What a difference a week makes. In the first presidential debate, President Obama let Mitt Romney’s attacks on him stand, and seemed disengaged. Vice President Joe Biden stayed in Rep. Paul Ryan’s face for the entirety of Thursday’s vice presidential debate.
During an election year dominated by concerns about our economy, policymakers and voters easily draw connections between domestic issues, such as education, Medicare, or tax policies, and the health of our economy. But so far public discourse hasn’t connected the dots between immigration policies and the economy.
Politics watchers are understandably fixated on the polls after the first presidential debate and the difficulty of measuring the size of Mitt Romney’s bounce. Romney clearly made gains, but the polls disagree on how big it was, and on whether the bounce has ended.
Does our presidential campaign lack a moral core? The question arises in the wake of last week’s presidential debate. However you analyze it in electoral terms, the exchange between President Obama and Mitt Romney was most striking as a festival of technocratic mush — dueling studies mashed in with competing statistics.
If we elected the president by popular vote, we would have heard some different spin going into the debates. With the presidential election looking closer in the national polls than it does in the swing states, the pressure on Mitt Romney from his party and the pundits alike would have been rather less demanding.
What happens when a politician, a professor, a judge and a historian appear together on the same stage? It’s hard to say. And that pretty much sums up Tuesday's discussion under the banner “Election 2012 and the Future of Health Care.”