In the first debate, Obama let Romney have the last word in almost every exchange. Not so last night, as Obama challenged just about every one of Romney's distortions and lies, with zest, power, and style. A signal moment came when Romney tried to badger the President to admit that he and his administration took 14 days to recognize that the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi which killed our ambassador was a terrorist attack. Romney brazenly challenged the President on his statement that he mentioned terrorism the day after the attack. Obama coolly let Romney finish his rant, then calmly let moderator Candy Crowley school Romney on his error - Obama had in fact mentioned terrorism in a Rose Garden statement the very day after the attack. This was also an honorable, admirable moment for Crowley - it couldn't have been easy for her to correct Romney, and the American people owe her a debt of gratitude.
Obama's mention of terrorism was not the only aspect of foreign policy in which he schooled Romney before the American people last night. Obama took the discussion of the Libyan attack as an opportunity to show how foreign policy should be conducted during an election - not as an occasion to make political points, as Romney and the Republicans sought and are still seeking to do, but as a time to stand up for our people in the field.
Romney tried again and again last night to dominate the discussion with his deceptions and distortions. And again and again, Obama stopped him cold. When Romney appealed to moderator Crowley, she schooled him on what was his proper time to speak during the debate. In the first debate, Romney walked all over moderator Jim Lehrer, as Obama just looked on. Last night, Crowley as well as the President stood up to Romney's bullying. You could see and hear the result, as Romney's started whining about his time to speak, and as he reverted to Romney-speak with his talk about "binders full of women".
So now we have a split in the Presidential debate results, with one more to go. Obama has now done a good job highlighting the differences between him and Romney of most domestic issues, including health care, women's rights, immigration, and the economy. The exchanges on Libya last night promise a good third and final debate this coming Monday as Obama and Romney discuss foreign policy.
See also On Last Night's Obama Disappointment in the First Presidential Debate and On Last Night's Biden Success in the VP Debate