The second presidential debate just ended and here are my impressions.
Obama wanted to perform substantially better in this debate, having performed poorly in the first. He accomplished that, and it was obvious he had taken the bitter lessons of the first debate to heart. The split screen showed him striking a confident posture, a slight smile on his lips, as if he were posing for the camera. Taking a page from Joe Biden's debate, he attempted to interrupt Romney on occasion, to talk over him, to shut him up. Romney would not allow it.
Neither candidate said anything substantially different. Obama's prescription for everything seems to be governmental force. Here are the major recommendations that Obama made vs. Romney:
(1) Tax the rich more than they are taxed now. This is a really dumb idea as it will shrink the tax base, resulting in less tax revenues not more. Lower rates would grow the base and increase tax revenues, which is Romney's strategy, one that has worked well for previous administrations (namely, Kennedy and Reagan).
(2) Punish companies who outsource jobs overseas by denying them tax deductions for the related expenses. This is a really dumb idea, because the outsourcing may be a survival mechanism for overtaxed, overly unionized companies who would otherwise go broke -- and thereby cause all of their American jobs and tax payments to disappear. It is analogous to a farmer shooting his cow because the farmer wants more milk. Romney's plan would be to structure taxes and reduce regulations in such a way as to make it financially feasible to keep jobs in the US rather than outsource them. Obama's solution is governmental force, Romney's is to grow the economy by providing a more business-friendly environment.
(3) On energy policy, pretend to support fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal, even after having done much to discourage their use and availability, while touting imaginary sources like wind and solar, two modes that have yet to prove practical beyond a modest contribution to our energy needs. Romney promised to exploit our enormous energy resources in oil, natural gas and coal -- to provide available, cheaper energy in the here and now rather than the largely fictional renewable sources that Obama touts.
Overall summary: Romney scored on attacking Obama's miserable record of failure over the past four years. On style and presentation, both candidates did well. On substance, Romney destroyed Obama.
Will this debate move the needle for Obama? I doubt it. Expect the Romney momentum to continue.