Mitt Romney's performance last night was, for any viewers who still hardly know him, a perfect condensation of Mitt the Politician. On the auto bailout, he lied: "I said they need — these [auto] companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, and in that process they can get government help and government guarantees." On China, he played the demagogue: "[O]n day one I will label them a currency manipulator." On foreign policy, "he had little coherent to say and often sounded completely lost," as the NY Times summarized his rambling. So, whenever possible "He moved back to his comfort zone" by "cheerfully deliver[ing] disinformation about domestic policy."
In 90 minutes, Mitt gave his all: lies, demagoguery, incoherence, and unhinged happy talk. He converted night into day, except when converting day into night was more expedient; he casually launched a U.S.-export-killing trade war--"unless, of course," as Krugman noted, "it [was] just bluster aimed at making voters think you’re tough"; he braked and downshifted so aggressively from his previous, base-pleasing bellicosity that he left incomprehensible skid marks; and naturally he flooded the zone at every opportunity with wondrous domestic splendors.
What's left to learn about Mitt Romney? Nothing. Which is also what constitutes Mitt Romney.