The cause of President Obama’s stunning loss in Wednesday night’s debate can be distilled to a single factor: The man thinks too much of himself and his “accomplishments,” and his advisers feel the same way.
The president who showed up Wednesday night really believes his own PR. He didn’t think there was anything to debate. He actually is under the impression he’s done a great job, and that Americans will just passively concur with his observations and conclusions.
Because he is Obama, he believes, they will accept that “trying” to fix things is enough. They’ll live with eight percent unemployment, one percent economic growth, trillion dollar deficits, a healthcare law they don’t like, and a vanishing ability of the United States to affect world events.
Obama is not bullshitting you when he says everything is George W. Bush’s fault. He really believes it, and thinks you will too.
And he thinks that, because he is Obama, people won’t take a serious look at an acceptable alternative. But they will. And last night, finally, that’s what they got.
Across the stage from a president who could be barely be bothered with the whole thing stood the Eager Beaver.
Mitt Romney was far better prepared than the president, armed with a deep understanding of the issues and an ability to rattle off statistics and ideas with an earnestness and lucidity that put the slumbering president to shame.
Romney did the most awful thing a challenger can do to a president: He implanted in the nation’s psyche the notion that he can do the job too, and maybe better. All across American last night, voters thought to themselves, This guy can handle the presidency. He seems to know what he’s talking about.
I thought the most devastating quip in the debate was this from Romney:
You said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas. Look, I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant.
This line, which I’m sure was prepared in advance, said many things to viewers.
It conveyed a sense of competence and experience Obama cannot match. It announced the the country that a serious man was contending for the presidency.
And, with Obama failing to even respond, it reminded them that they had elected a person of no significant accomplishment and no serious experience who may be out of his depth on the economy compared to Romney.
Obama, who was barely present onstage last night, was the same president who has been failing to show up for years.
He’s the man who can’t be bothered to tackle entitlement reform, to keep his promises on immigration, to negotiate a Middle East peace deal, to remind Americans that we are at war, to meet regularly with members of Congress, to meet with any world leaders at the UN last week, and to put away his golf clubs.
Last night, he couldn’t be bothered to debate. And today, the Obama campaign is feeling very bothered indeed.