“I think it’s fair to say I was just too polite.” — President Obama
Quoted by the Huffington Post, on why he didn’t do well in the first presidential debate.
liberalsarecool: The gloves are off. Obama will finish hard like he always does.
Jonathan Chait: “On the other hand, a continued series of events like last week’s debate really might change the narrative of the race. And here is the bad news for Democrats: Their best shot has already come and gone. The debates will anchor the campaign narrative from here on out, and the three debates that follow all offer less favorable terrain for them to press their case.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates: ”This is a real threat. The reporting indicates that Obama now understands that. Hopefully he is now willing to give Romney the respect he deserves. This is a man bent on taking the White House and putting Obama’s signature achievement (health care) in peril, and likely shifting the Supreme Court to the right, thus endangering (among other things) the right to choose. Wiser men and women than me can better sketch the stakes. My point is this: I am sorry that the president finds debating before the public to be annoying. And I am very sorry that more Americans don’t delve into the footnotes of position papers. And I am very sorry that Mitt Romney was mean to the moderator, and lied to the viewers. And I am especially sorry that Barack Obama was evidently shocked — shocked! — to find the party of poll-taxing, evolution-disputing, and climate-change denying engaging in such tactics. But this is the war we have. And this president has signed up to lead the fight. I think he understands that. Over the past four years Obama has proven to be very slow, but very deadly. I doubt that’s changed.”
Remember Romney pollster Neil Newhouse dismissed “facts” in August: ”Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”
Objective / observable facts are considered “thoughts and beliefs” to Team Romney. Who knows what the neocon, rightwingnut, extremist Cheney-Norquist-Corsi elements of Romney’s party would have him doing (and signing) if he were elected.
Your opportunity to register to vote may be ending this week:
Newt Gingrich on Mitt Romney then: “You cannot be president of the United States if you cannot be honest and candid with the American people. [...] I’m standing next to a guy who [has] the most blatantly dishonest answers I can remember in any presidential race in — in my lifetime. I don’t know how you debate a person with civility if they’re prepared to say things that are just plain factually false.”
Newt Gingrich on Mitt Romney now: “This morning on Meet The Press, Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs confronted Newt Gingrich on a fundamental inconsistency in Romney’s description of his tax plan. During the primary debates, Romney insisted that everyone in America would get a 20% tax cut, including the 1%. But last week’s during his debate with Obama, Romney insisted that his tax cut would not reduce taxes at all for wealthy Americans. Gingrich acknowledged the clear inconsistency, saying “I think it’s clear he changed.” He described the change as “good politics.”
Lying, shape shifting, etch-a-sketching, flip-flopping — it’s all good politics to the Republican Party (when you’re doing it to someone in the Democratic Party). Do these guys ever feel embarrassed over the things they say?
Reminder from Think Progress: At the same point in his administration, President George W. Bush’s record wasn’t as positive. Through 44 months, the private sector had lost more than 1 percent of its jobs (under Obama, it has gained 0.46 percent), and the only reason Bush could claim positive overall growth was because the public sector had grown by almost 4 percent. [...] Under Obama, the public sector has shrunk by more than 600,000 jobs, increasing only while the government conducted the 2010 Census. Without those losses, the unemployment rate would be near 7 percent. The unemployment rate would be lower still had Republicans not blocked the American Jobs Act, which economists estimated would have added more than one million jobs to the economy.
US STOCKS-Dow hits 5-year high on jobs report | Reuters – The Dow Jones industrials index climbed to its highest level in nearly 5 years on Friday, after a surprise drop in the unemployment rate pointed to continued improvement in the U.S. labor market. The S&P 500 rose for a fifth straight day and was also on course to close near a 5-year high.
WASHINGTON — A federal strike force has charged 91 people, including a hospital president, doctors and nurses, with Medicare fraud schemes in seven cities involving $429 million in false billings. [...]
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that that in addition to the newly announced criminal charges, her agency used new authority under the Obama administration’s health care law to stop future payments to many of the health care providers suspected of fraud.
Will Durst | The Audacity of Mendacity: “One possible excuse for Obama’s shocking passivity is he was stunned by the audacity of Romney’s mendacity. There were traces of “I can’t believe he just said that in front of people” smirks. It seemed all he could to keep from falling into the much- warned eye- rolling Al Gore Sigh Trap. [...] There’s plenty of time for both sides to retool messages for the next two confrontations. The White House can be expected to encourage the President to more energetically nail Romney to his own words. And despite renewed confidence, Romney will surely run intensive rehearsals to practice a different listening face that doesn’t reflect an annoyed patience, slight smugness and just a disconcerting pinch of Sling Blade.“
New York Times: Mr. Obama was “not a strong debater,” as Mr. Plouffe put it in the book. He derided “the whole exercise of boiling down complex answers into thirty- or sixty-second sound bites.” So his staff was more than a little nervous when he went out to face Mrs. Clinton, one of the most formidable figures in the party. “This could be an unmitigated disaster,” Mr. Axelrod said after the candidate took the stage. In the end, Mrs. Clinton did win, according to the pundits. Mr. Axelrod’s minimalist verdict? “Well, that could have been a lot worse.”
Bob Cesca: The president disdains bullshit debate “performance” contrivances. The left, which embraces intellectual honesty and authenticity, ought to embrace that with open arms.
Bill Maher: “Republicans have to make the economy their central issue, ignoring improvements that have been made like the Dow doubling. They must lead you to believe that America is a rotting compost heap where people are wiping their ass with the Penny Saver. …I think we can all keep blaming Bush for the collapse. It’s the same as blaming rats for the black plague. Just because people are sick of historians saying it, doesn’t mean it stops being true. And Mitt Romney has a hell of a nerve running on the platform of ‘I’m going to fix the economy by restoring the policies of the party that destroyed it’.”
This Isn’t the ’90s: Why Obama Won Last Night’s Debate: President Obama, particularly in debates that the globe is watching and re-watching more closely than even the debates of four years ago, simply can’t be as emotional as he is in his campaign speeches. Especially when standing across a stage from his opponent. Has it ever occurred to some of you that this was the very first time that many people overseas have ever actually seen Governor Romney beyond a photo or a soundbite on CNN International? They got a load of him in the British press and media, all right, during the Olympics… think he’d win a national election, there, now? Obama can let Romney chatter on and on, and he needs to be polite and calm, even as Romney dismisses and commandeers the agenda from the moderator for a time (a newsperson renowned for acting the gentleman on all occasions and the U.S. pundits are now ballyhooing for being badgered and bullied), and Mr. Romney can fill the air with chatter — until things go Tea Party, again, and once again the Republican candidate is complaining about Big Bird, complaining about Spain. And saying a great many things that he himself knows won’t line up with facts even as he, himself, has previously stated them.Governor Romney knows this, and so does President Obama. Why don’t more of us?
“Analysts like this were, however, right in a way. Romney did come across as the more confident and aggressive candidate, and Obama did come across as “wonky” and “lacking punch.” Just visually and dramatically, Romney met the spectacle on its terms better than Obama did, much the way John F. Kennedy did in his celebrated debate with Richard Nixon. In that legendary meeting, radio viewers thought Nixon won, but TV viewers, blown away by Kennedy’s smile and tan, thought was a landslide for the Democrat.
“Journalists who cite that Nixon-Kennedy debate always forget that the lesson of that night is that the new broadcast media technology made superficiality and nonsense more important – that thanks to the press, it was now possible to get someone elected to the most powerful office on earth because he had a superior tan. Reporters love this story because it reminds everyone that the medium they work in has the power to overcome substance and decide elections all by itself. What’s amazing is that they don’t have the good sense to be ashamed of this.”
Matt Taibbi is disgusted by a media that cares nothing about the substance and meaning of what candidates say, but instead always chooses to report on the superficial nonsense:
“I read the transcript of the debate and all I got from Romney was either outright factual lies, or total rhetorical dishonesty.
“[...] Romney’s entire debate performance was like this. He said absolutely nothing, but got lots of credit for style points. Here’s Romney’s answer on what budget cuts he would make, addressing perhaps-soon-to-be-ex-PBS employee, Jim Lehrer:
I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it. That’s number one.
Number two, I’ll take programs that are currently good programs but I think could be run more efficiently at the state level and send them to state.
Number three, I’ll make government more efficient, and to cut back the number of employees, combine some agencies and departments. My cutbacks will be done through attrition, by the way.
“So the answer to the question, “What will you do to rein in the biggest budget deficit in history?” comes down to, “I’ll cut PBS, which is about one millionth of the federal budget, and some other stuff.”
“For God’s sake – “I’ll take programs that could be run more efficiently at state and send them to state”? Is that a joke? That’s worse than a Bill Belichick answer: “What’s our plan against the Broncos? We’re going to watch the film and do what’s best for our football team.”
“Reporters should have instantly pelted Romney with bags of dogshit for insulting the American people with this ridiculous non-answer, but he was instead praised for the canny “strategy” hidden in the response. Despite the fact that Romney is running as a budget hawk and yet has refused to name any actual programs (except Obamacare and PBS) he will cut, reporters gave him credit in the debate for being willing to be the bearer of bad budgetary news, because he essentially advance-fired Jim Lehrer on TV.”
Bob Cesca has the same gripe:
“The cynicism of some political media writers and pundits is astonishing. Our discourse is poisoned by analysts who evaluate politics strictly based on superficial style instead of a realistic evaluation of whether Middle Class Policy will work. We know that conservative policies have been crushing the middle class for 30+ years. It doesn’t matter what a guilty Republican candidate says in a debate — what matters is whether the policy statement makes sense and works.”
Romney slips a cheat sheet out of his pocket before approaching the podium then manages to fold it up and slide it in his sleeve before leaving it.
And the far right criticizes Pres. Obama for teleprompters? Romney can’t even debate his own policies and beliefs without crib notes.
In fairness to Mitt, however, much of what he was saying Wednesday night WAS all new material. If the real Mitt Romney had shown up, maybe he wouldn’t have had to hide notes on what to say.
BUT ROMNEY WON! REAGANESQUE!
Related: Busted: handkerchief my eye!
HOW DOES ONE PREPARE to debate a stranger with all his brand-new talking points?
“We had our first debate last night. And when I got onto the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney—because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that.
The real Mitt Romney said we don’t need any more teachers in our classrooms. But the fellow on stage last night, he loves teachers—can’t get enough of them. The Mitt Romney we all know invested in companies that were called “pioneers” of outsourcing jobs to other countries. But the guy on stage last night, he said that he doesn’t even know that there are such laws that encourage outsourcing—he’s never heard of them. Never heard of them. Never heard of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. He said that if it’s true, he must need a new accountant.
Now, we know for sure it was not the real Mitt Romney, because he seems to be doing just fine with his current accountant. So you see, the man on stage last night, he does not want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney’s decisions and what he’s been saying for the last year. And that’s because he knows full well that we don’t want what he’s been selling for the last year. So Governor Romney may dance around his positions, but if you want to be President, you owe the American people the truth.”
— President Obama in Denver, CO yesterday (via serotonical)
President Obama’s comments in Denver:
I think one thing that almost everyone can agree on is that there really is no REAL Mitt Romney.
*According to a national media that depends on viewers and ratings and ad dollars. In terms of their currently popular reality show (the presidential campaign), one of the candidates cannot yet be voted off the island or the viewers might watch something else.
The Wall Street Journal says Romney turned in the best Republican debate performance since Ronald Reagan in 1980, a performance that signals a new start to the presidential race. And that might mean something too, if we didn’t recently learn that TEN Wall Street Journal op-ed writers are also advisers to Romney’s campaign. (link)
DailyKos: He was aggressive, he was decisive, he delivered. Of course he also lied through his teeth for most of the debate:
ROMNEY LIED AT LEAST 27 TIMES during the debate. Here are nine of the lies – READ THEM ALL:
9) “The president’s put it in place as much public debt — almost as much debt held by the public as all prior presidents combined.” This is not even close to being true. When Obama took office, the national debt stood at $10.626 trillion. Now the national debt is over $16 trillion. That $5.374 trillion increase is nowhere near as much debt as all the other presidents combined.
10) “That’s why the National Federation of Independent Businesses said your plan will kill 700,000 jobs. I don’t want to kill jobs in this environment.” That study, produced by a right-wing advocacy organization, doesn’t analyze what Obama has actually proposed.
11) “What we do have right now is a setting where I’d like to bring money from overseas back to this country.” Romney’s plan to shift the country to a territorial tax system would allow corporations to do business and make profits overseas without ever being taxed on it in the United States. This encourages American companies to invest abroad and could cost the country up to 800,000 jobs.
13) “I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare…. But the idea of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to be able to balance the additional cost of Obamacare is, in my opinion, a mistake. There’s that number again. Romney is claiming that Obamacare siphons off $716 billion from Medicare, to the detriment of beneficiaries. In actuality, that money is saved primarily through reducing over-payments to insurance companies under Medicare Advantage, not payments to beneficiaries. Paul Ryan’s budget plan keeps those same cuts, but directs them toward tax cuts for the rich and deficit reduction.
14) “What I support is no change for current retirees and near-retirees to Medicare.” Here is how Romney’s Medicare plan will affect current seniors: 1) by repealing Obamacare, the 16 million seniors receiving preventive benefits without deductibles or co-pays and are saving $3.9 billion on prescription drugs will see a cost increase, 2) “premium support” will increase premiums for existing beneficiaries as private insurers lure healthier seniors out of the traditional Medicare program, 3) Romney/Ryan would also lower Medicaid spending significantly beginning next year, shifting federal spending to states and beneficiaries, and increasing costs for the 9 million Medicare recipients who are dependent on Medicaid.
18) “But I wouldn’t designate five banks as too big to fail and give them a blank check. That’s one of the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank… We need to get rid of that provision because it’s killing regional and small banks. They’re getting hurt.” The law merely says that the biggest, systemically risky banks need to abide by more stringent regulations. If those banks fail, they will be unwound by a new process in the Dodd-Frank law that protects taxpayers from having to pony up for a bailout.
24) “Preexisting conditions are covered under my plan.” Only people who are continuously insured would not be discriminated against because they suffer from pre-existing conditions. This protection would not be extended to people who are currently uninsured.
26) “I think about half of [the green firms Obama invested in], of the ones have been invested in have gone out of business. A number of them happened to be owned by people who were contributors to your campaigns.” As of late last year, only “three out of the 26 recipients of 1705 loan guarantees have filed for bankruptcy, with losses estimated at just over $600 million.”
27) “If the president’s reelected you’ll see dramatic cuts to our military.” Romney is referring to the sequester, which his running mate Paul Ryan supported. Obama opposes the military cuts and has asked Congress to formulate a balanced approach that would avoid the trigger.
EVERYONE HAS A LIST of their favorite Romney lies from the debate:
Steve Benen: “This is admittedly only a sampling, but this piece from New York‘s Jon Chait caught my eye: Romney won the debate in no small part because he adopted a policy of simply lying about his policies. Probably the best way to understand Obama’s listless performance is that he was prepared to debate the claims Romney has been making for the entire campaign, and Romney switched up and started making different and utterly bogus ones.
“As did this one from Rolling Stone‘s Tim Dickinson: Mitt Romney turned in a polished performance in last night’s presidential debate – and revealed himself to be an accomplished and unapologetic liar. In an evening where he sought to slice and dice the president with statistics, Romney baldly misrepresented his own policy prescriptions, made up numbers to fit his attacks and buried clear contrasts with the president.
“CNN’s David Gergen, hardly a liberal, was thinking along the same lines as Chait, saying last night he thinks Obama was surprised that Romney was “flat out lying” during the debate. Plenty of others were thinking along the same lines.”
CNN did something absolutely monstrous in covering the public reaction to the Oct. 3 Presidential debate: it polled a majority of white college-educated Southerners over age 49 who self-identified as either “moderate” or “conservative” – NOTE: CNN’s Candy Crowley will be the moderator in the next debate.
There’s a term for what we saw: The Gish Gallop:
Daily Intel — Romney’s Successful Debate Plan: Lying: Romney won the debate in no small part because he adopted a policy of simply lying about his policies. Probably the best way to understand Obama’s listless performance is that he was prepared to debate the claims Romney has been making for the entire campaign, and Romney switched up and started making different and utterly bogus ones. Obama, perhaps, was not prepared for that, and he certainly didn’t think quickly enough on his feet to adjust to it.
Obama spoke about his grandmother, Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham, during the debate. She died on Nov. 2, 2008, right before he was elected.
KitchenAid’s Cynthia Soledad sent an email to several media sites that read, in part:
“During the debate tonight, a member of our Twitter team mistakenly posted an offensive tweet from the KitchenAid handle instead of a personal handle. The tasteless joke in no way represents our values at KitchenAid, and that person won’t be tweeting for us anymore…”
MISTAKENLY posted an offensive tweet? Because in other situations dead grandmas are sometimes funny? Is that supposed to resemble an apology or a description of Kitchenaid’s tactics? And — wow — that person doesn’t get to tweet anymore. Fuck Kitchenaid and Romney’s buddy who owns it.
Many in the media want to hand the night to Romney, both on the right and on the left. If you watched MSNBC last night, you would have seen Chris Matthews completely lose his shit while the rest of the panel moved through all five stages of grief in the course of a few minutes.
Why were the conservative pundits filled with joy by Mitt’s performance? Easy: when their guy acts like a complete asshole (interrupts, acts entitled, is rude and loud, talks too fast, lies repeatedly and effectively — essentially behaves like a used car salesman running on little sleep and Red Bull), they feel he’s “mastered” the debate. It’s a pretty simple formula to make conservatives happy. They’re driven by their “guts” and anger. So it’s not for nothing that Mitt has been heavily coached for weeks and months, and that he came out last night as Populist Mitt: Outraged Defender of the Middle Class. Another side to Romney – what a surprise. And which is a joke to anyone who’s paid attention to Mitt for the past several months, if not just the past couple of weeks.
Why were the liberal leaning pundits unhappy with Obama’s performance? Because Obama somehow “allowed” Mitt to act like that, he stood there as Mitt performed with the correct rightwing formula (with added populism for the undecideds!), to show the billionaires that they should continue their river of money for five more weeks. But short of the President transforming into Obama’s Anger Translator Luther in real life, I wonder how they think Obama could have stopped Mittbot’s pre-programmed Entitled Car Salesman upload from running? Could Obama have done a better job of calling out Romney on his lies? Of course. But that’s going to happen anyway in the cold, hard light of the post-debate evaluation of what was actually said.
Kevin Drum: I think Obama lost by a little, but not by much. Matt Yglesias tweets: “It’s interesting that conservatives who think they don’t want Mitt to pivot to the center are clearly elated when he did it and it worked.” That’s true. Romney repeatedly noted that he agreed with Obama on various issues and repeatedly took rhetorically moderate positions. For example: “Regulation is essential. You can’t have a free market work if you don’t have regulation.” You sure wouldn’t have heard him say that during one of the primary debates.
John Stanton / Buzzfeed: “As president, I will sit on day one, actually, the day after I get elected, I’ll sit down with leaders — the Democratic leaders, as well as Republican leaders” to discuss plans for governing, Romney pledged Thursday during the first presidential debate. President Barack Obama, in one of his few sharp responses, quickly pounced. “I think Governor Romney’s going to have a busy first day, because he’s also going to repeal Obamacare, which will not be very popular among Democrats as you’re sitting down with them.” [...] Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, was equally dismissive. “You can take the ‘Pants on Fire’ rating to the bank on that one,” Fallon said in an email. “The Senate, with 53 Democrats, is the only place in America where Mitt Romney likes the 47 percent,” he added.
“He says that he’s gonna close deductions and loopholes for his tax plan — that’s how it’s gonna be paid for, but we don’t know the details. He says that he’s going to replace Dodd-Frank — Wall Street reform — but we don’t know exactly which ones. He won’t tell us. He now says he’s gonna replace Obamacare and assure that all the good things that are in it are gonna be in (his plan) and you don’t have to worry. And at some point, I think the American people have to ask themselves is the reason that Governor Romney is keeping all these ‘plans to replace’ secret is because they’re too good? Is it because somehow middle-class families are gonna benefit too much from them?” — Pres. Obama (via)
Daniel Larison: Judging by the standards I mentioned this morning, Romney did most of what he needed to do, but it was likely not enough to lower his high unfavorability rating. Romney came across as competent enough, but as usual he also came across as insufferably smug. Considering how important the debate was for Romney, he did as well as he possibly could have hoped, and that will be reflected in the coverage of the debate tonight and tomorrow.
Marc Ambinder: Why didn’t Obama do better? Here’s some speculation: He is not as good at these formats like Romney is. He was too cautious … even about appearing too flip and arrogant, which might have itself come off as arrogant; he didn’t clip his answers; he didn’t remember to say what he intended to say; he spent the day dealing with Turkey and Syria; he let his disdain for Romney show. I think all of those contributed to some degree. But fundamentally, when it comes to domestic policy, Obama just doesn’t have a very good affirmative argument to make. That’s a consequence of being a crisis president of a country where, as some are now saying, the old dismal is the new normal.
Steve Benen on the $5 trillion tax plan: But those interested in understanding the facts, the policy details are indisputable. As Jonathan Cohn explained overnight: “President Obama repeatedly described Romney’s tax plan as a $5 trillion tax plan. Romney repeatedly took exception. The figure is correct. Romney has not given many details about his tax plan, but it’s possible to extrapolate from his promises and the Tax Policy Center, a project of the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute, did just that. Crunching the numbers, they determined that his proposed rate cut would cost … $5 trillion.” Last night, Romney simply asserted the figure is wrong, but up until yesterday, the Republican campaign has offered a different defense: the cost will be offset by closing tax loopholes and ending deductions. This remains problematic, not just because Romney refuses to identify which loopholes and deductions, but because there aren’t nearly enough loopholes and deductions to make up the difference.
“But when Gov. Romney says he’ll replace it with something, but can’t detail how it will be, in fact, replaced — and the reason he set up the system he did in Massachusetts was because there isn’t a better way of dealing with the preexisting conditions problem. He says he will close deductions and loopholes for his tax plan — that how it will be paid for, we don’t know the details. He says that he’s going to replace Dodd-Frank, Wall Street reform, but we don’t know exactly which ones, he won’t tell us. He now says he’ll replace Obamacare — and ensure all the good things in it will be in there — and you don’t have to worry.”
“And at some point I think the American people have to ask themselves: Is the reason that Gov. Romney is keeping all these plans to replace secret, because they are too good? Is it because that somehow middle class families will benefit too much from them?”