The second presidential debate is now history.
As was the case in Mitt Romney’s first encounter with President Obama a couple of weeks ago in Denver, the former prevailed.
That Obama was feistier than he was in the first debate is undeniable. However, equally undeniable is that, as far as his electoral prospects are concerned, he didn’t do himself any favors.
Actually, I think when this election is all said and done, we will realize that the President harmed himself.
Obama, you see, wasn’t just feisty. He was insulting. He was cocky. He was condescending.
In short, Obama simply didn’t appear presidential.
In fact, he appeared resolutely un-presidential.
In contrast, Romney, though firm and factual, was measured. But perhaps he can afford to be, for Romney is a man who exudes authority without uttering a syllable.
And when he does speak, such is his command over the facts—and his opponent’s lies—that one could be forgiven for having to constantly remind oneself that it is Romney who is the challenger and Obama the president.
Obama was trying hard to redeem himself from the beating that he suffered at Romney’s hands in Denver, what may have been the most one-sided pummeling in the history of presidential debates. And he was laboring diligently to establish to the world that he is not the incompetent president that legions of Americans have come to see him as.
Yet this was Obama’s problem: he was trying hard, yes, but he was trying too hard.
And it showed.
In other words, a person who really knows his stuff and who possesses a healthy, justified confidence in himself will not appear to be trying at all. Whatever he says or does, he will say or do effortlessly.
The person who has mastered his craft will make it look easy. The mathematician, the dancer, the martial artist, and the Olympic ice skater leave us thinking that anyone, with the greatest of ease, can do what they do.
Most of us, however, once we try our hand at any of these activities, are instantly relieved our delusions. The recognition that one is an amateur still is sobering, humbling.
Yet Obama is and has always been intoxicated on his own hype. Humility, long regarded as a cardinal Christian virtue, is an excellence in which Obama is in exceedingly short supply.
The good actor is the actor who doesn’t appear to be acting. But while Obama was all theater last night, he has neither the sobriety nor the humility to realize that he is just not that good of an actor.
Not only is this not going to help his sagging poll numbers. It is going to harm him.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, there will be no second act for Obama.
The third debate is going to transpire on a very different sort of stage than the one Obama performed upon last night. He will not be free to walk around, to work a crowd, and to turn his back on Romney when the latter punches one hole after the other in his script.
What is infinitely worse for Obama is that, because he is such a thoughtless actor, he apparently never even paused to consider that one of his lines from last night’s show may have just undercut the whole narrative that he and his team have worked so tirelessly (yet sloppily) to compose.
Obama, without missing a beat, claimed to have identified from the outset the September 11th attack on our embassy in Libya as a terrorist attack. This, though, is nothing more or less than a boldfaced lie.
That it is a lie was confirmed—but again—within seconds of the completion of the debate. Far from undoing the scandal over our second 9/11 in which his administration has been embroiled, Obama’s lie has just exacerbated it. He added a whopper of a lie upon a house of lies that has been in the making ever since this grisly attack occurred. In doing so, he contradicted the narrative of innocence that his team has been busy at work spinning.
Obama also provided Romney with red meat that the Republican challenger will be sure to grab hold of for all that it is worth when the two meet to discuss foreign policy in their third and final debate on Monday night.
So, my verdict is this: not only did Obama’s arrogance cost him last night’s debate, it paved the way for but another Romney victory on Monday evening.