As I ponder now from some distance the first presidential candidates' debate of last week, I realize that contrary to many pundits' declarations, neither did Mitt Romney do a very good job, nor did Barack Obama do a very bad job. They both did okay, that's all, just okay. We the voters got a little bit out of it, but just a little bit. Some undecideds might have decided, which might change the outcome of the election, but I don't think so.
I was disappointed that my candidate, President Obama, did not take advantage of the many opportunities his opponent gave him during this debate to illustrate how different the two candidates' takes on the issues have been so far.
On the other hand, I was stunned at how liberal Mr. Romney's new comments were. Far right conservatives should be worried at how far left Mr. Romney has shifted. For example, he said that the free enterprise system depends on government regulation. He said that every state should emulate the Massachusetts universal health care system and do what Massachusetts did when he, Romney, was governor there. Those two shifts in position are almost shocking, compared to the far right stands Mr. Romney has been taking and took when he was vying with ultra-right wing conservatives for the Republican nomination. I wonder if those far right supporters are concerned about his significant shifts to the left. As a moderate liberal, I kind of like some of Mr. Romney's new positions. He seems to be expressing more like his original, genuine opinions on things now, rather than the false, far right positions he took during his campaign for the nomination. He is sounding like a traditional Republican. No, I am not going to vote for him, but he does sound more reasonable now than he has in the last two years or so.
I was disappointed in Mr. Romney for his mis-stating, still again, one more time, that actions taken by the Obama administration have reduced Medicare benefits -- the infamous $716 billion. That is so blatantly untrue and incorrect that I was disappointed in my candidate for not jumping all over it to correct the error. The disingenuous streak in Mr. Romney is disturbing.
The president pretty much delivered his stump speech again and without the verve that pundits are usually looking for in these debates. The next day, he delivered it again in Denver to a university crowd, before he came to Madison and delivered it again to another university crowd. Ho hum.
The pundits have commented much on the two candidates' demeanors during this first debate. They found Obama to be aloof, as did I, although I personally like the professorial President Obama. They found Romney engaging, as I did too, although watching it on C-Span, Romney looked to me like he had gas the whole time. He did look better, though, in the clips I saw later from other, more slick TV renderings from the other news stations.
I give both candidates a C for both performance and content, looking forward to the next one for something better from both of them. These TV "debates" are so over-rated anyway.