Thursday, October 4, 2012



I realized that 
Mitt Romney has
been merely biding
his time  playing it
safe until the debates 
to finally kick ass, 
when he showed up 
in Denver wearing
steel-toe combat boots!

The battleground  the University of Denver in Colorado. The battle  the first of three scheduled presidential debate face-offs between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. And quickly following the rivals' obligatory handshake and opening pleasantries regarding Mr. and Mrs. Obama's 20th wedding anniversary, it became quite evident that this duel would be dominated by the GOP challenger. In fact, at times, I lost sight of just which guy was the incumbent.

Throughout the 90-minute exchange, Romney maintained a calm, cool, confident and very presidential demeanor  with his head up, smiling and listening intently and respectfully when the President spoke. Conversely, Obama rarely looked up from his lectern as Romney challenged his job performance  giving the appearance of an embarrassed, naughty schoolboy being scolded by the headmaster. (How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?!)

Romney focused on his personal record of success as governor of Massachusetts, while the President focused on the failures of George W. Bush, the successes of Bill Clinton and what he'll try to accomplish if elected to another term. And in that regard, Obama sounded more like a candidate seeking the office as opposed to the incumbent who already has the gig. (FYI, Obama did NOT save the American automobile industry.)

But perception is reality and I briefly considered the possibility that I'm too politically biased to be viewing the debate objectively  that was until my girlfriend walked in the room. With little personal interest in politics, but typically leaning towards the left, Michelle and I watched half a bag of pretzels worth of the debate together before she blurted out a derogatory comment regarding Obama's performance and stormed out of the room  along with the aforementioned bag of pretzels.

Projecting all of the enthusiasm of a guy sitting at the bar who just lost his woman (or in this case, possibly his job), Obama's Senior Campaign Strategist David Axelrod attempted to spin what clearly was a disastrous night for the President. Appearing on CNN, a desperate Axelrod went on the attack  charging that Romney had weeks in which to "polish his lines." Be that as it may, Obama had an equal opportunity in which to "polish," yet he chose to devote much of his recent schedule to hanging with such homies as Jay-Z and Beyoncé and exchanging "warm and fuzzies" with the giddy gals of The View.

I had tuned in to Fox for much of the debate coverage, but the true "wow" moment of the night for me occurred when I switched over to MSNBC for a bit of their unique brand of balanced journalism. With his hair in a rat's nest, veins bulging from his brow and literally spitting as he spoke, Hardball host Chris Matthews' post-debate commentary more closely resembled the tirade of a scorned lover than objective reporting from a newsman  screaming on camera, "Where was Obama?!"

But even as CNN was revealing poll results showing viewers chose Romeny hands-down as the winner over Obama by a whopping 67% to 25%, political commentator and all 'round liberal wet blanket James Carville was quick to minimize the event. He pointed out that a debate victory doesn't necessarily affect poll standings and he urged the public not to make too much of Romney's decisive and impressive showing.

So what does this all mean? Well, I'm not sure. But if nothing else, Romney finally seized the opportunity to step up and plead his case effectively before the American public  something he had yet to accomplish. He was knowledgeable, confident, compassionate, caring and as I said, VERY presidential. And although his performance last night may not turn the election around completely, it did provide the "zinger" necessary to at least level the playing field. Game on!

-Christopher Long
(October 2012)

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