Romney said, “I’m sorry, Jim, I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS…. I like PBS, I love Big Bird — I actually like, you too — but I am not going to keep spending money on things [we have] to borrow money from China to pay for.”

Little did I know when I posted the graphic  last night for the debate, that it would be so representative of the candidates who hit the stage in Denver.

Barack Obama was too cool for school, so much so that he barely bothered to show up. His answers were listless and at times he seemed almost put out that he was having to explain this shit yet again.  Mitt Romney, on the other hand, was as frantic as a drowning man, so desperate for a handhold that he would say anything and climb over anyone (including a barely sentient, possibly already dead Jim Lehrer) in order to save his foundering campaign.  When Romney spoke it was like a fire hose with no shut-off valve, and he damn well was not going to let that withered fool Lehrer interrupt his flow. And flow Mitt did, with equal parts bullshit, lies, and disavowals of any previous statements or crazy talk that may have emanated from the obviously incompetent Romney campaign or, possibly, Mitt Romney’s evil twin Ttim (the first ‘T’ is silent).

As for Obama, oh Bammer, you mailed it in and you sent it to the wrong address. Let Charlie Pierce es’plain it to you:

The only way that the wonkish, garbled, and distracted performance by the president makes any kind of sense is if the White House has internal polls that indicate that a majority of Americans believe that Willard Romney eats live chickens in praise of Satan. The basic fact of this entire campaign is that Willard Romney is a transcendently ridiculous figure. Some of it is his own doing. Some of it was forced upon him because he sought the nomination of a party that has become demented. Everything else flows from that. And, because of the president’s unaccountable lassitude — is it possible that the whole angry-black-man kerfuffle ginned up on the right on Monday got into the man’s head a little? — Willard Romney was able to portray himself as a firm, principled national figure of what passes for the rational center. I didn’t think that was possible.

What you saw, I think, anyway, was the end product of the president’s consuming naivete as regards the American political process, as well as the end product of thirty years of a Democratic Party that has slid so far to the center-right that a Democratic president found himself arguing with a “severely conservative” Republican candidate over the issues of how much the Democratic president had cut out of the budget, how many regulations he’d trimmed, how much more devoted to the middle-class-kick-in-the-balls Simpson-Bowles “plan” he is, and how he would “reform” Social Security and Medicare — and, frankly, a Democratic president losing some of those arguments to his left.

One of the few things that I have always admired about the bile dispensing units known as Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin, besides their wingnut welfare support system that pays off like a broken slot machine no matter how bugfuck batshit crazy they get, is the way that they always attack, never explain. They take their talking points and they just talk over the opposition, conceding nothing, disregarding details, and giving no quarter because they know that low information voters (by which I mean: America) like being low information voters. It leaves more room for reality TV and casserole recipes using Doritos. The trick to pulling it off successfully is to do it without looking like a dick, or in the case of Coulter and Malkin: looking like a dick. Romney did a lot of that last night, without ever completely crossing the dick Rubicon, by lying assertively and plunging ever forward even if he trampled the hapless squishy doormat that is Jim Lehrer (I think you get it by now that Jim Lehrer was doubleplus ungood gawdawful as a moderator). Romney came out swinging, although without landing any knock-out blows, while Obama played amiable punching-bag until close to the end when he seemed to realize that he was losing on points at which point he finally threw a few punches, but too little, too late.

Despite what John Hinderaker thinks (particularly since ol’ Hindrocket is forever lost in space, drifting somewhere in the Crazy Nebula, home to Jen Rubin Bizzaro world) the race isn’t over and there was no game changer. But debates are about attitude not details and the election got a little bit closer than it needed to because Obama showed up not only not ready to play, but unwilling to run up the score.

That needs to change.