I am beginning to worry I may be biased. The pundits seem unanimous in their agreement that Mitt Romney cleaned Barack Obama’s clock in last night’s debate. The challenger looked presidential and talked forcefully, while the president let pass the distortions and untruths of his opponent. Perhaps. But I had a hard time warming to the supercilious half-smile/half-sneer with which Romney ended each of his lectures.
As for the non-body language, Obama missed a huge opportunity to remind people of the 47% Romney had dismissed, especially as the latter waxed prosaic about his sympathy for the middle class. Nor did the president adequately respond to Romney’s false charge that he would restore the $716 billion the administration had cut from Medicare.
For me, though, the debate was defined by the absence of two critical domestic issues: the assault on the environment and the abandonment of the poor.
It is one thing to canonize the middle class. It is another not to even mention the country’s most vulnerable and marginalized people.
And the closest we came to an environmental discussion was Romney’s statement, “I like coal . . . and oil and gas” and his mockery of Obama’s green energy subsidies. Obama failed to counter that any national policy that dismisses all alternatives to extraction, destruction and pollution is derelict.
And Romney, the vigorous defender of Medicare, the populist opponent of big banks, and the representative of bipartisan politics in Massachusetts . . . well, that is a Romney we had not seen in the Republican debates.