Four years ago Barack Obama was being criticized during the campaign for being too "cool, calm, and collected" and not feisty enough. Last night, many in the press, many pundits, and many activists thought he should have taken it to Mitt Romney.
Why give Romney an opening? Why not call him on his flip-flop-flips and record from his Massachusetts days? Why not quote his extremism from his debates with Republicans? Why not hit him on the "47 percent" comment? Why not debunk the absurd charges on "raiding" Medicare by $716 billion? Why not rip him on his tax plan which does stick it to middle class families?
We have learned that this is not Obama's style to be "hot" and harsh. But if Obama learned one lesson from last night, it is that Romney is more than willing to make any attack, deny any fact about his proposals, use any phrases given to him by his coaches, and smile the whole time, to ensure his election.
Romney has not and will not be specific on any issue confronting the United States: taxes and budgets, healthcare, Medicare and social security, defense and security policy. He doesn't think he needs to in order to win.
It is up to Obama to take on Romney directly. Obama danced around it at the end of the debate but he must tell Romney that getting any real specifics out of you is like nailing jello to the wall. This is not leadership, this is crass politics at its worst. Offering up a $5 trillion dollar tax cut (and that is exactly what it is), increasing the defense budget by $2 trillion, and balancing the budget won't take an act of Congress, it will take an act of magic.
He cannot say he won't cut Pell grants when his budget and the budget of his nominee for vice president will do exactly that. He cannot protect people with pre-existing conditions or allow young people to stay on their parents insurance until 26 without adhering to Romneycare or Obamacare.
President Obama has two more debates and a month of campaigning to call Romney on the emptiness of his campaign. Romney was allowed to tell voters last night that it is possible to nail jello to the wall. It is up to Obama to truly nail that one and it should not be all that hard.
- Read the U.S. News Debate: Who Won the First Debate Between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama?
- Read Leslie Marshall: Debate a Reminder to Dems: The Fat Lady Hasn't Sung
- Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy