I watched the debate, and I’ve listened to/read the spin and follow-up commentary. I agree with the consensus from both left and right that Romney won the debate, but I also agree with Joel Engel over at LI:
Last night was a major reason why so many people, including Professor Jacobson, were so jazzed by the idea of a Newt Gingrich nomination. Obama spent the debate pretending that he hadn’t been president the last four years. Romney spent more time than he should have doing the same.
Every haymaker Romney landed came when he remembered to mention how Obama was responsible for [fill in the blank]. Every time he didn’t he missed an opportunity to get deeper under Obama’s gossamer thin skin and trigger a glimpse of the president’s authoritarian arrogance that he struggles so hard to hide. You can see him fighting it, which I think is why he looks down.
What I’m waiting for is that defining moment when the real Obama is revealed, just like at the end of Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd, when Lonesome Rhodes accidentally lets the mask drop on national television to devastating effect on his career.
Romney has the power to make that happen by channeling his inner Newt. If he can’t do it at least once over the next two debates—well, I tremble for our country. You can bet that, next time, Obama won’t blow off his prep. Next time, he’s bringing Chicago with him. And Salt Lake City won’t cut it.
I’m not as “if only we had Newt” as Engel, mostly because I think that just about any conservative has the ability to “reveal” the real 0. Or more aptly to set the stage for the real 0 to reveal himself. I also think–as long as we’re engaging in wishful thinking–that it would be better if someone like the fabulous Paul Ryan did it than Newt. Newt can be abrasive and off-putting to all but those of us who already support “not 0,” while Ryan has that genuine niceness that could rip off the 0 mask without offending any but the most die-hard koolaid-slurping Obot. But we have Romney, and he either wasn’t willing to “go there” or is saving that for the third debate (the next one is town hall-style and won’t lend itself to the sort of prodding that 0 needs to reveal himself). My sense is that he doesn’t want to go there, that he wants to appear presidential and doesn’t have Reagan’s (or Ryan’s) ability to pull off what needs to happen while remaining presidential and without stoking the leftists’ slapping down the expired race card, en masse (they’re doing that anyway, though, so . . . ).
I’ve been saying for ages that thin-skinned, arrogant, petty, mean-spirited, petulant 0 will meltdown, publicly and epically, and I believe that is more than possible, it’s highly likely . . . IF Romney is willing to take off the gloves just a bit. Not only does America need to see 0 in all his spiteful, sneering, condescending glory but 0 is ready to spout all sorts of commie nonsense, to define his real vision for “fundamental transformation,” and to provide some further “you didn’t build that,” “at some point, you’ve made enough money,” and “I think it’s better for everyone if we spread the wealth around” revelations to the American people. He’s been ready, that’s who he is and what he really wants to say.
“Forward!” is not a mistake; it’s right in line with every other (failed) commie tyrant’s campaign slogan and vision. Romney needs to take him there–channeling either his inner Newt or his inner Ryan–and let 0 explain that in his own stuttering, rambling, hesitant, confused way to the American people.