Yesterday, having had ample time to think, Barack Obama trotted out his best excuse: that wasn't the real Mitt Romney on the stage in Denver. It was an impostor.
Of course, as many have noted, his problem was that, for once, the real Barack Obama did show up.
Even if we take him at his word, Obama’s attempt at after-the-fact repartee cast him in a negative light.
Obama was implying that he had been scripted for one set of circumstances and could not adapt to another one.
Since Mitt Romney was not in John Kerry mode, that is, he did not play the part that the Obama team had scripted for him, Obama was dazed and confused.
When people mock Obama for having to use the teleprompter as a crutch, they are saying that he is good at reading his lines, but bad at improvisation. If he is not following a script he is simply not there.
Behind the hologram, there is no there there.
The shock was felt more deeply by the liberal media elites who had created the hologram. They were shaken to the roots of their conviction to see that they had not succeeded in making Obama into the man they thought he was.
Their shameless sycophancy rendered a disservice to the president. Surrounded for a goodly part of his life by suck-ups Obama has come to believe that he does not need to prepare for the debate.
His cheerleaders have been telling him that he is preternaturally intelligent, possessing a mind that can grasp any issue in the blink of an eye. He has come to believe that he is the best at everything.
So, he felt that he could win the debate by memorizing his lines and reciting them to an adoring crowd. No matter what he said, his enablers would rush to his defense. They would reveal the hidden genius behind the blather. Hadn’t they always?
Obama has profited handsomely from the scam. Unfortunately, he must be haunted with the sense that one day he is going to be found out. After all, he suffers from celebrity hubris; he knows that he did not really earn what he has. Thus, he is more apt to throw it away.
Obama suffers from what Henry James called “the sin of self-esteem.”
The difference between Romney and Obama was between prepared and unprepared. One candidate put everything he had into preparing for the debate and the other was trying to skate by on the minimum of debate preparation.
It’s a lesson we should all learn. Mitt Romney has provided an example to emulate. Barack Obama has not.
It applies to any job interview or any job. More often than not, when the choice is between someone who has prepared and someone who has not, the victory will go to the person who is the best prepared.
Robert Costa reports on Romney’s debate preparation:
Portman says Romney’s willingness to fully commit to the prep was striking. Day after day, he’d get up early, exercise, and then join the team for hours of work. Advisers certainly played a role, but according to Portman, it was the candidate who drove his advisers. Even when he had a busy week of campaigning, Romney would always find time to study or hold a brief mock debate.
The practice made a difference. One longtime Romney friend tells me that Romney markedly improved throughout September as he devoted himself to his briefing books and the mock debates. The friend says Romney didn’t think of the debate as a political dialogue but as a grueling, 90-minute competition that demanded discipline. He prepared in the same way he used to review pending business deals at Bain Capital: He challenged his closest advisers about the most minor points, he spent a lot of time reading, and he constantly bantered with his aides about the other side’s weaknesses and strengths.
Leadership means being in command. It means having the presence of mind to be able to think on your feet. It means having spent the time needed to command your brief.