WASHINGTON, October 17, 2012 —There was a new and improved President Obama at Tuesday night’s debate, one who was primed to take on Governor Mitt Romney, going toe to toe — and even nose to nose — to defend his presidency and expose the holes in Romney’s plan for the future. Showing grit and humor while flashing his million-kilowatt smile, Obama was not about to be bullied and he adroitly handled whatever Romney threw his way.
This clearly was not the asleep-at-the-switch Obama we saw two weeks ago, where he seemed to disdain being on the same stage as Romney and thus let Romney dominate the debate. Last night showed that Obama’s disdain for Romney did not abate since their previous encounter, but he was obviously determined to go after Romney’s shape shifting with facts and a style that was brass knuckles inside a velvet glove. Romney, on the other hand, tried to intimidate and was much more like barroom bruiser.
Visually, the evening was just this side of a brawl or at least the closest we have ever seen in a presidential debate. As some pundit opined, “It was testosterone gone wild.” Some this morning are asking, Will that turn off the women watching? Not this woman. I expect men — and women — to fight back when a bully attacks. Anything else is weakness. And in the case of the President, it would have meant he didn’t passionately care about the nation’s most pressing issues.
Probably the moment that best showed President Obama being forceful, angry, and Presidential was when Mitt Romney criticized the Obama administration’s handling of Benghazi. After saying that he alone is responsible for whatever happened in Libya and not Hillary Clinton or the State Department team, he then turned, steely-eyed and faced down Romney as he said: The suggestion that “anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as commander-in-chief.”
That remark, more than Romney’s “binder full of women” or Romney insisting that the President never uttered the words “acts of terror” (see the full context below).
in the Rose Garden following the 9/11 attack on the Libyan consulate, unmasked Romney for who he is and verified who the President is: resolute, passionate and fearless.
If body language speaks a1000 words, the combative dance around the ring at Hofstra University last night spoke volumes. If you play it without the sound on and just observe the two move in and out of each other’s space, finger pointing and grinning sardonically, you saw two men who have contempt for the other. The degree that it was on display was heard in their words. Romney showed the most disrespect for the President (as well as the moderator), verging on arrogance, redolent of a CEO putting down a middle manager. But Obama was having none of it and brushed him aside with one-liners.
One of my favorites was when Romney marched over to Obama and said: “Mr. President have you looked at your pension?”
“It’s not as big as yours, so it doesn’t take as long,” Obama said to laughter from the audience. Snap.
Outside of style, the debate was won by the President on the facts as well.
While Romney rattled off his energy plan, his secret plan to lower the deficit, his sketchy tax reform, and his five-point plan for economic recovery, which the president labeled a one-point plan — tax breaks for the upper 1% — Obama kept saying, “That’s not true.”
Obama stressed how well oil and gas companies are now doing and that there is more drilling on federal lands despite what the Republican talking points are and that his goal is to be energy independent in 10 years, but that also means investment in clean energy.
Obama made no bones about it, the economy was in free fall when he took office and, no, it has not rebounded to where he hoped it would be, but it was also a much deeper recession than economists realized at the time. So there is much more work to do, but now is the time to move forward and not back to the good old bad days.
Which brings us to George W. Bush. An audience participant asked Romney how he differed from W. He listed five ways that he rattled off, including making North America energy independent from Arab and Venezuelan oil, cracking down on China’s currency manipulation and cutting the deficit by increasing trade.
Obama’s rejoinder was to point out that the biggest difference is that Romney is more extreme on social issues than Bush. Unlike Bush, Romney would cut funding to Planned Parenthood and Romney would prosecute a more stringent immigration policy than did Bush.
Did Obama have some weak spots in his argument for another four years? Sure thing. The biggest one was a lack of a specific plan — even if it’s only a dream in the face of another Republican Congress — that outlines what he would accomplish in the next four years and where we as a country would be come 2016. Also his plan to lower the deficit has some holes in it as does Romney’s, maybe not as glaring, but they are there and need addressing.
At the end of the debate, an observer of body language couldn’t help notice how subdued Romney’s greeting was to his wife Ann while Obama tightly embraced Michelle. Romney’s muted greeting showed his disappointment in himself and he was off that stage in record time, doing exactly what Obama did at the last debate, beating a hasty exit. Obama and Michelle lingered for 40 minutes, posing for pictures, signing autographs and chatting with the audience. By that time Romney was probably half way to his next campaign stop, readying his message for damage control.
But if voters are having doubts about whether to vote Romney or not, they need only to be reminded that right now in the polls in Massachusetts, which is where Romney lives and where he was governor, show him 15 points behind the President. Ronald Reagan carried Very Blue Massachusetts twice. That says it all, folks.
Full text of “acts of terror” remarks:
“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn for more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done. But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers.”
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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