To Prez : He Doesn't Know It's A Damn Show, He Thinks It's a Fight
You're the Prez, and you woke up today with one hell of a post-debate hangover.
Given your vaunted rhetorical skills,
this was all supposed to be a piece of cake. The swing states were
trending your way. There was John King on the CNN electoral map
placing even maybe North Carolina back in blue. You - well, your
predecessor - kicked serious ass at your convention while your
opponent stumbled and struck obsequious poses, before sticking his
foot in his mouth - repeatedly. Post-mortems abound for the
antiquated, decaying GOP, whose 2012 brand of screw-younomics appear to fall on increasingly on deaf ears.
And your team was striking the exact right balance between campaigning and governing. After all, you've got business to take care of, serious matters like Libya, Iran, and dodging the Israeli Prime Minister.
So three days ago.
All you had to do was listen patiently, smile occasionally, and refute Citizen Romney's one percent Sunshine Vision - a disguise for an escalated war on workers and the poor. To top it off, your opponent just told half the electorate he doesn't need their vote. Who wouldn't be confident?
Maybe you would even make it home in time for an anniversary cocktail with the Missus.
Instead you turn in one of your worst performances ever and go home seriously tempted to reach for the cigarettes you cleaned up from.
Where do we begin??
First this idea that the guy you're running against is a joke. You know, he can't speak off the cuff without being all stiff and awkward. The converse to that is you, the hip Prez who connects and inspires - young folks, old folks, black, brown, and white folks – you name them. And according to public opinion polls – most Americans like you.
True, there hasn't been much to feel inspired about recently, but you did bring some form of health insurance to Americans who had none. An undeniable achievement. For some reason, instead of calling this by its proper name, the Affordable Health Care for America Act – you use your opponent's label “Obamacare ” - before likening it to the very healthcare policy he created in Massachusetts. Pretty sure that wasn't in the script.
And what's with all the stumbles and hesitations?? One tweet says next time maybe half a Xanax will do.
Okay, we're being tough, chances are you worked right up to the last minute, head immersed in some policy issue or thumbing through Libyan bad guy baseball cards. And it's true the guy you're running against doesn't really care about truth in advertising.
Who knew that he would simply reverse himself now that he had tens of millions of Americans watching? Going back essentially to being a moderate Republican who will govern for all Americans.
But letting him school you in front of tens of millions of viewers nation-wide has got to hurt a little.
Where did the Occupy language you co-opted last fall go? Where was your outrage?
Ultimately, your performance makes the Occupy kids look like true savants, as you effectively blur the differences between the two candidates. Which is gonna lead those young folks to walk away and say what's the point. Nothing about foreclosures? Nothing about student debt?
It's pretty bad when you're being shown up by third party candidates like Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein, who pull no punches in the democracy now real-time debate. Viewers there are treated to a true “no-holds barred” affair, which conforms to the exact format of the debate. And they can understand the differences between their ideas and Citizen Romney's – as well as yours Democracynow.org
Hey we know, your substance wasn't all bad. And you’re dealing with an opponent who simply says what he needs to depending on his audience.
And what the pollsters say was your worst moment of the night was in fact your most candid, whatever that says about the electorate.
You accurately point out that the main thing your opponent was running on – his enormous tax cuts with increased military spending - now, five weeks before the election he says “never mind.” It is ridiculous.
But the problem here is not so much what you said but how you said it. A free tip : if in any discussion, you resort to having to say, it's math – not a huge winner. Americans remember math - sort of. Not something that inspires us..
Look, it's one thing to be bored and overconfident - so long as you don't come off that way. As it turns out, voters don't like to be taken for granted. So you may get a taste of what your opponent had for the last four weeks after he kissed off the 47 percent. Expect those poll numbers to tighten, considerably.
In one night, you turn your opponent into Rocky circa 2012, transforming him from uncaring billionaire into gritty underdog - while adopting the role of the overconfident Apollo Creed. Creed, as you may recall, showed up for an exhibition and instead got a fight. Now you're in the same boat. Rocky is Philadelphia. Rocky is working class. That's not a good analogy for you.
(When you've got GOP operatives like Michael Steele smiling ear to ear and Chris Mathews not disagreeing– yeah, you've got problems.)
Okay, so you'll throw some sh-t around the office and – likely - come back breathing fire in Round 2. Maybe even shake up the team and send the message - it's time to get serious. You somehow forgot to be a candidate and came off looking not Presidential but more like a bored technocrat unable to connect. Probably you'll correct it when you realize your job is at stake. We know you never you saw yourself as a one and done kind of guy.
“Democrat stuck in the middle” is a dangerous game to play – ask previous Democratic losers like Mike Dukakis and Fritz Mondale. And by the way, no disrespect to Mike Dukakis who is an thoughtful, fair, decent honorable man. He's plenty smart too. And he endured one of the worst ass-kickings in Presidential history, at the hands of a guy who – like your opponent – was thought to be little more than a resume.
The thing about being a human resume though is – they've been "waiting for this moment for all their life."
By the way, your campaign makes an enormous mistake in having Presidential Silver Medalist John Kerry play the Citizen Romney role. Because the effete Sen. Kerry is nearly as out of touch as your opponent is. And he doesn't want to offend you. Realpolitics
We have no such concerns here. Time to break up the happy club. Plus the Citizen, for all his foibles, has some heavy-weights advising him – you know, guys who can really punch – like Boss Man Rove and god knows who else. Newshounds
So you may want to pretend you're running in Chicago again. Another free debate tip : when your opponent gets that self-satisfied grin on – not the sheepish one he displays to his one percent backers – you know you're in real trouble.
Plus, give him his due – he's not be underestimated. Anyone telling you otherwise should go.
Think about it. This guy did what you did back in Chicago : organizing. Naturally he didn't go around helping poor people, but that's beside the point. While his peers were off in Vietnam getting shot, he was organizing converts to Mormonism – in France,and in French. That same missionary zeal won him a an election in the most Democratic state in America. As a Mormon in predominantly Irish-Catholic strongholds. Prior to winning that election, he was counted out, and badly trailing in the polls to the Democratic nominee – sound familiar? Huffpost
And now, like Rocky Balboa, he thinks it's a fight
In Rocky, the challenger rises up and – due to the champion's overconfidence - goes on to win, ultimately.
Stallone based his Rocky off of the real-live Ali-Wepner fight. In real life, the challenger gets knocked out, and - despite his great showing against Ali - basically disappears, becoming an interesting footnote to fight history.
Back in the non-politically correct days of 1975, the champ, hot on the heels of his ass-whipping of George Foreman, was plenty confident too (video above). Confidence was his stock in trade - overconfidence nearly cost him.
Which one kind of fighter you ends up being – Creed or Ali - will be determined by the next four weeks.
Either way, you'd better start making the case and making it fast. Just remember that when speaking of the electorate - you;re dealing with guys like gone-viral Chipolte manger who says he's “not too hip to elections and stuff.” boston.com
Also Heard :
Muckraker Greg Palast let's the Prez have it, chiming in with many others - politicos, pundits, and pooh-bahs - who utter a collective “that was painful.”
David Gergen, per usual, hits the nail on the head, saying that the conversation that revolves around sitting President's typically deal with just how wonderful they are. Gergen points out the Prez looks angry and testy during the affair cnn
Palast, outraged, wonders exactly what the Prez was thinking as he blurs the distinction between himself and Citizen Romney on social security, where he says they basically agree. Dem operative mouths open as the Prez meanders through his statements, humanizing the Citizen – as opposed to casting him as a political stand-in for the ultra-rich. Themudflats.net
We say that on your anniversary, well, a guy may just have other concerns than standing on a stage with a guy who wants his job.