By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Obama changes the media narrative — in Romney’s favor

In my latest for the Huffington Post, I argue that, contrary to what Obama supporters will tell you, the president’s poor performance in Wednesday’s debate will matter a great deal in the days ahead.

Blame Jim Lehrer’s comatose moderating style and Mitt Romney’s falsehoods all you like. Obama could have risen to the occasion, and he didn’t.

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The debate in 2 minutes 17 seconds


  1. I’m not sure Obama supporters would disagree with you. This one sure doesn’t.

  2. I know. I’m as diehard an Obama supporter as they come, and I was cringing inwardly.

    Somebody please tell the President not to look downward so much when he is not speaking. It makes him look submissive.

    • “Somebody please tell the President not to look downward so much when he is not speaking. It makes him look submissive.”

      That’s because he IS submissive – to the banksters, the military-industrial-security-complex, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Wall Street, George Soros, etc.

      He should look down, in shame.

      But Romney is no different. In fact, he will be a worse shill for all the aforementioned special interests.

      Vote for Rombama and Obamney. (I’m shaking with excitement over all this.)

  3. Jerry Berger

    I don’t disagree that the debate will change the narrative. But I would argue it was going to change anyway. It was time for the media to refocus on Obama, given the sense he was opening a lead and the campaign was becoming complacent. In a sense, Obama only followed the script.

  4. L.K. Collins

    Pat, an diehard Obamanaut, was cringing. I would suggest that anyone watching the debate was cringing at Obama’s performance for a wide variety of reasons. The topics being discussed were ones that have been on his daily radar for four years, which made his performance even more cringe-worthy.

    With that said, and recognizing that the fall-out may be swift and severe, I sense that it will be Obama’s performance in the next debate will be the one that determines whether this performance will have done lasting damage.

    He now knows what’s coming, and, I am sure, is well aware of how short he fall. Will we a focus, engaged, and competent Obama show up, or will be be forced to sit through another embarrassing evening when we realize that our President really DOESN’T have it together?

    My guess is that the focused Obama will show up only to be replaced, as the debate wears on, by the Obama that understands that he may not be up to the task. And it will show to all who are watching.

    If the incompetent Obama makes a return appearance, then his poor performance in the first debate will be as damaging as Duke’s tank ride.

  5. DK – Good post.

    Personally, I’ve never understood the charge that there are no ‘details’. I have a 54 point economic plan that Romney released shortly after he announced – it was so detailed, he printed it like a small book. Apparently, Ann Romney and I are the only people in America who’ve read it. And I’ve never heard a candidate give a point-by-point analysis of how they will ‘fight for the middle class’ DURING a debate. If that’s the standard, where’s OBAMA’S details? Romney is a world-class policy wonk.

    For the other – the Mitt Romney I was able to get to know a little bit (I served on the State Committee and worked in the Legislature all during his Adminsitration, and the GOP caucus wasn’t all that big) is the one who showed up last night. He is ENTHUSIASTIC about managing government, gets EXCITED over budgeting details. Although he is personally a little wary and shy and far from a natural retail poltician, his enjoyment of public service is palpable, and it’s reflected in his speech. He has always reminded me of GHW Bush (whom I also got to meet) in his demeanor and natural courtesy. Maybe not fashionable or hip, but worthwhile and solid.

    He is, in fact, a gifted natural administrator – which is the actual JOB of the Chief Executive. Not advocating, not symbolizing – managing.

    • Mike Benedict

      I congratulate the Romney supporters for attempting to use Obama’s performance to inflate the former’s abilities and hide his misgivings. Contrary to what CE writes, Romney is most certainly NOT a gifted natural administrator. Success in business means pleasing a select few shareholders. It does not equal understanding and managing the vast constituency of America. Have you forgotten that Romney completely checked out of the one elected job he had after two years? What would he do when running the US gets hard? Make fun of Americans to the president of France? This is a guy who repeatedly said government is NOT an answer to anything. So why would someone like that want to be in public service? (The answer is, he is the Devil. You saw The Omen, right?)

      And if the office of the president is not symbolic, then please to explain what Reagan did for 8 years, because he certainly wasn’t administering anything.

  6. While the President certainly did not come out on the offensive, certainly he did do what the media and the public wanted him to do – concentrate on issues and not on “gotcha” gimmicks. For that in what was possibly the most substantive debate in many years, he is being thrown to the lions. I am sure he will change his tactics in the next debate, but who is the loser? I would say the American public.

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