There were many aspects of Obama’s debate performance which were disappointing. As Zeth Meyers noted on Weekend Update last night, this was an event which Fox could report as it actually happened. The most frustrating was the manner in which Obama didn’t do enough to call out Romney for his many lies. If you watched closely, and manged to stay awake, Obama did point out the truth several times, but not as strongly as is needed for this debate format. Maureen Dowd suggested how Jed Bartlet might provide advice to Barack Obama. Here is a portion:
BARTLET They told you to make sure you didn’t seem condescending, right? They told you, “First, do no harm,” and in your case that means don’t appear condescending, and you bought it. ’Cause for the American right, condescension is the worst crime you can commit.
OBAMA What’s your suggestion?
BARTLET Appear condescending. Now it comes naturally to me —
OBAMA I know.
BARTLET It’s a gift, but I’m likable and you’re likable enough. Thirty straight months of job growth — blown off. G.M. showing record profits — unmentioned. “Governor, would you still let Detroit go bankrupt as you urged us to do four years ago?” — unasked. (shouting) I’m talkin’ to you, too, Lehrer!
WILL (in the other room) I got him, sir!
BARTLET All right! (back to OBAMA) And that was quite a display of hard-nosed, fiscal conservatism when he slashed one one-hundredth of 1 percent from the federal budget by canceling “Sesame Street” and “Downton Abbey.” I think we’re halfway home. Mr. President, your prep for the next debate need not consist of anything more than learning to pronounce three words: “Governor, you’re lying.” Let’s replay some of Wednesday night’s more jaw-dropping visits to the Land Where Facts Go to Die. “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale you’re talking about.”
OBAMA The Tax Policy Center analysis of your proposal for a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut in all federal income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, the estate tax and other reductions, says it would be a $5 trillion tax cut.
BARTLET In other words …
OBAMA You’re lying, Governor.
BARTLET “I saw a study that came out today that said you’re going to raise taxes by $3,000 to $4,000 on middle-income families.”
OBAMA The American Enterprise Institute found my budget actually would reduce the share of taxes that each taxpayer pays to service the debt by $1,289.89 for taxpayers earning in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.
BARTLET Which is another way of saying …
OBAMA You’re lying, Governor.
BARTLET “I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare.”
OBAMA The $716 billion I’ve cut is from the providers, not the beneficiaries. I think that’s a better idea than cutting the exact same $716 billion and replacing it with a gift certificate, which is what’s contained in the plan that’s named for your running mate.
BARTLET “Pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.”
OBAMA Not unless you’ve come up with a new plan since this afternoon.
BARTLET “You doubled the deficit.”
OBAMA When I took office in 2009, the deficit was 1.4 trillion. According to the C.B.O., the deficit for 2012 will be 1.1 trillion. Either you have the mathematics aptitude of a Shetland pony or, much more likely, you’re lying.
BARTLET “All of the increase in natural gas has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half.”
OBAMA Maybe your difficulty is with the words “half” and “double.” Oil production on federal land is higher, not lower. And the oil and gas industry are currently sitting on 7,000 approved permits to drill on government land that they’ve not yet begun developing.
BARTLET “I think about half the green firms you’ve invested in have gone out of business.”
OBAMA Yeah, your problem’s definitely with the word “half.” As of this moment there have been 26 recipients of loan guarantees — 23 of which are very much in business. What was Bain’s bankruptcy record again?