Despite what the headline writer at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette might seem to indicate, polls of undecided voters and comment from all but the blindest Republican partisans indicate that President Barack Obama won Tuesday's night presidential debate. The margin was not as decisive as Mitt Romney's triumph in Round One but it was a triumph all the same.
Debate odds and ends:
Another complication is that it is possible — although by no means guaranteed — that there will be some reversion to the mean because of the first presidential debate, meaning that Mr. Obama will benefit from memories of Denver fading as much as any new ones that were forged in New York.
But if you want my best guess: Throughout this election cycle, you would have done very well by predicting that the polls would eventually settle in at an overall lead for Mr. Obama of about two percentage points. Whenever his lead has been larger than that, it has come back to earth. But Mr. Obama has also rebounded at moments when the polls seemed to suggest an even closer race.
* WHICH ROMNEY DO YOU BELIEVE?: Mitt Romney tried again last night, as the president pasted him on women's issues, notably Romney's failure to endorse the Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, to paint himself as a moderate on contraception. He's all for it, as long as women's insurance doesn't pay for it. With the anti-abortion Republican base demanding utter devotion to its no-abortion, no-birth control dictates, Romney is now trying to disinegenuously identify himself in advertising as somewhat moderate on the issue, even as his campaign is assuring the radicals that he's with them.
* ROMNEY: WRONG ON BENGHAZI: Republican apologists, unbelievably, are trying to defend Romney's meltdown on the question of what the president said the day after the attack on the Libyan
consulate mission in Benghazi. In Fox Land, plain language doesn't mean what it says. Romney was simply and completely wrong about what the president said in the Rose Garden, whatever continuing confusion existed about the nature of the attack. The president's words:
‘‘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. ... We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.’’
* WOMEN IN BINDERS: Romney's remark about women "in binders," a reference to his supposed effort to recruit women for jobs in Massachusetts when he was governor was another Romney lie. The Boston Phoenix explains:
What actually happened was that in 2002 — prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration — a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.
I have written about this before, in various contexts; tonight I've checked with several people directly involved in the MassGAP effort who confirm that this history as I've just presented it is correct — and that Romney's claim tonight, that he asked for such a study, is false.
I will write more about this later, but for tonight let me just make a few quick additional points. First of all, according to MassGAP and MWPC, Romney did appoint 14 women out of his first 33 senior-level appointments, which is a reasonably impressive 42 percent. However, as I have reported before, those were almost all to head departments and agencies that he didn't care about — and in some cases, that he quite specifically wanted to not really do anything. None of the senior positions Romney cared about — budget, business development, etc. — went to women.
Secondly, a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office.)
Third, note that in Romney's story as he tells it, this man who had led and consulted for businesses for 25 years didn't know any qualified women, or know where to find any qualified women. So what does that say?