Did you feel the earth shake Tuesday night? That wasn’t a temblor in southern Maine; that was the Etch A Sketch working overtime as Mitt Romney prepared for last night’s debate. “I’m not going to cut taxes for wealthy people,” he said. “Everyone in America should have access to contraception. ... Our party has been focused on big business for too long.” As Bill Clinton said so memorably, that takes brass.
Still, after 90 minutes of animated, not to say aggressive, policy discussion, few voters watching last night would confuse Romney and President Obama. Despite Romney’s recent pirouette to the center, the two candidates are profoundly different in their beliefs and visions for the future of America, and that came across in sharp relief.
Romney puts his faith in markets at home and in machismo abroad: rattling the sabre at Iran and China, and discarding a half-century of social progress with a reckless shredding of the safety net. He was most animated, and persuasive, when he sold his pitch about lifting the yoke of government from business and letting free markets reign. “I know what it takes to bring jobs back,” he said repeatedly.
Obama, by contrast, believes in a communal approach, painstakingly building coalitions of allies abroad and promoting a shared social compact at home. He was most passionate answering the very last question, when he drew a bright line between his own more inclusive approach and Romney’s dismissive attitude about the 47 percent, saying with conviction, “That’s not who we are.”
Both men tried to appeal to suburban women, many of whom are worried about pocketbook issues as much as they are about more abstract “rights.” But Romney’s budget plan would slash things these same women care about: education, health care, libraries, and — yes — Sesame Street. Romney interrupted the president to proclaim “government does not create jobs!” Tell that to the thousands of teachers, school nurses, and policemen who work, not for the government, but for us.
Rene Loth is a columnist for The Boston Globe.MORE IN Election Letters
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 410 CE, Visigoths sack Rome and it isn't the first time, either; in 1859, Titusville, Pa., the first commercially viable oil well comes in; in 1918, the only World War I battle fought on U.S. soil in Nogales, Ariz.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Archaelogists uncover artifacts proving that late neolithic Egyptians, pre-dating the Pyramids of Giza, practiced mummification to prepare their dead for the afterlife, far earlier than presupposed.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE:Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing that pollute ground water and the air we breathe come under scrutiny by researchers who find at least eight fracking chemicals toxic to mammals.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: The craze for Omega-3 fatty acids as a dietary supplement in its most popular form, fish oil, has led to depletion of fish stocks in oceans throughout the world. Is this the beginning of the total collapse of global fisheries?
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Suspects arrested in Killington bear death, Bryanna Allen and Kevin O'Connor report along the Back to School front, Rutland Plywood site remains an active fire scene as debris continues to smolder.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Forests around Chernobyl, even though dead from massive irradiation after nuclear accident 30 years ago, still have not even begun to decompose, natural balance disrupted at microbial level.