It’s already been said, but I may as well say it my own way: The debate was pure destruction. Obama looked as though he had been wheeled out to the podium straight from orthopaedic surgery with the general anaesthetic still about 10% effective. He seemed in pain at times, incapable of putting together anything other than neural flatulence and incoherent, staggering sentence fragments. His “explanation” of that Cleveland clinic was cringe-worthy, because, you know, doctors ordered tests and then people got tests, which is a good thing because, umm, tests should be done and, umm, uhhh, but the tests should be done efficiently because there are tests and we need tests to be efficient.
Romney, on the other hand, looked and sounded as though he had spent the past six months being held hostage in the Oxford Union watching videos of Margaret Thatcher, Christopher Hitchens, and William F. Buckley. What he lacks in their charm he made up for in precision and sheer numerical knowledge. I saw the word “crisp” in almost every conservative reaction to Romney. It’s the perfect adjective.
Boxing analogies were common after the debate: I saw some references to Joe Frazier and Primo Carnera over at NRO. My own analogy is Mike Tyson versus Buster Douglas. Tyson, who had been coddled and shilled for by the media for several years, thought he could slack off against the uncool Douglas, who pounded him with better skills and strategy for ten rounds. If you listen to the original fight commentary, you’ll hear the announcers reacting in total shock each time Douglas lands blows on Tyson, because in their narrative, that just wasn’t supposed to happen. Similarly, I turned on MSNBC after the debate to find six or seven adult-children in total meltdown, scrambling to grab any ad hoc justification for why their guy committed sepuku on stage with Romney’s help. The spin was transparent: Obama’s losing was actually the more “presidential” thing to do, Romney was nasty at times, Romney lied (said Al “Tawana Brawley” Sharpton), yada yada yada. There’s no denying it: If only until the next debate, Obama’s chances of getting re-elected just went down.