First of all, last night's presidential debate was not really a debate. The questions were too broad for the two-minute-response format, and the moderator did nothing to enforce the "rules," if there were any. Romney spoke loudly and quickly, and tried to sound kind of like Reagan (who was a far better actor than Romney). He raised far too many questions in his responses to the moderator's questions for anyone to rebut given the small amount of time, and I think that was part of his strategy. Obama smiled through Romney's lies, spoke slowly and deliberately, and told the truth.
The immediate criticism from my household and from all the post-debate comments I read was that Obama should have been more aggressive, and should have taken Romney to task on some issues. Some people feared that Obama lost the debate and therefore lost the election. I don't think so.
Some people wish that Obama could be more like Bill Clinton, but I don't. We already have Bill Clinton around, and if Obama tried to be like him it would appear phoney; perhaps it would be kind of like Romney coming across as a phoney Ronald Reagan. I also don't think that Michelle would appreciate him acting more Clintonesque, especially on their 20th wedding anniversary. One thing that nobody can deny about Barack Obama is that he doesn't pretend to be anything he isn't. He lives his life honestly.
I doubt that Romney persuaded anyone that his positions were better than Obama's, because he never came across with the "goods" that were asked of him. His plans, particularly his health care and economic plans, are still shrouded in mystery, and his math still doesn't add up.
But I think that Obama was actually acting strategically. He knew about Romney's bravura on the podium. Romney is a salesman, and in this campaign he is trying to sell his consulting expertise to a "client" that he believes would benefit (at a price) from his help. I hope that we never actually find out what that price might be, and I also help that we never actually find out the secret plans that he is offering "behind door number 2."
Romney has been taken to task for all of his partially true statements and all of his lies in the the post-debate fact checks. His lies are now on video tape, and can be played over and over, analyzed, and be used in ads. Obama is on video tape being deliberate, calm, direct, kind, humble, respectful, and honest. I believe that President Obama knew, while he was being attacked in this forum, that the press would come to his defense on matters of fact and truth, and that people who played back the tape or read the transcript would be able to make up their own minds and make their voting decisions based on truth. He didn't need to play Romney's "game." And it was Romney's game. Romney made sure of it from the start.
I'm really looking forward to watching Joe Biden and Paul Ryan next week! He can take Ryan to task on everything that Romney said in this debate.