Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mamie~Louise Anderson's Special Editorial

My Morning After Response to the Debate

Just when we think our champion is the underdog, watching powerlessly as his opponent preens with over-confidence, puffs up his (or her, in the case of Hillary) chest, juts out his jaw and scrambles ideology like the shape shifter he's known to be, the Commander in Chief delivers the unexpected knocked out by a deft, dignified, unassuming and lethal stroke of genius! Alas, that didn't happen. In last night's high stakes verbal sword fight, hope and change was not the case. I was waiting for the element of surprise - some wry and pointed remark to cut through Romney's barrage of conservative talking points and well-rehearsed mythology that Gov. Christie warned us on "Meet the Press" was coming.

Romney showcased his CEO command at President Obama's expense and the moderator was as ineffectual as a lowly employee serving tea in the board room. For the president to allow Romney this runaway performance so late in the game showed the miscalculation of a cagey enemy by his handlers who neutered him with his own brand: Mr. Nice Guy. I doubt President Obama has allowed himself to think of Romney as "the enemy," but that psychological adjustment would have made his fighting skills effective.

And make no mistake, that skinny guy can fight! But you don't bring a butter knife to a gunfight; this is war! The camera angles made it worse. Practiced Romney faced the nation and the President, confidently. President Obama looked down, like a student taking notes. The optics were awful. Like most of you, I was screaming at the TV, trying to coach our distant leader out of that sleep walk.

And yet... Here we are, the morning after, weighing the lopsided victory of the desperately animated, amped and dominating Governor that has the pundits and fact-checkers doing President Obama's work for him, in effect, proving Romney aggressively wrong on points and even more distasteful as he flipped into attack mode in a manner absent of diplomacy. In the President's defense, everybody now talking about what (contender) Obama coulda or shoulda said is effectively building the case against Romney, siding with the Prez in a whispering campaign that highlights the lies and distortions that have characterized his feckless, Etch-a- Sketch campaign.

If letting the media do the work for him is the Obama campaign's calculated risk, and I don't believe it is, Chicago is slicker than slick and more street smart than we've ever given them credit for. They have mastered the politics of shaping public sentiment by default, allowing rude Romney to display his latent bully as Obama's cool and likeable persona remains presidentially intact. I think, to be honest, Romney kicked Obama's ass at a time when mastery of debate was all it would have taken to put Romney away for good.
This is a choice election and mano a mano, it was ideology vs ideology. Conservative vs liberal, a dichotomy antithetical to President Obama's "there are no red states; there are no blue states" core values, pragmatism and political philosophy. He needed to take it to the bridge, but he didn't. 

The President's table was set and Romney was his guest, but he let him take over the house, not just the dinner party. I'm watching this and thinking, confrontation is a skill the President would be wise to master. When the enemy is face to face; in point of fact, in your face and looking down his patrician nose at the nation, pretending to have compassion, it's time to ball up your verbal fist and land one, Pow! Right in the kisser! The President lacked this killer instinct and without it, he lost round after unstructured round when facts and figures, a few pithy anecdotes and a flash of humor would have won by a knockout punch upside Romney's big head! I waited all night for that. It didn't come.

This is all spin. We will see in the days ahead how it all shakes out. Romney's lies landing on our punch-drunk champion. The President's unvoiced deflections. Michelle's brow creased with concern. Miss Ann's smug condescension. The nation's compassion for the leader who has run himself raggedy on our behalf, crisis after crisis. The Black Man who dares to climb to the lonely heights yet a second time to save us from oligarchy. Time will tell...

 Initially, the polls will shift in Romney's favor, if only because America loves a comeback and a fighter. After all, as Joan Allen pointed out, he was boning up on debate skills while the President was running the world. In the end, that doesn't matter. This is WAR! If debate is the arena that can determine this close race, our fearless gladiator, President Obama, must master it and come out swinging next time, preferably without the gloves. (but that's just me talking smack, a girl from Harlem 's tenements and el barrio's projects who learned to fight to survive.)

And this thing about suppressing Black rage and appearing to be unflappable. Here's my thinking: To be human is to display the full range of human emotion, no matter how it is broadly misinterpreted. Surely a second term president has earned the right to fully express fighting instincts. The non-angry Black Man is a reverse stereotype we simply can't afford. Yet, Obama doesn't have to be mad to defeat Romney. It ain't personal; it's business. He doesn't have to stoop to conquer or fight dirty, but he really does have to fight like the devil to win.

What you bet he brings his “A game” next time and the final debate will be brilliant, no matter what else is happening in the world? What you bet? 10,000 Monopoly dollars? Let this be a lesson in gauging the enemy and ferreting out Romney's long-hidden agenda. Seeing how far he's willing to pivot from his base to take the Oval Office. I am confident President Obama will rise to the occasion. There is too much at stake for him not to and with The First Lady in his corner, he cannot simply lose. 


Mamie~Louise Anderson

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