BLUNDERS AND BINDERS
CHARLES M. BLOW
NEW YORK TIMES
The president performed brilliantly, with force, verve and agility. As we used to say down south: he showed up and showed out. The base loved it. …Even stylistically, Romney hit the wrong notes. There is a fine line between feistiness and testiness. Romney has never negotiated that line well in debates and last night he fell over it again. At one point he scolded the president — the president of the United States! — “you’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.” Regardless of how it may have felt in the hall and how his base may have received his abrasive behavior, to most others watching it was déclassé and indecorous. When you’re challenging a sitting president for his job, you have to respect the office, even if you don’t respect the man.
MR. ROMNEY’S VERSION OF EQUAL RIGHTS
NEW YORK TIMES
It has dawned on Mitt Romney that he has a problem with female voters. He just has no idea what to do about it, since it is the result of his positions on abortion, contraception, health services and many other issues. On Tuesday night, he bumbled his way through a cringe-inducing attempt to graft what he thinks should be 2012 talking points onto his 1952 sensibility. …He started a slow, painful slide into one of the most bizarre comments on this issue we’ve ever heard. … “She said, I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.” … True equality is not satisfied by allowing the little lady to go home early and tend to her children.
ETCH A SKETCH TO SKETCHY
EJ DIONNE JR.
Under pressure this time, the former Massachusetts governor displayed his least attractive sides. He engaged in pointless on-stage litigation of the debate rules. He repeatedly demonstrated his disrespect for both the president and Candy Crowley, the moderator. And Romney was just plain querulous when anyone dared question him about the gaping holes in his tax and budget plans. … Romney also covertly disclosed that he, like George W. Bush before him, has every intention of cutting taxes on the rich. Like Bush, he used stealthy language to try to achieve a great fiscal coverup. … This really matters: Romney intends, as Bush did, to push for steep tax cuts for the wealthy. His only pledge is that he’ll keep the share of the total tax take paid by the wealthy unchanged, presumably by reducing other taxes too. And this is supposed to lead to lower deficits? How?
AVOIDING REALITIES AT THE DEBATES
Someone tuning in for the first time Tuesday night might assume that the principal conundrums of the next term will be how to lower taxes on the middle class and how to mine more coal. The reality is starkly different. On Jan. 1, even before the next president is inaugurated, a series of tax hikes and spending cuts is due to take effect, and the Congressional Budget Office has flatly warned it would send the nation back into recession. …Both candidates know that, to avoid that grim scenario as the population ages, Americans will have to make some sacrifices. Taxes are going to go up, and not just on the rich. The retirement age will have to be pushed back. Yet regarding the fiscal cliff, neither candidate had one word to offer.