Right after the debate, on Fox News, Megyn Kelly’s hand was cupped like an eagle’s talons as she rhetorically pushed back against Laura Ingraham’s downplaying of Trump’s 2005 video. Kelly was referring to Trumps comments about grabbing women, and she was being uncomfortably explicit with her quick but unmistakable gesture, even as her words were as crisp as a prosecuting attorney, gliding in for the kill. Sitting next to her, her co-host Brett Baier seemed a touch surprised at the gesture.

Megyn Kelly made her point. Clearly.

What does a conservative woman do right now? And in November? As Hillary’s campaign team run ads featuring long-time Republican voters who will not be voting for Trump and who – on balance – feel Hillary Clinton is a more reliable choice to be President of the United States, the choices are all sub-optimal if you are a conservative woman. Perhaps a working mother who worries about her daughter’s future. Of course, many conservatives – regardless of gender – feel that their choices are sub-optimal. Do not vote. Vote for Hillary. Vote for Gary Johnson.

But maybe Trump’s crassness is not the most important issue. Writing in the Federalist, Margot Anderson – in sharp contrast to others like her colleague Lumma Simms who insists it is conservative women’s moral obligation to oppose Trump – suggests that it is Hillary’s whole hearted support of abortion that is the much greater moral outrage. If we can be offended to a raging lather by the incivility of Trump, where is the public anger – beyond those who have continually fought to protect and preserve life – at abortion rights? It is the triumph of identity politics over the politics of life.

This is a fundamental debate and neither side can be taken with anything but serious attention and respect. That is why the terrible crime of rape is one where many of those who support pro-life policies, make an agonized exception. One side of this debate, like Simms, would say that is the lack of values – the moral dissolution to put in archaic but still valid language – is what leads to incivility. And can lead to rape. The other side says that the worst crime is that which is committed against the most defenseless, while acknowledging the profound evil of rape.

Of course conservative women have this debate in a world where rape is reduced to the social components of male power. Rather than seen purely as an evil springing from a lack of values, it is a reflection of the power structures in the world. And this view embraces a wide range of offenses: from violent assault on women to someone mansplaining his way to a micro-aggression. All white males are rapists, the radicals furiously chant. Reducing what should be an exceptional and terrible crime to a politically correct absurdity. And breeding false accusations in places like college campuses. Where real rape is a real problem.

One is a fifth or sixth generation version of marxist liberation theory. One is a condemnation of incivility that borders on inquisitional fervor. One is an acceptance of some of the sexist banter, of some males, in order to focus on abortion. These are three separate universes, and two of them are possessed by conservative women. We are divided. All of us. Even if it was Trump that said that.

As the left, from Vox to Politico and from CNN to MSNBC, delight at what they see as Trump’s poor first debate performance, here’s an idea that Donald Trump could use to boost his next performance. Show that the presidency of the United States of America matters more to you than your brand.

Because that’s a problem. Not that it is only Donald Trump that has corporate interests that could conflict with his role as the next president of America. The Clinton Foundation mixes money and politics in a shamelessly seamless way. There is nothing shamed or seamed about Bill and Hillary Clinton. But it’s all beltway stuff with the Clintons. Some of it was paid for directly by the U.S. taxpayer, when Hillary received her salary as Senator and then Secretary of State, for example. Some of it was paid by book sales. Much of it was paid for by speaking fees, especially Bill Clinton, but Hillary as well. All of it was directly related to politics. Building their wealth by leveraging their political power in all sorts of ways as they rose through the state and federal political structure of America was the Clinton’s daily bread.

Trump, on the other hand, has been a developer-turned-media-marketing-mogul. He built his brand the old-fashioned way, through bankruptcy and real estate bubbles and busts. And he survived and prospered – exactly by how much he prospered remains to be seen of course. And through it all, the one constant was building and rebuilding his brand.

When he decided to enter politics, Trump had a choice. He could finance and support an existing politician whose views and policies he found engaging. Or he could enter himself. He did and despite the amused predictions of a colorful collapse, he survived. And he did more than survive. He won. He is now 2 debates and a slender few (at this point) percentage points from winning the White House.

Did he really think he’d get this far? It has been suggested that he did not. But the energy and gusto with which he has taken on one challenge after another – whatever antipathy his methods have provoked in both parties – suggests he was in it to win from the start. And whether he really thought he could win it all in the June of 2015 has long been a moot point. Because he really could win it all now.

To do that he needs to let go of his brand. Not his past. His brand. Yes, he needs to effectively point out how he understands job creation from the inside of a business. And not from a policy brief in an office in the White House or on the Hill. But he can never let Hillary bait him so easily by disparaging his brand and questioning how he built it. He has to work past that, if he can.

Is he narcissistic? Pretty clearly, yes he can be. Perhaps he needs to be just a touch more of a sociopath. Able to disconnect and reconnect with whatever emotion is handy at any given moment. And do it on a dime, like Bill Clinton noticing the video camera at Ron Brown’s funeral, and switching from a chuckle to shedding tears at the drop of a hat. Now that’s impressive.

But more than anything, if Trump can keep his brand at an emotional arms length, he might find it easier to avoid the traps that Hillary’s team meticulously laid for him at the Hofstra debate.

While the GOP debates can be a chore to watch, tonight’s debate really exposed Donald Trump for what he truly is. Despite his limited exposure, Governor John Kasich excelled tonight among the endless tit for tat between Trump, Rubio and Cruz.

Conservatively, Kasich is a favorite, however for voters there’s a lack of confidence for him in an election so Trump continues to get the majority of votes. Our country deserves better than what we’re seeing on tv from debates and interviews on both sides.

Kasich is a quality candidate who would make a great leader of this country. Foreshadowing from these debates, it’s possible Kasich gets the VP title on a Trump card. how much would that help, and does it even slightly make Trump look any better?

 

They are seething, frustrated, and furious – and tired of people disrespecting them. Yes, conservative pundits are an angry lot these strange days of 2016. And boy do they have some advice for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Drop your gloves. Or your bat. Sprint to the pitcher’s mound. And start swinging. And don’t stop still he’s on his knees.

And the pundits don’t mean swinging at each other – that’s what’s got them so frustrated. They mean swinging hard at you-know-who. They mean the fear that attacks on The Donald boomerang back and sink the attacker, has to be abandoned at this crucial stage of the nomination. Come senators, PACS, and pundits all, the times have a changed and we will take Trump down.

Are they right? Is the only way to defeat Donald Trump to take him on on his own terms? Or is this the desperate last throes of the establishment kicking and lashing out at everyone who does not buy their orthodoxy of what conservatism means in 2016 and what voters (should) want?

There are at least two other scenarios aside from this binary hit-him-and-win vs. hit-him-and-he-sinks-you options. Let Trump win the nomination and reel him in bit by bit by convincing him how vital the RNC and the Republican Party are to his electoral success as Reince Priebus has suggested. Some may buy this, others laugh. But it is not an impossible outcome, although it’s also possible that Trump reels the RNC in, or what’s left of it after the convention.

Another possible outcome is that it doesn’t matter whether you attack Trump. He loves hitting back if you do, and he’ll win whether you attack him, or whether you play the waiting game. As in waiting for Carson, Kasich, and either Marco or Ted, to quit. If Ted Cruz supporters are just as likely to go to Trump as to Rubio, this strategy may reward patience with resounding failure in Rubio’s case; and he’s tanking vs Trump in his home state by the way.

So we have a punditry furious that after 8 years of Obama’s administration, the chance to right the nation’s course according to fiscal conservatism, (fairly) hawkish foreign policy, and open trade is being sucked away from them by someone they simply don’t like. And even if they did, anyone as unexpectedly successful as Trump has been is bound to draw hostility.

So in the Texas CNN debate, Cruz and Rubio will have to decide whether they will take up the gauntlet that the punditry has angrily tossed at their feet in the hopes they will unsheathe their rhetoric and go for the throat, and elsewhere, against Trump. There will be countless commentators waiting for the smell of blood on that stage, and glad to play forensics in the days to follow. And then the voters will speak.

Something seemed to be missing at the GOP debate in Iowa: anger. Anger that any given candidates views were being misrepresented by moderators or competitors, and gumming up all that laser-focused ambition that is the fuel of anyone who makes it to this stage of a campaign. Even if quite a few more have made it this far than is normally the case.

Bush was more relaxed. Rand Paul was more relaxed. Everyone on the main stage was more relaxed. Ben Carson has been relaxed for a while now. So relaxed that his once-wonderful run is now closer to the end than many thought it would have been a few short months ago.

Even Ted Cruz was not quite the flamethrower he usually tends to be. On the debate stage and in the halls of Congress. Is New Hampshire to blame? Is that who candidates were really talking to?

Or did people know about the Rasmussen poll that was released on Friday? Had rumors filtered into their campaign teams? That What’s-his-Face was still riding high with GOP voters despite his no-show? Perhaps riding high is not an appropriate turn of phrase. Perhaps inevitability is. Just about three quarters of GOP voters seem to see Trump’s nomination as inevitable. Or at least very likely.

If it was up to the usual caucus goer – or the usual GOP primary voter – this would be a very different story. But reasoned arguments – such as those heard in Iowa – do not resonate with angry voters. Especially when candidates try and appropriate their anger after flip-flopping, like Rubio on immigration. Who at the same time still tried (had to perhaps under Kelly’s questioning) justify why he co-sponsored the amnesty bill in the Senate. You almost felt that Marco and Jeb are starting to like each other again as they go back and forth on the issue.

Cute, but not much for a Trump supporter to identify with. So, the question is, will they turn out? Are a wave of former non-participants in the primary process as mad as they seem to be, and will they take action by actually participating? Trump’s team seems convinced of this. And the Rasmussen poll seems to give them the reason to be so convinced. Or at least to suggest that most GOP voters think Trump supporters will swamp the results. And that is one way of defining inevitable.

As the media digests the Trump-no-show story, a more deadly game is being played out in Oregon. One which goes back a generation or so, or about a century if you want to be fussy. A wildlife refuge created by Teddy Roosevelt – the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge – is now the site of the death of a protester. Or crazed militia member if you feel ranchers and gun owners are scary people.

The Bureau of Land Management is at the center of this fight. Two of its local senior officials – a husband and wife team – seem to have a vindictive crusade against the Hammond family, around whose ranch and grazing rights this conflict evolved.

It’s interesting to note that the BLM was formed in 1946 by merging the General Land Office, and the Grazing Service. The BLM holds a quarter billion acres in Western states (including Alaska) and grazing rights of rancher’s cattle are a key element of what it was set up to do. But when you have a Federal Wildlife Reserve, then you also involve the US Fish & Wildlife Services, charged with protecting habitats of selected species.

Clearly, local BLM and FWS officials have wanted ranchers out of the area surrounding the Malheur Wildlife Reserve for some time now. And they have used legitimate and apparently somewhat dubious means to achieve this goal. The Hammonds resisted selling their ranch, and their life has been a living hell ever since.

The specific reason for the protest, is two fires started by the Hammonds – one in 2001 and one in 2006 – to burn invasive species and then to back burn and stop a lightining strike fire. They thought they had the right to do so. The BLM and FWS have relentlessly used the two fires as legal weapons to put the senior Hammond and his son in jail – twice.

The second time was as a result of an appeal by the federal government when the courts handed out sentences under the minimum required by the Anti-Terrorism & Effective Death Penalty Act, the AEDPA, of 1996. This law, put together quickly under the auspices of Senator Bob Dole, was a response to the Oklahoma City bombings of the Alfred P Murrah federal building carried out by McVeigh and Nichols in 1995.

To charge a rancher doing burns he and his family believed were his right under an act meant for terrorists shows the level of legal violence the BLM and FWS are willing to stoop to. Did the Bundy’s help by their occupation? Perhaps not. Most certainly not, if you are family of the victim of the recent shootout.

Perhaps the Hammonds would have had more luck if instead of ranchers they had been oil men. There are over 63,000 oil and gas wells on BLM land and they are undoubtedly a spectacular source of revenue for the federal government. Perhaps some of that BLM oil money made its way to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Either way, the Hammonds have lost just about everything in their fight with the BLM and FWS. It is likely a matter of time before they finally have to sell their beloved ranch to pay for legal bills and debts they still owe. Mostly to the federal government.

The point isn’t whether you like ranchers or you are a bird-watching vegan. The point is the eminent domain – whether legally it is quite that or not – that the federal government through the BLM, has used to bludgeon the Hammonds into submission. The legal ramifications of their story needs to be remembered and studied. If one has any interest in controlling the reach of the federal government and it’s crushing power.

Why is it that when Governor Kasich starts speaking in the debates, one has an urge to head to the fridge and see if there are any snacks left over? He has a good legislative record – especially if you listen to Kasich – in both Washington and in his home state of Ohio. He’s a fiscal pragmatist who has helped balance federal budgets from key House committees, and has balanced state budgets as a sitting governor. His record on jobs is apparently quite good, even if a governor’s job is to let others – hopefully in the private sector – do the job creation without getting in their way.

So why is John Kasich so annoying? Could it be that his earnest anger comes off as whining? Incessant complaining that beats unbearably against one’s ears like the voice of a nagging parent? Perhaps his somewhat liberal social side is frustrated as a Republican. Especially as a Republican in 2016. And frustrated liberals can be very whiny.

Will he finally bow out? Soon? One assumes he knows his days are numbered. But Kasich really seems to have a need to vent, and what better place than in the race for the GOP nominee for president?

Ben Carson, does not whine. He makes the same joke about not getting enough time on the stage, and then in almost-too-painful-to-watch sotto voce style that was so compelling a few months ago, tries to show his grasp of foreign policy issues. Dr. Carson misses the point. It’s not what you have learned on the danger of an attack on the electrical grid, or a possible dirty bomb attack on the nation. It’s how you project both leadership and confidence.

A candidate’s understanding of the facts around any given issue, is just a starting point. You have to convince voters you are the candidate to lead the nation on any and all the relevant issues. Perhaps Carson’s problem is he is trying to overcome a perceived lack of experience in policy areas like terrorism. It may be that the good doctor should have followed his supporters’ advice and stayed true to his faith-based values in everything he says on the debate stage. And leave the quick command of the hard facts to candidates like Rubio and Cruz.

Because Ben Carson has slipped into a no man’s land of not being presidential like a Trump – like him or not – and not being effortlessly substantive the way Rubio and Cruz are. And Christie and Bush are, to be fair. So what course Carson plots will depend on a little soul searching. He should be careful how he exits this race. Ben Carson is a force for good – quite literally – and should not dilute that positive potential by hanging on for too long. Or by leaving suddenly and clumsily either. It’s a balancing act that matters more to him than to the other more politically experienced candidates.

With Trump’s generous lead in the GOP race, it seems that Trump is generally the the center of the debate surrounded by Crux, Rubio, Kasich and Carson scoring a few points here and there.

It was interestingly strange to observe Cruz and Rubio drop the gloves over who is the most anti-illegal immigration, when the most anti is standing beside the. And because these two are actually arguing over this, is a direct proof of the influence Trump has had over the GOP and adjustments in the face of the party.

Months ago, the fundamental GOP’s thought they could reel it in, and with the lead Trump has taken, and the ratings he’s pulling, the time has come to shape up or ship out.

He’s big and loud and makes outrageous comments but in the primetime debate he showed some substance, even while getting into a fierce scrap. Governor Christie really does have a grasp on issues like national security, and it is unavoidable that he would have a fight with Senator Paul. A fight which both went looking for. Could Christie have avoided making it so personal? Perhaps as a former US Attorney for New Jersey he feels entitled to go gunning for Paul, but that means that most will remember the scrap and not his command of the facts on entitlements, for example. And Rand himself with his bad hair seemed angry, defensive, and frazzled. As Trump suggested he did not have a good night.

Trump was Trump, but perhaps – despite his “I don’t have time to be politically correct” zinger – his lack of substantive detail to back up his statements started to show. It’s early days and there are several debates to go, but it will be interesting to see where his numbers are in a few months. Carson got precious little time – 38 minutes without a question from the moderators – and appeared a little nervous and tense in the beginning. But he finished strong and that just might help his numbers.

And while Rubio emerged as the darling of many observers – at least those who are not Democratic strategists – he seemed just a little too young and cute. But he had the best lines of the night and held his own against all those he faced, including his mentor Jeb Bush. Which leaves the question of how the former governor of Florida performed. He seemed a little more comfortable and fluid, but had no over-reaching moment that rose above the fray. Jeb Bush is like the college professor admired by his former students: even Trump called him a gentleman and seemed to mean it. Jeb is the only candidate in the GOP field who likely knows as many world leaders as Carly Fiorina. He’s statesmanlike, experienced, diplomatic and tough. He knows everyone who matters in the establishment – both Democrats and Republicans, both DC and Wall Street – and is smart in a low-key way. What a wonderful Secretary of State he would make with say, Carly Fiorina as his boss in the Oval Office.

Rachel Dolezal is not ridiculous, only deeply misunderstood. She, in fact, stands proudly at the cutting edge of ethnic identity and in the future we will see how limited our perspectives were. It does not matter that she was a blond teenager shyly smiling into the camera in the photograph being paraded unfairly across the media. Unfairly because right next to it is a photo of the real Rachel Dolezal, with curly deep auburn hair and confident eyes staring down the photographer. She is now a complete, rounded adult who has found her inner ethnic identity. It’s not a case of her lying about having actual African-American heritage, along with white and Native American. It’s about that disconnect between one’s inner core and assigned ethnic identity.

Transgender is of course, firmly placed in the mainstream of cultural consciousness. From Navy Seals to Olympians, they are here and they are proud. So why not Transethnics? Rachel Dolezal has always been black. She just did not realize it. And if she has to place fake hate mail packages and create suspect situations of racial harassment or even hate crimes that most likely had not have ever occurred, she points to a more profound truth: the emotional rather than the scientific. Just as rape is not defined by the evidence but by the social construct within which it might occur, so ethnic identity is not defined by one’s genes but rather one’s inner self, one’s chosen ethnic identity.

Rachel has come out of the closet and should be welcomed with applause and support. She needs to proudly state who she is and all she has done for race relations in Idaho and Spokane. And of course, she has a diverse and fascinating academic career ahead of her: Transethnic Studies. She gets to build on her current career as a part-time professor in Africana Studies in Eastern Washington University. That’s not a typo: Africana deals with the African diaspora as well as Africa itself, and now Rachel has through her own pioneering efforts uncovered the far greater diaspora: those around the globe who are black and don’t realize it. Perhaps some of those in the African-American community who have dedicated their lives to combating racism will disparage such a perspective; radical new ideas always meet resistance from entrenched bourgeoisie elites. Fear not professor Dolezal, you are the future.

First off, I am not keen on supporting a group that wants to have a 1880s era showdown with the federal government using shotguns and rifles. That’s both brave and stupid. There’s no deserted street in frontier towns anymore (although some paramilitary groups think there are). Courtrooms are the place for duels today.

That said, I do support cattle rancher Cliven Bundy’s desire to bring attention to his plight in Nevada, and perhaps the threat of violence was the only way to do it. His family had used the land for cattle grazing for over a hundred years and, frankly, it was scrub land no one wanted. Somehow he made it work, and only now had the federal government decided to pursue him actively. The Feds say Bundy owes $1 million. Bundy says $300,000, which he will gladly pay…to the state of Nevada. The Bundy clan claims the issue is state’s rights and the intrusion of the U.S. government, and they gathered family and friends to defend their property with all the firearms the 2nd Amendment allows.

Honestly, I don’t think guns or violence or even sovereignty are the issues. What I see in all this is the lack of oversight by the federal government, and the complete waste of our money in going after Mr. Bundy. I see incompetence bordering on epic.

For a century his family used the land without a word from Uncle Sam. After the Feds claimed some kind of sovereignty over the land, Bundy used it for another twenty years. THEN the government decided to round up his cattle, taking 400 head before backing down to prevent violence. I see this as a shining example of bureaucracy at it’s worst. It takes the Feds twenty years to do something about an apparent “theft” and when they do, they spare no expense in destroying the man’s livelihood. No wonder why Bundy decided to pack a shotgun. I probably would as well.

But…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

:)

Reports are swirling, though absent from many media outlets, that Kermit Gosnell was not the only one practicing his horrendous approach to medical services to women. In Texas, another man is under scrutiny with whistleblowers saying he performed disgusting and brutal late-term abortions (births with subsequent murder as I believe). Allegedly, babies were born and then quickly had their spinal cords cut and even were decapitated as a way to end their minute long life. Toes were wiggling then suddenly stopped. Chests were pounding with working hearts that were quickly silenced. Women were treated like cattle shuffled in and out with blood dripping and aftercare scarce. Saddest of all, this is not the only other case that is likely to be found and it will not be the last time we hear of such heinous acts.

What does this say about our culture as a whole? Why are more people not standing up and saying something about the grotesque practices that are killing the innocent of this generation in a silent holocaust that could have rippling effects for generations to come? The reason, I reassert, is that this issue has become more of a political keystone rather than a moral one. It is Republican v. Democrat instead of good v. evil and that is our saddest tragedy of all.

It is time we stopped looking at the Kermit Gosnells of the world as anything related to the issue of abortion. We need instead to look at them as monsters and murderers who are grotesquely maiming women and brutally murdering the youngest members of this community. It is time that we as a nation said enough is enough. Partial birth abortions that require disgusting and inhumane acts as this are removed from the “medical” community. This will be a true advancement in women’s rights and human rights, not a gun ban from international organizations that have no bearing on our current situation.

Tonight marks the final Presidential Debate. The live conversation starts here on Political Derby at 9:00 pm ET.

Foreign policy is the theme, which leads to several questions:

  • How many times will President Obama tout: “Bin Laden is dead”?
  • Will Governor Romney be successful in moving the conversation to the terrorist attack on American soil in Libya?
  • Are there any major differences between the candidates, or will they end up agreeing with each other most of the night?
  • Will both candidates continue to show a lack of understanding of the benefits of trade by continually pounding China for making American lives better through the production of lower cost goods?

Finally, a contest. Jason Wright will send a signed copy of his newest book, The 13th Day of Christmas to whomever can the most accurately predict which candidate is allowed more speaking time and by how much (to the nearest second). Entries must be posted in the comments prior to 8:55 pm ET. If someone has already posted a prediction and you duplicate it, your entry will be invalid.

Debate two is in the books, and while the result is no where near as convincing as Romney’s drubbing of the President in the first debate, it is clear that Barack Obama had a much better performance this time, while Mitt Romney took a small step or two back. Overall, last night’s debate was a slug fest, with both sides vacillating between attack and defense.

Obama was clearly more focused, energized and prepared for this match, and he managed a few zingers on his opponent. Romney missed out on some chances to hit Obama, especially early on. He did score some points on Benghazi, but committed a bit of a gaffe with his “binders of women” statement. Both battled, sometimes bitterly, over oil production on federal lands, over auto company bailouts, and over Romney’s wealth. Regardless of the topic, it has become very apparent that these two do not like each other, and some of the descriptions characterized the debate as “nauseating” and as the “most rancorous Presidential debate ever.”

Polls are giving Obama a slim victory, and while both candidates swung hard, no significant blows were landed.

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This weekend a friend pegged me down on the three things I think each horse must do to win the debate Tuesday night. What do you think are the keys to either an Obama debate comeback or second big win for Romney?

Obama:

1. Deliver passion without losing control (see Biden, Joe).
The President needs to go from a 2 to an 8 on the energy scale. Biden clocked 17.

2. Get his story straight on Libya.
The issue isn’t going away and he’s got to show the buck stops with him.

3. Convince Americans he wants the job.
There is a growing perception that he’s disinterested in the process. If he can’t fight for the job, Americans will fire him.


Romney:

1. Stay humble.
Expectations are sky high after his historic drubbing of the president. He must approach this debate as if they’ve never debated before and avoid overconfidence.

2. Lay out details.
Romney has been hammered that his campaign has been light on specifics, long on promises. He needs to fill in gaps in his plans before Obama does during the 90-minute brawl.

3. Have a moment.
Romney needs a public moment like the kind many people say he’s had in private as a church and business leader. He needs an exchange at the townhall-style debate when he looks in someone’s eyes and doesn’t just say he feels their pain, he shows it. He needs a connection that makes viewers wish they were in the audience.

Joe “The Gaffe Machine” Biden faces off against Paul “MiniMitt” Romney. The festivities begin at 9:00 pm eastern daylight time. (Yes, we are still on daylight time unlike the rest of the world. Not fun when you’re in international business.)

Tonight’s moderator is the wife of Julius Genachowski, whom President Obama appointed to lead the FCC. Her name Martha Raddatz. Obama also attended their wedding in 1991.

If you have a television, every major network will be carrying the debate. If you don’t, it will also be broadcast on YouTube.

Nearly all commentators that don’t work for the Obama campaign agree that Mitt Romney won the debate and won it handily.

Washington Times: ‘Obama the debater: Making Jimmy Carter look awesome’

CNN: ‘Romney engaged the incumbent while Obama looked down at his lectern. The challenger was a more forceful debater while Obama appeared less than engaged.’

Politico: ‘Obama hit with left hook on TV, online

USA Today: ‘Romney plays strong offense

National Journal: ‘Republican nominee Mitt Romney hit his stride Wednesday night. Where President Obama was flat

Washington Post: ‘Romney goes on offense, forcing Obama to defend record

The Hill: ‘Romney lands punches against subdued Obama

Daily Beast: ‘This was a disaster for the president

Meanwhile a Democratic operative claimed Romney ‘came in with a chainsaw‘ and the Obama campaign blamed the moderator.