The rule in a heavyweight championship fight is the challenger has to take the title, not just hold his own. By that standard, Romney fell pitifully short tonight. He was technically competent, as expected. He made many cogent points, but neve really laid a glove on the incumbent, who portrayed himself implausibly as the champion of the middle class, a tax cutter for business and a ruthless opponent of government waste. Debate moderator Jim Lehrer bordered on an embarrassment. He never seemed in control and basically left the evening up to the participants, to a point. However, and perhaps this is his genius, his stumbling attempts at providing direction somehow managed to steer the debate more to wonky minutae than to the big picture failures of the obama administration. That said, Romney had plenty of opportunities to make the case himself and basically wiffed. He got bogged down in long discussions of tax policy and medicare, to no real conclusion. One example, he brought up the Obamacare panels that will ultilmately decide that 70 year olds really do not need hip transplants, MRIs or heart bypasses because we need the money to pay for prenatal care for illegal immigrants, but he could never get it into the end zone. One imagines Sarah Palin pulling her hair in frustration. Really, Mitt, is it so hard to say that these panels will do just what they do in Canada and the UK and deny services that are routinely provided now? I thought Obama was generally superb. He was lying through his teeth for much of the debate, but he is good at it and was not really challenged by Romney. He displayed an impressive grasp of the issues, faked sincere concern for the middle class and hit his talking points on the Romney tax and medicare plans. The average undecided, ie clueless, voter will take away that these are both good men with similar policies but that Obama is more attuned to their needs. That makes it a loss, and a big one, for Romney.