When President Barack Obama opened the first presidential debate of 2012 with a 20th anniversary shout-out to his wife, Michelle Obama, I knew we were in for a long night.

Charm can only get one so far. And tonight, that mega-watt smile contrasted with the aloof demeanor that draws people to him with expectations of deeper waters, fell flat. More importantly, the fact that he came out seemingly dependent on his wife’s popularity did not bode well and exposed his underlying nervousness about the debate.

Mitt Romney is the expert on the economy and that came through tonight. He’s comfortable and secure in his knowledge of money — how to lose it, make it and manipulate it for his purposes — whereas Obama came across as a student who crammed all night for a final exam. It was painfully obvious that he came prepared for a different ball game and did not have the finesse to improvise on command. He was the professor, unused to being interrupted while class is in session and that did not serve him well. Still, this debate wasn’t about politics, it was about votes. No one voting for Romney was swayed and no one voting for the POTUS was swayed. Independents, however, may be another story.

The president looked down at his notes, doodled around the edges, nodded absently as Romney struck blow after blow. Romney went so far as to compare President Obama to one of his sons:

“Look, I’ve got five boys — I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true but just keep repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it. But that is not the case.”

I won’t  even entertain the racist tinge of an elitist, white male calling the first black president of the United States one of his “boys.” In whatever way that it was intended, it was terribly disrespectful and how did Obama respond?

*Crickets*

It didn’t end there. When Obama attempted to hit Romney with a left hook on outsourcing companies reaping tax benefits, Romney smirked and not only touted the aforementioned experience, but stomped all over Obama’s borrowed Clinton quip about the “arithmetic” not adding up:

“I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Maybe I need to get a new accountant, but the idea you get a break for shipping jobs overseas, is simply not the case.”

Bain Capital anyone?

From social security — many liberals were stunned to discover that the POTUS believes that he and Romney share some common ground — to education and Wall Street, Romney’s lies went unchecked and the president missed opportunity after opportunity because of it. Even on his signature Obamacare, the president failed to mention GOP obstructionism, even when Romney managed — with a smirk on his face — to accuse the president of partisanship. The former Massachusetts governor was unlikeable, aggressive, disdainful, dishonest, presumptuous and elitist, which makes the fact that he outshone President Obama even more astounding. He bullied the moderator, Jim Leher; he basked in his 1 percent status and played heavily to his base. He positioned himself as a wealthy, moderate, small government alternative to a big-spending president…and it worked, because the opposition remained muffled.

Moreover, this was supposed to be about domestic issues; but apparently that’s code word for economy. There was no talk of reproductive rights, Lily Ledbetter Act, DOMA, marriage equality, immigration, voter suppression or poverty, among many other issues. Instead, Romney lassoed the momentum and never let it go. He flip-flopped mid-debate several times.  First, he voiced support for energy independence, then criticized the president’s extensive financial investment in going green. He claimed that the United States was founded on religious tolerance; then 30 seconds later, he said that all Americans have the same God.  He even said that raising taxes was a good way to heal the economy and that he had no intention of providing tax cuts for wealthy Americans — and President Obama just let it all ride, even as his own positions were misstated time and time again.

Amazingly enough, not one word was mentioned about the 47 percent of Americans that Romney claims plays the the victim card and will vote for President Obama because they feel entitled to things like healthcare, food and housing. Those elderly that he said he would help as president are in the 47 percent. Those college students who should just “get a loan from their parents” are in the 47 percent. The fact that President Obama stood there, appearing completely unprepared and uninterested, was not a good look for him. It would have been more effective to replay President Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention and run it at pivotal points in the debate to rebut Mittens, because the president was not present tonight.

When the dust has cleared, Mitt Romney will not have gained much, if any, ground from this debate. His lies were too obvious and the fact-checkers will have a field day. To paraphrase Rev. Al Sharpton, he gave good testimony, but he perjured himself, leaving those who are fighting for a second term for President Obama with enough ammunition to spin this performance on it’s head in the coming days.

The question remains: Will President Obama come out next time ready to fight for himself?

 

  • Lucy Lucy

    A very boring and disappointing debate.

  • http://Devonlyrandimonium.wordpress.com Devon

    It’s the first one. He has two more chances to check Mitt. Honestly, I think it’s lame how Mitt thinks he has swag all of a sudden. I doubt his zingers and flippancy will make people forget how out of touch he is. This is the man who appeared in brown face and insulted nearly half of the country. He did what he had to do to save face with his party. It was like a Real Housewives reunion where the irrelevant housewives always try to start stuff with the more popular cast members so they can stay on the scene. Also, the fact checkers probably aren’t done figuring out his da Vinci code of BS.

  • Downsouth Transplant

    yeah one of those days you just wish & pray he gives that loud mouth a sucker punch, the dude could barely shut up & my president kept his cool with a smile, Mr president sometimes you need to rumble just a for a minute or so & put them under check!

  • Erin

    It’s hard to get your point in when you’re up against a rude, pompous jackass that interrupted everybody to get his arrogant “non-plan” across. Of course the president was going to look weak with Romney getting his pitbull on the entire time, mainly because he had to be aggressive since he was failing in the majority of the polls. Nonetheless, being loud and wrong will never win in my book… and I can’t see the president being the overly aggressive, angry Black man that every Black person wants him to be because he won’t get any votes being that way either. Remember what country we’re living in.

  • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

    On style Romney did well, on the substance of the debate, he did not win. His points were spoken with more eloquence, but he did not win the debate. His arguments were not compelling and never made it past the level of unsubstantiated assertions. He side-stepped questions of Obama-care really being Romney care and kept repeating the company line about being able to cut the deficit without raising taxes, which no one believes to be possible. If a debate was about style, then yeah, he crushed this one. When you look at the actual arguments, there was no clear winner.

  • Bestill40

    Thank you for the highlights Kirsten, I spent my evening watching The Big Bang Theory glad to see I didn’t miss much. :)

  • silkynaps

    If anyone was the fence about Mittens, he sealed his fate when he told the world that he would kill Big Bird. I don’t know about you, but I learned to count in spanish from Sesame Street and I’m from a portuguese-speaking country.

  • lauryn

    “Mitt Romney is the expert on the economy and that came through tonight. He’s comfortable and secure in his knowledge of money — how to lose it, make it and manipulate it for his purposes.” Nice line, great recap of the debate.

  • http://[email protected] Blackgirlmd

    Yeah, if you really listened for the content and didn’t get caught up in all the politicking of it all, mitts had very little substantive to say, and aged towards the left a lot… Going against his party’s platform on key issues. It was weird

  • Kacey

    Truth is, the Obama team got cocky. They figured that because Romney has been doing poorly in the polls and has had a series of flubs and missteps throughout his campaign, they didn’t need to worry about it too much. They probably were counting on Mitt putting his foot in his mouth or being unable to articulate his points, which has been the case for the last several weeks. However, they forgot that when someone is down, they really don’t have much to lose so they’ll come out swinging.

  • Anthony

    I think Obama worries to much about offending the “white person in the middle.” The whites who would be offended or put off by him being aggressive would never vote for him anyway. The President got elected to a large degree, with his charge, but being president is about using power. The fact that he always seems to be afraid to wield his power when he directly confronts a white man cannot help but make him look weak.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    who the hell has declared romney the ‘winner’?
    i certainly did not see him ‘win’. this is BS.

  • Eyes Wide Shut

    Speaking of the economy, I noticed not one candidate mentioned QE3. When QE3 happens, then QE 4 through infinity takes hold, I wonder will these stylish debates be worth watching when people’s savings are inflated away? (If your money is worthless, then I guess you can’t buy a TV to watch)

    Medicare/Medicaid = the U.S. is BROKE! No matter how much money is printed, we still have a mountain load of debt that cannot be repaid. These programs will suffer. I am surprised social security hasn’t disappeared yet.

    War with Iran = INEVITABLE

    Economic collapse = Stay tuned.

    I watched the debates and NEITHER candidate impressed me.

  • http://gravatar.com/shumlai gary

    No,my president didn’t blow it,people and analysts wanted a show,if the President would’ve came off aggressive then folks would say he’s an angry black man taking cheap shots.The President stayed calm and intelligent like he always is,Mitt told lies on Medicare and the middle class;if he’s elected as president and he cuts funding to PBS well hell just think what he’d do to the Clutch if he could.Votes win elections not instigating fights.

  • Laugh

    Robme came across as a jerk. I think a lot of us deal with these loud know it alls everyday and it’s not appealing. When asked what his specifics are Robme says oh it’s too lengthy to get into. He all of a sudden just LOVES the middle class and is yes mam to anything thrown at him. I think anyone following the debates and campaign knows Robme is full of it. I also think the outcome today is not bad considering everybody is like what about 47%, what about details so anyone paying even a little bit of attention can see what’s going on. It’s obvious this guy has no plans and will say ANYTHING to win. Talk about a flip flopper!

  • Mike

    Obama looked like an insecure college freshman nervous, unsure of himself, unprepared, afraid to even make eye contact and Roomney looked like a college senior or even professor lecturing Obama. I think if Mitt would have walked across the stage and slapped Obama he would have just kept that phony smile and stayed on that I’m trrying to have a conversation with the American public failed debate agenda. Son, you’re in a fight. I thought you knew? He needs a hard nosed debate coach ASAP. A black man needs to show up at the next debate. Drop the fake smile. Although he’s nothing but talk, Al Sharton would be an excellent example of how to fight and counter punch and CLOWN an opponent during a debate.

    America does not like soft and weak. If Obama comes out nervous and can’t make eye contact with that fake smile in the next debate, he might as well pack his bags. And he better come up with a better answer than teachers when Romney starts taking about creating 12 million jobs.

  • Realdealle

    Guy Smiley is a Robot and of course he came out guns blazing. Obama was cool and calm, anything other than that would they would have said he was a arrogant and uppity negro. Just wait and see how this thing pans out.

  • http://gravatar.com/tp72 LA Red

    I was amazed at how calm POTUS remained. I was almost screaming at the t.v. Romney was taking cheap shots and yet Mr.President stayed cool. I agree that he couldn’t come off as an angry black man but I still wanted him to tell Romney to STFU.

  • GlowBelle

    There wasn’t any real winner. How could Obama get anything across to a disillusioned, privileged Big Bird hating jerkwad like Romney? Obama had to keep his cool because all eyes would be on him, and we don’t need him raging, we need a level-headed man who listens and understands what the hell is going on rather than someone who shoots off foaming at the mouth without a single thought behind it. Romney did the latter, he seemed the more charismatic, yes, but he never followed up his arguments with solid details…he hadn’t a clue. The thing is Romney says all the ‘right’ things, the glossy, glittery things that makes it sound on the surface like he knows what he’s talking about, but in truth, he is just dusting sprinkles over crap and calling it cupcakes. So really he barked louder than Obama making him *look* like he was the stronger leader, but barking loud doesn’t get you anywhere in my book, especially when you bark with no reasoning/thought and leadership behind it.

  • Grant

    I am still trying to understand how they can peddle this lie of their tax cuts for the rich(even though he weaseled his way out of that) are revenue neutral. It is impossible, especially since he wants to increase military funding, which is near $1T as it is. His math does not add up and given that Mitt cannot look the American people in the face and sell them Reaganomics tells you a lot. He kept on bringing up closing loopholes, which is actually the way most of the middle class gets their tax cuts. Why not eliminate the home mortgage deduction and child deduction for households making over 500k? Because he is a plutocrat working expressly for the rich. He can’t even sell his own policy so he came left to try to mimic Obama’s. Mitt cannot even articulate the ramifications of repealing the Affordable Care Act.

  • Dalili

    Right! My thoughts exactly!

  • Lady P

    You pretty much summarized my thoughts. Great comment!!!

  • Lady P

    I do think President Obama will need show up fully- suited within his battleground attire for the next debate. Romney is not holding back and is reflecting a superiority disposition. Therefore, I agree Pres. Obama’s charm is short-lived and/or at least non- beneficial for this debate.

  • apple

    he may have won the battle but i doubt he’ll win the war.

  • Blaque217

    There is not a whole lot Mitt Romney could say that would make me vote for him, but I was truly disappointed with President Obama’s performance last night. He may have given people who were on the fence or undecided a reason to vote against him. He just didn’t seem prepared. The President is an extremely intelligent man, but he seemed to be lost for the right words to say. It was painful to watch. I PRAY he does better next time!

  • Winsome

    I don’t believe there was a real winner. Okay fine, so the media wants to spin it so that Romney looks like the champion of the first debate and everyone is running with it. Makes for a more interesting (i.e. marketable) campaign, I suppose. All I know is I watched as Romney scribbled notes on his little pad too, looking down and nodding just as absently and frequently as President Obama. I won’t even start on Romney’s super weird fake smile/stare…for the life of me I can’t figure out why someone won’t tell him to wipe that fake plastic grin off his face…
    Also/However, Romney didn’t call President Obama one of “his boys,” in his reference to having five sons- rather he implied that he (Pres. Obama) is a liar and by saying something over and over that doesn’t make it any less false. (Really now. Let’s not make it any more than it was.)
    Yes, there are a number of points that President Obama could/should have brought up last night but chose not to- but we should keep in mind that we still have a few more weeks of this election bullsnizz. Americans will naturally ask “why so silent Mr. President?” To which, I think he would reply (in his charming voice and devilishly handsome smile): “This campaign is not a sprint, it is a marathon and remember- timing is everything.”
    Don’t make the mistake of counting my President as being a “man down.” Please and thank you.

  • LaNubiana

    “The illusion of inclusion.” – Dr. Umar Johnson

  • http://aol Joe

    If Obama had done or said all those things that Romney did, (including the racist remark-how’d ya find that one, you really had to go fishing for that) you would have called Obama brilliant. Your first 4 paragraphs made sense but devolved into clear partisanship. Write something serious.

  • The Other Jess

    Ummmm, I guess I saw an entirely different debate. I actually thought obama did quite well. Yes, he was alittle nervous at first, but I loved the fact that allof his answers were clear, conscise and detailed. I didn’t have to try to guess at hisplans – he siad it straight out.

    In fact, to me, it looked as if Obama’s calm was making Romney maniacally mad! He was practicallt barking up there, and at one point I thought he was going to jump across thepodium at the President. I don’t know, maybe i have a different view – everybody is so used to the “Basketball Wives” way of acting in the black community, we think that everybody should be like that. I don’t think so. Obama came across as very strong and very intelligent and patiently indulging a spoiled child.

    Romney came off as broiling mad, just angry that he even had to stand up their on the stage with Obama. Oh, and by the way, the author claims that the “arithmetic” statement originally came from Clinton – not true at all, you;re remebering incorrectly.

    Obama used that back when he first started campaigning as President , on several occasions.

    Obama was nervous at a little at the very beginning, and looked like he was exhausted (I guess running the entire country especially when people are out for oyur blood will do that to you), but he came through calmly and intelligently and i felt like he won that debate.

    I guess I’m different. If Obama was up their unhinged and frothing at the mouth like Romney, can you imagine how the press would run him through the ringer?? Please.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    I don’t think it was that bad as people are making it seem, sure President Obama should have been (and NEEDS to be) more aggressive and demanding but I didn’t think he blew it all to hell because if you listen he had a lot of good content while with Romney all I got was blah, blah, blah, blah tight lipped information. Being loud over a debate doesn’t necessary means you won, as mention I don’t think there wasn’t any clear winner last night. Do I think this may have swayed some people for Romney sure, but not all the swing voters. However, that MODERATOR WAS TERRRIBLE at controlling the debate! I have more criticism for him then both of the candidates honestly.

  • Avril

    I heard the first 10 minutes of the debate on sirius on the way home from work and I had to turn it off. Knowing the strategies of the president, a part of me feels this is his rope-a-dope strategy. He didn’t have to win lasts nights debate, he just has to show improvement in the second debate and land a TKO in the third. All of that is definitely possible.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    i see that the white pundits on TV have given it to romney. so the question becomes do you take your information from white people or from what you see. do you give a known
    and proven liar any credit at all? romney lied, obama didn’t.

  • Rue

    i think the author doth protest too much.
    yes obama wasn’t on his a game, but you made it sound like he was rick perry whereas romney was churchill,

  • http://www.lifestylebyky.com Kydee

    I think this post is a bit bias….idk

  • http://reclaimedfashions.com lw

    I agree. And I think it may have been political strategy at work. The media has been proclaiming that Obama is significantly ahead. I think he was making the effort NOT to go in for the kill. You will see a different Obama in the next debate. Let’s remember this is all a very slippery slope. He’s navigating it superbly in my opinion.

  • Overseas_Honeybee

    Dear Mr. President … it really is time for you to get all the way in Mitten’s azz.

    I know you can do it. Dig deep. This fool was talking about cutting government funding for PBS, in addition to some other crap I won’t even waste my keystrokes on trying to rehash. Come on sir. No Elmo? Really? That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

  • Joy

    Kristen: While I agree that this was a mediocre debate for the President (overall); I don’t get your take that he was using Michelle’s popularity by mentioning their anniversary. In fact quite the contrary. After all it was indeed their anniversary, and I think it would have been disrepectful if he didn’t mention it.

  • Joy

    Mike: President Obama is basically a passive person by nature. That’s his personality. And for him to all of a sudden turn into a belligerent personality is probably not going to happen. And as for Romney talking about creating 12 million jobs….it’s hogwash. What a lot of people don’t realize is that in the past Romney has mentioned that he would do away with lots of government jobs. On several occasions he’s mentioned that the Pentagon is to large and that he would cut jobs there. So what does creating jobs one place, and cutting jobs another place do? Absolutely nothing because it would become a moot point

  • Mrs. Perry

    “Big Bird hating jerkwad” LOVE IT!!

  • Downsouth Transplant

    @ the other Jess, “In fact, to me, it looked as if Obama’s calm was making Romney maniacally mad!” that cool demeanor sure made me raving mad too just not maniacally! LOL

  • msmonet

    I agree that the President needed to do better. However, I do not want to hear him talk about the things that everyone already knows (Bain, 47%, etc.). I promise you Romney was expecting that. Yes, it would have fired up the base, but it will not change the minds of independents who have heard that over and over and still are unsure.

  • Egypt

    I think the debate was deeply complicated by the fact that generally “aggressiveness” in White males is highly favored over Back males. When a While male is aggressive, he is fit to be on Wall Street, when a Black male is aggressive people go into defense mode, as if they have reason to be fearful. Really, it’s damn if you do and damn if you don’t.

    I’m not really certain what was going on inside his head, but he certainly looked flustered, as if he were deeply offended, but expected to bite his tongue.

  • jourdan

    Romney looked like a little kid throwing a TEMPER TANTRUM.

  • Joy

    What amazes me is how all of us THAT SAW THE SAME DEBATE interpreted it differently. Just proves we are not monolithic. I say that because some people think all black people think alike

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    the republicans are showing that you can flat out LIE and get away with it.
    that is not good for our country.

  • entro

    My take on the debates and the response of Barack Obama a day later at a rally in colorado “A fool utters all his mind, a wise man defers and keeps it till afterward” prov 29:11
    Dont let the aggressiveness of romney distract you, he lied 27 times in 38 minutes, went against his previous positions as well as the republican platform, this will be used against him. Mr Obama allowed him to lie himself into a corner and let him show his true self in front of America. If you let a fool talk and talk he will eventually reveal all his secrets and condemn himself with all his lies

  • Rochelle

    I nknew when Obama started talking about teachers in his answers that it was game over. American does not care about or want to hear about education. The president of all people knows that. Hopefully, he’ll get em next time.

  • blackRNtexas

    It is very good to worship and respect a leader. We all needs heros. But in Wednesday’s debate, I agree with the aurhor. Obama came off as weak, poorly prepared and if not intimidated…scared.
    He has to ask himself if he really wants to be POTUS. Because he (we) are in a serious fight for the direction of this nation. That fight does not always call for a Mr. Cool. I don’t mean he had to hit Romney, but he certainly did not have to stand there like “Ned in the primer” while Romney not only walked over him and the so called moderator. Romney
    talked to Obama like he was a child or errant employee. I was waiting for him to tell Obama to reshine his shoes!! Obama has to
    remember who he is and who he is fighting for! He cannot afford to not come with his “A” game . The stakes are too high. The next person who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave will shape the Supreme Court. With these Tea Party nuts trying to change theUS into a Christian Iran, take away rights of women, to take away the basic right to vote, your Grammies’ Medicare, poor peoples Medicaid, and to turn this country into some Ayn Randian wet dream…well he cannot afford to not be able to pivot. He has to be able to show the strength and power that goes with his office. Strength and power does NOT equal “angry black man.” It is required that he be able to stand face to face, state and defend his position clearly and look a liar directly in the eye…that is a position of strength. A position that is from respect and self assurance.
    I am very disappointed in his “performance.” Let us hope lessons are learned here.

  • Joy

    Great post Black!! You need to voice your concerns on the official Reelection website

  • Joy

    Black: go to barackobama.com

  • http://ellemk.wordpress.com LorriK

    Clearly, President Obama was off his game. It doesn’t mean he is not as capable, more concerned about the general needs of the country, but he simply was not at his best. But, I was shocked by the general response that stood by him and said “he did that” and he won when clearly he lacked enthusiasm, straight forward answers and called him out for his blatant lies. We can expect much more from the President. After all, he’s set the standard for us so no need to back off of it now.

  • modern lady

    This is all by design. This election will not end well no matter who wins.

  • ruggie

    I never got on the whole ‘Obama lost the debate’ bandwagon. To me, he came across as restrained and mature.

  • Mae

    “Robme” LOL!!!

Latest Stories

Cheers! 30 Not-As-Obvious Occasions That Call For Champagne

by

Maker of Infamous ‘Sizzurp’ Takes it Off the Market

by

How To Rock: Black Women In Orange Lipstick

by

Newsflash: Most People Aren’t Down With the ‘Swirl’

by
More in opinion, Politics
Presidential Debates
The Great Presidential Debates: Debate Night in America – Will You Be Watching?

Be Honest: Do You Really Like Black Men?
Be Honest: Do You Really Like Black Men?

Close