President Obama wins the debate as Mitt Romney retreats from extremist views

Polls across the country show that Obama won handily, including a poll of undecided voters. Photo: One of the lighter moments in the debate. AP

WASHINGTON, October 23, 2012 — There is no doubt about it: President Obama won the debate hands down. And if we learned anything last night, he showed us just what a Commander in Chief looks like.

Obama not only took command of the stage, but he took command of the facts. No wonder he is respected across the world. He was steely-eyed and obviously has a spine of steel to match. We saw the man who oversaw the hunting down and killing of Osama bin Laden. If anything, America should sleep a lot  better at night with him in the White House.

Perhaps the most surprising thing we learned from the debate was that former Governor Mitt Romney has now retreated from his previous extremist rhetoric, agreeing with the president on almost every major policy. This undoubtedly drove the neo-cons and conservatives around the bend. Romney had etch-a-sketched once again and in prime time.

If conservatives were taking a shot of vodka every time Romney said he agreed with President Obama, they would have probably been passed out on the couch by the end of the debate, if not from too many shots, then from hearing him agree over and over and over with Obama. Oh, the treachery of it!

Tidbits and Polls

A gesture is worth a 1000 words AP

We also learned lots of other tidbits from Monday’s debate. The good news for President Obama came from the instant polls, which are a quick snapshot of the moment from voters who were tuned into the debate. The CBS poll that undecided voters gave the debate to Obama 53% over Romney 23% with 24% saying it was a tie.

The CNN poll of registered voters found that 48% said Obama won while 40% said Romney did. And  the Public Policy Poll (PPP) of swing state voters who watched the debate gave it to Obama at 53% over Romney at 42%. The next thing we will all wait to learn is if Obama gets a bounce from his debate performance, one that could carry him to victory.

We also learned that Romney has now morphed into a kinder, gentler candidate, one whose agenda is world peace (he is beginning to sound like the late George McGovern), having stashed away that warmonger scarecrow who was frightening some voters, primarily women. His bellicose stance now turns out to have been mere bluster and bombast and not based on any core principle, as Obama pointed out numerous times.

Where Did the Hawk Fly to?

Gov. Romney and President Obama looked each other in the eye. AP

Just a few instances where Romney has now tacked to the center from his earlier extreme positions:

1. Romney now praises the current administration’s war strategy in Afghanistan, calling the 2010 surge of 33,000 troops a success. While he had earlier attacked the 2014 time line for the draw-down of American troops, he now has no problem with it. Hmmmm….

2. The new gentler Romney was suddenly no longer bashing Obama on Iran but instead agreeing that the current sanctions work and any attacks on Iran should be the last option. Where or where did the war hawk fly off to? And who is that dove now sitting in his place, cooing?

3. Then surprisingly, Romney missed his chance to clobber Obama on Benghazi and the administration’s handling of the attack on the consulate with the resulting death of the our ambassador and three other Americans. Why? Has polling informed him that politicizing this issue is fraught with consequences? Whatever it is, Romney has retreated from his previous attacks.

4. Which brings us to Libya and Romney agreeing on how Obama handled the bringing down of Mummar Ghaddafi. What? What about all that leading from behind stuff earlier in the year?

Did Obama Get a Bounce?

The list of foreign policies switcheroos is even longer, but that gives you a sample of how Romney has gone into retreat from his earlier positions. No wonder the conservative bloggers and tweeters are tearing their hair out. Who is this guy? Certainly not a Commander in Chief. More of a Waffle in Chief.

So what will this third debate mean down the road? Probably less people watched the debate than before thanks to the baseball play offs and Monday Night Footbal, and although word of mouth on the Internet is potent stuff, most Americans, despite foreign policy being an American homeland security issue when you get right down to it, find it yawn producing and not passion provoking.

The folks on the Right are already proclaiming, “So what Obama won, it doesn’t matter.” Is that so? They better hope that’s true and that they are not just whistling in the dark.

When the Commander in Chief shows why he is the Commander in Chief and the other guy shows he is still learning the ropes, then the choice is clear and voters know it.

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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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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