THE BLOG
10/09/2012 10:19 pm ET Updated Dec 09, 2012

Romney's Brilliant Debate Strategy

For the presidential debates, Mitt Romney promised to throw zingers at Obama. He did, but the zingers didn't really stick. What stuck with viewers was the amazing performance by Mitt Romney.

Pundits seemed to agree that Romney "won" the debate. Some "fact-checked" his points and claimed he "lied" a lot. A few suggested Romney is now showing his true "moderate" credentials. This is a ridiculous idea and not what Romney was doing.

Romney's debate strategy was brilliant. He did two things: (1) he accused Obama of doing things wrong and claimed he would do them right; (2) he accused Obama of having done everything that he, Romney, will do if elected president.

Romney put Obama in the position of defending himself in two-minute segments against a huge number of spurious charges his opponent lobbed at him for the next ninety minutes. Here are just a few examples.

Romney's goals projected onto Obama

  1. He said that under Obama employment has suffered and he, Romney knew how to create jobs. According to a recent article in Rolling Stone, it is Romney and his hedge fund who have often been the architect of massive job losses in the U.S., and Romney who would continue to outsource to countries like China.
  2. He insisted Obama was increasing taxes on the middle class while he, Romney, would lower taxes on the middle class. As Obama did make clear at the beginning of the debate, it is the Romney/Ryan budget that would raise taxes on the middle class.
  3. He said Obama is destroying Medicare by cutting costs. It is Romney who will gut Medicare with Ryan's voucher plan.
  4. He said Obama was over-funding solar/wind and alternative industries, half of whom were failing. He further alleged Obama was subsidizing alternative energy companies in order to to get money donations for his campaign. It is Romney who will cause alternative energy companies to fail. Romney is not interested in raising mile-per-gallon standards on automobiles to decrease demand for gas and oil. He plans to increase drilling for oil and gas and increasing coal production so that "North America" (the Arctic, Canada, U.S., and Mexico) can become energy independent. It is Romney who is serving the needs of his supporters in the coal, natural gas and oll industries who are donating to his campaign. It's "drill baby drill" all the way.
  5. He accused Obama of cutting money to Medicare and of ultimately destroying Medicare. Destroying Medicare is the Ryan/Romney agenda for Medicare and Medicaid. They want to use the voucher system (like the one Bain used in Russia to buy off worker cooperatives) to weaken Medicare. They also would turn Medicaid over to state funding in order to put both programs fully into the "free" market.
  6. He accused Obama of setting up death panels for Medicare. This was a charge the fact-checkers and Obama rejected as untrue. Obamacare sets up panels of doctors who decide on best practices for improving medical care and reducing Medicare costs. Romney's plan would maintain the death panels at the health insurance companies who now reject people with pre-existing conditions and decide which procedures patients can't have unless they pay for them themselves.
  7. He asserted Obama was out to destroy Social Security, This is what Romney and Ryan intend to do in the future. It is clearly not what Obama plans to do. In fact, Romney's 47 percent remark indicates he probably also wants to destroy welfare to mothers and children, unemployment insurance, and Medicaid by shifting these burdens onto states which are already reeling from debt caused by the banking industry and possibly by the antics of high-speed traders on Wall Street. States are in no shape to offer such programs by themselves.
  8. He blamed Dodd-Frank for the existence of too-big-to-fail banks and the demise of 122 smaller banks. Here are approximate number of bank closings by year from FDIC statistics: 2007 -- three banks; 2008 -- 25 banks; 2009 -- 130 banks; 2010 -- 140 banks; 2011 -- 100 banks, in the first three quarters of 2012 about 45 banks failed. In September 2009 unnamed sources in government said they expected by the end 1,000 banks would fail. After Dodd-Frank passed, bank failures peaked in 2010 and began dropping far below the level of the two years before it passed. Obama has stemmed the rising tide of bank closures and is reducing them each year.

How Obama dealt with Romney

Whenever Obama did attack Romney's projections, Romney denied his own real plans, even though he has stated them over and over again in the past. For example, in regard to the $5 trillion deficit that the Romney/Ryan budget would create, Obama clearly showed that the middle class would end up stuck with the tax bill. Romney simply asserted that he wouldn't let that happen, and that he never proposed rate cuts of 5 trillion (20 percent).

What do you say to a person who is so focused on getting into the Oval Office they will say and do anything, however untrue, contradictory to what they've said before, or just plain unbelievable?

Obama, after going round and round about the five trillion-dollar deficit Romney would create chose not to refute any more of Romney's denials of his own past statements. The president stuck to trying to say clearly what he has done and would do. This left viewers with a queasy feeling of not knowing exactly who to believe.

The truth of those who who accuse others of nasty things, especially those who accuse others of lying, is that they themselves are the ones who have no inhibitions about doing exactly that. This makes addressing the kind of accusations like Romney made against Obama nearly impossible.

Often the shock of being accused of things you don't do or believe in doing and/or becoming engaged in ridiculous roundabout arguments involving denial is enough to make any victim speechless. President Obama defended himself against Romney's false attacks with clarity and calmness. For that alone I give the president a lot of credit.