The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 5, 2012

Our View: America must win

The Joplin Globe

— Moderator Jim Lehrer, for all practical purposes, lost control of the presidential debate on Wednesday night.

Sesame Street’s Big Bird could lose his job under a different administration that would cut funding for public television and radio.

And, if you agree with the political pundits, talking heads and your neighbors, President Barack Obama lost round one of the presidential debates to his challenger Mitt Romney.

Our bigger concerns have nothing to do with any of the above.

This election goes beyond candidates and political parties. This election is about making sure the American public is not the loser.

Finally, on Wednesday night, we listened to debate on the heart of the matter — jobs and the economy.

Here’s what we heard:

Obama plans to stay the course, hopeful that the economy will heal if given enough time. He told viewers Wednesday that he wants “a balanced approach” to the budget that would include $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenue. He aimed his message squarely at the middle class, using it as a benchmark of the economy’s health.

Romney says he will balance the budget as part of his economic plan, a promise based on a set of principles that he says will not include tax increases. He says he will repeal Obamacare, but plans to keep the “good parts,” such as allowing young adults to be covered under their parents’ insurance until age 26. He also challenged Obama’s leadership and inability to work with the Republican Party.

But, what we still sorely lack from both camps are specifics. America deserves better explanations and hopefully will hear some of those in the month that’s left before the Nov. 6 election.

Obama and Romney will meet head to head again on Oct. 16, in a town hall style format at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Their final face-off, devoted to foreign affairs, is Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

In the end, Lehrer’s lack of control may have served the public well. We heard from the candidates, not the moderator. And as a result, we saw a new side of Romney — a candidate who was on his game and rebounding Thursday in the polls. That alone could spur Obama to engage rather than deflect.

No matter what side of the political aisle you currently sit, it cannot be denied that history is unfolding before our very eyes.

And, it looks like we truly have a race at last.