Okay, I think I'll be blogging about the debate as it happens. But if these two guys start to bug me (a pretty safe bet), I'll tune out their yammering and start writing about the Marvel-comics-style confrontation that should
9:02 -- the Dark Overlord Lehrer begins the battle. His eyes are....hypnotically weird.
9:08 -- Mitt wants to open up more trade with Latin America. Translation: Offshoring.
9:09 -- Barack dodged a direct question.
9:11 -- Okay, B did well toward the end of that one.
9:12 -- M says he's not lowering taxes on the rich. But he wants to keep Dubya's cuts.
9:16 -- B is responding to one Mitt, while another Mitt stands beside him.
9:20 -- I think I figured it out. The Democratic offstage prompter somehow got onto Mitt's frequency and the Republican offstage prompter is speaking into Obama's ear. (And has been doing so since 2009...?)
9:23 -- Obama has no choice but to repeat the same points. Romney keep saying stuff that contradicts the stances he took on the campaign trail.
9:26 -- I have to admit that this is getting a little tedious. Nobody likes to pay taxes, and nobody likes to hear two guys talking
9:28 -- I hope Obama reminds us that Cheney said "Reagan proved that deficits don't work."
9:34 -- Mitt did well with the Spain reference. It's misleading but it will play well.
9:35 -- B did well when he mentioned tax deductions for offshoring.
9:37 -- B is right to mention Medicaid. But why isn't he explicitly comparing R to W?
9:39 -- Not sure it was a good idea for M to address the idea of tax breaks for offshoring. It just speaks to his history.
9:41 -- Obama said that he and Romney have similar views of Social Security? Oh man. BIG mistake. He just threw away a huge advantage!
9:43 -- Mitt brought up the alleged 700 Medicare billion cut. I hope Obama flays him on this.
9:46 -- Obamas going after vouchers. That's good. But he needs to correct the 700 billion lie.
9:48 -- O is making very good points, even though he seems halting and stiff. Romney is speaking well, but I think his plan will be unpopular.
9:49 -- How is allowing profiteers to get hold of Medicare going to help?
9:50 -- Private insurance is cheaper? I hope the voters will see that this is nonsense.
9:52 -- M is going after Dodd-Frank as though it were EXCESSIVE regulation? He's got to be kidding. Dodd-Frank is limp, limp, limp.
9:53 -- Now O has got to pretend that Dodd-Frank was tough. What nonsense.
10:00 -- Y'know, O really sounds like he's repeating stuff being whispered into his ear. Those pauses...are...weird.
10:04 -- M complains that O hasn't been bipartisan enough? Surreal. O practically let Republicans write his plan.
10:06 -- Obama is making more sense but M has more energy.
10:08 -- If private enterprise always is more efficient than a public plan, then why did the Republicans scream that the insurance companies could never compete with the proposed public option?
10:09 -- This is the return of Barack Slowbama. He just isn't speaking well.
10:11 -- Of course, Mitt's rudeness is working against him.
10:13 -- Oh boy. Here we come. Now entering Ayn-Land.
10:14 -- O has to sound like a Republican, at least a little bit, and R has to sound like a Dem, at least a little bit. This is predictable.
10:16 -- Every state should make education decisions on their own. That's Mitt's way of saying that they are on their own in an era of tight budgets.
10:17 -- Now Romney is playing the fundamentalist card.
10:18 -- Josh Marshall said it well: "What’s really rough here is that Romney keeps restating points that have been discredited repeatedly over the last months and years. But Obama is letting it all slide by. Rough. Real rough."
10:20 -- Damn, but Obama is being way too nice. That point about cutting the education budget was good, but he struck it too gently.
10:22 -- At last, Obama hits Romney on something stupid and patronizing he said on the campaign trail.
10:23 -- M probably scored a point on the green energy jobs, but he has glossed over the fact that he won't give any money to schools. "Grading schools"? Ridiculous.
10:25 -- If O doesn't slaughter R on the issue of partisanship, I don't know what to say. Partisan gridlock was not caused by a lack of leadership!
10:26 -- No no no NO. Obama has to take on the fact that the Republicans have absolutely refused to negotiate with him on any issue. He's not doing that!
10:28 -- The closing statement is wrong. O seems like he's playing defense. He should be attacking Romney. This is his chance. And he's not taking it.
10:31 -- Romney is attacking Obama, the way O should have attacked R. Damn. THIS is how to do it. Why didn't Obama take this chance? Why did O allow R to let that Medicare canard stand?
AND IN THE END: A clear Romney win. I think Mitt lied his ass off, but he punched hard, and Obama did not. Obama's failure to rebut the very rebuttal-worth $700 billion lie is infuriating. And...my god. Not one reference to the 47% remark!
Obama allowed Romney to insinuate that partisan gridlock was the fault of the President, not the Republican congress. Obama never rebutted the $700 billion false charge. Obama allowed Romney (!!) to come across as the savior of Medicare. Obama never hit Romney on the lifting of Dubya's tax cuts for the rich. Obama allowed Romney to commandeer Bowles-Simpson. Obama allowed Romney to paint Dodd-Frank as overly harsh regulation. (Calling D-F "tough" only buttressed Romney's point.)
Infuriatingly, he didn't ram home the point that deficits are a Republican-caused problem. Bill Clinton got us out of the black after Reagan and Bush ran up unprecedented amounts of red ink. Then Dubya came along to make things much worse.
The only aspect of this debate that worked in Obama's favor was Mitt's commitment to vouchers. That, and we know that the fact-checkers are going to give Romney a very hard time. Okay, and I guess Obama made a good point when he stressed that Romney keeps the details of his plans secret.
For the most part, though, Romney was allowed to contradict his previous stances, and he smiled as he did it. Mitt seemed confident and assertive while Obama seemed like he was quoting a textbook from memory.
I'm predicting a decent -- perhaps a sizable -- uptick in Romney's poll numbers.
Final update: These results
seem to bear out that prediction. A CBS snap poll shows a clear Romney victory.