Thoughts from last night's debate

President Obama did look unprepared to return fire in a zinger-y way. Unfortunately, this is the crap that passes for journalistic interest today, and it's what many viewers are waiting for. So, on the balance, Mitt Romney probably "won" the debate. Of course, so did President Kerry eight years ago.

So, to conservatives: crow all you want. To progressives: you panic, I write sternly-worded posts.

Mitt Romney, as predicted, was on the attack from the first moment. Not very presidential. He also didn't explain a damned thing about his plans -- also not very presidential. The man is pathologically committed to the vision of himself as a leader, but cannot bring himself to even try explaining how his magical puppies-and-ponies tax plan would work, let alone be anything but doubling down on the tax policies that exploded the deficit and income inequality during the Bush administration.

Forcing him to explain that will be a task for President Obama in the next debate.

Romney also attacked on the $716-Billion-from-Medicare canard, which I found especially hilarious because Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, included that exact same funding shift (from providers, not enrollee benefits) in his budget. Since Romney won't talk about his plans, I think it's safe to assume that he'd try to enact Ryan's plans, including that Medicare shift. But again, since he won't talk about his plans, who knows?

But the biggest moment of the night really wasn't a moment at all. During the segment on health care, Romney said that under his plan, people with preexisting conditions were covered. He also said he wanted to repeal Obamacare, but then said that the good parts would stay. He then railed on the IPAB, but then went back to saying Romneycare -- the progenitor of Obamacare -- was a good thing.

It takes chutzpah to get onstage and try to flip-flop that many times in 10 minutes.

President Obama could have pushed harder on the fact that Obamacare's central thesis -- mandating coverage while forcing insurance companies to take everyone and regulating them more heavily -- was originally a very, very Republican idea. So when Mitt Romney says he wants to repeal it but keep "the good parts" exactly what is he talking about? The individual mandate and the bans on recission and preexisting conditions are inextricable. He knows this. Mandating medical loss ratios is both popular and necessary to prevent abuse by the insurers. Romney knows this too. It's the details that are important, and Mitt Romney will never, ever let us see the details of his plans. Because they just. don't. work.

And if he's not going to explain the details, how dare Mitt Romney be so self-centered as to think we're supposed to let him anywhere near the Oval Office.

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