The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 7, 2012

Your View: American electorate deserved a better debate

Mark Friedman, Mankato

— Some disappointed, disjointed day-after the debate observations:  President Obama politely declined to bring up the revealing “47 Percent” video where Mitt Romney callously declared his contempt for nearly half the country. But Romney didn’t ignore it. With folksy tales of his contacts with regular people and suddenly revised positions he made it his central goal to present a new moderate image. And Obama let him get away with it.

Romney has previously said he accepts climate science, but Wednesday he promised to disregard it if elected. Obama not only let Romney get away with it, but made no effort to defend his own meager attempts to address climate change.

Romney emphasized our growing deficits but made no mention that the largest contributor is rising health care costs. Rather he attacked one of the few provisions of Obamacare that addresses costs, the board set up to oversee research on treatment effectiveness. (It has no power to mandate or prohibit treatments). The attack is a new variant of the “death panels” absurdity. Obama at least countered that, although not as effectively as he should have.

In the end we had a debate that ignored the great questions facing the electorate — rising inequality with stagnant middle incomes, stubborn unemployment, and climate change happening faster than originally estimated. Our health-care system remains inaccessible to many and a drag on economic recovery, but to the extent its problems were addressed they were dealt with dishonestly.

The American electorate deserves better than what it got Wednesday night.