President Obama gave what may only be described as one of the most “disappointing” debate performances in recent history. Once again, and as has been widely suspected, he revealed to all the world that he does not seem constitutionally capable of fighting back hard against, apparently, anybody. Republican presidential candidate Romney exposed this president’s main weakness as a “leader” by simply doing what he was expected to do – accuse, oppose, question, disagree and argue with Obama’s every statement, idea, belief, or policy.
From his lackluster inauguration speech right down to today, “liberals” and progressives have wondered why this man never seems to go for the jugular, but rather constantly, consistently seems to simply roll over every time anyone, and especially the Republican Congress, simply says “No!” From Day One, instead of calling them out for what and who they are, the president has inexplicably sought “bipartisanship,” compromise, and conciliation.
All of this was on full display last night as Obama faced not just an obviously better prepared challenger, but an aggressive and hungry one at that. Romney dominated the debate from start to finish. He was eager to engage the president directly, forcefully. The president, with a clenched smile throughout, appeared subdued, laid back, defensive – and worst of all, unprepared for Romney’s constant assault on his record. Romney came prepared to shake things up, and he did so spectacularly.
Romney often interrupted the president, appearing to throw him off balance. He also spoke and looked directly at Obama, while Obama spoke to the camera. Thus, the wide angle views made Obama appear to not even be aware of Romney’s presence – or more ominously, his challenge.
Obama’s most egregious mistakes last night, however, were, we now know, characteristic of his personal leadership style. He amazingly, incredulously refused or failed to mention his campaign’s most effective attacks against Romney — Romney’s job-killing tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, and Romney’s devastating (“game-changing”) secretly videotaped disdainful remarks about "47 percent" of the population being essentially freeloading takers from the “job creating” aristocracy.
Poll after poll has shown recently that a solid majority of voters see Obama as more “empathetic” with their daily life struggles. Yet, it was Romney who immediately claimed the high ground of “job creation” and repeatedly drove home the “empathy” point by not yielding one iota of what appeared to be real concern for unemployed people.
Further, the president did not square his television ad campaign with his in-person debate performance: No mention was made of the nationwide fraud of “voter ID,” although almost daily some judge somewhere is making pronouncements and rulings about these nefarious efforts. Nothing was made of Romney’s investments in sweatshops in China. His outsourcing of jobs was mentioned only in passing by the president. Why didn't Obama shout from the rooftop the fact that every month he's been in office new jobs have been created, not lost? Obama acted as though he didn't know that the reason Ohio and Michigan, once solidly "red" states, are now unambiguously "blue" is because of the federal bail out to General Motors which he advocated and won. He could have crowed about how GM was brought back from the brink of bankruptcy and is now numero uno in the world once again. But he did not even mention it.
And, finally, he allowed Romney to actually claim that there was a significant “difference” between Romney-care in Massachusetts and Obama-care. (Obama even conceded the use of the term “Obamacare” when he could have insisted that at least for the duration of the debate, the new law be reffered to by its proper name).
Of course, Republicans, conservatives and the right-wing generally were ebullient after the debate. David Gerson said on CNN that, “we got us a horse race.” Sean Hannity and the good folks over at Fox News were practically popping champagne corks and pouring the libation over each other in celebration, as though they'd just won the Super Bowl.
Democrats, on the other hand, were rightfully disappointed in Obama's performance. “He was rolled,” said one former administration official. David Axelrod allowed that, “There’s no doubt he (Obama) has a hungry challenger.”
“Gov. Romney's always been good on the attack," Axelrod told NBC News. Without admitting that his guy lost, Axlerod did give Romney "style points."
Even super-liberal MSNBC anchor Ed Schultz, along with a whole panel of left-leaning pundits, said the president's performance was disappointing.
But, perhaps it was former adviser to President Bill Clinton, James Carville, who put it best. He said on CNN that he got "one overwhelming impression" from the debate: "It looked like Romney wanted to be there and President Obama didn't want to be there […] it gave you the impression that he thought this whole thing was a lot of trouble," adding that "Romney had a good night."
As stated above, this is a problem with Obama that seems to be congenital. He does not fight fire with fire. He does not fight back. He seems to have trouble even realizing when he is in a fight.
In any event, his lackluster performance last night has breathed new life into Romney and his once-faltering campaign.
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