I'm not really sure who won Wednesday night's presidential debate, but I'm quite certain who lost: Jim Lehrer.
The venerable PBS anchor has hosted 12 presidential debates, so you'd think that by now he'd know what he was doing. Yet Lehrer lost all semblance of control over the 90-minute contest. After beginning the debate by laying out its organization into six 15-minute pods on specific topics, within minutes that scheme was in shambles as the candidates -- particularly a remarkably aggressive Mitt Romney -- ran over their allotted speaking time and completely ignored Lehrer's feeble attempts to impose order.
The result wasn't just a disorganized debate, it was a deeply boring one, even by the standards of past presidential snoozefests. Romney and President Obama retreated straight to their talking points with little regard for the actual questions they were asked to answer -- not that the questions, on wonky health and economic topics, were all that interesting anyway. We'll have to await poll results to show whether the debate shifted public opinion, but opinion can only shift if the public keeps watching long enough to hear what the candidates have to say. If watching debates weren't part of my job, I'd have switched to a rerun of "Storage Wars" after 15 minutes.