When you’re wrong, you’re wrong and yesterday when I said the presidential debate was one Mitt Romney could not win with media pundits, I appear to have been insanely wrong. What happened? The unforeseen, Barack Obama simple did not show up. It was a slaughter, Romney trounced him in every way. Even the most bitter leftist propagandists on MSNBC were taking jabs at the president. What a great night!
I believe early observations were dead on. President Obama has had an easy ride the last four years. He hasn’t been questioned or tested. He doesn’t hold press conferences. He is surrounded by sycophants who don’t challenge him. Last night Romney challenged him. The president looked at times angry, at times sullen and bewildered, many times out of his element and mostly just weak. He was the aloof professor and he lost.
Throughout I kept saying to my wife “He won’t even look Romney in the eyes. He keeps looking at the moderator and addressing him, almost like he is looking for help. He physically looks like he is on the ropes”
When backed into corners Obama did what we expected, he blamed Bush and came out saying “I inherited…” Romney rightly called him out repeatedly “you have been president for four years.” Romney was on offense, Obama defense the entire night.
While I saw many pundits like James Carville grasping at straws to spin gold, even they admitted it was a bad night for the president. I did not anticipate just how poorly the president would perform. No one did. We at least thought he would try to bring something to the table. It was an embarrassment.
The left will bring out the biggest guns they have. This was a horrible hit on the Obama campaign. They will become vicious and a thousand “politi-facty-truthy-whatevers” will start showing up in your emails. They will blame the moderator, the format, say Romney lied, try to turn conservatives against him, they will spew venom and hate.
Here is the problem for team Obama.
Most Americans pay little attention, especially those who are not hyper partisan. The ads being run the last few months were the sole way most voters knew Romney. Last night, the one night they were really paying attention, they were given a counter figure to those ads. They saw a leader who was not the demon he is made out to be. For the next week that is who will be left in their brain. People like me watch 24/7 cable news, read blogs and follow the day-to-day. Millions of other, perhaps more fortunate souls, tune in the last four weeks of an election. They watch a few debates and make up their minds based on what they see. The next opportunity is the next debate and that one is Ryan vs Biden. I would be very afraid if the prospect of having a good next week hinged on Joe Biden. The momentum is now Romney’s to lose.
Now I suspect Obama will do better in debate number two. He will look at his opponent, keep his head up and he will try to bring in all the negativity his campaign has been pushing forward. But that isn’t the Obama Americans want, it isn’t the hope and change they had in mind in 2008. Meanwhile Romney will hit the president on a laundry list new failures. He will keep up the fight and do his best.
The real problem for the president is that he has no plan. He can hit Romney for being vague, but Obama has even less to work with. Worse he has no record of showing he is capable of implementing a plan, even if he could make one up. It is true Romney will face an Obama next time that will likely fight back. However that figure now has to fight back against last nights debate along with whatever Romney can throw at him in the next.
The media is still suspect. They will do the “rise like a Phoenix” narrative I keep mentioning where they say “he was down but he has risen once again!” I suspected this would be declared a draw and they would pull that nonsense out as if it were act three of a Hollywood blockbuster. Instead it was a slaughter and so if Obama just looks up next time instead of at the floor he will be doing better and they can reset the narrative. Beware getting too excited. Romney needs to up his game even further in the next round, not rest on his laurels.
The biggest credit I give to Romney is that he is fighting. All along I have said, even if we lose I want to go out sticking to principal and defending our cause. He is doing just that. So I couldn’t ask for more. Did he walk back some positions and push for bipartisanship? Of course he did, that is what presidential candidates do. He didn’t deviate from the true principals though and that is what our side is about. Values and principals, the president is not a King who dictates policy.
Meanwhile, why have Republicans and conservatives been so adamant about those polls with huge Democrat over-samples? The media and the Obama campaign now have their answer. The energy and excitement that was team Obama 2008 was already a balloon deflating. The 2010 midterms, the Wisconsin recall showed the inability of the Democrats to move the electorate. Will he have an advantage? Sure. But the what was left of the Obama phenomenon just popped last night. Does anyone believe a Democrat +7,8,9,10,11+ turnout advantage now? If they do, they are clinging to a fantasy. It could be +5, sure we can give them that and be pleasantly surprised, but the enthusiasm is about to get turned up for Republicans and the worry setting in for Democrats.
We are in a 50/50 race, we always have been. Turnout matters and this election will be decided by hundreds or maybe just tens of thousands of votes in a few states, not millions. The Romney that showed up last night could appeal to those thousands in a way the media hasn’t wanted to admit. Romney just reached out to them. Obama did not. We will see what happens in round two.