Thoughts on the second presidential debate
Barack Obama was much more aggressive in the October 16 debate, after saying the previous week that he was "too polite" when he got shellacked by Mitt Romney in the first debate. Between his opening and his literal howler of a closing statement, the debate was much closer than last time, though Romney did win on substance. Some of Obama's whining was very unprofessional and certainly unpresidential.
Obama whined several times about Romney's proposal to de-fund Planned Parenthood, bringing it up several times without provocation. Obama lied about what PP does, claiming that the nation's largest abortion provider also does mammograms. That is simply not true, and Obama knows it. But to a more basic question - does Obama really think that federal funding for Planned Parenthood is going to swing votes toward him? It might excite militant feminists, but those people are already on his side.
Romney did an excellent job of taking Obama's record apart, noting that the official unemployment rate was 7.8% when Obama took office, is 7.8% now and is actually 10.7% when you include people who have dropped out of the workforce. (It is actually higher than that, but the point stands, nonetheless.) There are 3.5 million more women in poverty than when Obama took office and Obama took us from a $10 trillion national debt to a $16 trillion national debt. Picking up on a theme Newt Gingrich had used in the primary, Romney pointed out that when Obama took office, there were 32 million people on food stamps, compared to 47 million now.
Obama defended his record by saying that the middle class has been hit hard over the last 15 to 20 years. That would include the "boom" times when President Clinton was in office, would it not? Is Obama attacking the Clinton economic record? Apparently not, because Obama immediately contradicted himself by praising the Clinton economic record and claiming the nation created 23 million jobs during Clinton's time in office. Obama also claimed that the Clinton tax increase made the economy better, which makes no sense. I have never seen a coherent argument for why tax cuts harm the economy and tax increases help it.
Obama played the class warfare card against Romney, complaining that Romney had invested in Chinese companies. Romney pointed out that his money is in a blind trust (standard operating procedure for people running for President) and then asked Obama if he had looked at his pension plan. After Obama's unpresidential, unprofessional and pathetic whining that his pension is not nearly as large as Romney's pension, Romney pointed out that Obama is also invested overseas. Romney was not distracted by Obama's baiting and exposed his hypocrisy.
Romney also took Obama to task for his energy policy, bouncing off a question from the audience about whether or not Obama agrees with his energy secretary saying three times that it is not his policy to lower gas prices. Does Obama agree with the cabinet secretary he appointed? Obama did not answer the question, but since Obama appointed him it is safe to say that Obama agrees with him. After all, Obama said in 2008 that he did not have a problem with $4.00 per gallon gasoline, just with how fast it got that high.
Romney pointed out that Obama's energy policy matched his statement on gas prices, as Obama restricted oil production on federal land. Obama's bragging about increased oil production amounts to him taking credit for increased production on private land. Not only has Obama cut licenses and permits in half for federal land and waters, Romney said, but Obama actually brought criminal prosecution against the people who have dramatically increased energy production in North Dakota. As Romney said, the proof for Obama's strategy is the price at the pump, and it has increased dramatically over the last four years.
Romney's tax policy is simple and reasonable. He would allow a set amount of deductions for the middle class, allowing people to choose how they will use the allowed "pot" of deductions. Even better, he said he would eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for anyone making $200,000 per year or less, encouraging much-needed saving.
Romney was also effective on Libya, pointing out that Obama flew to a fundraiser immediately after the terrorist attack on our consulate in Libya, and wondering why the American public was not informed for days that this was a terrorist attack rather than a spontaneous reaction to a silly YouTube video. Was the administration misleading the public or were they incompetent? Obama was furious that Romney suggested he misled the American people, but that is exactly what Obama did - he flagrantly lied for a week about what happened in Libya.
Obama's apologists have been mocking gun-rights advocates for suggesting Obama would pursue gun control in his second term. Obama did not pursue gun control in his first term, they whine. But after Tuesday night, no one can credibly argue that Obama is not planning on more gun control in his second term. After all, he admitted he was going to push for that! Romney, for his part, nailed Obama on providing assault weapons to terrorist crime syndicates in Mexico, resulting in bloodshed and carnage.
Obama's closing statement was a real howler. Obama whined that there is this misconception that he believes government creates jobs. "That's not what I believe," Obama says. I literally laughed out loud at this statement. If Obama does not believe government creates jobs, what on Earth was the stimulus about? What is hiring more teachers, but hiring more government employees? I cannot believe he actually had the audacity to say that after he has bragged on his stimulus for four years and has been campaigning for another one.
Obama was more prepared for this debate, and fared better than last time. However, no amount of preparation or enthusiasm can change the fact that he is wrong on policy and that his policies have been bad for the country. Romney is right - we simply cannot afford another four years of Barack Obama.