Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
Obama must have had too much to eat for dinner, or he made a bad choice by choosing the decaf instead of the regular.
Because he was sluggish and dull and let Romney box him all over the ring.
Obama was on the ropes almost the whole night, and he was so detached I thought his arms were going to snap off.
He failed to mention the 47% video.
He failed to mention Bain capital.
He failed to mention Romney’s paltry job record in Massachusetts.
He failed to mention a woman’s right to choose.
He failed to stress the moral argument for the Affordable Care Act (and for some reason embraced the term “Obamacare”), and he got lost in the thicket of controlling health care costs.
He failed to rebut Romney’s repeated claim that Obama was hurting seniors by cutting $716 billion from Medicare. (Romney used the $716 billion figure 716 times!)
He failed to mention that Paul Ryan himself also called for that cut and that all the Republicans in the House endorsed it.
He failed to stress how bad the economy was when he inherited it and that he prevented a depression—he made this point in only one sentence.
He was content to utter clichés like, “The genius of America is the free enterprise system.” What about the Bill of Rights? Or the separation of powers? We don’t need a Democrat to curtsy to capitalism.
And his closing statement was meandering.
He didn’t give voters a coherent case for voting for him.
Romney came out with a flurry of punches and he kept punching—and filibustering!—the whole way through.
He came out with some whoppers, though.
Here are a couple:
Whopper #1: He said none of his tax cuts would increase the deficit. But how would that work? Tax cuts automatically increase the deficit.
Whopper #2: He said he wouldn’t reduce taxes on the wealthy. But he wants to abolish the estate tax, which will be an enormous boon to the wealthy (and, more specifically, to their wealthy children).
Whopper #3: He said he wanted to lower spending and encourage growth. But lowering spending suppresses growth.
Whopper #4: He said we, as consumers, can choose which health insurance company to go to. Maybe CEOs can do that, but most consumers who are insured through their employers have limited choices, if any, of carriers.
But Obama let him get away with all of this—and more.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Romney on 60 Minutes: Kiss the Safety Net Goodbye."
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter