You know there's trouble on the left when the MSNBC people declare Mitt Romney the winner in the first presidential debate. I mean, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth on the uber-liberal cable network: Why oh why did our guy look so awkward? Even though we don't believe in God, we'd now like him to help our president if he can.
Governor Romney won the debate because the economy is bad and the president could not explain how he's going to make it better. The governor kept pounding Mr. Obama in the midsection, pointing out that his vision of a country filled with green energy jobs paying world-class salaries with tremendous benefits for all workers is not happening – and is not likely to happen anytime soon. All Mr. Obama could say in reply was that he created millions of jobs. Apparently those are secret jobs, because the unemployment rate hasn't dropped below 8% in 40 weeks, which, of course, Romney pointed out.
Barack Obama looked a little tired in Denver. Mitt Romney looked energetic – although the hair is close to being out of control. Both men wore nice suits and crisp ties. Both completely ignored moderator Jim Lehrer and said what they wanted to say. Over and over. But what Romney highlighted made more sense than what the president put out there. America is not prospering economically. No matter what Mr. Obama says he's done, the facts are that personal income is down, good jobs are hard to get, the debt is north of $16 trillion, and everybody who's paying health insurance is paying higher premiums. And don't even ask about gas prices.
Romney's closing statement at the end was markedly stronger than Obama's. The president basically said that if you vote for him, he will continue to work hard. I believe him: he does work hard. So do the New York Mets. But they are not winning.
The governor wrapped things up by confidently promising that he will create a gazillion jobs and bring back the free market principles that have made the USA great. The president also said he likes the free marketplace but when a guy like Hugo Chavez endorses you, the capitalism thing can get a bit dicey.
Upcoming polls should be much better news for Mitt Romney, as perception is reality in today's America. Most voters depend on others to tell them what exactly is up and, as mentioned, many left wing pundits headed for the Valium cabinet before the bloviating was even over. There was twittering, tweeting, and texting – most of it not good news for Barack Obama. And the right wing analysts were so giddy I thought Pat Buchanan was going to do the Lambada.
So, the first debate is history and Romney is back in the hunt. But there will be a next time and, I expect, President Obama will be much more assertive. After all, Barry from Honolulu didn't get to be the most powerful man on earth by slinking off. October 16 can't come soon enough for him.