Obama Wins Debate, The presidential candidates came out swinging Tuesday night. We heard a robust discussion about the economy, jobs, taxes, immigration reform, foreign policy, women’s health, equal pay, and gun control. Within minutes of the live 90-minute broadcast, ABC News commentator George Will declared it the best debate he had ever seen.
There’s a pattern emerging: the person who has the most to lose entering each of these debates comes out the winner.
Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief. They wish the Barack Obama they saw in Hempstead, NY had shown up at the first presidential debate on Oct. 3 in Denver, Colorado.
I say it took that lackluster performance – and a few too many grins by Vice President Joe Biden last week – to awaken this notoriously calm and collected president from his incumbent slumber.
My conservative friends are up in arms. “Obama makes me sick!” one person declared in his Facebook status. Simmer down. We’ve got one more round in Florida, and it’s going to be epic.
There are plenty of other places you can look to for analysis and fact-checking. I’ll join the chorus with a few thoughts:
– It’s easy to pin the country’s roughly 8 percent unemployment and higher food stamp levels on Obama, but let’s be honest with ourselves. The undecided voter in the audience who asked Romney how he differs from former President George W. Bush is right. She pointed out that many of the issues we face today, chiefly the massive deficit, are byproducts of a Republican administration that led the United States into two wars over the course of eight years. It took years for us to get into this mess; it will take years to pull ourselves out. Obama should bear some responsibility for not hastening the pace of recovery, but Romney should stop placing the blame for the increase in poverty and welfare programs squarely on the president’s shoulders. His assertions simply don’t paint the full picture, and we do ourselves no favors by taking a bitterly partisan approach to problems that truly require bipartisan solutions.
– Neither candidate has convinced me he can reduce the country’s deficit. I worry about this because it’s my generation that’s going to end up with the bill. Where’s the real talk of shared sacrifice in this country? I want to hear the candidates spell out exactly how they’ll balance the federal budget and where that revenue should come from. It’s just not possible to cut spending or raise taxes alone. We need a combination of both, along with a hard look at how our dollars are being spent. We live in the age of data. There has to be a better way to root out inefficiencies and to determine the return on government investment in programs. (I get heartburn every time I look at my paycheck and see the amount of money set aside for government causes. Happy to do my part, but how do I know that money is being spent wisely and efficiently?)
– I’m glad both candidates addressed women’s health and equal pay. I appreciated Romney’s talk about his efforts to appoint women to cabinet posts in Massachusetts and to give them flexibility to be with their families. However, he sidestepped the question of salaries. Obama scored points by discussing women’s health as a family issue. He took a pragmatic approach by framing access to contraceptives as a means of allowing women to contribute to the economy’s recovery. Romney, meanwhile, didn’t back away from his campaign pledge to de-fund Planned Parenthood for ideological purposes (abortion), overlooking the organization’s much greater role as a provider of reproductive services for poor women, including cervical and breast cancer screenings.