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October 01, 2012

The Incumbent as Underdog

When in this world the headlines read,
of those whose hearts are full of greed,
Who rob and steal from those in need,
To right these wrongs with blinding speed comes....

It doesn't get any weirder than this, folks:

As part of his week-long effort to lower expectations ahead of Wednesday’s first Obama-Romney debate in Denver – an obligatory ritual even the campaigns find tiresome – the president informed a crowd of 11,200 here Sunday night not to expect too much.

“Governor Romney is a good debater. I’m just okay,” said Obama, who is not known for his humility in competitive activities ranging from golf to cards to elections.

Obama took a cue from his traveling press secretary who earlier mocked reports that Romney was prepping one-liners. “Folks in the media are already speculating on who is going to have the best zingers, who is going to put the most points on the board,” he told the audience, adding that he was much more interested in delivering “serious” answers to policy queries.

The former Massachusetts governor, clearly the most polished performer in the GOP primary debates, has been poor-mouthing himself in hopes of scoring the he-did-better-than-we-thought crown Thursday morning.

But wait... we spoke too soon. It can get even weirder:

It's a further lowering of expectations ahead of the first debate in Denver next week. Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse tells Fox News he thinks Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will win.

Woodhouse says Democrats are "trying to be realistic about expectations" because the president is "lucky to be able to devote three consecutive hours to debate preparation."

Woodhouse also paints Romney as a good debater and gives him credit for "dispatching Newt Gingrich" who Woodhouse considers a pretty good debater.

A few thoughts:

The "don't expect too much" fits in well with Obama's favorite theme: the "I inherited the worst [fill in the blank] since [fill in the blank]" serial excuse-a-palooza. But it doesn't fit so well with with his pre-election hubris (promises to heal the planet, restore a state of global comity that never existed in the first place, and bring us out of the worst economic downturn since The Great Depression).

The President would have more time to prep for debates if he wasn't spending so much time making silly guest appearances on shows like The View. If Obama thinks the nation deserves a "serious talk about policy issues", shouldn't be be spending more time prepping and less time appearing on frivolous talk shows that do everything BUT seriously discuss policy issues?

We keep thinking of the Bush/Kerry debate in 2004. You know, the one where President Bush prepped for the debate by spending the day touring hurricane-stricken Florida and John Kerry spent the day getting a manicure? We'll never forget how Bush was savaged by both conservative pundits and the press for not being on top of his game that night.

Bush's visible exhaustion was evidence of his dull witted verbal and mental incompetance and Kerry's relative freshness (not to mention tidy cuticles!) were taken as proof of his amazing mental superiority and grace under pressure. The standard seems to have changed somewhat.

Posted by Cassandra at October 1, 2012 05:57 AM

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Well, you know, Obama called dibs.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at October 1, 2012 10:01 AM

Preparations to debates are as briefings to foreign machinations it seems. It should be well accepted common knowledge by now that there's neither room, nor time, nor a contingency, for a super-intelligence to ever be inopportuned or ever suffer the inexpedient.

Posted by: George Pal at October 1, 2012 12:01 PM

I think it is a set up. Don't expect too much, Romney is so much better, etc. Then after the debate - Obama delivers crushing blow. It's foreshadowing for the later narrative of how excellent debater Romney was out of Obama's league.

Posted by: nodnol at October 1, 2012 12:59 PM

I agree with you, nodnol, up to "Then after the debate....". If by "Romney was out of Obama's league..." we're speaking analogically, then the comparison *leagues* would be Romney's NFL to Obama's Pop Warner. (wait, was that racist? Afterall, Pop Warner was white...) Xerxes will not have any of his regular puppetmaster's hands up his ass parroting the *talking points* for him. I foresee a lot of "Ummm's, Uhhhh's, Let me be clear's, etc." You are right about the set up, although, it's more along the lines of disaster prevention -- if they tell us upfront to not expect him to do well, (for whatever lameass reason they think will sound believable to the "'47%" - this time.) then when (not *if*) he gets blown away by Romney, the spin is already playing at 45 rpm, "We told you not to expect him to do well."

Posted by: DL Sly at October 1, 2012 02:33 PM

Obama's best hope is that his disdain for Romney and Republicans doesn't leak through his speech. He is so thin skinned that I expect he will, as usual, not be able to resist talking down to and lecturing Romney. If that happens, it will really dampen his "likeability" with swing voters. I am betting that some of his real beliefs and attitudes will sink him. He will not have the time to filibuster questions as he does in interviews and the few press events he has done. He is used to softball questions from adoring entertainment venues...

Posted by: TexasMom2012 at October 1, 2012 05:25 PM

What? Obama as a cartoon superhero?

This has taken a decided turn for the weird.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at October 1, 2012 08:10 PM