Chris Matthews gets pretty worked up here, but I was rather disgusted at President Obama's debate performance, myself. What was wrong with him?
He just let Mitt Romney lie. And most of the lies weren't new. They were things the Romney campaign said at the Republican National Convention and they've been repeating ever since, claims already denounced by independent fact-checkers.
So why wasn't Obama prepared? Why didn't he go after Romney? Most of all, why wasn't he specific? Even when he did object, it came across as just two competing claims, with no objective way to tell which was the truth.
The most incredible thing I heard last night was when Barack Obama made reference to the mistakes we made in 2001 and 2003 without ever mentioning George W. Bush by name! Heck, he didn't even remind people that it was Republicans who made those mistakes.
Personally, I doubt if his debate performance will hurt Obama much, but it sure didn't help. Mitt Romney was vague about his own plans, completely avoiding specifics about his policies, as he's been doing the whole year.* And he lied about Obama's.
There was nothing new about any of that, but neither the moderator nor his debate opponent called him on it. Did no one tell Barack Obama that this was supposed to be a debate?
* PS. Here's FactCheck.org:
To be clear, Romney has proposed cutting personal federal income tax rates across the board by 20 percent, in addition to extending the tax cuts enacted early in the Bush administration. He also proposes to eliminate the estate tax permanently, repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, and eliminate taxes on interest, capital gains and dividends for taxpayers making under $200,000 a year in adjusted gross income.
By themselves, those cuts would, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, lower federal tax liability by “about $480 billion in calendar year 2015” compared with current tax policy, with Bush cuts left in place. The Obama campaign has extrapolated that figure out over 10 years, coming up with a $5 trillion figure over a decade.
However, Romney always has said he planned to offset that massive cut with equally massive reductions in tax preferences to broaden the tax base, thus losing no revenue and not increasing the deficit. ...
However, Romney continued to struggle to explain how he could possibly offset such a large loss of revenue without shifting the burden away from upper-income taxpayers, who benefit disproportionately from across-the-board rate cuts and especially from elimination of the estate tax (which falls only on estates exceeding $5.1 million left by any who die this year). The Tax Policy Center concluded earlier this year that it wasn’t mathematically possible for a plan such as Romney’s to cut rates as he promised without either favoring the wealthy or increasing the federal deficit.
Except for saying that his plan would bring in the same amount of money “when you account for growth,” Romney offered no new explanation for how he might accomplish all he’s promised.
Here's the other thing I thought was strange about this: Romney claimed that cutting the tax rate for small businessmen (and he includes Donald Trump as a "small businessman") would cause them to create more jobs. But he also claimed that this would be "revenue neutral," because he'd also eliminate (unspecified) deductions.
But if that's true, then small businessmen in general are going to be paying the same amount of tax. If it really is revenue neutral, then the lower tax rate will be completely offset by their loss of deductions (assuming that Romney is telling the truth about that). Obviously, "revenue neutral" means that the government will be receiving the same amount in taxes. So how could that possibly make any difference?
If Romney is telling the truth, then there won't be any change in the amount of tax small businessmen are paying. So how can he claim that it will affect how many people they hire - or anything at all, for that matter?
But Barack Obama just let that pass, like so much in this debate. I was very disappointed in that.