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Filler: On health care, Barack Obama has the points, but can't score

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney laugh during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver. (Oct. 3, 2012) Credit: AP

This entire debate was so specialized and in the weeds by 8:45 that normal people had already returned to playing Words With Friends even before the talk turned to government regulation.


Romney says banks shouldn't be too big to fail. That seems new, I think. Obama thinks the same, only more so, but he's the president, and we have banks on his watch that are way too big to fail.

Again, it's very flippy, this debate. They seem to be adopting each others' positions on this issue.

We are back to Obamacare.

Obama started this debate looking aloof and arrogant and geeky, but seems to have gotten more engaged as it went on.

Romney has generally been smooth and literate, if not specific. I'm not sure all of what he says makes sense but he's saying it well.

What strikes me about Obama defending Obamacare is always this: Even he doesn't think it's a good plan. He's likely supported single-payer for 20 years, and that would be a more honest system. He didn't think he could pass single-payer (and it was Hillary Clinton's thing) so he went with this, but I honestly never feel his heart is in it. he knows it's pointlessly complex and goofy.

I cannot believe it took a full hour for Obama to invoke Romneycare and Massachusetts, but he's done it now. Let's see how Romney responds.

This is one of Romney's weakest arguing points, because he made the point years ago that the entire country should look to Romneycare. If health care were a states-rights issue, we wouldn't have Medicare and Medicaid. This whole line of reasoning is just so disingenuous.

Both of these guys are terrible at looking normal when they're not speaking, tonight. They need classes in feigning respectful interest.

Romney is now going to argue for a plan that provides all of the benefits of Obamacare, without mandating people buy insurance. Which is not something he ever claimed was possible when he was imposing his plan.

And he's arguing against a board that decides what treatments will and won't be paid for, a topic on which he's just wrong.

How can we afford an infinite commitment to any and all treatments for all people, whether they're effective or not?

Obama has all the points on his side in this argument, but he really seems off his game. Stiff, stuttery, slow to react. This is where he should be scoring serious points, and he's not, or at least not as much as he should.

"What we did on Massachusetts in health care is a model for the nation, state by state."

What in the Lord's name does that mean, Mr. Romney?