My Take On The Second Presidential Debate

First, the "atmospherics" - by this I mean how Romney and Obama came across and NOT the accuracy of what was offered.

Both were agressive. They got in each other's face and showed no "submission". Obama came across as not truly, directly answering any question - except the one on who was responsible for the State Department's/Intel's misassessment on the Libya incident. And, he gave the only answer that would not have had him "drawn and quartered"; i.e., Obama was responsible. This was, by far, Obama's most honest and complete response of the evening. For the "atmospherics" I would have to call this aspect of the debate a "draw".

And, as to "atmospherics", the moderator was disgracefull in her obvious bias toward Obama. This was most apparent in her interjecting herself on the discussion of the Libya incident. She backed Obama's statement that he had labeled the Libya incident as an "act of terror" during his Rose Garden speech the day after the incident. In fact, Obama did, indeed, mention the words "..any act of terror.." during his speech. Those words, in context (watch the speech yourself), did NOT directly relate to the Libya attack. After the debate, "off air" and after her damage had been done she admitted that Romney had been correct on this issue. Consider: she let Obama have "the last word" 8 out of the 11 times she intervened and continually interrupted Romney but not so with Obama. She was truly unprofessional.

But, as to the facts in support of their positions it was a different story. And, in politics "facts" are a difficult nut to crack. Remember that in politics "data" is often quoted as supportive of facts. Benjamin Disraeli is often credited with the adage: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics'. No statement could be truer in politics. So, as you hear statistics used to support a position, be wary and do your own independent research!

After some research I found Romney to be correct (or not misleading) on every issue he discussed. This would include the economy, oil/natural gas drilling, gas prices, Libya, being able to deliver on promises, jobs, etc. Obama was incorrect (or misleading) on every issue presented to him.

Obama was misleading on jobs - he said his tenure had been responsible for 5 million new jobs; he failed to point out that his tenure also was responsible for the loss of some 5 million jobs. Romney pointed out that many have dropped out of the work force during Obama's tenure. Obama did not refute this point. An Aside Note: The number of people dropping out of the work force directly contributes to the artificially low, publicized unemployment rate; i.e., the "U3" rate. Look up the "U3" rate and compare it to the "U6" rate - i.e., the TRUE rate of unemployment.

Obama was wrong on the oil/natural gas drilling issue. He has severly limited drilling on government land since he became president AND blocked the pipeline from Canada. What increases in oil/natural gas drilling exist are mainly on "private land" and, therefore, are not subject to goverment leases. Persons in the oil/natural gas business responded today with their positions: to get a permit from a state it takes days, from the government it takes years.

When asked who was responsible for the refusal of heightened security at the Libyan consolate Obama responded with a total obfuscation; he spoke on and on but never answered the question.

I could go on but the discussion would be much too lenghty. Romney, I feel, cleary won on substance.

As I mentioned above, I felt Obama's best part of the evening was his acceptance of the responsibility for the Libyan consulate debacle. The below video, I feel, was Romney's best part of the night:

Note: if you use Internet Explorer and have a problem viewing the video, click here.

Alternative content

After the debate both the conservative side (FOX News) and the progressive side (MSNBC) held "focus groups" to obtain debate reactions. Both groups (supposedly) were made up of "undecided" voters. The below pic shows the results:

This is from the Associated Press (AP) - it's a "fact check" on the debate:

US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) participate in the second presidential debate, the only held in a townhall format, at the David Mack Center at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, October 16, 2012, moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the rough-and-tumble of a town hall-style debate, not all of the presidential candidates’ claims stood up to scrutiny Tuesday night.

Yet again, President Barack Obama claimed that ending the Afghanistan and Iraq wars makes money available to “rebuild America,” even though it doesn’t. And he pointed to a string of job creation while ignoring the job losses that came before it, on his watch.

Republican Mitt Romney actually corrected some of the errant claims he’s made before, while stretching the facts on the auto bailout he opposed.

A look at some of their claims:

OBAMA: “Let’s take the money that we’ve been spending on war over the last decade to rebuild America, roads, bridges, schools. We do those things, not only is your future going to be bright, but America’s future is going to be bright as well.”

THE FACTS: What Obama didn’t mention is that much of the money that has been paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was borrowed. In fact, the government borrows nearly 40 cents for every dollar it spends. Thus using money that had been earmarked for wars to build schools and infrastructure would involve even more borrowing, adding to the federal deficit.

ROMNEY: “I know he keeps saying, `You want to take Detroit bankrupt.’ Well, the president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did. And I think it’s important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommended and ultimately what happened.”

THE FACTS: What Romney recommended did not happen, and his proposed path probably would have forced General Motors and Chrysler out of business. He opposed using government money to bail out the automakers, instead favoring privately financed bankruptcy restructuring. But the automakers were bleeding cash and were poor credit risks. The banking system was in crisis. So private loans weren’t available. Without government aid, both companies probably would have gone under and their assets sold in pieces.

OBAMA: “And what I want to do is build on the 5 million jobs that we’ve created over the last 30 months in the private sector alone.”

THE FACTS: As he has done before, Obama is cherry-picking his numbers to make them sound better than they really are. He ignores the fact that public-sector job losses have dragged down overall job creation. Also, he chooses just to mention the past 30 months. That ignores job losses during his presidency up until that point. According to the Labor Department, about 4.5 million total jobs have been created over the past 30 months. But some 4.3 million jobs were lost during the earlier months of his administration. At this point, Obama is a net job creator, but only marginally.

ROMNEY: “The proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you’re paying more. When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about $1.86 a gallon. Now, it’s $4.00 a gallon. The price of electricity is up. If the president’s energy policies are working, you’re going to see the cost of energy come down.”

THE FACTS: Presidents have almost no effect on energy prices; most are set on financial exchanges around the world. When Obama took office, the world was in the grip of a financial crisis and crude prices – and gasoline prices along with them – had plummeted because world demand had collapsed. Crude oil prices have since risen even as U.S. oil production has soared in recent years because global demand is reaching new heights as the developing economies of Asia use more oil.

Other energy prices have fallen during Obama’s term. Electricity prices, when adjusted for inflation, are down, and homeowners are finding it much cheaper to heat their homes with natural gas. That’s because natural gas production has surged, reducing prices both for homeowners and for utilities that burn gas to generate electricity.

OBAMA: “What I’ve also said is, for (those earning) above $250,000, we can go back to the tax rates we had when Bill Clinton was president.”

THE FACTS: Not exactly. The Bush tax cuts set the top income rate at 35 percent. Under Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on households earning more than $250,000, the president would return the top rate to the 39.6 percent set during the Clinton administration. But he neglected to mention that his health care law includes a new 0.9 percent Medicare surcharge on households earning over that amount – and that tax would be retained. The health care law also imposes a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for high earners. So tax rates would be higher for the wealthiest Americans than they were under Clinton.

ROMNEY: “I’m going to bring rates down across the board for everybody, but I’m going to limit deductions and exemptions and credits, particularly for people at the high end, because I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now.”

THE FACTS: Romney is proposing to cut all income tax rates by 20 percent, eliminate the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, maintain and expand tax breaks for investment income, and do it all without adding to the deficit or shifting the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class. He says he would pay for the tax cuts by reducing or eliminating tax deductions, exemptions and credits, but he can’t achieve all of his goals it under the budget rules presidents must follow.

The Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group, says in a study that the tax cuts proposed by Romney would reduce federal tax revenues by about $5 trillion over 10 years. The study concludes that there aren’t enough tax breaks for the wealthy to make up the lost revenue, so the proposal would either add to the deficit or shift more of the tax burden on to the middle class.

Romney’s campaign cites studies by conservative academics and think tanks that say Romney’s plan will spur economic growth, generating enough additional money to pay for the tax cuts without adding to the deficit or shifting the tax burden to the middle class. But Congress doesn’t recognize those kinds of economic projections when it estimates the budget impact of tax proposals.

ROMNEY: “A recent study has shown that people in the middle class will see $4,000 a year in higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration.”

THE FACTS: Romney’s claim is based on an analysis by the conservative American Enterprise Institute that examines the amount of debt that has accumulated on Obama’s watch and in a potential second term and computes how much it would cost to finance that debt through tax increases. Annual deficits under Obama have exceeded $1 trillion for each year of his term.

However, Obama is not responsible for all of the deficits that have occurred on his watch. Most of the federal budget – like Medicare, food stamps, Medicaid and Social Security – runs on autopilot, and no one in a leadership position in Washington has proposed deep cuts in those programs. And politicians in both parties voted two years ago the renew Bush-era tax cuts that have contributed to the deficit. Even under the strict spending cuts proposed by Romney, the debt would continue to rise, just not as fast.

Associated Press writers Tom Raum, Jonathan Fahey, Tom Krisher, Stephen Ohlemacher and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

Below is an article on the moderator's biased conduct of the debate:

CNN’s Crowley first plays umpire, then joins Team Obama

By Fox News' Dan Gainor - Published October 17, 2012

Oct. 16, 2012: Moderator Candy Crowley talks to the audience before the second presidential debate at Hofstra University. (AP)

In the baseball playoffs, the tie goes to the runner. In debates, ties are decided by the moderator and that’s what happened during the Tuesday night presidential debate at Hofstra University in New York. CNN’s Candy Crowley made her presence felt as a moderator in a major way on two points, but none larger than the issue of Libya.

The terrorist attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and four others in Benghazi has become a sore point for Obama, but Crowley made sure she called Romney out before Obama could tag him.

When Romney said Obama had not called the attack an act of terror for 14 days, Crowley interrupted and said: “It -- it -- it -- he did in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror.”

Naturally, Obama asked her to restate her point and she did. “Can you say that a little louder, Candy?” asked the president. “He -- he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take -- it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that,” she continued.

Conservatives were outraged, arguing that Crowley’s interruption spoiled a key Romney point. They weren’t the only ones. Even Politico’s Mike Allen called the Crowley point “arguable” and pointed to the transcript of Obama’s statement saying it “generally” referred to “acts of terror.” CNN’s John King called the Obama statement a “generic” comment about terror, not specifically calling the Libya attack a terrorist act.

Afterward, CNN’s post-debate analysis team focused heavily on that point and Crowley herself admitted Romney had been right “in the main.” She said Romney “picked the wrong way to go about talking about it.” She also emphasized that each point she made also generated applause from one half of the audience, then the other.

But Crowley also admitted she took her cue to intervene from Obama. She said Libya was where Romney “tripped himself up.” But she clearly helped. After Romney made his point she cut in. “The president kept looking at me, going you … and I thought, well, I did know that, I said, he, you, he did, call it an act of terror.” She then chastised Romney because “he picked that one wrong fact.”

The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis was understated, saying simply: “Candy Crowley seemed to side with Obama.” But The Washington Post blamed Romney’s reaction on conservative media.

“Romney came off as being shellshocked by the mere suggestion” that he was wrong, wrote Erik Wemple. He continued his attack blaming the right. “Romney revealed that perhaps he’d spent some time inside a coverage bubble on the Benghazi story. In the words of one onlooker, he “[c]onfused conservative spin for the truth.”

However, the actual presidential transcript make it clear that Obama was doing his best to include the word “terror” without actually saying the incident was a terror attack. After mentioning 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan, the president said: “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” Then he moved on to the Libya attack.

That one moment defined the debate. Crowley, who had come under criticism from both sides prior to the debate, also cut off Romney when he was making a point about the president’s "Fast and Furious" gun scandal. And, as in the other two debates, the moderators let the Democratic candidate dominate the clock. This time, according to CNN’s own tally Obama won 44 minutes and 4 seconds to a mere 40 minutes and 50 seconds for Romney.

Dan Gainor is the Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.