In debate this time around, Mitt Romney hammered Barack Obama mercilessly. Under the ongoing assault Obama's knees buckled and he repeatedly looked glassy-eyed. If the contest were a prizefight, the referee would have stepped in. Actually, I felt sorry for Obama. My tax-bracket notwithstanding, I did not want to see Mitt hit him again, but he did: the economy! the national debt! joblessness! However, the debate was not a prizefight. It was the first of three presidential debates and, though restrained in the next two contests, Romney accomplished just what he wanted. The debates left him looking reasonable, informed, competent and presidential.
During these final two debates all Romney had to do was continue to look presidential. He glided suavely through them, as his opponent snarled, looking spiteful, petty, mean-spirited and second-rate. In sum, Obama looked like the challenger and not a very gifted challenger at that. In the end, most Americans went away feeling that Romney has the right stuff to be president, and some wondered why a majority ever elected Obama president in 2008. Obama's presidency proves that not just anyone can serve in the country's highest office. In 2012, the charisma of a showman has about exhausted itself as a qualification to lead America. Only the Washington press corps still hankers for a "thrill going up the leg" or "a perfectly creased pant leg" or whatever other literary device was meant to convey a pundit's enthrallment to the community organizer from Chicago. How about a fast-beating heart or tummy flutters?
Obama has come across as an amazingly close approximation of Jimmy Carter, complete with a slow-growth economy and a foreign policy disaster, though one of Obama's empty boasts was he understood the Arab world especially well. His backup team of David Axelrod and David Plouffe serve as second-rate Jody Powells and Ham Jordans. Frankly, I preferred Jody and Ham.