How Barack Obama threaded the town hall needle and got America to be outraged at Mitt Romney

The return of the Romney Stench

I was a little concerned going into last night’s presidential debate. Not because I was worried that the President Obama that I know and trust wouldn’t show up. I was confident about that. I was concerned that the town hall debate format wouldn’t allow him to be as effective as he needed to be at pushing back against Mitt Romney’s incessant lying. We all wanted him to, and I predicted that he would, go on the attack much in the same way Vice President Biden did against Paul Ryan last week. But town hall debates are notorious for penalizing aggressive, attack-style approaches. Just ask Al Gore or George H. W. Bush about that.

I needn’t have worried. Just like Joe Biden invented a new way to debate liars last week, President Obama figured out a way to go on the attack in a way that seemed compassionate and strong at the same time without coming across as too aggressive. How did he do this? By being angry, and helping the audience to be angry, that his opponent wasn’t compassionate.

He did it when it comes to tax fairness.

He did it with regard to the rescue of our domestic vehicle manufacturers.

He did it when it comes to immigration.

He did it with regard to China.

He most certainly did it with regard to the War on Women. And when Mitt Romney was tripping all over himself, talking about his “binders full of women”, President Obama deftly got out of the way and let him fall flat on his face.

[By the way, that whole "I wanted more women in my administration so I asked for suggestions and got 'binders full of women'" bit? That's utter bullshit (i.e., a lie.)]

But, probably the most profound example was when Mitt Romney, once again and in shameless form, used the attacks on our embassies and the murder of our embassy officials and diplomats, to score political points. President Obama was having none of it and he brought us along with him in his righteous anger:

Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I’m the president and I’m always responsible, and that’s why nobody’s more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.

The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.

This was a withering body blow to Mitt Romney and, yet, the President didn’t come across as attacking him. He came across as righteously pissed at Mitt Romney and he helped us be angry about it, too. Anger directed squarely at Mitt Romney.

And he made us angry at Mitt Romney that he wants to cut the taxes of the wealthy when they aren’t even asking for it.

He made us angry at Mitt Romney that he would have let our car companies go bankrupt without a plan in place to save them.

He made us angry at Mitt Romney that the Republicans are all talk but no action on immigration reform, even when President Obama reached out to them with his own ideas (and Romney accused him of doing “nothing”.)

He made us angry that Mitt Romney has invested in his money in China and in companies that are pioneers in outsourcing jobs to China.

And, finally, he made us angry that Mitt Romney doesn’t give a damn if his sons are paid more than your daughters for the same exact work and that Mitt Romney thinks of women as objects that can be collected in binders.

And, finally, let’s not forget the President’s closing remarks where he reminded us, once again, that Mitt Romney thinks nearly half of America are moochers who won’t take responsibility for themselves.

I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.

Folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives. Veterans who’ve sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income.

And I want to fight for them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds.

When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a G.I. Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn’t a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That’s why I’m asking for your vote and that’s why I’m asking for another four years.

What Barack Obama did last night was no easy feat. He took a debate format that does not forgive attack-style debating and used it make us righteously pissed at Mitt Romney.

And rightfully so.

He’s back in it, folks. Fasten your seatbelts, this is going to be a wild ride.

P.S. It became hilariously obvious last night that conservatives knew that their candidate had lost serious ground when my Twitter feed exploded with moronic claims that President Obama didn’t actually call the embassy attacks acts of terrorism. He did. Here’s his Rose Garden statement the day after they happened:

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. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.

According to the low-intelligence idiots that responded to me on Twitter, this is somehow not a declaration that it was a terrorist attack. It’s a testament to how effective President Obama was that he got Romney supporters to stoop that low and reach that far for something — anything — to attack HIM about.

[Graphics by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]

  • http://twitter.com/GeekHillbilly Geek Hillbilly

    Great article.I watched the entire debate and saw those moments mentioned.Romney looked like the fool that he is and President Obama give the much needed ass kicking that the Romneybot deserved.
    Don’t cross brains with Obama.He’ll cut you to pieces every time

  • Freddie

    The “binders of women” was only the tip of the iceberg of Romney’s misogynistic remarks. Don’t forget, the women who work for him need to get home early so they can cook dinner and also single mothers are sole-handedly exclusive for the problem of gun violence in this country and that could be solved if they either got married or thought about what they were doing for once before having all those babies.

    • Freddie

      Or sole-handedly responsible, even. Ugh, he made me so mad I can’t even type straight.

  • deshaml

    “And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of
    State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or
    mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s
    not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do
    as Commander in Chief.”

    That’s where President Obama won the debate, and the election.

    • respiratotyman

      the best part is when he said proceed govermnor with a slight smile

  • 57andFemale

    The ‘act of terror’ b.s. is the same as a “certificate of live birth’ is not the same as a ‘birth certificate’. Pathetic.

    • PlT

      Only if one is unable to read. It amazes me that “you people” hear three words, and you have such an insatiable need to make it into a fact-bending reality, alternative universe moment. It’s actually kind of sad.

  • http://nomadicpolitics.blogspot.com/ Nomad

    Great article. When it came to Libya, Mitt ,once again, got caught up in the false narrative (ok, lies) that the wingnuts have promoted about the attack. The president’s response- unlike Romney’s- was careful. He didn’t yet have all the facts and we have seen what happens when a president doesn’t act with restraint and speaks without all of the information. What he said in the rose garden was clear enough especially in light of the hysterical overreaction and the way the tragedy was used as a political football.

    Speaking of hysteria, in most online news sites, you hear how the ambassador was dragged through the streets and killed. This is not accurate, as far as I can see. Video footage seems to show him being carried out, having succumbed to asphyxiation . That is not my definition of “dragging.” But the use of the word does remind the American public of Somalia and the brutality shown to American soldiers there.

    One online news source actually quoted a Lebanese newspaper as saying the ambassador was raped during the attack. Absolutely no evidence to support the charge at all. The level of disrespect to the victims and to their families was shameful I think.

    The reaction in the media to the incident was a disgrace all around. Romney’s behavior was also distasteful. Having made a promise to desist from using the Muslim riots as a talking point on the anniversary of 9/11, released a press statement around ten in the evening and asked reporters not to make it public until after midnight. Trusting that they would. (If they hadn’t he would not have been responsible, of course.) Romney’s entire Benghazi reaction sheds a great deal of light on the man’s character and how he would mishandle things as a president.

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      Great comment. Thanks so much.

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  • respiratoryman

    if there is ever a next time that an embassy is attacked the president will have to preface his statement for the republicans saying republicans hear me this was an act of terror ..he or she will need to ddo trhat because apparently republiscums are to stupid to connect the dots

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