Detached. Bored. Not in command of the facts. Not even in command of his favorite talking points. Repetitious. Distracted. At times incoherent. Non-responsive to questions.
In need of a teleprompter.
That describes the performance the nation witnessed by Barack Obama in the first presidential debate with Mitt Romney Wednesday night.
Richard Nixon’s performance against John F. Kennedy in 1960 was much stronger.
Jimmy Carter’s performance against Ronald Reagan in 1980 was better.
Walter Mondale’s performance against Ronald Reagan in 1984 was more credible.
George H.W. Bush’s performance against Bill Clinton in 1992 was more impressive.
In the history of presidential debates, this one will go down as the most one-sided.
Had Obama performed this poorly against John McCain in 2008, it’s highly doubtful he could have been elected. But, even more astonishing with regard to this debate is the fact that it happened after Obama had been sitting in the White House for four years. It left me – and I’m sure many others – pondering the question: This guy’s the president?
How could this be?
I think I can answer that question.
Obama may have been pretending to be president for the last four years, but he has never been challenged before – not in the 2008 election and not since by a media infatuated with his presence and his agenda.
Mitt Romney challenged him – gently, I might add. He did so gentlemanly. He was gracious. He was hardly ruthless, and he did not confront Obama with most of his egregious sins and errors since he has been in the White House. He didn’t question his loyalty to the country, as I do. He didn’t question his eligibility, as I do. He didn’t question his life story, as I do. He didn’t mention Jeremiah Wright or Bill Ayers or his commie czars.
Yet he skillfully sliced and diced Obama in a way that was designed to appeal to those undecided voters, those independents on the fence and maybe even some Americans so burned out on politics they weren’t planning to vote.
In other words, what we saw Wednesday night was the real Obama – the Obama that has been obscured from public view by handlers, teleprompters, a lapdog media, image shapers, speechwriters. This is something John McCain couldn’t have done in 2008 even if he had the oratorical ability – because Obama was a blank slate back then. He had no record to run on or against – not even a birth certificate.
Putting substance aside, since Obama offered none, Romney blew away his opponent on debate style points. I don’t know if there has ever been a more lopsided battle since Sitting Bull vs. Custer.
Will all this make a difference in the election in November?
I think so. I have always been confident that Americans, as dumbed down, fat, lazy and stupid as we have become, would have enough common sense to reject a 100 percent failed president who has made the quality of their lives demonstrably worse.
I can hardly wait for Round 2.
Or will there even be a Round 2?
Will Obama subject himself, again, to such a thrashing? Might it be even worse next time? And what about the mismatch ahead between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden?
Are Obama and Biden capable of preparing themselves for the next time?
Are enough Americans paying attention to this spectacle?
Is this the beginning of the end for Obama-Biden?
My guess is the debate represents a turning point in what has been a very close race – a toss-up. I suspect Romney (and, even more so, Obama) turned a lot of heads in this debate, especially among those undecided voters and independents.
No one with half a brain could vote for Obama after watching that debate.