Nearly midnight, and I’m sifting through reactions—my own and others—to the presidential debate. Amid all the style and substance machinations, the frustration and the mad relief, I found myself thinking about how pretty much all Mitt Romney is doing these days is running for president. The president, well, he’s got a few more things on his plate.
In a diary on dKos I found an unattributed comment downthread just now that captured this well:
A point my father, a republican, made…about the President seeming listless and inattentive seems to make sense to me. Earlier today Mr. Obama had to be totally engaged with the happenings in Turkey. As a NATO ally, if Turkey spit the bit and went hog wild on Syria, Obama would have had to react. I am sure that at some point the President had to discuss the issue with the PM of Turkey to make sure that the shit was under control, and then he had to deal with the military and diplomatic teams to make sure that the contingencies were in place. THEN he had to go out and face Rmoney and his lying ass. I’m sure the debate seemed like the least significant issue he had to deal with today. And remember, this thought came from a republican who wants nothing more than to see Obama out of office.
I share this not to make excuses, but to put the moment in the context of reality, and real time. For viewers, the debate was a strange 90-minute show without commercial interruption. For Mitt Romney, it resembled a cocaine rush. For the president, a pause between bench pressing the weight of the world.
Another meme I found interesting in the frenetic post-debate pundit rehash was this: “The president isn’t used to being challenged anymore; that’s probably why he seemed off his game.” How quickly they forget Bibi Netanyahu from just last week, or nearly four years of full-out obstructionism by the Republican House. Not used to being challenged? Do they think the man sails through the day, everything going his way, surrounded by yes-men?
Yeah, right. Maybe next term.
NOTE: 33 days. Are you registered to vote? Have you validated your registration? Are you planning to vote on the first day of early vote in your state? Do all these things, and urge everyone you know and love to do the same. It’s rare when we have a concrete opportunity to change the world, and this election is one of them.