Better debate than I’d expected, — more lively, more factual, more interesting, and more respectful. But something important was missing: America’s $16 trillion national debt wasn’t discussed as “grave danger” or “looming threat.” Why not? It was referenced, but not focused on. Not explained in detail. Romney did reference the President’s continual $1 trillion deficits — but there was no sense of urgency, no sense of impending catastrophe coming, no clarity about possible coming implosion of the American economy and the financial status of the middle class. Neither candidate mentioned the “fiscal cliff” the U.S. is heading to early next year. We’re facing the biggest tax increase in the history of the country. We’re facing automatic budget cuts on such a massive scale that the military, for example, will be gutted.

  • CNN commentators are calling President’s performance “flat” and “listless.” James Carville said on CNN “it looked like Romney wanted to be there and President Obama didn’t want to be there….It gave you the impression that this whole thing was a lot of trouble.” He added that “Romney had a good night.”
  • MSNBC commentators are apoplectic about President’s lifeless performance. “What was Mitt Romney doing tonight?” asked Chris Matthews. “Winning!”
  • Andrew Sullivan blogged, “This was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach, and his effete, wonkish lectures may have jolted a lot of independents into giving Romney a second look….Obama looked tired, even bored; he kept looking down; he had no crisp statements of passion or argument; he wasn’t there. He was entirely defensive, which may have been the strategy. But it was the wrong strategy. At the wrong moment….[Obama] choked. He lost. He may even have lost the election tonight.”

Maybe yes, maybe no. Liberals seem distraught. Conservatives seem excited tonight. But neither the President nor Governor Romney communicated clearly and compellingly the magnitude of danger America is in if we don’t get our fiscal house in order urgently. Danger ahead.

UPDATE: Mideast crisis mentioned late in the debate (10:26pm eastern). Israel never directly mentioned. Iran nuclear threat never directly mentioned.

>> Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time?

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