It was a Smackdown.
While staged events rarely are decisive moments in Presidential elections, last night’s debate was the biggest factor in the Presidential election so far.
It was not just big in terms of Romney vs. Obama. It was big in terms of Romney vs. Romney. The various fantasy depictions of him as a leftist, or as an inarticulate bumbler with nice hair, or as a heartless corporatist, as well as many other portrayals were put to bed — at least for now.
Romney gave substance and style. I put myself in the camp of Republicans who were wincing in concern over what could be our latest hapless communicator as a Presidential nominee. We’ve had the misery of sitting through Bush Sr…Dole (ugh)…GW Bush…then the hapless, visionless John McCain.
Our own Peach Punditeer Erick Erickson had my favorite tweet this morning: “I feel sorry for the Politifact guys today. They must’ve been up all night trying to spin it back for Obama.” Yep.
Bill Maher tweeted, “Obama needs a teleprompter.” I did like that one too, but for different reasons.
President Obama even owned the word “Obamacare,” calling his national health care plan by the derisive term that its opponents have been using for three years. Maybe the press will finally start referring to “Obamacare” by the name now used by both the President and his opponents — as well as virtually every other American.
Just one debate down, 30 days to go. No single staged event ends up being decisive, and this debate will be old news in ten days. But last night the world saw a President who came across as unconfident, disconnected, and poorly reasoned. He was the empty chair.
Heck, he was a cartoon of the empty chair.
That’s is the result of spending four years surrounded by a sychophantic press corps which doesn’t challenge you, debate you, and make you better. He was not used to being challenged face to face, and it showed.