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President Barack Obama lost the debate and he lost badly. His befuddlement brought to mind the speech he gave at the Democratic National Convention.
At the Democratic National Convention, President Obama paused, then said, “I am the President.” He paused again, clearly waiting for applause. None came.
Saying, “I am President” after nearly four years of governing simply isn’t enough. It’s not enough even to wildly adoring supporters.
After a couple years of being in charge, people expect something. Americans expected something more than the pleasure of seeing a man who had achieved a historic milestone by just being president. What did they expect? It’s difficult to say, exactly, but I have a few guesses.
There is a sense that people want assurances that the economy will get better and that the government is in skillful hands. President Obama seemed unsteady and vague. Those in the middle class have seen their lives get markedly more difficult. President Obama said he cared about them, but he filibustered when he should have been firm and clear.
And then there was the hollow passage in the debate where President Obama said that he valued ideas from anyone. Maybe. But most people were remembering a bitterly partisan throttling when Obamacare became the law of the land against the wishes of well over 50 percent of voters.
In this first debate, President Obama, the chief executive, fell short of the hype and joy people felt when they first heard the words, “I am President.”
I’m focusing on the president, because really, this election is his to lose. He continues to be well-liked and the American people want to see him succeed. Unfortunately, the criticisms in 2007 and 2008 by Hillary Clinton ring true now -- President Obama has seemed in over his head and getting on-the-job training. This has been a very tough couple of years to learn on the job.
In contrast, Mitt Romney looked born to lead. He’s a guy who’s been in tough situations where difficult decisions needed to be made, and people watching him know he’s made them. Governor Romney seemed calm, within himself and assertive. He effectively rebutted criticisms and put forth his ideas -- ideas, by the way, which sounded reasonable and helpful.
Part of the lopsidedness of this debate surely is the fault of the press and the people surrounding the president. One gets the feeling that this is the first time in years the president has been challenged on much of anything.
In addition, the media has insisted on portraying any Republican as some sort of wild-eyed ideologue -- something President Obama himself tried to assert in the debate. (I’m thinking of the line, to paraphrase, Mr. Romney is beholden to the extreme elements of his party.)
That charge seemed hyperbolic and absurd to those watching. Governor Romney comes off as reasoned and measured -- hardly the stuff of a wild-eyed extremist. Those of us who are more conservative have laughed at the press trying to make Romney into their perceived right-wing cartoon character. If only...
This is the first debate. President Obama clearly lost. The president has two more debates to prove that the promise of his presidency wasn’t just in him getting the job title, but in him doing the job. He has his work cut out for him.
WATCH: View from the Undecided: Did the First Presidential Debate Sway iVoice Beth Engelman?
iVoice Dr. Melissa Clouthier writes at Melissa Blogs with children literally sitting on her head, while cooking in the kitchen, between patients, during stupid TV shows, and most irritatingly for her family, while people talk to her. You can also find her on Twitter @melissatweets.