Heads up: Top comment and controversy

US reaction: Obama vs Romney presidential debate

Reaction to last night's presidential debate has swung in favour of Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who appeared feisty and combative in contrast to a more measured (some would say weedy) Obama.

A New York Times editorial, however, focuses on the general uselessness of the contest as a guide to either man's intentions for power. "With few sparks and little clarity on the immense gulf that truly separates the two men and their policies, Wednesday’s encounter provided little guidance for voters still trying to understand the choice in next month’s election."

Much of the centre-left US media gloomily laments Romney's ability to score points at the cost of accuracy. "Virtually every time Mr. Romney spoke", says the NYT, "he misrepresented the platform on which he and Paul Ryan are actually running." The central point to draw ire was Romney's stance on tax - the former head of Bain Capital denying "against considerable evidence" that he would cut taxes on the rich.

Salon's editor at large Joan Walsh harrumphs: "Romney shook his Etch-a-Sketch and lied his way through the entire debate with no challenge from moderator Jim Lehrer."

But Washington Post columnist Matt Miller points out that, this morning, Republicans won't give a hoot about Romney's fact-checkability. He's "not trying to win a prize from pundits for coherence or consistency." What he did on stage was "win big" - and that's all that matters.

The more conservative Wall Street Journal is fulsome in its praise for Mitt: he appeared Presidential, "showed a superior command of fact and argument than the incumbent, and made a confident, optimistic case for change." The paper anoints his performance as the best by a Republican since Reagan in 1980, and adds "Where has this Romney guy been hiding?"

React Now

Read Next
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella  

Sure, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella

Chloe Hamilton
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album