Heads Up: Post-Debate hangover edition | Blogh

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Heads Up: Post-Debate hangover edition

Posted By on Thu, Oct 4, 2012 at 6:42 AM

Sorry, I just can't quite bring myself to trawl the old interwebs this morning. For the same reason I don't want to poke around the bottom shelf of the refrigerator: I have a dim idea of what I'll find, and I just can't face it today.

So, the debate. By this point, everyone agrees that Romney put on the better performance. He was Reaganesque -- in the sense that he sounded both spirited and amiable, while having only the most glancing relationship with anything you might call a fact.

A lot of justifications can be made for Obama's own flat-footed performance. Maybe he was trying to retain his likeability, or to seem more presidential, by remaining above the fray. Maybe this is part of a rope-a-dope strategy -- which, even if it is successful, does require absorbing a lot of body blows. But what was such a bummer about Obama's performance was that it sort of reminded me about the lingering uncertainty we lefties will, I guess, always have about him: which is that he often fails to deliver the full-throated defense of what we value. Even when what we value is Obama himself.

I mean, at the outset of the debate, Obama raised questions -- correctly -- about how Romney was going to make a $5 trillion tax cut revenue-neutral. Romney insisted, repeatedly, that his tax cut wouldn't put a $5 trillion hole in the budget, because he would offset it by cutting loopholes. Of course, he's never bothered to describe what those loopholes would be, but the thing is Romney sounded assured. By contrast, I counted at least four times in which Romney went after Obama by claiming the President was going to take $716 billion from Medicare. that's a dubious claim in its own right. But Obama didn't rise to it ... which set Romney up to invoke it yet again during his closing remarks. So as last night's debate ended, a Republican who backs voucherizing Medicare had somehow made the Democrat look like the scary one on benefits for the elderly.

When you put Obama's performance together with his speech at the Democratic National Convention -- where he was also sort of flat, especially in comparison to speakers like Bill Clinton -- you sort of wonder whether he's not just sick of the whole thing. And whether Democratic loyalists aren't more invested in his re-election than he is.