Obama's train wreck, Romney's life boat

Romney took the first Presidential debate...of that there is no doubt, even if he was a stranger to the truth of his own policies. Post debate, Americans are left wondering if there had been an alien abduction of other guy.  Love him or hate him, Obama was AWOL and squandered a massive audience at a critical time.

If Barack Obama was going for a nice-guy, don’t bully the other guy strategy in the first Presidential Debate, it didn’t work.

In fact it was a spectacular, puzzling and embarrassing failure...if indeed there was a strategy which is doubtful.

You don’t call looking bored, shuffling, making notes, hanging your head, talking defeatist a strategy.

Anyone who has even a passing respect for Obama, is right to wonder if in fact the President was present, or had undergone a triple personality, brain and performance by-pass on his way to the auditorium.

The last, critical, two minutes for Obama provided the defeatist admission that he was never going to be a perfect president. No president is perfect...but it’s not the thing you say in your closer. That’s when you get fired up and clam home the message that going with the other guy is going back to the failed past. Obama 2012 has swapped the ‘08 ‘Hope’ and ‘Change’ for ‘Forward’, so bring it on...no?

Ok so Obama didn’t want an unseemly brawl, fair enough. He doesn’t do good pit-bull.

But give me a break. Where was the passion? Where were the achievements? Where was the auto industry recovery? Where were the sharp rebukes that have been so to the point and kept him ahead in the polls? Where was the ‘47%’ real Romney? Where were the tax cuts for the uber-wealthy? Where were all the issues so important to women? Where was the usual Obama passion for a fairer America?

Has Obama now become so unaccustomed to having people challenge him that he couldn’t take it?

Dan Rather suggests that perhaps Obama has reached the stage where if he runs his hands through the mashed potato at dinner time, then everyone else will run their hands through the mashed potato.

Is he now so uncomfortable sharing attention with anyone...even if it’s vital to re-election? Probably unlikely, but the performance remains a mystery. He just seemed ill-prepared...or perhaps over-prepared...actually, dull.

The gob-smacking reality is that Obama left Romney virtually unchallenged on some really big stuff. Like the bogus 23-million unemployed. Like the new deluge of Romney Etch-A-Sketch on taxes. And how could you leave out his fudging health care by saying that his policy does not leave out anyone with a pre-existing condition. Did Romney just ‘forget’ to include that he is only talking about people with existing health care, not those who can’t get it, have been dropped, or are trying to get back into the workforce? The people Obamacare has picked up.

In the world of optics the split screens are so revealing....you are waiting as someone else talks. What do you do...Obama looked down, sort of smirked, looked away, sometimes at the (useless) moderator as if for help. The man may as well have brought his knitting.

Obama’s body language was grim, tired and grey.

Romney however looked at Obama as if he was an errant 6th son for whom he did not need notes for in order to dominate or scold. He almost looked as if he felt a little dewey-eyed sorry about having to fire Obama.  Not to the point where he was offering a reference for a future career, but he was certainly in charge, knew it and liked it. And as for all the ‘real’ people Romney has suddenly decided to name-drop in order to prove he’s a good guy, well that was a little tough to swallow. Are they from the half of Americans Romney was recently caught out writing off as moochers?

Romney the salesman certainly sold himself as worth a second look, and a second look that is sure to translate into votes he may well not otherwise have won. But in selling himself, he presented as the sort of manager who would sell anything to close a deal. Of course this could be upset if Romney’s blatant mistruths are hammered home, after all mendacity is not really the basis for a solid campaign. But what an opportunity Obama’s campaign missed with a strategy that was apparently so fixed that the Prez could not deviate no matter what his opponent did. 

The morning after, Obama was back to his old self. He was out on the stump, charging up the crowds. 

But that just positioned him as the skinny guy who thought of all the clever things to say only when he slumps away from the beach with a face full of sand.

When Romney admitted he liked Big Bird but wasn’t going to keep spending money on public broadcasting by borrowing money from China, post-debate Obama told a crowd he didn’t know Big Bird was responsible for the US debt...nor Elmo either. Big Bird tweeted that his bed time is usually 7:30 pm so he missed all the action, but he’d better be hoping Obama gets his act together because a Romney administration is sure going to strip the job security from the iconic yellow darling....and his hairy little red, blue and green mates. Even Oscar’s trash can may be foreclosed on.

Post-debate Obama told an election campaign crowd that he had met a very spirited guy (admission Obama was tepid), but that it couldn’t have been the real Mitt Romney because the new guy has gone suddenly and dramatically to entirely new policies.

Obama squandered a 58-million strong audience as he let Romney own the room, and that’s why the post debate analysis has been so full on.

The debate produced no ‘zinger’ moments from either candidate, but only Romney looked as if he had any ‘zing’ at all. The comedian Lewis Black summed Romney as “looking mildly more alert than the other guy”.

Romney’s camp says debate-Romney is the real Romney - not to be confused with the guy on the video slagging off half the country to people who paid $50,000 each to come hear him lay out his plans at a private dinner.

While Obama can smile and say the guy caught on camera is the real Mitt Romney, he needs to explain who it was who bore a striking physical resemblance to the President. 

In the end, the debate was a yawn because there was a moderator who couldn't enforce to the rules, and there was no cross fire on policy debate.

It was also both a very one sided victory an equally one-sided train wreck.