I need a morning after pill or something.
I mean what happened last night?
I watched the debate last night between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, knowing that I wanted to immediately blog about it; I did not take notes or even try to run through in my mind what I was going to write later while they were going at it, just took it all in.
At many points it was quite wonkish on policy (existing and proposed) and hard to follow.
I scanned over a fact check article this morning and things were still about as clear as mud. It seems that both men (according to the article) twisted or even misstated (lied?) in some cases, although not a lot (?).
My immediate reaction last night, as I posted in a blog, was that Romney pretty well pummeled the president (I did not use those exact words). And I still feel that way. That is not so say that I bought Romney’s message (at least not in its entirety), I just think he delivered it much better. Obama was weak (and it was sad). And that is not to say that I think Obama is a failure (he just was not on his game last night).
I’m still trying to go over the various stories about the debate this morning and get more meaning to what I witnessed. I used to be a newspaper reporter and always found it is often hard to see the forest for all the trees. I have not immersed myself in public policy speak for years and watched the debate as an ordinary citizen.
But so much for the excuses:
I thought Obama’s best line was when he commented that Romney can’t just say one thing for months out on the stump and then mere weeks before the election say: “never mind”. Romney did seem to be changing his tune on taxes. I mean for months now he and his surrogates have been claiming that he would cut taxes, even for the wealthy. Now he says he is not going to cut or significantly cut taxes on the wealthy, just take away some deductions, as yet unspecified.
And I might be the only one to think this (or not) but I thought Romney’s best line or most clever was when he was asked a question about regulations on business. While Republicans in general and Romney himself usually take the standard line that regulations on business are excessive, Romney had a new twist last night: he said in some cases there is too much regulation and in some cases not enough. He said as a businessman he has to know there are regulations (you just can’t have someone running a bank out of his garage, he offered, as an example).
On several points Romney simultaneously criticized the president and agreed with him, it seemed. He reminded me of an ongoing and quite annoying advertising campaign by Chevron Oil Company in which the narrator voices many oft-cited citizen concerns about oil companies or energy policy, such as we need to search for more alternative energy sources and protect the environment, and then says: “We agree; we are Chevron Oil”. A good way to put your opponent off balance, co-opt his message. Just say: “I agree”, but in Romney’s case then go on to show how you really disagree.
Romney once again engaged in what I think is his most intellectually dishonest or his biggest stretch, when it came to Obamacare. While Mr. Romney all but acknowledged that the health care law he vows to repeal if he wins was modeled after his own plan when he was governor of Massachusetts (something Obama pointed out), he at the same time says he would retain some elements in it, such as covering pre-existing conditions. But Romney is selling the idea that each state should have its own law. So I guess it is going to be pretty confusing to mobile Americans who often move across state lines in search of employment or better employment. And I am having a hard time figuring out why humans in one state have far different health care needs that those in other states.
Both candidates seem to be pandering to this “middle class”. I’m not sure I ever personally made it into that rank. Why are they so privileged?
Personally, on the subject of taxes, I think there ought to be more uniformity and equity. I am not sure a flat tax would work, though. But if Mr. Romney is sincere in his promise to simplify and cut deductions, I think I like that message more than simply vowing to cut taxes on the middle class and soak the rich. And this is a kind of touchy subject because really I would personally just prefer to kind of leave things the way they are — I do okay.
I believe the next debate between the two will be on foreign policy. It will be interesting to see if Romney is up for that. And for that matter it will be interesting to see if the president is.
Please Mr. President get some rest so you too can come out swinging the next time.