As last night’s debate ended, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC was not her usual perky, pro-Obama self. She refused to pick a winner, which means her guy didn’t do so well. “I do know that we saw this debate format die a very painful death on camera tonight,” she intoned.
Granted, the format was a bit tiresome. Mr. Obama simply wouldn’t let go of his misperceptions, causing Romney to correct him numerous times. But what Rachel Maddow saw was not the painful death of the format. It was the complete meltdown of a failed presidency, along with the inability of Mr. Obama to offer much substance on the issues that came up during the evening. As I have said many times before, Obama is a community organizer, an agitator. He is not a leader. His job, as he understands it, is to point out the problems as he sees them (America being one of them) and to stir up others to develop solutions. Look at his presidency. His aloofness and hands-off style demonstrates this fact.
The “mainstream” media has long portrayed Obama as a great leader and a stirring orator. I’ll grant that he has some oration skills, but those skills are primarily in the area of delivery. And to be effective, he requires a script. He never does well when he’s off script, and last night’s performance showed that again. Honestly, I’m shocked that his advisors allowed the format as it was devised, except that perhaps they expected Obama to hammer Romney on the idea that he’ll give tax breaks to the rich while hitting the middle class with more tax burden. He tried to do that, but Romney simply wouldn’t allow it.
Romney did what I knew he’d do. He was calm and in control. He was loaded with humor and smiled often. He displayed what I might call a worried look when watching Obama. Occasionally it made him seem emotional, but it could have been just a squint from the lights shining on stage. Obama, on the other hand, mostly looked down when Romney was speaking. He shook his head in a mechanical sense, almost like a student sitting at the feet of a good teacher.
Perhaps that’s an appropriate image. Barack Obama knows nothing about building a business. There is much he can learn from Mitt Romney about the things that build–and destroy–an economy. Gosh, at times last night, I felt pity for Obama. I found myself saying aloud more than once, “this guy is in over his head.”
In preparation for last night’s debate, I watched about two and a half hours of pre-event coverage, mostly on Fox. Beginning an hour before the debate I switched to MSNBC and there I stayed until after the debate was concluded. As the pre-debate program began on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews could barely contain themselves. They were energetic, excited, and very vocal in their support of Obama. Chris Matthews was literally bouncing in his seat, probably still reeling from the tingle he gets in his leg when he hears Obama speak.
The program music was stirring; as it began one could hear Maddow’s strong voice detailing how Obama had saved the nation from the economic disaster brought about by the Republican party under the administration of George W. Bush. Lawrence O’Donnell proclaimed that the evening’s format favored Obama because Romney has things to hide regarding his economic plans and his tax returns.
Whereas on Fox they were allowing both Democrats and Republicans to speak about their expectations, on MSNBC it was an all-out cheerleading event for Barack Obama.
More than once in the past week I heard the left-leaning talking heads on TV suggest that if you really want to see a presidential man, turn the sound off during the debate and just watch the mannerisms of Mr. Obama. I wondered who dreamed up such a ridiculous idea. Even more important, I wondered about the motivation behind the suggestion. Perhaps all the pro-Obama energy of recent days is hype? Has it all been a cover? Are they working so hard to get Obama re-elected because they know that it’s not going to happen?
Matthews and Maddow waxed poetic about Democrat unity. They presented the Democrat party as if it were a Clinton-Obama love fest. Numerous sources close to the Clintons have made it clear over the last four years that Bill and Hillary are no fans of Barack Obama. Politically, however, the Clintons are some of the nation’s most ambitious. Hillary still wants to be president. My expectation is that she’ll run in 2016. She’s biding her time, and along with Bill, the two of them are smiling their way to what they hope will be a repeat performance in the White House.
Yesterday, I suggested that I’d offer a grade to Mitt Romney based upon his performance in the debate. I knew he’d do well, but he did even better than expected. Obama did worse than expected.
The Obama team began its damage control immediately after the debate. It boils down to this: Romney is a good debater, but he’s out to soak the middle class and make his rich friends richer. The debate, they said repeatedly, is not a game changer.
As the French say, au contraire mon ami. I beg to differ. Last night did change the game. It didn’t take Romney from losing to winning because he was already winning. But it did increase his margin. Why? Because he was presidential. Knowledgeable, concerned about the economic pain caused by this president and his allies in Congress, in control, and clear, Romney hit a home run. He even made constitutional conservatives like me feel a bit better about his upcoming presidency. He insisted on returning control of education and healthcare to local constituencies in the states. He stood up for the 10th Amendment, and he called Obama out for misrepresenting the current state of oil production.
Romney also left us with concise statements about what his presidential priorities will be:
“My priority is jobs.”
“Trickle-down government doesn’t work.”
“I will not increase the deficit.”
“I will not raise taxes on the middle class.”
While Obama stammered, hesitated, glanced at his feet, and even looked to the moderator for help (which he occasionally received), Romney laid out five points for saving the nation:
Education and skills training
Being a champion of small businesses
Are there still things we don’t know about Romney’s details? Yes. But, as he said, we do know the broad contours of his plans and we’re starting to get a firm grasp of the values that inform his decisions. Will he compromise too often with liberal Democrats? Perhaps. But that’s a risk we’ll have to take. We can cross that bridge when we get to it.
One thing is sure. We’re finally getting to know Barack Obama. The empty suit who led the throngs of adoring worshipers can no longer hide behind the supporting cast of left-leaning media. Everyone appreciates a good slogan. “Yes we can” and “hope and change” are words that ring delightfully in the ear. But there are other words being heard by average Americans these days: “Sorry, but we have to let you go,” or “I can’t afford my mortgage,” and “the plant where I work is closing.”
On the day after Barack Obama was elected to the presidency, I told a gloating colleague that Obama would never be re-elected. My friend disagreed, but I was adamant. “He has raised expectations beyond what is reasonable and he has played upon the emotions of millions,” I said. “By the end of his first term people on both sides of the political spectrum will be disgruntled.” If you compare the attitude of Chris Matthews after the debate with his attitude before the debate, you’ll understand just how right I was.
Mitt, your grade on this assignment is “A.” You’re not only learning how to be president, you seem to be learning more about the values of the Constitution. No student is perfect, however, and you still have some growing to do. I look forward to helping you accomplish that growth. There are many others who will join me.