From here...to eternity
The fourth debate of the 2012 presidential campaign, the third and final between the presidential candidates and—gulp!—the last debate of President Barack Obama's career came off beautifully for the president. I don't see how any of his first-debate critics could complain about his focus, his judicious doling out of zingers, his handling of the facts or his passion. Or, especially in his close, his warmth. He was fully engaged and engaging, and he certainly won on substance as well as on style.
My other impressions:
I was beginning to see faint traces of sweat on Romney (flip-flop sweat? if only it were that severe!), was distracted by that single stray hair, was superdistracted by his show-offy Secret Service black star on his U.S. flag lapel pin and felt his red-faced grimacing cast him as the evening's Nixon. It was not a disaster for him—not by a mile—but he was clearly out of his element and reciting memorized points except when he began to speak about business (the Chinese pipe story). He struck me as babbly and nervous, especially at the outset. I think he pees a bit whenever Obama fixes his stare upon him.
Of course the parallels between the Obamas and the Kennedys—optics and beyond—are obvious.
Things got off to a painful start when Romney said he hoped they would be "funny not on purpose" in contrast to the candidates' joint appearance at the Al Smith dinner.
I felt President Obama bested Romney in every exchange. Probably the most eye-opening moment was when the president smartly jabbed Romney for his antiquated obsession with how many ships the Navy has, saying we also have fewer "horses and bayonets" than we had 100 years ago.
Even more pointedly, the president was able to organically work in Romney's investments in China as an indictment of his seriousness in policing the Chinese.
The warmest, most compelling and "real" comments had to be Obama's mention of meeting the daughter of a 9/11 victim who thanked him for killing Osama bin Laden.
Both candidates cannily worked women and the economy into the debate. I particularly liked Romney's binders of Muslim ladies. (Eye roll.)
Each candidate had uncomfortable moments when he couldn't reply (or reply credibly, since Romney tried unsuccessfully to refute the president's words) to stated facts—for Obama, it was when Romney stated that the economy isn't gangbusters; for Romney, it was when Obama reminded him that he said "let Detroit go bankrupt" and other policy assertions that he now disavows/pretends were never said by him.
Less substantially, I was amused when Schieffer's purple folder cockblocked Romney's final statement and to see the unhinged Tagg Romney speaking genially with the president he had earlier threatened to "take a swing at."
Ann looked fucking relieved. And make no mistake, that bitch is happy. Why? Her man didn't make a fool of himself, this was his last debate, the campaign is over in 14 days and she probably expects to lose and get to relax forever. Or if she wins, she's the new Nancy Reagan. Not a bad deal for her at this point.
And I'll always love the image of Romney stooping to shake hands with the little people and Ann worriedly holding him in place; our president was doing deep squats and getting into the nitty gritty with the audience, who had reacted at least once positively on his behalf.
Glad this happened in Florida, too.
Let's see what happens with polls over the next week, but this could not have gone better.
My guess is that the president, who enjoys only a slight popular-vote and somewhat more robust electoral college edge at this point, will gain as we close in on (re-?) Election Day, and that he will eke out a popular-vote win and carry a more convincing electoral-college win.
ANYTHING can happen, I am in NO WAY cocky. But I feel good about this, and I would encourage Democrats to take whatever enthusiasm they have gleaned from the last two debates and donate money, make calls, post favorable items to social media and—most of all—stay FIRED UP AND READY TO GO.
It's all going to come down to who shows up to vote.