We all got a shot of life Wednesday night from Mitt Romney. I received a lot of flak, and some insults, for my previous post castigating Romney for lacking joie de vivre, but he came out swinging and left the president looking for his teleprompter. While some posted polls in the comment section to show Romney’s campaign wasn’t in trouble since we’re in a dead heat – we should all be thanking Obama’s poor economic policies for that buffer. Regardless, Romney was prepared for battle, while the president was utterly unprepared and began to ramble towards the end of the debate.
Romney was animated. He was, as Steve Schmidt put it, “clear, cogent, and concise.” He also delivered his remarks in a tone we haven’t heard before. It displayed a sense of confidence that is a critical quality for the position Obama currently occupies. In all, it was polished and presidential. One could easily see Mitt Romney in the Oval Office with his cool delivery that seemed to make the president very uncomfortable. However, detractors will say that he’s had plenty of debate preparation concerning the grueling Republican primaries, although I’m not sure how being prepared can be construed as a negative. After all, the president called his own debate preparation a “drag.” Even though it was made with facetious overtones, it conveyed a sense of arrogance and unseriousness that has been one of the main criticisms hurled at the president. He assumed he would get bonus points for being the leader of the free world and he was grossly and ignominiously mistaken after his first bout with Romney.
Concerning Romney, I think it was for the first time that we saw him begin to understand what it means to be a conservative. The comparing and contrasting between private markets and government-oriented programs within the health care market was a good example. The notion that states are the “laboratories for democracy” was one of my favorite lines of the night. However, when the question about the role of government was asked – Romney successfully channeled his inner Madison and reiterated that the role of the state is to”promote and protect the principles” outlined in the constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Furthermore, he stated that our rights come from our creator, not from government. Our founders, especially Madison, believed that rights preceded government and drafted a constitution to embed those rights so that other may not take them away. Adhering to that notion is a ”severely” conservative affirmation.
While the president may have had a brief moment of exuding his presidential attributes with Medicare, he was often dominated by the litany of facts thrown at him by Romney highlighting the economic pain his presidency has inflicted upon the nation. The right hooks Romney delivered on jobs, the economy, and the crony capitalism connected to green energy rendered Obama’s statement on corporate welfare for oil companies moot. Furthermore, Obama seemed to sabotage his own efforts to scare seniors with the false narrative that Romney wants to destroy Medicare. He agreed that Romney’s reforms to our entitlement programs aren’t that much different from his policies.
As a result, the president gave Romney the death stare midway through the debate. There’s no doubt that the stare, coupled with the puckered up lips, were indicators that Romney got under Obama’s skin. In an ironic twist, Obama seems to have become John McCain concerning the feelings of indignation towards those who dare to have opposing views on the issues. For Obama, Romney disagreeing with him isn’t just wrong – it’s somehow reprehensible.
However, there are still some conservative critics, who agree that Romney crushed the president, but ceded policy ground. Philip Klein of The Washington Examiner posted a buzzkill column on October 3 reiterating the:
…two reasons why for conservatives to keep their exuberance in check. In past elections, it isn’t uncommon for the rusty incumbent to come off lousy in the opening debate. This was the case when Walter Mondale won the first 1984 debate against Ronald Reagan and John Kerry won the first debate against George W. Bush. In both cases, the incumbents recovered in the subsequent debates, and ended up winning the election.
Another reason for caution is that Romney, as part of his efforts to disarm Obama’s criticisms, made a number of policy concessions that could box him in and make it more difficult for him to govern as a limited government conservative if elected. At various times during the debate Romney said that he wasn’t interested in cutting taxes, particularly on the wealthy; that he would cover individuals with pre-existing conditions; that he wouldn’t touch Medicare and Social Security over the next decade and would be willing to give more money to seniors for prescription drugs; and that he’d be open to hiring more teachers. Should he be elected president, all of the major fights – repealing Obamacare, overhauling the tax code and reforming entitlements – will trigger a massive campaign by liberals to portray him as trying to hurt the poor to the benefit of the rich. If he is so willing to concede policy points during the campaign, will he fight for limited government as president?
However, as Joel Pollack wrote on Breitbart, “on health care–which might have been Romney’s weakest issue–Romney argued for the repeal of Obamacare as the best Tea Partier might have done, attacking the board that the law sets up to ration care as a cost control mechanism. The best that Obama could do was remind voters–as if they did not already know–that Romney had passed a health insurance law in Massachusetts. He had to concede one of the best arguments Romney offered–that Obamacare has actually increased the cost of insurance so far.”
Furthermore, if you go to Mitt Romney’s campaign site, coupled with his support for the Ryan budget, you can see that not only will taxes be lowered for everyone – he’ll eliminate the death tax and push for tax reform. However, the deductions he’ll eliminate has been a rather nebulous subject. Lastly, with an active and vocal Tea Party contingent in Congress – Mitt, if elected, would have to operate as a small government conservative since (a) he owes us and (b) nothing would get done with Democrats and Tea Partiers forming an unintentional coalition to block his agenda. Democrats obstructing because he’s Mitt Romney and tea partiers obstructing because it doesn’t cut enough spending, reform the welfare state enough, or does enough to pay down the national debt. Politics sometimes makes strange bedfellows. Lastly, the reaffirmation to uphold the principles of the constitution is a tacit agreement that Romney would adhere to the Madisonian ideals of limited government. If he’s elected president and becomes squishy – he should be prepared for a primary challenge, despite the historical ramifications of such an action.
However, while Republicans rejoiced, Democrats must have felt like the world was ending. It brought on reactions of disbelief and abject anger from MSNBC. Chris Matthews, Obama’s number one fan, was quite agitated during MSNBC’s post-debate coverage.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Tonight wasn’t an MSNBC debate, was it? It just wasn’t. It didn’t mention all the key fighting points of this campaign. […] I don’t know what he was doing out there, he had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it.
Romney on the other hand, came in with a campaign, he had a plan. He was going to dominate the time, he was going to be aggressive. He was going to push the moderator around, which he did effectively. He was going to relish the evening, enjoying it. Nothing to do with the words he spoke.
Here’s my question for Obama. I know he says he doesn’t watch cable television but maybe he should start. Maybe he should start. I don’t know how he let Romney get away with the crap he threw out tonight–about Social Security.
Listen to the stuff he got away with. He said, you know, emergency room–the latest thing we got from Romney because he said so was you know what I want to do with people when they’re poor? Shove them in the emergency room. Why didn’t Obama say that? Why didn’t he say that?
You talk about Social Security and Medicare people, they’re part of your 47 percent, you want to drop them from the list of eligible Americans. You don’t have any care for these people. What are you talking about? We’ve got it on tape, Governor! We’ve got it on tape what you think of these people! Don’t come out here and pretend you care about old people because you met somebody at some campaign event, you’ve written off 47 percent of the country before you even started!
Where was Obama tonight?! He should watch, well not just Hardball, Rachel [Maddow], he should watch you, he should watch the Reverend Al [Sharpton], he should watch Lawrence [O’Donnell]. He would learn something about this debate.
There’s a hot debate going on in this country and you know where it’s being held? Here on this network is where we’re having this debate. We have our knives out, we go after the people on the facts, what was he doing tonight?! He went in there disarmed, he was like, ‘oh wait, an hour and a half, I think I can get through this thing and I don’t even look at this guy.’
Whereas Romney — I love the split-screen — staring at Obama, addressing him like prey. He did it just right. ‘I’m coming at an incumbent. I got to beat him. You’ve got to beat the champ and I’m going to beat him tonight. And I don’t care what this guy, the moderator, whatever he thinks he is because I’m going to ignore him.’
What was Romney doing? He was winning. […] If he does five more of these nights, forget it. […]
Obama should watch MSNBC, my last point. He will learn something every night on this show and all these shows. This stuff we’re watching, it’s like first grade for most of us. We know all this stuff.
Ed Schultz’s blood pressure went through the roof lamenting how he was “stunned” that Obama was “off his game.” I think liberals are finally coming to the realization that President Obama isn’t a good debater and lost almost every battle with Hillary Clinton back in the ’08 primaries. Allahpundit posted about the mayhem from Twitter concerning the president’s debate performance.
Michael Moore tweeted:
Lastly, Bill Maher commented on Obama’s utter lack of direction during the debate with this:
Yes, liberals were in shock and awe concerning how bad the president, the best thing since the resurrection of Christ, performed, but that’s not to say it’ll be the same the next time Obama and Romney duke it out. However, I’m confident that Romney won’t be the push over that some in the media were conveying before Wednesday night’s smackdown.
Mitt surely stepped up his game during the debate and I found myself enthused for the first time, in a long time, since Romney began his campaign for the presidency last year. However, I admit that I backed Perry before his epic meltdown. Nevertheless, Romney has shaken off the criticism that he’s robotic and proved to his skeptics that he’s passionate, hungry, and ready to lead this nation towards economic prosperity. Mitt is definitely here.
Originally posted on Hot Air.