It's remarkable that Republicans agreed to this. The guy at the mike always has an advantage in these kinds of forums, and in any case Obama is better than most at this kind of thing. For the most part, he's running rings around them.
Barack Obama is a lot smarter and better-informed than his antagonists. A lot. He very calmly and coolly dismantled them.
To me, personally, it’s not a surprise. I debated policy with Mike Pence once and the guy is a stone-cold idiot. That was a years ago and I’ve been surprised since then to learn that conservatives consider him an unusually sharp policy mind and I take leading rightwingers at their word about that. But it’s the kind of thing that I think most Americans aren’t aware of.
NRO's Daniel Foster:
It would be hard to argue the exchange is anything but a plus-plus for Obama and the GOP. Both sides emerged from it looking as if, contra the public's greatest fears, they more or less know what they are talking about on issues like the deficit and health-care reform.
Yesterday, I interviewed David Axelrod and was struck by his inability to explain how the White House would highlight the the difference between disagreement and obstruction. Today's session, if it becomes a regular event rather than a one-off, provided part of the answer. He'll debate them directly. But that may be tough to do. Republicans are already spreading the word that they made a mistake allowing cameras into the event. Apparently, transparency sounds better in press releases than it does in practice.
[D]espite the scrambling to declare that Obama "won" this event, it's not a net loss for Mike Pence and Paul Ryan to take on the president on the facts of health care and entitlements, in person...The president's confession that he "read your bills," may be the first time many Americans are informed that the GOP has health-care bills of any kind, and that they are substantial enough to warrant the attention of the president.
The whole thing basically went like [this]: Republican asks obnoxious question rooted in Glenn Beck-ian talking points; Obama swats it away, makes the questioner look silly, and then smiles at the end. It got so bad, in fact, that Fox News cut away from the event before it was over. Democratic operatives around Washington watching it had pretty much the same reaction: "Where the hell has this guy been?" One source said GOP aides probably wished they'd spoken to John McCain "about what happened to him in the presidential debates" before they broadcast the event. "It's quite a show," a White House official said, apparently going for the same deadpan tone the president was.