Rich Galen

The pundiferous universe was acting as if the laws of political physics had been repealed as it tried to make sense of Barack Obama's abysmal performance in his debate with Mitt Romney Wednesday night.

Why didn't Obama respond? Why didn't Obama mention the 47 percent? Or Bain Capital. Or that dog-on-the-roof-of-the-car thing?

Why, at a minimum, didn't Obama challenge Romney on the facts?

The initial response of the Left was to try and change the subject. "How about them right wingers, huh?" Or, "Well, Al Sharpton thought Obama was great!"

By Thursday afternoon, the Obama campaign (and MSNBC) had reverted to type and was accusing Romney of lying. Lying. LYING!

I Tweeted:

16+ hrs on, the Obama team has finally found its voice: "Romney lied" Problem is: Even if true, Obama didn't know. He doesn't do details.

I think that's correct.

I did Warren Olney's Public Radio International program, "To the Point" and some guy was on with me that said Romney's claim that 50 percent of alternative energy projects had gone bust at a cost of $90 billion was soooooo wrong.

It was only four percent of projects.

I said (a) 4 percent of $90 billion is still a lot of money (I later did the actual calculation and found that it really is a lot of money: $3.6 billion - I was righter than I thought). And, I said, (b) Obama had no idea whether the figure was 5 percent, 50 percent, or 150 percent.

I have done my share of debate prep as we discussed the other day. My absolutely uninformed analysis is that the Obamas wanted to minimize the "Romney gains in stature just by being on the same stage with Obama" effect.

To that end, they didn't want Obama to engage Romney. They didn't want him to answer Romney. They didn't want him to even look at Romney.

Bad plan.

Obama looked at moderator Jim Lehrer or down at his notes or, later in the debate, the camera but almost never at Romney.

I am convinced that, on a personal level, Romney represents everything Obama grew up hating: A child (literally) of privilege who had all the advantages of being rich and White in America.

When Obama was a community organizer in Chicago railing against the rich folks who lived in the high rises on the lakefront; Romney was, metaphorically, the guy he was talking about.

Meanwhile, Romney looked at Obama while he was lecturing him on why he (Obama) was wrong, and why he (Romney) was correct.

Romney looked at Obama while Obama was stumbling around for an answer to a question Jim Lehrer had never asked.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at