You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

YOUNG: Romney debate win highlights Obama failure

After four years, Obama out of excuses

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

One debate has changed everything, because Mitt Romney didn't just beat expectations, he beat Barack Obama. What just recently seemed like a widening gulf between incumbent and challenger has, according to early post-debate polls, already disappeared. Many liberals insist this is an overreaction to one event, but they fail to understand this one event struck at this election's core.

Make no mistake: Mr. Romney won the debate. Even Mr. Obama's most passionate partisans implicitly admit it – generally by trying to excuse it (Al Gore going so far as to tacitly blame Denver's altitude). But if you don't believe the headlines, check out CNN's post-debate poll.

According to 67 percent of respondents, Mr. Romney was judged to have done "the best job in the debate," while 82 percent said he had exceeded expectations. Majorities judged Mr. Romney better able to handle health care, taxes, the economy and the budget deficit, and by two to one they said the debate made them more likely to vote for Mr. Romney than Mr. Obama.

Such a pronounced outcome watched by tens of millions was sure to have an effect. If we see "bounces" in the polls even from set-piece conventions – and Mr. Obama did – how much more for a real event?

And the race was already tightening as Mr. Obama's convention bounce came back to earth. We can expect gravity's pull only to get stronger now. 

Gravity will be pulling for more reasons than just a one-off event like last week's debate, though. The first presidential debate struck at this election's essence. Mr. Obama has had a rotten four-year economy and budget. Never has America paid so much for so little: its highest peacetime deficits and its worst post-Depression economic recovery. Mr. Romney's wisely points to this as evidence that Mr. Obama is not up to the job. That was his overarching theme in last week's debate.

Mr. Obama continues to defend himself by casting blame on his predecessor: He inherited a bad situation and made the best of it. His offense has been to say that Mr. Romney is not qualified for the job. That was his overriding debate theme. Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, the debate's outcome has now effectively refuted his attack against Mr. Romney.

Mr. Romney only needed a tie to challenge it – to show he was equal to the incumbent. Instead, he got a win.

Mr. Obama's line of attack is now going to be harder to advance. In much of the public's mind, Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney are now at least equals. From that equating, it is a short conclusion: Considering the last four years, why not give the other guy a chance? 

That is the conclusion Mr. Obama can least afford in this election. His entire campaign is premised on preventing the public from reaching it. Now there is not only nothing to stop it, there is ample reason propelling the public toward it.

J.T. Young served in the Treasury Department, the Office of Management and Budget and as a congressional staff member.


blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts