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Monday night, the Commission On Presidential Debates wraps up the 2012 series of debates with its extra special season finale. When we last left our protagonists, President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, they were, basically, yelling at each other about a host of issues before an audience of undecided voters from whom the questions of the evening were extracted. It made for a sharp series of exchanges and an emphasis on the theatrical. The president, having decided to ditch the somnambulatory techniques he used in his first disastrous debate, showed substantially more verve in his second outing, and has been generally characterized as the winner, on points. But Romney held up decently as well, turning in a performance that conservative pundits could continue to support. Now, they meet one last time, in a debate that decides everything. We guess? Let's just go with that.
One final note on this: we were a little dumbstruck by the number of people who commented that Obama had managed to definitively parry the issue or put Libya to bed. No, no! It really is more than what phrases were used in certain speeches, we're afraid. There is a whole debate coming on Monday, exclusively about foreign policy. That debate's moderator, Bob Schieffer, is absolutely going to want to earn his stripes. He will absolutely re-raise the question. If he doesn't he will be pilloried. So the matter has not been put to bed. Hopefully, Schieffer will manage to steer the discussion to more substantive grounds.
Going into Wednesday night's debate, Mitt Romney has a decent chance to alter the underlying dynamics of the campaign and achieve a somewhat more favorable position to close the gap with President Barack Obama in the remaining weeks of the race. But apparently, this is all for naught, because according to Mark Halperin, Mitt Romney has already lost an utterly critical political constituency, and is probably doomed to wander the earth like a pauper, or whatever: "Mitt Romney decisively loses the Tom Friedman Primary," Halperin tells us. It should be pointed out, though, that Romney's inability to win Friedman's favor and prevent Halperin's ensuing concern is very similar to Romney's alienating the "47 percent" in his famous donor-party remarks, because Friedman and Halperin account for 47 percent of the BS that is written about politics in America.