Debra J. Saunders
My theory as to why President Barack Obama fell flat during the first debate: He looked at the crowd and the cameras and thought:

"I've been saying this stuff for five years, and I don't believe myself anymore. I don't have a strong plan to jump-start the moribund economy. Come on, everyone knows that presidents aren't responsible for private-sector job creation. I don't really want to cut the deficit. This isn't fun anymore."

In the second presidential debate with Mitt Romney on Tuesday night, Obama brought more energy, but he couldn't rustle up a stronger economy, and he couldn't give much hope to his erstwhile fans. Undecided voter Michael Jones, for example, told the president he voted for him in 2008 but no longer felt optimistic about four more years under this administration.

Obama's policies haven't delivered as promised. The president keeps talking up "energy of the future," and he says that he wants more oil, natural gas and renewable fuels, but he stopped the Keystone XL pipeline, bankrolled the failed Solyndra solar venture and appointed an energy secretary who doesn't even try to lower prices at the pump.

"I know what it takes to make an economy work," Romney pressed. Obama means well, but his policies hurt job creation.

The president promised voters that his health care program would save families $2,500 per year. Problem: Premiums are almost $2,000 higher than they were when Obama signed the Affordable Care Act.

And, Romney argued, small-business owners tell him the Obamacare mandates keep them from hiring new workers.

Romney hit Obama hard on the president's failure to deliver on his promise to push for a comprehensive immigration bill in his first year in office. In fact, Obama did not push for said legislation during his first two years in office, when Democrats controlled the House and Senate. (Congress didn't vote on an immigration bill until the Republicans retook the House.)

It would have been nice if moderator Candy Crowley had corrected the president when he claimed otherwise.

Crowley did correct Romney when he said the president did not attribute the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, this year to terrorism. Obama countered that he mentioned terrorism during remarks he made in the Rose Garden the following day. (Actually, 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." Obama also suggested that efforts to "denigrate" Islam had a role in the attack -- the phony video scenario.)

The real problem for Romney in that exchange, however, was that he seemed too opportunistic about the violent assault that left Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.

Obama hit Romney for putting out a critical press release during anti-American demonstrations. Romney hit back by observing that hours after the president's Rose Garden remarks, Obama flew to Las Vegas for a fundraiser.

It was not a high note for America.


Debra J. Saunders


 
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