I'm so anxious about the debate tonight I can barely stand it, and I don't want to read any more warnings of how the election hinges on President Obama's performance tonight. In Obama-Romney Debate 2012: Can Cool Hand Barack Dismantle Robomitt? Howard Fineman takes a more upbeat approach providing some encouraging insights from his sources inside the preparation team who assure us that the President is ready and "“He knows what he has to do.”
I’ve been told by a person close to the debate-prep process that whatever the question, he will stress these among other points: the impossible not-to-say cynical math of Romney’s $5 trillion tax cut proposal; his proposed the “voucherization” of Medicare; running mate Rep. Paul Ryan’s (and, implicitly, Romney’s) threat to do the same to Social Security; his support for continued and even more generous rate cuts for the wealthy; the threat his budget-and-tax plans pose to the non-entitlement portion of the budget.
In Howard Fineman's analysis President Obama's prefers "to play the cool, nice guy," perhaps because he moved from "culture to culture" learning how to be "accepted and even admired without taking on schoolyard bullies."
Fineman characterizes Romney as the quintessential bully:
a ruthlessly ambitious, shape-shifting politician with enormous wealth, even wealthier friends and a proven reputation for using whatever means necessary to destroy anyone in his path and for blithely disregarding numbers, logic and truth in the pursuit of power. ... In other words, a genteel bully, who has spent a well-born lifetime getting what he wants: the girl, the Harvard degrees, the Big Money, the big houses, the governorship and now, on the second try -– he hopes –- the White House.
Fineman sees hope in the way President Obama dispatched Senator McCain in 2008.
I can't tell from Fineman's article whether he is clueing us into inside plans from the debate team on the style of our President's approach tonight, or just speculating with some wishful thinking.
There is precedent for the president taking on his foe in a town hall. He did it to Sen. John McCain in 2008. Obama did it in the manner of one of his heroes, boxer Muhammad Ali. The set-up punch was a compliment. He praised McCain for his sterling reputation as a veteran leader in foreign policy. McCain said a satisfied “thank you.” At which point, Obama hit him with the right cross, ridiculing him for singing “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” and suggesting that it might be time to wipe North Korea off the map.
It was over for McCain.
My guess is that President Obama will be in top form in terms of energy, and focus, and will directly engage Mitt Romney, refuting falsehoods, but still be polite and civil, in character with his noble style.
And, our president is so intelligent, knowledgeable, and ... Presidential, I expect he will do well.
Nevertheless, I'm still anxious about it. So much of viewer reaction depend on things beyond anyone's control. For example, of all people to choose to broadcast continuous reaction in plots superimposed at the bottom of the main viewing screens, why does CNN choose a small group of "still undecided voters" as if these folks have distinguished themselves as "thought-leaders" for our nation?
With two hours to go, maybe I need to take a walk to work off nervous energy. We will know soon enough.