Thursday, October 4, 2012

Shocking Failure of President Obama in First 2012 Debate Leads to Immediate Crisis in His Campaign For Re-election


It's time to tell the WHOLE TRUTH and nothing but about  last night's ludicrous "debate" between the President and one of the most despicable immoral cretins ever to run for the Presidency, Mitt Romney. Incredibly Obama LOST bigtime!  What an utterly pathetic performance by  the President!  He was unbelievably bad.  JUST FUCKING AWFUL.  He looked and sounded scared, defensive,  distracted, weak, unengaged, confused, and WOEFULLY ill-prepared.  It was a complete disaster that actually made Romney the pathological liar look and sound credible.  Which is absolutely stunning given the ever present reality that nearly every single thing out of his mouth was 100% FALSE.  And yet Obama stood there at the lectern stupidly looking down and scribbling notes (?)  and refusing for 95% of the entire evening to make any eye contact with either Romney or the camera, while endlessly droning on and on like he was pedantically lecturing at an absurdly boring college seminar.  It was a ridiculous performance which has inexplicably now given Romney an opening and a real opportunity to win this election that he NEVER should have had at all if only Obama had simply shown some GUTS and taken on his moronic opponent like a real LEADER and not an egocentric and cowardly chump looking for somebody to feel sorry for him and suggest that Romney was simply taking advantage of his "goodwill" or "politesse" or whatever the fuck kind of boneheaded and silly excuse the President was indulging in.  To say I was shocked, stunned, angry, or "disappointed" would all be vast understatements. Watching Obama tonight all I really felt was DISGUST...To think that I and so many other people are going to have to vote for this coward because the psychotic "alternative" is far worse just sums up why this particular presidential election is the DEPRESSING FARCE that it really is and one of the worst I've ever seen...I've been saying since 2008 that the only way that Obama could lose his bid for re-election in the end would be a lethal combination of RACISM AND HUBRIS...THEIR RACISM AND HIS HUBRIS.  After tonight I feel that way now more than ever...


Comment by Chuleenan on last night's debate that she sent to the Obama website:

I'm writing because I'm VERY disappointed in the president's debate performance tonight. He didn't engage, didn't debate. He lectured! I didn't want to hear a wonky talk from him. I can't believe he didn't attack Romney, didn't address the $716B in Medicare cuts that are in the Ryan budget but that Romney kept saying Obama was cutting. I know they're not cuts but why let Romney's dishonest repetition of those comments stand? I'm still voting for Obama but he better do much better at the next debate and act like he cares.

President Obama did badly in his first debate—by his standards, by those of his supporters, and in comparison to Mitt Romney.

"Surely, Obama’s campaign strategists know this. So why did the President avoid a heavy counter-attack of Mitt Romney? A lot of black people in social media are saying it’s because the President has to avoid looking like an angry black man. No one (and by no one, they mean white people) wants the specter of a black man threatening or sassing the good, smart white businessman who only wants what’s best for us. Sigh.

During Obama’s April 26, 2007 primary debate in South Carolina, he received a softball question that he flubbed, perfectly illustrating how race binds his words and actions.

Q: The NAACP has asked tourists, groups and sporting events not to come to South Carolina until the confederate flag has been removed from the statehouse grounds. Do you agree with that? Why are you, the candidates, in South Carolina if they support the NAACP? A: I think that the Confederate flag should be put in a museum. That’s where it belongs. But we’ve got an enormous debate that’s taking place in this country right now. And we’ve got to engage the people of South Carolina in that debate.

He started out strong, then conceded that the confederate flag was a matter of debate. And when he got to the Oval Office, he continued the Presidential tradition of sending dead Confederate veterans a wreath for their Arlington National Cemetery monument."


The quote above from the following article is an expression of a profound intellectual, moral, and political COWARDICE with respect to white people and their racist bullshit generally that I see far too often in blackfolks today and ESPECIALLY in the generation(s) under the age of 50.  In some very disturbing and self destructive ways I also see President Obama (who turned 51 on August 4) as a major and rather bizarre "generational spokesman" for these reactionary attitudes and values regarding the absurd racist category and pervasive American FEAR AND HATRED of the "angry black man" (who BTW is "also" a "human being").  Until we all wake up from and denounce this self induced COMA and COWARDICE among black people today we will be and remain SLAVES AND VICTIMS of the 21st century edition of the the racist doctrine of white supremacy--which is to say "Slavery by Another Name"... Whether Obama is President or not...


It's Time For Obama To Become The 'Angry Black Man'
By Kelly Virella
Dominion of New York    

President Obama performed so badly in the debate last night that Amy Davidson from the New Yorker was able to cite seven opportunities he missed to nail Mitt Romney. I think her most egregious example was the President’s failure to swoop down on Romney’s comment that he needed to tell his attorney about the tax deduction Obama said U.S. corporations receive when they move American jobs abroad.

Romney said: “You said you get a deduction for getting a plant overseas. Look, I’ve been in business for twenty-five years. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant.”

Obama should have said, according to Davidson:

a) “Sounds like you have a lot of experience moving jobs overseas.” b) “Governor, you’re the one who is wrong. You might even find that deduction in the hundred of pages of your own returns” c) “I don’t know, Governor, based on what we know about the rate of taxes you pay, you might want to keep that accountant.” (Nick Paumgarten came up with that one in The New Yorker’s live chat.)

The President’s failure to catch that rhetorical softball was bad, but far worse was his glaring refusal to confront and sting Romney for flip-flopping on big matters like his tax plan. The Washington Post, The New York Times, and all agree that Romney has proposed a $5 trillion tax cut. As a Facebook friend of mine suggested, Obama could at any moment have pulled back and said, “Ok, yesterday you had one tax plan. Now you say have another. What exactly is your plan? I have time for you to explain it.”

Romney changed his entire tone during the debate, largely by parroting Obama’s talking points, leading a lot of viewers to wonder — egged on by moderator Jim Lehrer’s questions — how the two men actually differ. Smarter people than me, including Gene Demby writing for Dominion of New York, say the impact of Presidential debates is overstated. But if this debate is an exception, Romney’s parroting of Obama could very well be a major blow to Obama’s campaign.

Most likely, Romney’s logic is that if white independent voters are given a choice between a black man and a white man with the same ideas, the white voters will choose the white man, because he makes them feel more “comfortable.” It’s a very cynical way of thinking that could actually help Mitt Romney win this election.

Surely, Obama’s campaign strategists know this. So why did the President avoid a heavy counter-attack of Mitt Romney? A lot of black people in social media are saying it’s because the President has to avoid looking like an angry black man. No one (and by no one, they mean white people) wants the specter of a black man threatening or sassing the good, smart white businessman who only wants what’s best for us. Sigh.

During Obama’s April 26, 2007 primary debate in South Carolina, he received a softball question that he flubbed, perfectly illustrating how race binds his words and actions.

Q: The NAACP has asked tourists, groups and sporting events not to come to South Carolina until the confederate flag has been removed from the statehouse grounds. Do you agree with that? Why are you, the candidates, in South Carolina if they support the NAACP? 

A: I think that the Confederate flag should be put in a museum. That’s where it belongs. But we’ve got an enormous debate that’s taking place in this country right now. And we’ve got to engage the people of South Carolina in that debate.

He started out strong, then conceded that the confederate flag was a matter of debate. And when he got to the Oval Office, he continued the Presidential tradition of sending dead Confederate veterans a wreath for their Arlington National Cemetery monument.

I understand that as a black man at the helm of this nation, Obama is in a pickle. Ta-nehisi Coates wrote a great description of that predicament in his landmark “Fear of a Black President” essay:

“Part of Obama’s genius is a remarkable ability to soothe race consciousness among whites. Any black person who’s worked in the professional world is well acquainted with this trick. But never has it been practiced at such a high level, and never have its limits been so obviously exposed. This need to talk in dulcet tones, to never be angry regardless of the offense, bespeaks a strange and compromised integration indeed, revealing a country so infantile that it can countenance white acceptance of blacks only when they meet an Al Roker standard.”

I don’t pretend to be happy around white people, which is one reason I probably could never be successful in a corporate environment. But I do understand and respect the compromise that black people make everyday to get along in their workplaces, including the White House. I even understand why, back in 2007, Obama didn’t say about the Confederate flag, “The South lost a war that left hundreds of thousands of Americans dead, while defending slavery. The flag is history. Put it in a museum and move on.”

Putting up with BS is part of what keeps President Obama alive. So I’ve stood behind most of his compromises and concessions. But I’m at the point now where I really need to see someone in power — namely my President — challenge it.

The fear that white people will perceive us as angry controls the behavior of far too many powerful black people — possibly even the most powerful black person in the world, the President of the United States of America.

How long will we allow this type of fear to control us? When will be the right time for us to speak our minds on our jobs, in our Presidential debates?

If your answer is never, that’s a problem.

I’m not asking Obama to go Redd Foxx or Sherman Helmsley and start clowning Romney. I am simply asking him to be firm and direct, to be the authority figure that he is, to be the President.

Some white people won’t have a problem with it. Some will. It could cost him the election. It could propel him to victory.

The point is: No one really knows what would happen if the President truly challenged Romney in a debate. The only way to find out is by trying.

A Nationally-Televised Presidential Fail
Thursday, 04 October 2012
By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout 

President Barack Obama, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and moderator Jim Lehrer, center, after the presidential debate at the University of Denver, in Denver, October 3, 2012. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)


"I don't know how he let Romney get away with the crap he threw out tonight."
--Chris Matthews, MSNBC

It is never a pleasant experience to lead an article with a Chris Matthews quote, but in this instance, it suits the moment. Something like 60 million people tuned in Wednesday night to watch President Obama and Governor Romney face each other in the first debate of the election. What they got, in the end, was a mess.

First of all, and let's just get this one out of the way, it is my devout hope that Jim Lehrer has moderated his last debate. The man lost control of the situation from the beginning, interrupted the participants on multiple occasions, and allowed Mr. Romney to steamroll through time limit after time limit. It was as if some recently-unemployed NFL replacement referee wandered onstage and took the moderator's chair. Lehrer seemed to have no conception of the purpose of his role in the event, threw flags that were not warranted, and called holding penalties that only served to interrupt the flow. Jim Lehrer, sad to say, made David Gregory's performance during the Scott Brown-Elizabeth Warren debate look like Masterpiece Theater by comparison, and that, my friends, is saying something.

But that gripe only goes so far. Mr. Obama, I am sure, was counseled to be cautious on Wednesday night; after all, he's ahead, and all the pressure was on Romney to come through in a big way. For my part, I had high hopes that Mr. Obama would be aggressive with Romney, pin him down on any number of the contradictions and outright fabrications that define the GOP candidate's campaign, and park the argument once and for all in front of the largest audience this race is likely to see: this guy is a fatuous gasbag, a rudderless bullshit artist of the purest ray serene, and here is the proof...and here, and here, and here, and also here and here, and here, and also here.

It did not happen that way.

Three moments from Wednesday night stand out for me in high relief.

The first came when Mr. Romney re-re-re-re-re-told the $716 billion Medicare lie around 43 minutes into the debate. To wit: "Under the president's plan, he cuts Medicare by $716 billion, takes that money out of the Medicare trust fund and uses it to pay for Obamacare," said Romney. This is a brazen lie, which was debunked in front of a massive television audience by former President Bill Clinton during the Democratic National Convention to lethal effect. This was around the tenth outright lie Romney told on Wednesday night, but would not be the last. Mr. Obama, in that moment, had a golden opportunity to blow Mr. Romney right out of the room. By calling Romney out on that one epic deception, by driving the point home hard and deep, Obama would have in the process called every other assertion Romney made, and would make, into question. Tag a liar for being a liar, and he stays a liar in the eyes of all in observance.

But that great big fat hanging meatball of a pitch sailed right over the plate, and Mr. Obama did not swing at it. A dozen other like-sized lies meatballed their way slowly and ponderously through the strike zone as the evening ground on, and in similar fashion, Mr. Obama turned up his nose and allowed them to slap into the catcher's mitt unmolested.

The second moment came during the "Role of Government" segment. Both candidates, when asked about their opinions on the role of government in American society, delivered a word-salad that best represents...well, nothing, really, at all. Word-salad is made of iceberg lettuce: it has no nutritional value, very little taste, but will pass through the system without upsetting the digestion. Romney and Obama both went into safe and happy mode during this portion of the debate, which I am sure pleased the Romney camp to no end, because it was during that segment that they were most in peril.

See, in a discussion of the role of government, Mr. Obama could have brought up Mr. Romney's widely-known opinions on 47 percent of the populace, and annihilated for all time the idea that half the country is comprised of victims who only want to live on the public dole. He didn't. Mr. Obama could have brought up the state-level GOP government jihad on women's reproductive rights, and indeed on women's very lives.

He didn't.

Mr. Obama served up another word-salad instead, and allowed Mr. Romney to escape a moment that could have defined not only this campaign, but the ongoing argument in this country. Mr. Obama had the opportunity, in front of 60 million people, to tattoo the catechism of the far right onto Mr. Romney's forehead, but once again, he let the moment slide by.

Which brings me, most frustratingly, to moment number three.

In minute 77 of the debate, Mr. Romney donned a big, sad hound-dog face and rolled off a litany of economic woes currently being endured by the American people. Here is the big chance, I thought as I watched, for Mr. Obama to put the bricks to his opponent in undeniable fashion. Here is the moment to repeat everything Romney said about high unemployment, more people on food stamps and all the rest of that sad, accurate assessment of modern American life...and then remind the country of the Republican Party's catastrophic record during the 21st century, remind everyone that Romney is a Republican, and say, "You built that."

Talk about a zinger.

But of course it didn't happen. Mr. Romney was allowed to go on and on about the economic problems America is dealing with without ever once having to recognize and answer for the fact that it was the policies of his own party - indeed, the policies he still espouses - that caused this whole debacle to begin with...because Mr. Obama failed to hold all that against him. It isn't as if Mr. Obama doesn't know these things. He does. We all do; it's axiomatic at this point. He just failed to call the guilty parties to account, on national television, in front of 60 million Americans, at the moment when doing so would have, quite simply, sealed the deal.

Mr. Obama had opportunity after opportunity to draw a bright, shining line between the policies he is pursuing and the demented nonsense being espoused by his opponent, and he could not summon the will to do so. Mr. Obama had the opportunity to underscore the dangerous madness boiling behind the scenes of Romney's plastic-fantastic campaign, and he failed to do so. Allowing such a freight of nonsense to pass undisturbed gives that freight unwarranted legitimacy, and Mr. Obama was too polite - or too whatever - to call out The Crazy for what it is.

Here's what I know for sure: The "mainstream" news media has been slavering for an opportunity to explode the headlines and TV shows with "Romney's Back, It's Close!" stories, because a close race is what moves the money their way. They got their chance on Wednesday night, and they will take it. Welcome to the rest of the week, and the weeks to come.

Here's what I know for sure: blaming the moderator is a weak excuse. Jim Lehrer was terrible, but Mr. Obama is very suddenly running out of time to demonstrate that he is the President of the United States of America, and not just a nice guy who allows himself to be interrupted with a pained look on his face by a professional liar and an incompetent media fossil.

Here's what I know for sure: despite a lot of people's giggling self-satisfied assurances over these last comfortable summer months that the deal has already gone down and the history of this race is already written, this election is, in fact and all of a sudden, far from over.

And they say Mr. Obama hasn't gotten anything done. On Wednesday night, he turned a rout into a contest again, and all by himself. Given the state of the race on Wednesday morning, that's quite the accomplishment.

Or something.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission of the author.

William Rivers Pitt is a Truthout editor and columnist.  He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know," "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence" and "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation." He lives and works in Boston.


Like I said earlier:  it was abject political COWARDICE on Obama's part that he never mentioned or attacked the "47%" statement by Romney the Liar...


Mitt Romney's 47% Remarks Absent From Debate
Huffington PostOctober 4, 2012

DENVER -- Among many topics not mentioned during Wednesday night's first presidential debate was Mitt Romney's controversial comment about 47 percent of Americans viewing themselves as "entitled" to government benefits.

That comment, videotaped at a private Romney fundraiser for wealthy donors, has been at the epicenter of President Barack Obama's attacks on his GOP opponent over the past few weeks, with his campaign even putting out an ad on the topic. Its absence in the debate, therefore, was conspicuous and a bit head-scratching.

"Seriously, Dems, can you believe that Obama never used the 47% video? Incredible!" tweeted political analyst Larry Sabato.

"Why not push the 47 percent comment that is the subject of saturation ads? Keep pres above it? Or deny Gov Romney chance to explain it?" wondered Carl Hulse of The New York Times.

Some of the spin coming from the Obama campaign and its surrogates after the debate seemed contradictory or unbelievable. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley argued that Obama didn't mention the 47 percent comment because "he's a gentleman."

"I think the president wanted to come in tonight and not deliver attack lines," said Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki. "He wanted to lay out what his plans were -- what his economic plans were, how he was going to protect health care and we did exactly that."

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, meanwhile, said, "It just didn't come up in the course of the conversation. We continue to believe it is a very clear difference. Gov. Romney is trying to run away from that comment. It just didn't come up tonight."

These explanations don't work together. Either Obama was planning to discuss it and it didn't come up, or he wasn't planning on offering "zingers" at all. A top Obama official, when asked for a concise explanation, conceded that avoiding it was part of a strategic decision before the debate.

"We weren't going to do a bunch of political stuff tonight," the aide said, adding that the debate "was about looking in the camera and laying out the choice and the plans."

At the very least, Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday that he expected moderator Jim Lehrer to bring up the topic.

"I have no doubt that the moderator is going to ask Romney maybe to spend a little bit more time telling us more elegantly, in his words, what he meant by what he said," Gibbs said, adding that he expected Obama to say "47 percent" 47 times.

Romney senior campaign adviser Kevin Madden also said he believed "a lot" of the reason it didn't come up was because Lehrer never raised it.

One Republican official had another explanation for why Obama didn't bring it up: "cockiness."

"I think it was a loser for the president to bring something like that up, because the president's created a monstrosity in this government," added Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus.

Still, it seemed like the Romney campaign was perhaps surprised the famous remarks were never mentioned. When asked whether Romney had prepared a response, Madden replied, "You prepare for everything, right? Sort of like the Boy Scouts."

Simon Schama on How Obama Threw It All Away in the Denver Debate
by Simon Schama
October 5, 2012

After the president’s calamitous performance on Wednesday night, historian Simon Schama asks if Obama has it within himself to turn things around.

As the whoppers tumbled from his smiling lips, Pinocchio Romney’s nose grew so long that it was practically poking out the eye of his mournful opponent. But even had it struck raw cornea, the president would have politely removed the intruding proboscis to say, “Governor Romney, I probably agree that the nation could do with a good eye-watering, though we disagree on the manner in which it would be administered,” or some such snappy retort.
President Barack Obama looks over to a group of supporters after walking off stage at a campaign event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, in Madison, Wis. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo)

Quick! Somebody call the Rejoinder-Implant Service before it’s too late! Which it already may be. Especially if Obama sticks with the prep team who did such a tiptop job in Denver. Maybe next time they’ll tell him: “It’s TV Mr. President. They don’t actually turn off the camera pointing at you when you’re not speaking, so all in all, best not to be caught constantly chin down, nose in your notes. How about paying attention to what the other guy is saying, looking his way even? That way you get to think of a response.”
Obama astoundingly allowed Governor 47 Percent, of all people, to pose as a paragon of social understanding. That’s how staggeringly bad it was.

It’s hard to see how there can be a comeback. God knows there weren’t any on offer from the presidential side even when Romney had the brass to claim that he and his party weren’t actually proposing tax cuts for upper income Americans! How about a reply playing on memories of a certain embarrassing video: “Well Governor, if you’ll pardon the expression, that’s RICH coming from you!”

To be fair to Obama, he did make an effort to contest some of the more outlandish suggestions, like that somehow he alone had been responsible for deficit bloat rather than the calamitous policy of his predecessor and other Republicans. And he asked Romney to specify the closed loopholes and terminated deductions that are supposed to make good the revenue lost from tax cuts. But he did so in a tone of weary exasperation, letting Romney slither around the question rather than treading on his tail until he came up with answers like “mortgage deductions,” as in “end of.” Instead of the Clintonian chuckle of disbelief we got the sour grimace of silent reproof.

Some of us saw this coming, for truthfully, while he was often an astonishingly inspiring orator before the crowds, Obama was not an especially nimble television debater in 2008. Hillary often cleaned his clock, but he had already got the nomination numbers in the bag, and he lucked out in the election with his opponent’s choice Sarah Palin as running mate and the unfolding of the Bush mega-meltdown.

Obama astoundingly allowed Governor 47 Percent, of all people, to pose as a paragon of social understanding. That’s how staggeringly bad it was.

What does this tell us? That Obama is someone who perhaps thinks of The People in an abstract rather than personal way—or who at least rises  to the occasion best when summoned by rhetoric. But television isn’t like that. Its “debates” aren’t really debates at all, but a way of making a personal connection with millions of people as if there were just a handful of them in the room. Television feeds on bright little bursts of energy, like the hopped up yapping that Romney has mastered along with the capacity of turning complex issues into a chummy infomercial. One of his lame pre-packaged zingers was that as a father of five boys, he’s gotten used to people repeating an untruth in the hope that saying it often enough would make it true. It was directed at Obama’s and the Democrats’ shocking allegation that Romney and his party are in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy. But if Obama had been remotely on his game it ought to have rebounded against Romney, for that is precisely what his party has proposed for three decades, all the while claiming against massive historical evidence that those tax cuts would pay for themselves by stimulating economic growth.

There was something else that went badly missing from what, if you are a Democrat, was a wretchedly dispiriting evening—and that was the opportunity of articulating a clear, strong, unapologetic affirmation of the principles by which the Democratic Party has tried to govern America since the New Deal: of compassion in times of hardship; of fairness when sacrifices are called for; of integrity and competence when cleaning up the wretched mess so often left by the other side; of realism in the face of wishful thinking; of a national community rather than a collection of  self-interested individuals. Those are, in fact, the themes that were sounded loud and clear at the Democratic convention and which have been reiterated by Obama himself many times on the campaign trail. But astoundingly he allowed Governor 47 Percent, of all people, to pose as a paragon of social understanding! That’s how staggeringly bad it was. And it was because he and his team thought it would be a smart move just to coast along on poll numbers that were already evaporating before the debate began.

Never has such a strong political hand been so needlessly, carelessly, calamitously thrown away.

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Simon Schama is a professor of history and art history at Columbia University.  He has been an essayist and critic for The New Yorker since 1994, his art criticism winning the National Magazine Award in 1996.

by Rich Lewis
Sentinel Columnist
On the issues as presented, Mitt Romney was the winner of the debate by a fairly wide margin. However, it is not at all clear that he achieved the kind of personal appeal that so many observers thought was a central goal of the event for him.

Romney was on the attack from the minute the debate started — and he was well prepared. On issue after issue, he went after President Obama with details and examples to support his claim that the president had failed to follow through on promises to bring the country out of recession.

That was to be expected. Romney is smart and experienced and, realizing its importance, he’d been preparing for this debate for a long time.

What was not expected was the president’s failure to punch back with any force or authority. Obama is widely regarded as a great speaker — and he has proven to be so on numerous occasions. But debating requires a different set of skills — and the president either doesn’t have them or chose not to use them. In contrast to Romney’s rapid-fire, tightly structured attacks, Obama was generally tongue-tied, often groping for the right words and often not quite finding them.

Romney never abandoned the offensive, while the president made only a few, somewhat feeble references to well known weaknesses in Romney’s policy positions.

In short, it was boxer and punching bag for most of the night.

The two men’s body language only reinforced the impression that Romney was steamrolling the president.

Romney delivered his criticisms directly to the president, head up and eyes straight ahead. He also spent a lot of time addressing the camera — which, given the way television works, means addressing the millions of viewers who had tuned in to watch.

Obama, in contrast, spent an inordinate amount of time talking to moderator Jim Lehrer — probably the least important member of that audience of millions. On the occasions where Obama spoke directly to the camera, he was effective, but there was far too little of that.

Worst of all, though, the president often did not raise his head to look squarely at Romney during the times when he addressed him directly. He seemed to be avoiding confrontation — appearing deferential and even a bit intimidated.

If you had turned off the sound and just watched the picture, you would have bet that Romney was the president and Obama the challenger. You can bet neither Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton would have allowed themselves to shrink in that way.

So, on the one hand, many of Romney’s statements about Obama’s failures, or the virtues of his own plans, went unchallenged in any effective way. At the same time, the president seemed to be physically retreating from the barrage of arguments pouring from the other podium.

As for closing statements, Obama’s was rambling and lacked a central message. Romney’s was forceful and neatly packaged all his key positions.

That adds up to a solid win for Romney.

Now for the other side of the coin — and there is always another side.

Though easily the dominant debater, Romney was far from completely appealing. He was in energy overdrive the entire night – almost manic at times — speaking so rapidly and intensely that I half expected him to burst into flames. After an hour or so, Romney was simply wearing me out. I was exhausted. There was something unpleasantly machine-like in the presentation — which, of course, plays into a stereotype that Romney has been struggling to overcome. He was mouthing the right words, stressing his compassion for the poor and downtrodden — but the words were not in synch with the affect.

If, as many people have suggested, Romney needed to make people like him more than he needed to score argumentation points, then he may well have won the battle and lost the war. We’ll see plenty of polls in the next few days to suggest which way that falls.

Obama may have been hindered by his own concern about stereotypes. From the beginning of his rise to the presidency, Obama has been wary of coming across as the “angry black man.” Just this week, Fox News’ Sean Hannity and other right-wing media agitators were trumpeting “discovery” of a video from 2007 of Obama speaking at a black college that purportedly shows him engaging in a radical, racial politics that they claim he deliberately hides from the general public. It was a stupid ploy — the video had been extensively discussed in the media in 2008. Nonetheless, it may have touched a nerve in the Obama campaign and caused them to advise the president to avoid appearing overly aggressive in the debate. But there is a big difference between careful coolness and complete passivity.

At the same time, the president was an appealing figure. Passivity can be read as humility. The president went through a natural range of emotional expressions. He came across as what we know him to be — a thoughtful, reasonable, compassionate guy. Still, being a nice guy doesn’t mean you have to roll over and surrender. That’s something the Obama camp must fix before the next debate.

I have no doubt that most people will say that Romney won the debate. And that is true in many ways.

But it doesn’t mean he won the hearts of voters who have concerns about his core values and intentions.

Rich Lewis’ email address is