As he prepares for the second debate, Obama faces a major dilemma:
how to be more aggressive without jeopardizing his alleged likability, the main thing he supposedly has going for him with voters.
The Barack Obama the public usually sees is not the real Barack Obama. The former is a carefully manufactured media image designed to appear eminently reasonable, highly engaged, ultra-caring, inordinately intelligent and as one who transcends the pettiness that plagues so many politicians. The real Obama is none of those things.
These things wouldn't matter as much if the liberal media hadn't insulated Obama from scrutiny and covered over his policy failures, his ideological extremism and his corruption. They've allowed the fable of his extraordinary gifts to remain largely unchallenged.
The media haven't even complained on behalf of their own interests
-- about Obama's infrequent news conferences or the tight control he exercises and careful scripting he employs when he does deign to meet with them.
That's one explanation for the pronounced disconnect between Obama's likability and the unpopularity of his policies. If the press weren't always sheltering him and spinning the news in his favor, it would be a wholly different ballgame.
But having hidden behind this shield, Obama exposes himself to severe injury when it is removed, which is precisely what happened in the first debate, as reflected in his sustained drop in the polls after it.
Much of Obama's support was soft because it was based on false images. Stripped of media protection during the debate, his profound weaknesses were exposed for 70 million to see, and there's no going back.
Unhappily for Obama, Americans also saw the real Mitt Romney, who is a far cry from the demon depicted by Team Obama.
If Obama is more aggressive, he runs the risk of appearing obnoxious and shattering the myth of his likability, not to mention that Mitt will be ready for this ploy.
Though it is true that Obama is not Joe Biden, he has shown himself quite capable of being condescending, petulant and downright nasty, as we witnessed in his treatment of John McCain and Paul Ryan.
Granted, moderator Jim Lehrer was mostly passive and Romney was effective at controlling the debate and making sure it was essentially an unfiltered contest between him and Obama -- the way it should have been.