Did I see...shades of Ali?
Look, in a first debate incumbents tend to look defensive for the simple fact that they ARE! They bring a current national record to the table. Challengers are free to swing away with little fear of recrimination. As happened last night.
And although some are not pleased with the President's performance or seeming lack of preparedness last night, a reasonable question is: how do you prepare for a challenger who is as pliable and unpredictable as Mr. Romney. A man who is prepared to say anything (47%), including outright lying (Cuts to medicare?) And I dislike using that term, but I'm afraid it applies here.
Granted, the President looked to be on his heels. Took some body shots, to use a boxing analogy. But I harken back to Muhammed Ali against George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. Ali initially absorbed some terrific body shots in that fight. Looking like a fighter either unprepared, uninterested or at best, beyond his prime. All the while allowing Foreman to spend his energy and expose his soft underbelly. Then, using those factors, along with his own wonderful set of skills, knocked out his opponent. (If you're old enough to remember, it was magic. Too young? See youtube, you won't regret it.)
Now I'm not out to romanticize last night's debate and the challenges facing President Obama. Nor do I suspect that a "knockout" is in the offing in these debates. For either side. Barring some incredible misstep by either side.
But let's not forget who this President is. And the political skills that he has demonstrated time and again up until now. I'll certainly concede that he may have been caught off guard initially in the first debate. More than just the President were left scratching their heads after last night. But rather than flail away in rebuttal, it may have been prudent to allow Mr. Romney to go on. Spend his energy. Expose some softness and weak spots (in addition to those already out there) to be used at a later date.
We all know time is not limitless. And a third of the debates are in the books.
But there are rounds left in this fight.
I like my guy's chances.* (*Angelo Dundee...Ali's manager)