Should we be thankful that Politico's Glenn Thrush didn't call this article "How Obama got his groove back"?
Even with the more modest title "How Obama reset his campaign," the piece is one of the greatest works of unintentional (and uncomfortable) comedy since David Brooks got hot and bothered over the crease in the future president's pants, Chris Matthews objectively felt a thrill up his leg at the 2008 Democratic candidate's silky tones, or The New York Times tried to give an inspirational glow to President Obama's tardy and clumsy sellout of longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak.
Obama charged that Romney is a different man than the guy he faced Wednesday. But it was the president who seemed to be a totally different guy on Thursday. Gone was the distracted, deer-in-headlights mumbler. In his place, suddenly, was someone doing a pretty good impersonation of Obama '08…
But it wasn't the joke that struck a top Obama adviser watching from stage right, it was the way the boss was gripping the lectern — left hand grabbing the front, right hand in his pocket.
"Look," the person said, "That's what he does when he's really into it."[…]
If Thursday's Obama performance was any indication, he's more likely to compensate for his shortcomings outside the debate hall — at rallies that fire up a base that had been less than enthusiastic earlier in the year and more recently has been inclined to believe he will trounce Romney…
That night, after a brief, terse chat with his advisers backstage at the University of Denver arena — "He had real clarity about what had happened," one of them told POLITICO with a chuckle — Obama hopped in his limo, "The Beast," and sped off to a nearby DoubleTree with wife Michelle.
He had had enough of politics for the night.
I still expect (because I think an election is pretty much a mechanistic process on which the autumnal theater of polling, stumping and debating has little impact) that Obama will win. But am I the only one who gets a feeling of intense fremdschämen at this kind of inside-the-bunker credulity?
By the way, that "joke" Thrush refers to goes like this: "Thank God somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird… We didn't know that Big Bird was driving the federal deficit. … Elmo, too?" Even if it were funny, it came more than a day after the debate. It doesn't even qualify as Diderot's esprit d'escalier, the realization that you should have told your jerk store joke after it's too late.
The saddest thing is this description of how the president laid out his bold new game plan:
He huddled with his inner circle — David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Valerie Jarrett, Anita Dunn, Ron Klain and Jim Messina — and settled on the theme they hammered all of Thursday — a direct attack on Romney that accused him of out-and-out lying on his tax-cut claims and portrayed the former Massachusetts governor as a two-faced imposter willing to say anything to win.
First of all, hasn't Anita Dunn been gone from the Obama administration since, like, sometime during the Carter administration? That she's back is almost as ominous as the continued presence of Plouffe, Jarrett and the rest. Obama's problem is not stylistic. It's a disastrous presidency in which all of these knuckleheads are directly implicated. This is a reset?
If you're keeping score at home, here's how the reset is going:
Mitt Romney is now polling within two percent of the president.
Romney has raised $12 million in the last week.
Even Bill Maher said something funny, and it was at Obama's expense.
A potential donor scandal is brewing.
Much of this drama is standard issue for a campaign season, and I'd be surprised if Obama did not come on stronger in the next debate. But if this is his idea of a new look, the president is in worse shape than I realized.