3 Knockout Punches Obama Didn't Throw
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The final bell had barely rung when the fight was called for the man from Massachusetts. He won all the style points. He seemed poised, on his toes and took the fight to his opponent, who seemed listless and flat-footed.
Forgive the boxing metaphor. It’s been so pervasive in the wake of the first presidential debate Wednesday night that it’s hard not to think of the event as a prize fight. But while it’s a bit of a cliché, it’s also apt. The incumbent is like the reigning champ, and as in boxing, the challenger has to win decisively to win at all.
To that end, Mitt Romney appeared to do a lot of dancing and threw a lot of punches. But while there was plenty of swinging, the fact-checkers determined that little of it had any real substantive pop. But for casual observers, the visual was enough: Romney was a whirling dervish, and Obama was asleep on his feet.
Obama supporters sat ringside, waiting for their man to stop covering up and do a little counter-punching. But they were left wanting, and the pundits, like panelists on a sports-talk show, say Obama’s failure to return the fusillade cost him the debate.
Most frustrating were the many opportunities Obama had to land a real haymaker, to drop Romney like Jed Bartlet smacking down Rob Ritchie. A campaign littered with gaffes shows Romney’s handsomely chiseled chin covers a glass jaw, and a well-timed shot could’ve sent him to the canvas and left Obama as the undisputed champion.
Here, then, are the three knockout blows that President Obama could have, and should have thrown to turn out Romney’s lights and end the fight for good.
1. "You admit your economic theory doesn’t work."
Romney beat the drum about creating jobs over and over, repeating that to create those jobs, government has to lighten the tax burden on “job creators,” i.e., the rich. It’s banal supply-side economics. And a huge opening for Obama to say:
"Giving wealthy people more money doesn't create jobs. Businesses don't hire because they have more money; they hire because there's demand for their products or services. You create that demand by putting more money in the pockets of working families who will spend it on goods and services-- the same people you told they’d get little help from you. The very well off and corporations have enjoyed a very generous tax situation for the past 20 years. The stock market has rebounded to near-record highs, and the rich have seen their share of the nation's wealth jump, and corporations are sitting on huge piles of cash. Yet, as you point out, there are still far too many Americans out of work or under-employed. Governor, by your own reckoning, you've just shown that the trickle-down economic plan that your party has pushed for the last 30 years -- and the one you have promised to follow -- doesn't work."
2. "Pick one set of facts and stick to it."
Many observers were waiting to see what kind of zing Romney’s well-rehearsed zingers would carry. The answer was, not much. The most transparently canned zinger -- "Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own airplane, your own house, but not your own facts" -- was Romney being too aggressive and leaving himself wide open for:
"Governor Romney, your campaign has seen you change positions on every significant issue. You and your running mate can’t seem to agree on anything at all except that you’re going to do whatever you promise to do at the moment. Until, of course, you make a different promise. Your staff says you’re the etch-a-sketch candidate, who changes when the scene shifts from one campaign to the next. Your top pollster says you don’t care about what the fact-checkers have to say about your contradictions and flip-flops. So before you lecture me on facts, all I ask is that you pick one set of facts and stick to it."