying).
26. Romney once again trying to walk all over the moderator. Once again, I doubt this plays well.
27. Lily Ledbetter bill has come up; will Romney attempt to explain how horrible this legislation is? I bet not. Is this ignorance or cynicism?
28. Romney admitting that as governor he prioritized gender over qualifications when staffing his cabinet. This does not bode well for his appointments as president.
29. In the midst of a pathetic answer, Romney slips in the key point: The way to get women’s wages up is to increase the demand for labor. He got something right! (But still hasn’t explained why Obama’s approach is so wrong.)
30. Obama has the AUDACITY to accuse ROMNEY of letting politicians decide the content of insurance policies, and then segues IMMEDIATELY into advertising that HIS health care bill dictates contraceptive coverage!!!! Are there voters dumb enough to nod their heads and agree with this? Do people that dumb actually turn out to vote?
31. Asked how he differs from George Bush, Romney reiterates a bunch of stuff he said before; seems to think it’s more important to repeat the few things he practiced than to say anything new.
32. Obama says he “saved jobs” by keeping cheap Chinese tires out of US. Hope Romney mentions that we’re all paying more for tires now.
33. I don’t think Romney’s doing anything to fire up his base, and I don’t think he’s doing anything to win over independents — so I don’t think he’s doing himself any good tonight.
34. Romney giving long soliloquy on how nothing has worked; not a whole lot of content but in terms of presentation I think it’s his best moment so far.
35. Romney talks about all the advantages of legal immigration, then opposes illegal immigration despite the fact that it has all the same advantages.
36. I believe Obama has been more ruthless than Bush re deportations. Not sure this is true, but if it is, I hope Romney points it out.
37. And now Obama talks about all the advantages of legal immigration — which cries out for Romney to ask why, then, he’s been sending his jackbooted thugs all over the country to deport productively employed people. Sadly, we’re already on to different topics.
38. Obama looking very good taking offense at Romney’s intimations of his having played politics over Libya.
39. Big slip on Romney’s part saying Obama had not called the Libya attack an “act of terror” the day after the attack. Obama responds brilliantly by not contradicting Romney directly but instead saying “Please proceed, governor”, allowing Romney to dig himself deeper.
Edited to add: I typed this believing (on the moderator’s say-so) that Romney had in fact gotten this wrong. He hadn’t.
40. To repeat: Romney not, as far as I can tell, giving anyone a reason to vote for him who wasn’t going to already.
41. They’re on to gun control; my attention is flagging.
42. Obama claiming that reducing class size is an efficient way to increase economic growth. Romney should ask “Where’s the evidence?”.
43. Romney fetishizing the manufacturing sector when he ought to be bashing Obama’s for this fetish.
44. He used the phrase “trickle down govt” again; I like this.
45. Romney: “On day one, I will label China a currency manipulator”. I wish Obama would jump all over this. Bet he won’t.
46. Moderator: “How do you convince companies to bring manufacturing back to the US from China?” — seemingly TAKING IT AS GIVEN that this is desirable. This is really extraordinary bias on the moderator’s part.
47. Obama: “some jobs won;t come back because they are low-wage, low-skilled jobs”. Yes. Applause for this.
48. Romeny gets a major softball for his final question: “What is the biggest misconception about you?”. Gets to talk about what a great guy he is.
49. Romney mentions he believes in God. Fails to mention that he also believes Joseph Smith told the truth about those tablets. Or does he?
50. Now Obama takes the same softball. Says he believes in free enterprise. Then why is he trying to run the auto industry? Or dictate women’s wages? Or run the insurance industry? Or favor the manufacturing sector? (Yes, I know I’m repeating myself.) But a lot of viewers will look right past this. He sounds, I think, very good as long as you don’t compare his rhetoric to his policies.