Barack Obama apparently thought his imperial persona would knock Mitt Romney out of the ring Wednesday night. It didn’t happen. Obama’s overrated debating skills didn’t show up, nor did a credible defense of his policies that have the economy stuck in slow to no growth mode while he calls for higher taxes.
Result: his defeat was the worst in the 28 years since viewers were first polled on presidential debates. Romney won by a landslide 67 percent to Obama’s 25 percent, according to a CNN/ORC International survey immediately after the debate. “No presidential candidate has topped 60 percent in that question since it was first asked in 1984,” CNN’s polling director said. Get this: more than one-third, 35 percent, said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney, but only 18 percent said likewise about Obama.
Making Romney’s victory sweeter, final Nielsen data showed that 67.2 million viewers watched the debate, 28 percent more than the 52.4 million that tuned in for the first 2008 debate between Obama and GOP nominee John McCain.
The Chicago Tribune editorialized: “Romney was alert, energized and confident. Obama slumped his shoulders, smiled mostly to himself, and for some reason kept staring down. He was that guy at the meeting who’s surreptitiously checking his email.”
Obama supporters, notably liberal pundits, came down hard on their hero. Time magazine’s Joe Klein wrote: “Mitt Romney won this debate. Barack Obama lost it. I mean, he got his butt kicked. It was, in fact, one of the most inept performances I’ve ever seen by a sitting president.” He gave Romney credit for being “calm, clear, convincing,” but added: “The real mystery was Obama. Where on earth was he? Why was his debate strategy unilateral disarmament?”
The New Yorker’s David Remnick lamented Obama’s “I-don’t-wanna-be-here-please-get-me-outta-here manner; his barely-able-to-rouse-himself incapacity to pounce on Mitt Romney’s empty and contradictory policy prescriptions; his unwillingness even to craft a solid two-minute closing statement.”
Wild man Chris Matthews on the little-watched MSNBC threw a hissy fit about Obama’s debacle. “I don’t’ know what he was doing out there He had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it,” Matthews ranted. “Where was Obama tonight?”
Al Gore, discredited one-time Dem presidential candidate who sighed his way into losing a decisive debate with George W. Bush, came up with a thin air excuse for Obama falling on his face. Gore said maybe the high altitude of Denver, the debate site, was to blame. Obama arrived “just a few hours before the debate started,” Gore said on Current TV, while “Romney did his debate prep in Denver. When you go to 5,000 feet and you only have a few hours to adjust – I don’t know, maybe…”
The best zinger came from so-called humorist and diehard Obama supporter Bill Maher: “I can’t believe I’m saying this but Obama looks like he does need a Teleprompter.”
This time the emperor was caught without his clothes.