And it wasn't the balloon. Welcome to earth Mitt, ain't gravity a bitch.
Before the debate started tonight I tweeted something to the effect that I thought the wide shot of the town hall format would be Mitt's undoing. Those strange, shuffling little steps of his were going to be on display, out from behind the lectern. And as soon as Romney left his stool to answer the first question I knew POB had him.
Romney was nervous, and awkward from the first answer on. Perhaps he felt surrounded by ordinary people. Normally he's above them on stage or standing at the head of a board room table. The spray tan couldn't help him, his suit didn't even seem to fit him well, while the president looked sleek and energetic. I can't wait to hear what James Lipton has to say about body language and Obama's audience engagement tomorrow.
I think the vast majority of us accepted that POB was not himself in the first debate but looking back Romney came away with nothing more than empty style points. There were no memorable lines, no substantive victories and plenty of fact-checkable lies.
In tonight's debate Obama did much more. He left the stage with a war chest of sound bites and stellar presidential moments. On question after question he conducted a rhetorical master class backed with all the facts. Romney perched on his stool with a pained expression that betrayed he was swimming in deep water.
When rattled he flailed about and tried his old control the moderator tricks but low and behold Candy Crowley (who made us nervous) found her journalistic backbone and called a fair game.
The Rose garden moment was sublime and you can bet it will be replayed for decades to come before every presidential debate. Actually I'm rather pleased about that because I was getting a little tired of watching Nixon's upper lip. And then the coup de grâce, Romney sets up Obama for the 47% closer. He was out on his feet before he hit the canvas.
I don't believe any of us could have asked for more. Romney is not going to come back in a foreign policy debate. We're not going to have to watch Mitt penguin walk across the White House lawn for four years. Instead he'll be collecting all those binders and looking to return them to Staples. Thank you Mr. President, thank you.