Obama v Romney. The First Debate

Romney “won” the debate— that’s pretty much the universal consensus. He was aggressive, very well prepped, cheerful, and animated. Obama seemed most of all, tired and listless. There was no passion. He passed up the many openings Romney gave him to point out falsehoods and contradictions. He was not the Obama we know. The obvious question is why?

Well, first of all, he is the President. He doesn’t have the luxury of absenting himself from constant decision-making and and everything else that comes with the job in order to practice debating. Syria’s war had just spilled into Turkey, and we don’t know what else was on the PDB (President’s Daily Brief). He might have been up all night, using the few free hours available to him for debate practice. Or he might be dealing with a crisis we don’t know about. Being the president is stressful and demanding. So is running a campaign, and doing both at once involves a great deal more stamina than walking and chewing gum at the same (as he said he could do when McCain suspended his campaign to be in on the financial crisis decisions). 

Obama hasn’t debated in four years. He was prepared to counter what Romney has been saying all along, but not the new claims he was tossing out. What about the infamous 46 percent?

Romney has spent five weeks being prepped. He had all his material ready at hand. For the first time in the campaign, he wasn’t robotic, he looked and sounded presidential, and never stuck his foot in his mouth as he’s been wont to do. He reversed the positions he’s been campaigning on. He was different. He wasn’t uncomfortable or phony; he gave the impression that he was the real Romney. But since he’s such an etch-a-sketch, how are voters to know where he really stands?

We still don’t know who Romney is and what he believes in. His flip-flops are notorious. Obama instead has shown what his priorities are. Not for nothing does he score so high on likeability, even among Republicans. Voters who are disappointed or angry may prefer to stay with the devil they know. The campaign and the debates aren’t over by a long shot.

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