Last night was the second Presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. This post represents my gut reaction without having done any actual research- just my observations and anything I happened to pick up via media osmosis (radio in the background, etc.).
For full disclosure: I did not watch the entire debate last night. Town hall style debates set my teeth on edge, and I'm not an undecided voter.
General Impressions: As I feared, I believed the first two questions were just whiny. "What can you do for me?" is not a legitimate question to ask of a Presidential candidate. Among other things, it misunderstands the nature of the President's powers, and completely misses what the relationship between Government and the People should be. I don't even remember the third question. It was probably whiny, too.
Candy Crowley was annoying, and I wished she would get off of my TV. Her personal style read, "I don't care." She quickly inserted herself as an extra debate opponent- cutting off Mitt Romney's responses, and asking Barack Obama leading questions as "follow ups." At one point, Mitt Romney attempted to address a bald-faced lie by the President, and was not allowed to do so. Added to her on-the-spot defense of Obama on Libya, Ms. Crowley was not merely annoying; she was an active detriment to the debate. I give her an F.
Barack Obama's tactic seemed to be "spin what can be spun, and just lie about the rest." Quite telling was when he was called out on oil and natural gas production. Mr. Romney pointed out that all of the growth in production was on private or state land, not on federal land. Mr. Obama took exception to that (with one of many lies he told that I know of) and denied that oil and gas production on federal land was down (it is). Mr. Romney then pointed out that permits for oil and natural gas production on federal land have been cut in half. Mr. Obama denied. Mr Romeny looked him straight in the eyes and asked, "Then how much did you cut them by?" Mr. Obama not only would not answer the question, he couldn't even meet Mr. Romney's eyes. Over all, Mr. Obama did just fine at getting out talking points, but that's all they were. I give him a C.
Mitt Romney won this debate in the first 30 seconds. The candidates came out and shook hands, then went to their chairs. Mr. Romney continued standing, smiling, and waving. Barack Obama sat down. Boom, dominance game (and if you don't think that's important, you haven't been paying attention) over. Add to that Mr. Romney's mastery of the facts and figures. Add to it that he had two debate opponents and was able to hold his own against them. Add to it that he was able to stay on message, "We can do better." Mr. Romney never seemed flustered, and never "just let" Mr. Obama get away with any of his lies. I give Mr. Romney a solid A.
That, of course, is the opinion of a partisan, but it appears that, on substance, independents agree with me as well.
I expect to see another point or two added to Mr. Romney's totals in the next week or so.