How Obama Lost

The 47 Percent, Offense, and Defense

Why Obama should have let Romney apologize to the 47 percent at the debate.

So Romney last night on Hannity apologized for his 47 percent remarks:

“Well, clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you’re going to say something that doesn’t come out right,” Romney said. “In this case, I said something that’s just completely wrong.”

Well, that's very nice. But that sure didn't sound like a guy misspeaking. He knew exactly what he was saying and, unlike most Romneyan utterances, he sounded like he really meant it.

I whacked the Potus for not mentioning the 47 percent Wednesday night. I see now some folks are defending this by saying in essence that Romney had this apology prepared and ready to go, so why should Obama have handed Romney this chance to appear decent and compassionate in front of 50 million people?

Okay, reasonable point, but here's my rebuttal: That's fine if you're just playing defense, if that's your mentality. But if your mentality is to play offense, you then think: Fine. Let him say what he's going to say, and then let's for our part craft a devastating rejoinder based on the assumption he's going to issue a treacly apology that really lays bare the phoniness.

Then, you win big. You have the line of the night, and you keep the 47 percent alive as an issue, and it becomes clear to everyone that Romney's big moment backfired on him. That's riskier, but hey, risk/reward. A guy who's the president of the United States ought to be able to manage that.

It just proves again that Obama wasn't really trying to win the debate. He was just trying not to lose it, and that's how he lost it.

Meanwhile, the fact that Hannity let Romney haul out his violin on this point shows that the wingers are now fully prepared to give Mittens some leash and let him say whatever it is he thinks he needs to say to win. That, as I wrote yesterday, is the truly important point about the debate, and it's the Democrats' basic job until Nov. 6 to counter it.