I’ve watched an awful lot of debates between politicians. I’ve never seen one like last night’s.
Looking back at the GOP primary debates, there was only one debate performance that even came close to last night’s. That was Newt Gingrich’s anti-media kill shot in South Carolina. He won that primary but went on to lose the war.
Mitt Romney consistently performed well during the primary debates, which is part of the reason that he is the nominee. But he never performed as well in those debates as he did in the first presidential debate. No one did. Mitt Romney was efficient, informed, nimble, aggressive, and likeable at the same time. Obama achieved none of those things. He never even seemed to try.
The question is, can he perform as well or better in the second and third debates?
That’s not an idle question. President Obama’s performance was so bad that even his friends, Chris Matthews and Bill Maher, blasted him. Maher said he needed a teleprompter. James Carville said Obama didn’t bring his A game. The truth is, last night might have been Obama’s A game. He has never been challenged to his face the way Mitt Romney challenged him.
But a careful post-game analysis finds a danger for the dominator.
Romney was so dominant that he can only get worse from here. Obama was so awful that he can only improve.
Do you see what the mainstream media can do with those trajectories?
They’re already writing the script at the New York Times. Now Obama just has to look better in the next debate than he looked last night.
How can he not look better in the next debate? He would have to forget his own name, fall off the stage and rip the arms off his suit to reveal Che tattoos on his biceps. He would have to pause the debate for a smoke break and come back staggering and smelling like a brewery. Absent any of that, he’ll improve. Even a steady-state Romney performance will not hit with the same force that his surprise demolition carried last night.
Here it comes. The media may whisper, before they start to shout at the first opportunity:
Barack Obama, the comeback kid. Mitt Romney, the fading one-hit wonder.
Mitt Romney can’t get cocky. He still needs to finish the job he started last night.
Or, as this poster I found on facebook last night explains: