As in so many contests, victory usually goes to the side that wants it more. The consensus across the aisle from last night’s debate was that Mitt Romney came to play, and Barack Obama didn’t. James Carville told CNN that as much as he wanted to avoid reaching that conclusion, Obama didn’t look like he wanted to be at the debate:
“I had one overwhelming impression,” he said. “I did everything I could not to reach it, but it looked like Romney wanted to be there and President Obama didn’t want to be there.”
He continued: “It seemed like Romney was happy to be there. Obama gave me the impression that the whole thing was kind a lot of trouble.”
The former Bill Clinton strategist then admitted he believes Romney “had a good night.”
“I think he wanted to be there,” concluded Carville. “I think he knew he needed this, and I think Obama gave the sense he wasn’t happy to be at this debate.”
The Boss Emeritus uses two analogies to make her point. On the blog, Michelle refers to the “empty podium,” a spin of the “empty chair” meme popularized by Clint Eastwood’s speech at the Republican convention, while on Fox and Friends this morning, she says that Obama tried to “phone in” the debate:
That speech by Eastwood may get a little more respect after last night’s performance by Obama. In the clips I’ve watched, Obama offers the same tired arguments from the last three years, offers nothing at all new or any reason to think that his current policies will produce anything better in another four years, and ends up making the same pitch as he did in 2008 — as if he hasn’t been President at all.
On MSNBC this morning, Mike Barnacle chalks that up to a lack of the ubiquitous teleprompter giving Obama his talking points of the day:
It’s interesting to see Obama’s usual defenders belatedly come to the conclusion that there isn’t much there there, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein. The bubble to which Barnacle refers might be the problem only if Obama thought those defenses would work; judging from his disengaged delivery and cliched responses, I’m not sure that’s the problem. The reason Obama may not want to be there is because he has nothing new to say, no new defenses to make.
Addendum: I (briefly) considered using a screenshot of Carville for this post. You can thank me now.