Opening Night: Reflections on the Debate

Romney’s central argument is that reelecting Obama will be letting the same problems he’s had during his first term fester: namely, the deficit will balloon; money will be spent on wasteful alternative energy projects like Solyndra; the middle class will be crippled by decreasing incomes and increasing prices. The federal gov’t should step back, he says, and let the free market take care of problems like health care reform and education reform, opting to give vouchers for people to use in private markets instead of gov’t programs.

Obama’s central argument is that Romney is a man with no plan: that he plans on cutting the deficit by $5 trillion without closing enough loopholes or deductions to make up for it, opting instead to slash vital federal programs — Romney thoroughly disowned the plan, but Obama did make a point that Romney had been running on that plan for eighteen months and is now just disowning it for political purposes. Obama also defended quite successfully his Obamacare, comparing it to Romney’s own health care plan that he enacted as governor of Massachusetts. I also think that Obama edged out Romney in the education segment: whereas the President cited the concrete progress he has initiated like the Race to the Top program, preserving low interest rates for student loans and cutting out private banks from such loans, Romney dodged Obama’s quoting of his telling kids to borrow money from their parents to pay for college, opting instead to rehash his earlier point that the President gave green energy companies huge tax breaks. Romney’s strength definitely is more in his ability to browbeat the president for not doing enough to improve the economy and less on his ability to put forth concrete plans.

Romney looked definitely more desperate and aggressive to make a point — my condolences go out to Jim Lehrer, who has been thoroughly stepped over by both candidates, Romney especially — but Obama seemed calm and collected, like he’s done this sort of thing before. Both were obviously well-prepped for the debates; every point from one was quickly countered with a point from the other. A little more respect for the moderator would have been nice from Romney; from Obama, a little less rehashing of the same points over and over again would be great. Expect more fireworks in the second debate.

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