Debate Night in America: Romney Gets Pwned
Twelve hours after the fact, the thing that sticks in my mind about last night’s town hall is what a jerk Mitt Romney was. Backed into a corner by President Obama assertive manner (after his lackadaisical approach in Denver), Romney became even more fastidious about the rules, acting unnecessarily aggressively towards both the President and the moderator, Candy Crowley, who did a fine job under the circumstances. The good work he did disowning himself during the first debate, creating another, altogether more kindly, moderate, and personable version of Mitt Romney (3.0? 4.0?) has been undone.
Constantly squared up to each other — though it was all largely handbag stuff — there were two critical moments where Romney, in his haste, managed to get totally, for lack of a better word, pwned. The first was during an exchange which he should have won, when Kerry Ladka asked Obama who “refused extra security for our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the attacks that killed four Americans”. Obama evaded, as he had to since there’s no good answer to that. But later, Romney said, “It took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror”. Crowley as moderator in reference to Obama’s Rose Garden speech noted, “It — he did in fact, sir. He did call it an act of terror”, with the President adding helpfully and maybe a little bullishly, “Can you say that a little louder, Candy?”. The transcript notes applause and laughter.
The second, late on in the debate, was a display of Romney’s agitation when any reference to his investment portfolio is made, including the infamous Swiss bank account (and the Cayman Islands… and Bermuda…). Romney defending himself said, “Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. And I understand they do include investments outside the United States, including in — in Chinese companies. Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?” He kept asking, “Have you looked at your pension?”. Obama’s response: “You know, I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours, so it — it doesn’t take as long”. Again, applause and laughter. And again, what a jerk.
Also, this happened:
Of course, Obama was not without fault. He did not specifically set out a vision for his second term. He too stomped all over Crowley at times. He too was evasive, electing to answer his own questions as opposed to the ones asked by the audience. His first answer with regards to jobs was perhaps the worst. Jeremy Epstein, a college student, asked President Obama with regards to jobs, “What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?” His answer was a generic laundry which started, “Number one, I want to build manufacturing jobs in this country again”. Let me tell you, Mr President — Jeremy Epstein doesn’t want to work in an auto plant, and neither did he care about domestic energy production. In a town hall, one should answer the questioner directly first before making the wider point to the rest of the nation.
And speaking of Jeremy Epstein, the shtetlsphere was pumped yesterday during and after a debate in which Jewish questioners were featured heavily. Gal Beckerman, writing in The Forward, called the town hall the “The Long Island Jewish Community Center Debate” and the “Jewiest debate ever”, adding:
Let’s just get this out of the way. Carol Greenberg? Jeremy Epstein? Barry Green? Cary Latke? Latke?! Thankfully the next debate is in Boca Raton, which is a relief, because I was worried only middle aged Jews would get a chance to make their voices heard this election cycle.
I think I went to Jeremy Epstein’s Bar Mitzvah.— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) October 17, 2012
Jeremy Epstein looks the way you’d think Jeremy Epstein would look if his parents were fighting in public.— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) October 17, 2012
I think I met Barry Green at Jeremy Epstein’s Bar Mitzvah.— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) October 17, 2012