I have to say I got very little out of that mess. The moderator let Romney run all over the so-called time limits early, while Obama listened and tried to stay cool. But after awhile, Obama started taking extra time too, so Romney took more.
But hey, Lincoln and Douglas didn't have any stinkin' moderator and went at it for hours, and their debates are the stuff of legend. But I think they probably stuck to the issues (slavery, no slavery) and the facts a bit more.
At the end of 90 minutes, Romney has no platform left whatsoever. He's not cutting taxes, apparently, despite his tax-cut plan. He's putting more money into Medicare, not cutting it. He's regulating Wall Street. He's ... making very little sense, except that he sounded so sure of himself. It must be what the Enron guys sounded like back in the day when they were booking to market reporting fake revenues.
I think when your positions don't add up to anything, you get a DQ — disqualified.
That's what I give Romney.
Obama seemed confused by the fact that Romney's long-stated positions on the issues were all of a sudden inoperative. Obama let so many chances go by to skewer Romney (e.g., how outsourcing jobs earns a corporate tax break) that the best he can get is INC — incomplete.
On the other hand, with Jim Lehrer willing to give Romney multiple last licks on every subject, and with Romney willing to take any position regardless of veracity in order to dispute whatever Obama said, skewering him wasn't going to be easy.
If Al Gore was watching, I'll bet he sighed heavily many times. If only he'd been allowed to debate Romney-style back in 2000, the course of history would've been different.