UNILATERAL DISARMAMENT & ROLLING CALAMITY: I was overcome with a sense of nervousness an hour before the debate started because I knew Mitt Romney would come out like a pitbull, BS and all. This was his last chance to take a stand and boy, did he. Yes. BS and all. President Obama, on the other hand, stunned me beyond words. He had an empty podium performance that is contrary to anything I have ever seen him do. He wasn’t there. He reminded me of former president George H. W. Bush looking at his watch during the debate with then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton. He, too, had presided over a shaky economy, while fighting a war of sorts against Saddam Hussein over his Kuwait invasion. As a centrist, Mitt Romney said a lot of things I agree with. One problem. A day ago on the campaign trail he was singing another tune. Obama didn’t capitalize on that. He didn’t push back one bit. No 47 percent zinger. No comeback to the “where your treasure is there your heart will be” line in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Switzerland. He muddled his response on Social Security and the economy. In other words, President Obama was out to lunch, dinner….. I don’t know where, but this was stunning and a wake-up call to his campaign that he may lose this thing if they don’t get it together. The foreign policy debate will be no walk in the park for Obama, considering the mess that unfolded in Benghazi that left ambassador Chris Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty and Sean Smith dead.
Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz literally flipped out last night. I feel their pain. I stuck my neck out for President Obama and I got kicked in the gut last night. If Mitt Romney and his running mate were so full of sh*t, I would seriously give their campaign a second look, but the climate that surrounds the Republican Party isn’t one I find palatable, at this juncture. Kinda makes me think that Hillary Clinton would not have allowed Mitt Romney to go unchallenged during any debate if she were president. That 3 a.m. phone call thingy is coming back.
One final thought — Jim Lehrer shouldn’t show his face in public for a long time. His moderation of the debate was a disgrace.
To echo Samuel L. Jackson — President Obama, wake the f*ck up!
Here are reactions from Politicalwire:
Andrew Sullivan: “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.”
Glenn Reynolds: “Romney was channeling Reagan. Obama was channeling Biden.”
James Fallows: “If you had the sound turned off, Romney looked calm and affable through more of the debate than Obama did, and the incumbent president more often looked peeved. Romney’s default expression, whether genuine or forced, was a kind of smile; Obama’s, a kind of scowl. I can understand why Obama would feel exasperated by these claims and arguments. Every president is exasperated by what he considers facile claims about what he knows to be impossibly knotty problems. But he let it show.”
Brad Phillips: “This debate is an easy one to call: Romney won in a landslide, while Obama appeared flatfooted, tired, and somewhat detached.”
Nate Silver: “My own instant reaction is that Mr. Romney may have done the equivalent of kick a field goal, perhaps not bringing the race to draw, but setting himself up in such a way that his comeback chances have improved by a material amount.”
Greg Sargent: “Romney took steps towards reversing his image as an out of touch plutocrat. During the extended jousts of numbers crunching, he humanized himself in an unexpected way — by converting his boardroom aura from something cold and aloof into an aura of earnestness. He skillfully played the part of the technocratic centrist he used to be and whose balanced approach to policy and government he has completely abandoned.”
Marc Ambinder: “This first debate shows why it’s so tough to be an incumbent in an economy that, frankly, is anemic and barely growing. It didn’t really matter that Romney didn’t present a plan; it did matter that he presented a vision that cohered. A lot of people watching the debate will see Romney’s energetic performance, remember his theme, look at a halting Obama, and say, OK, well, there ARE two people running.”
Ezra Klein: “Mitt Romney won the debate tonight. He was more focused, specific, energetic and prepared than President Obama. The Obama campaign’s silver lining was in what he Romney specific about. Expect, for instance, that Romney’s admission that he will voucherize Medicare to make its way to ads in some swing states near you.”
Joe Klein: “Did the President send out his body double tonight? Because if that was the actual Barack Obama out there, I’m not sure he can communicate well enough to be an effective President in a time of trouble, to say nothing of winning a second term.”
Chris Cillizza: “There’s a fine line between sober/serious and grim/uninterested when it comes to the optics of these debates, and the incumbent was on the wrong side of it Wednesday night. Whether it was his habit of looking down for the majority of Romney’s answers or the pique he displayed when debate moderator Jim Lehrer interrupted him, Obama looked like he’d prefer to be somewhere else.”