Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's a Horse Race Now

You didn't need a poll to tell you what your eyes and ears told you all too well.  There were two men up there on that stage Wednesday night.  One of them looked like he wanted to be there; the other looked like he was waiting for a cab.

To any and all pundits who were prepared to write off Mitt Romney, I have some advice for you.  Don't go to Vegas anytime soon.  If you were expecting Gordon Gekko or Thurston Howell III, you were obviously disappointed.  This was a candidate who was sharp and looked comfortable in his own skin.  The human gaffe machine was nowhere to be seen.  Instead the country had a chance to see someone who, quite possibly for the first time in this campaign, actually looked presidential.  Romney didn't go for the Hail Mary.  Instead he spent most of the debate nickel and diming a defense that sat way too back and let him drive most of the field virtually uncontested.  Somewhere Vince Lombardi is spinning in his grave.

As for the current occupant of the Oval office, while it's commendable not to fumble the ball, it does bare mentioning that the objective here was to get a first down and move the chains.  Instead what we got was a series of three and outs. The problem with having a lead is that you have to defend it.  For the better part of 90 minutes, Barack Obama looked like a rookie who was being schooled by his teacher.  He was rusty, listless, uninvolved, name your own adjective.  He appeared at times to be irritable, as though it was some kind of imposition to actually have to explain himself not just to Romney but to the millions who tuned in to watch.  With all due respect to the President, if this was the strategy going in, somebody needs to get fired and the playbook burned.  This was the one debate Mitt Romney needed to win above all the others and he won it going away, courtesy of the most inept debate performance since Walter Mondale.

Think about it.  Not once did Obama mention the 47% video; not once did he go after Romney's Bain Capital days or even mention his off-shore accounts; he never adequately defended himself against the false charge that Romney repeatedly made that Obama is raiding Medicare of $716 billion or effectively rebuke Romney on the ridiculous claim that his $5 trillion tax cut won't add to the deficit or adversely affect the middle class; he hardly mentioned Paul Ryan, who is the principal architect of the Republican tax plan and Medicare voucher scheme.  Indeed he made a rather poor connection with the voters all night on issue after issue.  If you're the Romney campaign, you're probably doing cart wheels; if you're in the Obama camp, you're probably pinching yourself wondering what happened.

While it will probably be a few days before we know the full extent of the damage that occurred here in Denver, this much is certain.  Belay those postmortems.  This is now a horse race and it didn't have to be one.

Buckle up, it's about to get bumpy.

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