Now that the debates are over I find one item quite interesting. Both candidates had a line of attack against the other, which their respective bases were sure that they should use, but for all intents and purposes neither did.
For Obama it was the 47% comment by Romney which the left excoriated Obama after the first debate for not bringing up. For Romney it was the Benghazi incident which everyone on the right was sure Romney would beat Obama over the head with. But he didn't.
I actually thought that it would be a mistake for Romney to go after Obama hard on Libya, if for no other reason than there is still to many unknowns about it and he might end up shooting himself in the foot. A President has a lot of power especially this one who can count on a media to shape a narrative as they did when Romney spoke out on September 12 about the Cairo riots at our embassy.
The fact that both Romney and Obama did not use their best "weapon" against the other though deeply disturbing to many in their respective bases were in fact what shows the difference between politics and ideology. Both were on strong grounds from a purely ideological sense to attack the others weak point, but to do so could have resulted in having the table turned on them. Somewhat like the old axiom about a lawyer not asking a question he doesn't already know the answer to.
If for example, Obama had gone after Romney about his 47% comments, Romney being aware that they were coming very well could have turned them against Obama by pointing out that Obama was expanding the very entitlement society that he had "inarticulately" been trying to point out. It is very possible given Romney's communication skills he could have put Obama on the defense. In addition as Rush has pointed out it is far more difficult to smear someone of Romney's character in person than it is to do so in political adds where he can not defend or respond.
So too with Romney and the Libya situation, he had absolutely no way of knowing how Obama would respond, but that he was prepared to respond there could be little doubt. Knowing that this would be a possible disaster for his reelection prospects it was very likely that Obama and his team had prepared extensively for it and were prepared to respond. They may have even been ready to spring some new "revelation" about the incident, true or not, which would totally blunt any allegations. Or more likely they were going to , with the medias help, paint Romney as politicizing a tragedy "still under investigation".
By not dwelling on Libya not only did Romney leave Obama with a bunch of unused ammunition which as I said he had obviously prepared for, he looked and acted more like a President than a candidate fighting a political opponent. The more I watched the debate last night the more I admired the shear courage of Romney to rise above the politics of the evening and present himself as a leader,
The difference in the two situations are many, but I think the key is this. Obama did not use his weapon against Romney for fear that it would be turned against him. Romney on the other hand did not use a far more powerful weapon against Obama because showing the nation that he was and is a serious man capable of leading the nation was more important than any debating point he might have gotten by litigating the Benghazi scandal.
The debates, especially this last one, are about the impression it leaves with the American public for the next two weeks. I believe Romney not only won the debate but by his discipline of looking beyond the immediate possible political gains of attacking the president, he probably gained the presidency itself.