If you love the art of language as I do, you will enjoy the prose I ran across today by two authors describing Messrs. Romney and Obama. Their ability to paint with words fascinates me. To keep this piece relatively brief, the chosen excerpts here will be slightly out of the context of each op-ed necessarily, but the firehose amount of post-debate spin we have all had these past 24 hours will allow you to get the point (each full article is excellent). The first article is by Daniel Henninger in his piece, The Romney Reboot Arrives”
It would be asking too much for anyone to believe that the Romney campaign planned to spend two years saying very little about the substance of public policy as a ruse to anesthetize Barack Obama on debate night, but that is clearly what happened.
Gov. Romney came to the debate prepared to press Mr. Obama in detail about the president’s record, to defend the substance of his own proposals and even draw sharp philosophical distinctions with Mr. Obama. We’re happy to tip a hat to his pre-debate sparring partner, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, but this level of competence and detail wasn’t acquired in the past 10 days.
Barack Obama showed the dangers and risks of presidential incumbency. For all the powers of the office, the U.S. presidency inevitably causes the person holding it to place outsized belief and faith in the correctness of his own policies and ideas. In a word, hubris. It has happened before.
Barack Obama, perhaps the most self-confident person to occupy that office in our lifetime, was always skating along the edge of a cliff of self-destructive arrogance. No other president would have thought to berate the members of the Supreme Court as they sat in front of him during his State of the Union speech. The famous George Washington University speech in which he ridiculed his Republican partners in the deficit-negotiation talks, who had come to the speech expecting to hear a policy response, was another sign of potential danger.
And finally there was the report a few weeks ago that Mr. Obama did not respect Gov. Romney and did not consider him competent to be president.
This is a president, dismissive and condescending to any opposition, who went into that debate in Denver and essentially got his head handed to him by a better-prepared opponent.
What was especially damaging to Mr. Obama is that when it became clear early in the initial discussion of tax policy that Mitt Romney was going to take his argument to a deeper level, the president’s response was essentially to start cutting and pasting stock lines from speeches he’s been giving for years. After awhile, he looked like a guy who was rummaging through a drawer for old audio cassettes.
Not least, Mr. Romney has finally found his way to a workable defense of his Massachusetts health-care plan, emphasizing that whatever its merits, it was a major legislation that was passed on a bipartisan basis. Mr. Obama was left muttering that the Washington GOP should have taken cues from Massachusetts.
Mitt Romney may not have won the election in the first debate, but he established a new baseline.
Will it last? It would be passing strange, even a little weird, if Mr. Romney reverted to a candidacy skimming along the surface of issues and arguments. He can go deep. He should keep doing it. Besides as he said minutes into the debate, “It’s fun, isn’t it?” It is. Give the voters more of it.
The second op-ed is by the conservative speechwriter we love to hate and love…Peggy Noonan. I love to read her words. She has an amazing way of being both succinct and colorfully descriptive! Her WSJ piece Romney Deflates The President is art (I recommend the entire piece):
Out on a limb, where the breeze is best:
The impact of the first debate is going to be bigger than we know. It’s going to affect thinking more than we know, and it’s going to start showing up in the polls, including in the battlegrounds, more dramatically than we guess.
It wasn’t just Mitt Romney’s strong performance. It was President Obama’s amazingly weak one. He’s never been punctured before. But by debate’s end Wednesday night, if you opened the window this is what you could hear: Ssssssss. The soft hiss of air departing from a balloon.
And—amazingly again—he did it to himself. He didn’t fight, he didn’t show, he wasn’t awake and hungry. He just said the same-old-same-old and let it go. He couldn’t even meet Mr. Romney’s gaze, never mind his arguments.
Is all this dispositive? Has it changed everything? No.
Balloons can get patched. Opportunities can be squandered. Luck can turn.
But this whole race is on the move again, it’s in play again, and it’s going to get fun.
But it’s going to get hot, too. And probably dirty.