While the left cheers President Obama’s second debate performance with the excitement of Chris Matthews on a prom date with The One, the fact remains that this was not just a bad debate for President Obama. It was a disastrous debate for President Obama. He may have achieved firing up the base, but the base had already been fired up by Vice President Joe Biden’s bizarre performance in the vice presidential debate. He may have achieved not looking comatose, but instead he looked angry and puerile.
Actually, Obama lost in three major ways.
Economy. The first loss is the most obvious. Mitt Romney absolutely dismembered Obama on economics. Obama wasn’t merely outclassed. He was out-leagued. Take, for example, the Romney-Obama exchange on gas drilling. After Obama blathered on about how he’d been great for oil supply (false), Romney gutted him with a single line:
The proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you're paying at the pump. If you're paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you're paying more. When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about $1.86 a gallon. Now, it's $4.00 a gallon.
Obama’s response was perhaps the worst economic gaffe in modern debate history:
Well, think about what the governor -- think about what the governor just said. He said when I took office, the price of gasoline was $1.80, $1.86. Why is that? Because the economy was on the verge of collapse, because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression, as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney's now promoting. So, it's conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down gas prices because with his policies, we might be back in that same mess.
This is perhaps the dumbest economic argument ever. Obama is essentially arguing that gas prices were low four years ago because low gas prices cratered the economy. He even says that if Romney brings down gas prices, it would crater the economy again. This is pure insanity.
The highlight of the debate was Romney’s thorough, two-minute dismantling of the Obama record on the economy after Obama gave a tepid defense of his awful record. Never has the case against Obama been made so eloquently:
I think you know better. I think you know that these last four years haven't been so good as the president just described and that you don't feel like you’re confident that the next four years are going to be much better either. I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what you're going to get. You're going to get a repeat of the last four years. We just can't afford four more years like the last four years.
He said that by now we'd have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work. I wasn't the one that said 5.4 percent. This was the president's plan. Didn't get there.
He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they're on the road to bankruptcy. He would reform them. He'd get that done. He hasn't even made a proposal on either one.
He said in his first year he'd put out an immigration plan that would deal with our immigration challenges. Didn't even file it.
This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he'd do. He said that he'd cut in half the deficit. He hasn't done that either. In fact, he doubled it. He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It's gone up by $2,500 a year. And if Obamacare is passed, or implemented -- it's already been passed -- if it's implemented fully, it'll be another $2,500 on top.
The middle class is getting crushed under the policies of a president who has not understood what it takes to get the economy working again. He keeps saying, "Look, I've created 5 million jobs." That's after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country. The unemployment, the number of people who are still looking for work, is still 23 million Americans. There are more people in poverty, one out of six people in poverty.
How about food stamps? When he took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps. How about the growth of the economy? It's growing more slowly this year than last year, and more slowly last year than the year before.
The president wants to do well. I understand. But the policies he's put in place from Obamacare to Dodd-Frank to his tax policies to his regulatory policies, these policies combined have not let this economy take off and grow like it could have.
You might say, "Well, you got an example of one that worked better?" Yeah, in the Reagan recession where unemployment hit 10.8 percent, between that period -- the end of that recession and the equivalent of time to today, Ronald Reagan's recovery created twice as many jobs as this president's recovery. Five million jobs doesn't even keep up with our population growth. And the only reason the unemployment rate seems a little lower today is because of all the people that have dropped out of the workforce.
The president has tried, but his policies haven't worked. He's great as a -- as a -- as a speaker and describing his plans and his vision. That's wonderful, except we have a record to look at. And that record shows he just hasn't been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need. Median income is down $4,300 a family and 23 million Americans out of work. That's what this election is about. It's about who can get the middle class in this country a bright and prosperous future and assure our kids the kind of hope and optimism they deserve.
This is the sort of monologue that gets people elected. Blaming your predecessor, channeling Occupy Wall Street, and whining about Mitt Romney’s specificity on tax deductions does not.
That’s why the polling universally showed a vast gap in favor of Romney on the economy last night.
Libya. At first glance, this issue looked like a loss for Romney. Romney’s attack on Obama’s Libya policy was anything but smooth, and he allowed Obama to play the wronged man of honor – even though it is Obama who refused to take responsibility for a month, lied for weeks about whether Benghazi was a terrorist attack, blamed a YouTube video, and threw the intelligence community under the bus.
But the exchange drew light to the Libya issue. And not in a way Obama liked. When Romney called out Obama for not labeling the murder of our ambassador in Libya and three other Americans a terrorist attack, both Obama and moderator Candy Crowley wrongly claimed that Obama had immediately labeled it a terrorist attack.
If that were true, why did Obama appear on The View on September 25, a full two weeks after the attack, and refuse point blank to call it a terrorist attack? Why did he show up at the UN and mention a YouTube video 12 times, but never describe the Benghazi assault as a terrorist attack once? Now we’re going to spend another week or two hashing out just why this president, who wants to claim he’s tough on terror – and a quick labeler of terror – has trotted out administration official after administration official to deny that Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Even Candy Crowley admitted that Romney was basically right, and that Obama had not called Benghazi a terrorist attack for weeks.
The Media. The greatest threat to a Romney victory after a good debate tonight was the mainstream media. It was obvious before this debate that they would spin anything but a full-on catatonic episode from Obama as a full-on Obama triumph. And it was also obvious that they’d jump all over Mitt Romney as a liar, a cheat, a fraud, a racist, a murderer, and a genocidal maniac. A desperate media with the patina of objectivity would have been Romney’s worst nightmare.
Thanks to abysmal moderator Candy Crowley, however, the mask is gone. Crowley handed Obama three minutes of extra time. She interrupted Romney far more than she did Obama. She stacked the questions two-to-one in favor of Obama-friendly questions. And she jumped into the Libya question to save Obama when he was on the ropes. Even Crowley recognized what a booboo she’d committed with that one. Meanwhile, as Obama played his class warfare card, media types cheered – literally cheered – in the other room.
The media is out of the closet. We know who they are. As the details of Crowley’s catastrophic intervention hit the airwaves, the American public will be wide awake to the mainstream media’s agenda. And they won’t believe them.
Here’s the bottom line: Mitt Romney got everything he needed from this debate. Obama didn’t. He got everything he already had: a devoted media and a vitriolic base. There are no independents who will turn his way after that debate. He turned them off with his aggressive style and his failure to even bother defending himself on his record.
Mitt Romney was the big winner last night. And he’s an even bigger winner if the media continues to pretend that last night was an Obama victory, even as the American people ignore them and move toward the Republican challenger.