According to Alexander Coward, Obama saves the really crucial arguments of his campaign for the following debates in order to fight back big time.
Before Mohamed Ali went into the ring against George Foreman for the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974, he said that he was going to dance, that he was going make Foreman look slow, that he was going to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
Instead he lay low on the ropes for 7 whole rounds, leaning back so far it looked like he might fall out of the ring. He soaked up punch after punch, body-blow after body-blow, leaving people scratching their heads. Where is the real Ali? Is he tired? Was he expecting an easy fight? His supporters were inflamed. We want our money back.
And so it is with the first Obama-Romney debate. Obama tonight was a shadow of the man we know he can be. Compare his performance tonight to this video from 2008.
As testified by a ten minute browse on Youtube, Obama had many moments like this, against both Clinton and McCain, where Obama was bold and attacking, dominating and clear.
So this raises the question: Why did we not see this Obama tonight?
It is not because he has a stronger opponent with fewer chinks to work his teeth into. How many times did Obama mention the famous 47 percent? None. How many times did Obama mention Romney’s numerous flip-flops, despite given numerous openings? None. How many times did Obama talk about Mitt’s mystery personal taxes? None.
This was not an accident.
The truth is that Obama knew well in advance that he, like Ali, was entering the ring with a naturally gifted and exceptionally trained opponent. Obama was never going to win on points. Instead he is keeping his powder dry until the later debates, allowing Romney to establish himself as an agressive and effective debater and himself as the underdog. Further, Obama kept his cool throughout the whole thing, was consistently courteous and polite, never letting himself get even remotely rattled, and allowed Romney to show the world what a good debater he is.
But you can be sure Obama is saving all his energy for the end-game. People of Obama’s ability don’t miss all those open goals by accident.
Round one is over. You can watch the entire Ali-Foreman fight here.
You can be sure Obama has seen it too.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.