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
 

Letter from the Deputy Editor: i’s Review of the Year

Andrew Webster
RIP Voicemail?  

Voicemail has got me out of some tight corners, so let's not abandon it

Simon Kelner
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all