Last night Barack Obama achieved one goal that had previously eluded him. He erased partisan divisions and united the nation. After years of divisiveness, Obama brought us together.
With one voice America declared that, in the debate, Obama was just plain awful. For Obama it was the debacle in Denver.
Obama's performance was so shockingly bad that even elite liberal media stars did not defend it.
Mitt Romney looked more presidential; he was more in charge; he had a better command of the facts; he was clearly the alpha male.
Barack Obama looked tentative and timid; he seemed defensive, uncomfortable, as though he didn’t want to be there; he kept repeating his tag lines; he offered little of substance; he failed to respond to Romney’s attacks.
Obama was acting like a boxer who had never taken a punch.
Liberal pundits felt that they had gotten caught in a nightmare. They had sold the country on Barack Obama. They had proclaimed him a new Messiah. They had worked long and hard to produce the Obama hologram.
They had always rushed to his defense and had assaulted anyone who dared question their wisdom, their judgment or their political philosophy.
Last night, for the first time in his life, Barack Obama was held to account. His media enablers were horrified. Would they be found out for perpetrating a major political scam?
The National Review summed it up well:
If last night’s debate did anything, it ought to bury once and for all the myth of Barack Obama’s silver tongue. What viewers saw last night was the real Obama — slow-witted, unable to think effectively on his feet, desultory in his pre-debate preparation, and thoroughly unimpressive without his beloved teleprompter.
Is this therefore a game-changing moment? Not necessarily. But what Mitt did was to expose the president as the Primo Carnera of his day, the mob-owned heavyweight champ who won a series of fixed fights — until he finally found himself in the ring against an opponent who didn’t fear him, and who was more than happy to whale on him, especially once Romney figured out that Obama couldn’t hurt him. Meanwhile, Obama kept looking over at Mitt with a “I can’t believe you know all this stuff” look on his face, while periodically casting beseeching glances at moderator Jim Lehrer, hoping to be saved by a bell that never came.
It was worse than that. Clearly, Obama was revealed to be more an empty chair than a great orator. He did not need to be the most eloquent guy on the stage. Mitt Romney is anything but eloquent.
Obama needed to show a command of the facts, a command of policy, a command of a political philosophy, a command of his person. On those scores he failed.
He might not have dragged modern liberalism down with him, as Roger Simon suggested, but he certainly revealed its failings.
Andrew Sullivan, who has been madly crushing on Obama for years now, was rudely awakened from his gauzy dreams:
Look: you know how much I love the guy, and you know how much of a high information viewer I am, and I can see the logic of some of Obama's meandering, weak, professorial arguments. But this was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach, and his effete, wonkish lectures may have jolted a lot of independents into giving Romney a second look.
Obama looked tired, even bored; he kept looking down; he had no crisp statements of passion or argument; he wasn't there. He was entirely defensive, which may have been the strategy. But it was the wrong strategy. At the wrong moment.
The person with authority on that stage was Romney - offered it by one of the lamest moderators ever, and seized with relish. This was Romney the salesman. And my gut tells me he sold a few voters on a change tonight. It's beyond depressing. But it's true.
Chris Matthews was appalled:
What was [Obama] doing tonight? He went in there disarmed, he was like, 'An hour and a half, I think I can get through his thing and I don't even look at this guy.' Whereas Romney, I love the split screen, staring at Obama, addressing him like the prey — he did it just right….
Bill Maher tweeted:
I can't believe i'm saying this, but Obama looks like he DOES need a teleprompter
Joe Klein didn’t hold back:
Well, I’m with all the other talking heads: Mitt Romney won this debate. Barack Obama lost it. I mean, he got his butt kicked. It was, in fact, one of the most inept performances I’ve ever seen by a sitting President. Romney–credit where it’s due–was calm, clear, convincing (even when he was totally full of it) and nearly human. The real mystery was Obama. Where on earth was he? Why was his debate strategy unilateral disarmament?
Lynn Vaverick wrote in The New York Times:
If Romney was sometimes slippery, the president was simply empty: He seemed exhausted, tetchy, and out of sorts, with no positive case for why his second-term agenda (whatever that is) would solve the country’s problems. Nor, to my shock, did he even have much a negative case either, against a Republican his campaign has been successfully caricaturing for months. Time and again, he failed to make obvious comebacks and exploit gaping openings, wasting time on throat-clearing and losing himself in a wilderness of “ums” and “ahs” instead. Remarkably, he actually spoke more than Romney — 35 minutes to 30 — but seemed to say much, much, much less.
I suppose there are ways that this debate could have gone better for the challenger, and worse for the incumbent. But I’m hard pressed to think of them right now.
Vanity Fair tweeted:
Good LORD Obama wouldn't win a student council election against a chubby nerd with that closing argument.
Joshua Green, on Bloomberg Businessweek wrote:
Romney struck me as briskly efficient, affable, and (shock!) convincingly bipartisan in how he presented himself. Obama, at least until the final 30 minutes, was discursive, meandering, and seemed poorly prepared. It’s true that Romney didn’t offer the details that pundits are clamoring for. But someone tuning in for the first time would surely have come away feeling that Romney was the candidate with a firm grasp of what he wanted to do and Obama the guy slightly out of his depth.
Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of The New York Times:
At the presidential debate tonight, Mitt Romney looked and sounded presidential. President Obama failed to step in and puncture that image. …
Instead of attacking Mr. Romney, Mr. Obama praised his leadership in Massachusetts. He made it clear that Romneycare is Obamacare. He said there was no difference between them on Social Security, taking that issue off the table for no discernible reason.
I’m not so shocked. Mr. Obama has made his distaste for political jousting disappointingly clear over the last four years.
At least Mr. Romney also failed to fully take advantage of the situation with a rather obvous zinger. It would have gone something like this, “So, Mr. President, you admit you got your best ideas from me. I guess you think I’d do pretty well in your job?”
If this is what your friends say, you have a problem.
But, credit where credit is due. In the space of 90 minutes Barack Obama persuaded his liberal enablers that his critics have been right about him all along.
In that sense: Mission accomplished!
Of course, as Yogi Berra famously said, it ain’t over till it’s over. You know, as well as I do, that Democrats will mount a major effort to revive a campaign that just went off the rails. And they may well succeed.
Nevertheless, one suspects that the liberal media is beginning to audition candidates for their new champion.