Were we expecting a first round knock-out?

Welcome to the first real presidential debate. Forget the gaggle of G.O.P. presidential primary debates. They were good for laughs, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry having problems counting to three, and “Pro-Life” ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)’s unease of the missus’ “Pre-you” six-year shack-up with an abortion provider Ob-Gyn. (The same doc, incidentally, who long ago brought wee Karen Santorum into the world.)

Debate moderator Jim Lehrer, from the PBS Romney said he wants to put on a naval brig bread and water diet, had an unenviable free-for-all executive brawl on his hands. The list of debated topics were but a subset of the issues just to stay within the allotted hour and a half. Many hot-button issues did not get debated on the first round. No “47%”, no women’s reproductive health probing, and no foreign policy matters where Romney is anemic. There are three more debates, including the one between Vice President Joe Biden and G.O.P. running-mate Paul Ryan.

The non-partisan debate commission set a ground rule of limited noise making by the audience, unlike the G.O.P. Primary debates which had the audience participation tone  resembling one of Connecticut Republican Senate hopeful Linda McMahon’s WWE “pro wrestling” matches.

Beginning with the economy. Governor Romney vaguely broad-brush described his five point plan. Romney chided a bigger government. He described wanting to “energize” small business, but as usual, skipped disclosing the “pink slime” ingredients to his “secret sauce.”  In attacking a number of clean energy company startup failures, Romney conveniently did not mention the many Bain Capital road kill carcasses.

Indiana Jones had an easier time finding the Lost Ark than Americans have getting Romney policy specifics or his tax returns.

The President cited Romney’s arithmetic-challenged tax cuts which Romney now vehemently and repeatedly denied. It reminded me of a paternity-avoidance argument of a night club meaningful-overnight-relationship beau not yet sold on fatherhood. Continuing his new found mantra, Romney stressed the lowering of “small business” taxation to “create jobs.”  President Obama retorted with “Donald Trump is a small business. Now, I know Donald Trump doesn’t like to think of himself as small anything — but that’s how you define small businesses if you’re getting business income.” Even Bain Capital, hedge funds, and parts of the Columbian Cali drug cartel are likely termed “small businesses.”

Health care reform had Romney channeling his inner cross-dressing Sarah Palin igloo, rehashing her oft debunked accusation that the Independent Payment Advisory Board would have the power to deny available treatments.

Before the Romney campaign and the Republican party faithful dance the Conga line to Rio for a victory reprise of Carnival, Mitt’s sudden theatrical centrist tactical shift might not sit well in the craw of the party’s dominant extreme-Right true believer fringe.

Romney said he wanted to cut middle income taxes, saying the rich were “doing fine.” How will that fib sit with the Wall Streeter bag men who cheered Mitt callously dismissing the infamous slacker “47%” (aka: “The rest of us.”)?

Unlike past election campaigns, the bevy of mainstream media fact checking arms are diligently digging to identify more Pinocchios and “Pants on Fire” ratings already overcrowding Romney’s new LaJolla manse underground parking garage.

President Obama debunked Romney’s failed Reaganesque trickle-down economics, tax and fiscal policies. What politicians say gets remembered these days, no matter how desperately the Etch-A-Sketch gets shaken.

American presidential campaigns seem endless, even for pundits. If I see another false Crossroads GPS mega-PAC attack ad, I might call the CIA to “rendition”  Karl Rove to Devil’s Island. Just tell Rove it’s a Koch Bros. private jet. Some Obama supporters unrealistically expected a first round Presidential knock-out as if both sparring partners were represented by flamboyant prize fight promoter Don King.

There are still thirty-three days until the poll that really counts: Election Day.