Tonight’s sparring contest at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, was another low point for the United States. The question is not who won or lost what’s falsely been billed as a debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama; what is usually meant by that question is who is perceived to have won or lost by others. The proper question is what was gained by the nation in the third and final presidential candidate exchange. The answer is not much, if anything. The more we learn about these two, the more we should realize that our nation is seriously off track and we should brace for impact.

Romney, whom I referred to over a year ago as Obamney, reverted to his moderate Mitt form, agreeing with Obama on nearly every foreign policy issue and failing to differentiate his candidacy from Obama’s rotten presidency. Romney played it safe, looked and sounded soft and, while he is measurably better than Obama – chiefly because he is not Obama – failed to take Obama to task for the outrage of this year’s Islamic terrorist 9/11 attack. Obama, looking at once tired, angry and petulant, smirked and swaggered in his seat, staring blankly at Romney, spewing rehearsed lies about everything from Israel – which he has done everything to undermine – to Iran, which he has done everything to appease. At one point even CBS News moderator Bob Schieffer slipped and mistakenly referred to “Obama bin Laden”. It’s not that Romney did not win, though he did not, it’s that he did not differentiate. Americans are ready for someone who will tell the truth about the lousy state of the union and commit to fixing it. Looking presidential and dodging traps and smears is not enough.

There are crucial issues at stake in this election and, one by one, Romney fumbled. Though he scored points when he more or less said that we can’t win the war against jihadists by picking off terrorists one at a time (as I wrote in my post on killing bin Laden, “Death of a Terrorist“), Romney agreed with Obama, who followed the disastrous Bush doctrine, on Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But we know where Me-too Republicanism, personified by Romney’s father, George, leads: Me-first, New Left variations of fascism, first authored by John Kennedy and climaxing under Barack Obama, which is why we urgently need a distinction with a difference. Romney instead whiffed when Obama ludicrously claimed he’s kept Americans safe for four years – tell that to those who loved the soldiers and statesmen we lost to jihadists at Fort Hood and Benghazi – and said with a straight face that he has no regrets about making the Islamicization of north Africa possible. Or when Obama said we stand with Israel, another lie. Worst of all, Romney declined to mention that the Obama administration repeatedly attacked an American who made a movie as the cause of the newest 9/11 assault as against the jihadists who launched the strike and murdered our ambassador and three Americans. Romney chose to be politically correct and ignore Obama’s serious transgressions against the United States, including terrorist investigator Steven Emerson’s disturbing new report about jihadists in the White House.

As we head toward a darker future, facing the prospect of economic crisis, paralysis and collapse and the war against Islamic jihad, America needs a pro-American president who displays courage and resolve in defense of individual rights, from free speech to free markets. Mitt Romney showed us how far we are from electing such a president. Barack Obama reminded us how close we are to re-electing the eagerly exact opposite.