However you analyze it in electoral terms, the exchange between President Obama and Mitt Romney was most striking as a festival of technocratic mush — dueling studies mashed in with competing statistics. In many ways, the encounter offered voters the worst of all worlds: a great deal of indecipherable wonkery and remarkably little clarity about where each would lead the country.However you analyze it? Well, I don't even have to check the debate transcript to remember a striking use of the word "moral." Let me get the exact quote from the transcript. Jim Lehrer had just asked "what are the differences between the two of you as to how you would go about tackling the deficit problem in this country?" And Mitt Romney said:
Good. I'm glad you raised that, and it's a -- it's a critical issue. I think it's not just an economic issue, I think it's a moral issue. I think it's, frankly, not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation and they're going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives. And the amount of debt we're adding, at a trillion a year, is simply not moral.But Dionne would like you to think of the debate is just a big indecipherable mush. And then the whole rest of his column is about — can you guess? — Nuns on the Bus! Because who's better than nuns "to remind us that our decisions in November have ethical consequences?" I'd say Mitt Romney was better, in his utterly clear statement quoted above, which is in no way "technocratic mush" or "insufferable wonkery," Mr. Dionne. But... hey! Look! Nuns! Nunnnnzzzz!