Biden was Biden, which means brilliant. Obama will be Obama, which means... (after crossing over the burnt orange spinnicle)....
Biden was Biden, which means brilliant.
Obama will be Obama, which also means brilliant.
And which also means you'll see 3 very different aspects of Obama over the course of his 3 debates against Rmoney.
((Or you may even be seeing 4 or more sides of Obama, because I'm wagering that the way you see the Obama of Debate #1 today will turn out to be quite different than the way you'll be seeing the Obama of Debate #1 a month from now. So even if you right now violently disagree with what I'm saying in the next couple of paragraphs, stick around for the second half of this diary, you'll groove on it ;)))
Obama in debate #1 set up for the whole series. Not just visibly looking down, he was visibly listening, he was visibly taking copious notes. He set a baseline that reprised 4 years of being respectful, conciliatory, a really good listener, and even one who will repeatedly "turn the other cheek". Plus, he gave Rmoney all the rope he could pull (and R pulled it all the way to Sesame Street and beyond). Obama non-verbally put Rmoney on notice: even tho you've flipflopped tons of times before now, from here on out this is all on the record.
Obama stress tested his entire team and infrastructure -- and a week later, not only is he winning a healthy balance of swing states, and winning the electoral college majority..... But the narrative is that Obama is somehow behind, which is exactly the dynamic he leveraged in 2008 -- underdog, coming from behind McCain into the final stretch, building into a tsunami that peaked right at election day. (There was no way to keep up the momentum that Obama had last month prior to the debate; there was risk of complacency among some supporters and risk of Rovian invasions downballot; the stream of poll improvements had gotten so steep that continued upward acceleration was unsustainable, and could have turned down on an uncontrollable event / at an unpredictable time. Or, in stock market lingo, there has now been an Obama "correction", which provides a foundation for the next bull market run up -- strong enough to last vigorously all the way thru and past election day.)
Then, last night, @LaughinJoeBiden totally #pwnd @LyinPaulRyan, relentlessly calling him out on his #malarkey --- giving the twitterverse what it wanted, giving the base what we wanted, smacking down the smarmy vampire faux-wonk 6 ways to sunday. But he did far more than that -- because last night team Obama-Biden deprived team Romney-Ryan of their last and final chance to upset the underlying dynamics.
Look, Citizens United isn't panning out as the plutocrats planned. Voter ID and other suppression tactics are being competently uncovered and nipped and outflanked. Mitt's World Tour gave him less than zero joy. Announcing Ryan barely got him his base back. The promised 11-point GOP convention bounce was completely Eastwooddied. He failed miserably at aikidoing his missing tax returns or his 47% hubris or any of his other negatives into positives. He even smirked his way out of getting the benefit he was so excited about from the deaths in Libya, which was his last chance to harness some exogenous game changer. And then came the debates -- the final remaining opportunities for any endogenous game change.
Halfway thru the series of 4, here's were we stand. Obama forced Rmoney to peak at debate #1, and its all downhill for R from there. Obama is ahead by almost every measure (and even more ahead by the unmeasured depth of his OFA groundgame and our netroots guerilla digital superiority and by the huge pool of non-LV RV's who are potentially GOTVable), yet he has reclaimed the mantle of underdog... and Americans just love to ride an ascending underdog. Meanwhile, Obama sandbagged and rope-a-doped to the point where 3rd parties jumped in to fill-in the fact-checking and the callout of Romney flip-flops and bald face lies that Obama "failed" to beat back "during" the debate (but you and I and Barack know that it's really all one big debate that ends on Nov 6th). Obama didn't yield a single soundbite or a single second of video from which an attack ad could have been made, yet harvested plenty off of sugar-high-daddy Mitt, including the Martyrdom of BigBird. Obama was so polite and boring and deferential that he provoked a nationwide outcry for exactly the kind of Scranton streetfight that Joe Biden dealt out and rained down upon poor little Lyin Ryan last night.
And, most importantly, after last night there is nothing that is within Romney's power to dramatically or discontinuously or decisively improve his lot; even if Romney is brilliant in the next 2 debates that would just be more status quo. Same-ole same-ole, while hungry media wants something new and improved. R shot his wad at #1, the rest of R's shots were duds, and bottom line, R's ammo belt of potential game changers is spent.
R has no headroom to improve off of debate #1, while O set the bar so low that even a mediocre debate #3 performance could be seen as a win. But Obama will not be mediocre in debate #3. He has full permission now to hit R hard, to laugh in his face, to joke, to be serious, to entertain, to point out lies and flipflops without a mandatory coating of Presidential Tact and Diplomacy, and to generally light up the room and the nation as is so easy for him. #3 is Town Hall, and O will be in his element. With real live people. Meanwhile, under his facade, and down in his Bain CEO Mormon Bishop Entitled 1%er guts, R will be deeply uncomfortable amidst a Townhall with a good heaping of 47%ers. And those real live people will show on their real live faces their reactions to R's phoniness.
O in #4 will have genuinely learned (as distinct from R who says whatever you want to hear but cares not to listen to you or learn from you) from everything in and resulting from the first 3, from the blowback of a disappointed base spoiling for a fight to embracing Big Bird to calling out Malarky to absorbing the range of emergent memes and trending hashtags and weaving them into his unique song. He will skewer kabob after kabob of R's accumulated flipfloppery (harkening back to the notes he scribbled back in debate #1), roasting eloquently by theme rather than by petty minutia. And he will also be conscious of it being his last debate of his last campaign of his life, and conscious of his special place in history, and conscious of the possibility of a profoundly transformative second term, and he will synthesize and distill it all in his own unique way, and he will speak the unfolding story that is Barack Obama from his heart through his eyes directly into the TV camera.
So my guess is that while O will shine during #3 and will gain points from it, he'll hold back the throttle some to set up for #4 at even greater brilliance, followed by mega-rallies and other fireworks completely on his own terms. After all, O's the master of peaking at just the right time, and winning the real contest.
And IMHO, that level of mastery, whether in a symphony, or in love making, or in gourmet politics, comes from the soul of wisdom.