The debate debacle was Obama at his best.

Watching liberals unravel after last week's presidential debate has been almost as entertaining as witnessing the thumping that Republican candidate Mitt Romney applied to the Democratic incumbent Barack Obama.

Spinning into orbit, liberals have concocted every known excuse for the trouncing: Obama was out of practice; he expected a different Romney to show up; he experienced incumbents' "opening debate syndrome" (that's a new one); he tried to look too presidential and above the fray; he inexplicably failed to exploit Romney's fallibilities (e.g. his reference to the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income tax). And so on.

Most amusing was Al Gore's explanation that Obama choked because the debate was in Denver, the Mile High City. Being an expert on global warming, Gore probably knows what he is talking about when it comes to being lightheaded in thin air.

At least no one blamed former President George W. Bush for Obama's dismal performance. At least no one that I know of.

The explanations are all a function of today's popular liberal narrative: Romney didn't win the debate; Obama lost it. It's a way of minimizing Romney's victory. It's like saying the Cubs lost 100 games because they're terrible, rather than conceding that the opposition just may have been better. It's a difference without meaning.

Romney won because of what I would call the Karate Kid factor. Watching the interaction between Romney and Obama was like watching karate master Mr. Miyagi explaining the realities of life to the kid, Daniel LaRusso. Wipe on, wipe off. Romney clearly was the mentor, Obama was a sheepish protege who was being delivered a lesson. Sitting there if not in silence, in confusion and without a clear, intelligent, unrehearsed response.

It shows Obama's fatal flaw is not just his policies (as bad as they are), but the fact that he isn't and never was cut out to be president. He's not up to it. He's the kid who got thrown into the pool without knowing how to swim. He lacks the experience, composure and certain qualities of leadership required of a president — qualities that Romney put on display. The pro schools the neophyte.

Bob Woodward described it in his new best-seller, "The Price of Politics," which detailed the collapse last year of the "grand bargain" on spending and debt. While Woodward found fault with both parties, he held Obama's insufficiencies mostly responsible for leaving America heading for the fiscal cliff it now faces. Woodward's book describes an arrogant, withdrawn, indecisive and uncompromising president. These are dispositions that would doom Obama to failure as a private sector boss. And ought to in the public sector.

All signs of adolescence, I would say.

Obama's presidency was based purely on hope, change and hot air. Never did he demonstrate executive ability or leadership. He was called brilliant and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize purely on expectation. The debate showed how he has failed to grow into the office.

It's telling that liberals have abandoned the once-popular test of a presidential candidate: gravitas. I never thought that was a legitimate standard, but millions of people who watched the debate witnessed Obama's failure to have it.

True, it's just one debate. As the stock market warning says: "Past performance is no guarantee of future results." In the next debate, Obama may listen to his bug-eyed liberal militants and attempt to tear into Romney. I hope Obama does. I think it could be a further plus for Romney to show off the aplomb and skills he learned as an experienced executive in the public, private and civic sectors. Experience that Obama and his supporters apparently think he doesn't need to be the chief executive of the world's greatest nation.

After last week's debate, it shows.

This is Tuesday's regular column in the Chicago Tribune.

Comments

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  • Typical of a Republican, you pay no attention to what was said in the debate. While patting Romney on the back, you make no mention of his backtracking on positions. Of his outright lies. I suppose you think Romney showed a lot of "gravitas" in that secretly-recorded fund-raiser speech, too.

    I take your opinion piece for what it is: a cheap, shallow, partisan screed.

  • By the way, Woodward's book has been generally panned. One critic calls it "mind-numbingly dull in large part and woefully myopic".

    And instead of your Mr. Miyagi reference, a Chinese one would have been more timely. After all, that's where Bain Capital, Romney's pride and joy , is outsourcing jobs and companies, like the one in Freeport.

  • Honestly, your article says nothing helpful about choosing a US President and simply shows you are a very mean-spirited person.

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    It will be easy for Obama to mark Romney as a lier and dismantle him as not good for America. I can't wait for round 2.

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    Obama did he best in the debate.. unfortunately his best
    wasn't good enough. This was the World Stage and he forgot
    that or didn't respect the impact of the debate as viewed by people
    all over the world. It's not a Big Bird issue but being the President of a Super Power at war with terrorism and being at the helm of
    the country during very challenging times. This is one ball you don't drop.. You're the President and the buck stops with you and
    in this case your party. You probably are a decent person but a
    lousy Commander in Chief. A super power doesn't need an
    apologist. You "speak softly and carry a big stick" and this case
    you aren't doing either. Not having an insight into the meaning of the debate leaves me to believe that you don't have much insight into world affairs and other important domestic and global issues.

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    Dennis, I agree with everything you said except for one thing.

    The Chicago Cubs are terrible. And they lost 100 games because they were terrible. And the competition was always better because... the Cubs are just that awful.

    Just a little remark from one Sox fan to another.

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    It was Bush's fault; yes, Bush's fault for being such a bad president as to make Obama's election and appearance possible, another dark blemish on our two party electoral process. It is time to kick them all out and find a better way to find capable leaders. There are statesmen among us, but our system continues to hold them down.

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    In reply to Robert Lowther:

    Robert, let's take an honest look at what happened, shall we?

    President Clinton pushes legislation so that banks lend to risky lenders.

    2003, John McCain wants Fanny & Freddie lending practices investigated; Barney Frank and Chuck Schumer defend the government lenders.

    2006, both the Senate and House of Representatives are taken over by Democrats. Housing market collapses. House and Senate pass the TARP bill, which President Bush signs. Filibusters lead to President Bush leaving office before signing federal budget for 2009. Congress starts work on ARPA (aka, the Stimulus Bill) before President-Elect Obama is sworn in.

    President Obama signs ARPA on Feb 9th, 2009. He then signs the 2009 Federal Budget in March. Then, with looming unemployment, President Obama spends the remainder of his political capital on the Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 (instead of what VP Biden calls a 3-letter word: J O B S.)

    Under ARPA, Unemployment was not to go above 8%. If we had the same percentage of the workforce we had when President Obama was sworn into office, unemployment would be at 11%, instead of the (current) 7.9%.

    The House and the Senate haven't passed a budget since the first one that President Obama signed in March 2009. Since then, they've spent 1 Trillion dollars more than they've collected for the last 4 years.

    The only thing that President Bush *CAN* be blamed for in the above economic news is... signing the TARP bill, as requested by President-Elect Obama? Hmmm.

    All other indicators show Democrats don't know sh!t about economic policies, or how to dig out of an economic downturn- even though that should have been a "shovel-ready" job for President Obama, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, and the Democratic-controlled Senate to take care of during the 2009-2010 Congress.

    They *DO* know how to cause economic collapse, though!

  • In reply to Steve Mulhern:

    One has to get his facts straight before interpreting them. The Democrats had a majority in both Houses from January 2009 to Novembr 2010 (Remember the Tea Party?)

    The Democrat majority in the Senate was paralyzed by Republican filibusters that required 60 votes to circumvent. The economic collapse essentially was due to Wall Street's casino mentality and the absence of regulations (a Republican prinicple). Clinton shares blame for supporting the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act(Banking Act of 1933) "which separated commercial banks from investment banking to prevent commercial banks from being 'infected' by the risky activities of investment banks." ---13 Bankers: The Wall Strett Takover and the Next Financial Meltdown by Simon Johnson and James Kwak

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    ...Aquinas wired: Your first paragraph wasn't factual- I'd invite you to Google the 110th Congress (where Democrats acquired the majority in both the House and Senate for the first time since the end of the 103rd Congress ended in 1995), and the 111th Congress (where Democrats increased their majorities).

    President Bush's last two years was with the 110th Congress (Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid). President Obama's first two years was with the 111th Congress (again, Pelosi and Reid). It wasn't until the 112th Congress that Republicans gained control in the House of Representatives.

    It was during the 111th Congress that President Obama, instead of truly working on the economic issues of the day, instead signed into law the Affordable Health Care Act of 2009- the 2,500 page behemoth that added 22 new taxes and fines.

    As for the cause of the economic collapse: "According to the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research (the official arbiter of U.S. recessions) the recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. US mortgage-backed securities, which had risks that were hard to assess, were marketed around the world. A more broad based credit boom fed a global speculative bubble in real estate and equities, which served to reinforce the risky lending practices. The precarious financial situation was made more difficult by a sharp increase in oil and food prices. The emergence of sub-prime loan losses in 2007 began the crisis and exposed other risky loans and over-inflated asset prices. With loan losses mounting and the fall of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008, a major panic broke out on the inter-bank loan market. As share and housing prices declined, many large and well established investment and commercial banks in the United States and Europe suffered huge losses and even faced bankruptcy, resulting in massive public financial assistance." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008%E2%80%932012_global_recession).

    So- risky loans in the Housing Market, with the increase in oil and food prices, lead to the Recession.

    President Obama's policies currently has the economy growing at 1.3%- which is less than last year at this time, and last year's growth is less than the year before.

    Now, as far as recoveries go:
    "Under Reagan, the economy grew by an average of 5.6 percent for the first three years from the bottom of the recession, unemployment dropped by 3.8 points, and inflation was cut by two-thirds.

    Under Obama, the three years of economic growth from the bottom of the recession only averaged 2.2 percent, unemployment dropped by only 1.8 points, and inflation has increased by more than 2 full percentage points."
    ...
    "The claim that the economic situation Obama inherited was worse than Reagan's is arguably incorrect, or subjective at best. The "misery index" — the inflation rate plus the unemployment rate — was 19.5 when Reagan took office, but only 7.8 when Obama assumed office."
    ...
    "The Reagan administration's response to the lack of economic growth was to cut tax rates by about a third for all income levels and restrain the growth in government spending and regulations.

    The Obama administration's response to the lack of economic growth has been to increase some taxes (Obamacare contains many new taxes), to provide a short-term cut in payroll taxes (which undermines Social Security funding), and to push for higher taxes on those who create jobs.

    The Obama program has deliberately increased government spending and regulation greatly — most often without undertaking responsible cost-benefit analyses."
    ...
    The current recession was largely caused by a housing bubble created by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two mammoth government-sponsored corporations, and fueled by the Federal Reserve.

    (http://www.newsmax.com/Rahn/Ronald-Reagan-Obama-economy/2012/07/31/id/447164)

    Please, feel free to refute. I await your civil response.

    -- S.

  • Newsmax.com? A little biased toward the Right, ya thunk?

    Just a few thoughts in response. Reagan's OMB director, David Stockman doesn't agree with you about Obama's performance. Most economists have called this Great Recession the worst since the Great Depression. There is a difference of opinion on what brought us out of the Reagan recession. Keynesians credit deficit spending and the lowering of interest rates. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 which was a $100 billion tax hike over 3 years was also a big factor in easing that recession too.

    Inflation under Bush jumped to 5.6 several months before he left office. The Fed lowered interest rates to almost 0 and when Obama took office inflation was effectively at 0%. It stands now at 1.7%.

    As to the cause of the Great Recession: " Free from the threat of regulation, OTC derivatives grew to over $680 trillion in face value and over $20 trillion in market value by 2008. Credit default swaps, which were too rare to be measured in 1998, grew to over $50 trillion in face value and over $3 trillion in market value by 2008, contributing to the inflation of the housing bubble; when the bubble burst, the collapse in the value of securities based on the housing market triggered the financial crisis. "13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown" by Simon Johnson and James Kwak

    The Great Recession was precipitated by the Wall Streett casino-mentality megabanks----Bank of America, JPMorgan, Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley---with their"excessive risk-taking and toxic 'business as usual' practices."

    The repeal of Glass-Steagall and the deregulation of Wall Street created the moral hazards that paved the way for the economic debacle.

    Both parites deserve blame for being asleep at the wheel.

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    Aquinas Wired:
    Newsweek biased towards the right? Interesting. A 2004 study by Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo asserted that Newsweek, along with all other mainstream news outlets except for Fox News and the Washington Times, exhibited a "liberal bias".

    (https://www.google.com/url?url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsweek%23Claims_of_bias&rct=j&q=Newsweek+Bias&usg=AFQjCNGtuGpC0zYIz1gtHLWc8lPGrfbloQ&sa=X&ei=N1uDUPyxFIvU0gHa4YHQDA&ved=0CCYQygQwAA)

    Now, why did the "Wall Street casino-mentality megabanks -- Bank of America, JPMorgan, Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley" take such excessive risks?

    Perhaps it was because at President Clinton’s direction, no fewer than 10 federal agencies issued a chilling ultimatum to banks and mortgage lenders to ease credit for lower-income minorities or face investigations for lending discrimination and suffer the related adverse publicity. They also were threatened with denial of access to the all-important secondary mortgage market and stiff fines, along with other penalties.

    President Obama has the worst economic "recovery" on record since the Great Depression. Here's a web link for you (and I certainly hope THIS isn't too 'biased towards the right' for you): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/15/us-economic-recovery-weak_n_1783065.html.

    -- S.

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