Four years ago this fall, Democrats were unnerved because then-Sen. Barack Obama didn’t seem to want to fight for the job of president. He appeared willing to let the Republican ticket run all over him. An unsettling sense of deja vu had engulfed Democrats ever since President Obama lost the first debate with a horrendous performance that left friend and foe alike asking what MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked pointedly, “Where was Obama tonight?”
No one’s asking that question now. Mitt Romney did okay. But Obama won.
The same aggressive Romney who cleaned Obama’s clock in Denver showed up on Long Island. (His hectoring of the debate moderators is growing tiresome, but I digress.) The somnambulant president of two weeks ago gave way to a wide-eyed and aggressive president tonight who refused to take Romney’s attacks lying down and who was more than willing to proactively take the fight to his Republican opponent.
Obama hit Romney on his economic plans, immigration stance, women’s health and equal pay. They sparred over energy policy. And when it came to Libya, Romney got clobbered. It’s not that there aren’t serious and real questions that must be answered by Obama and his administration. It’s that Romney is a flawed vessel to have that conversation due to his unstatesmanlike press release amid the swirl of events that saw four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, murdered.
There were a few other uncomfortable moments for Romney. For instance, he didn’t directly answer a young woman’s question about equal pay for equal work for women. And the question asked of Romney about how he would be different from President George W. Bush was not a shining moment.
But the “amen” moment for Obama’s base came at the very end. In answering a question asking about a misperception of him, Romney answered by saying he cared about “100 percent” of the country. A clear reference to the damaging video that showed an unguarded Romney trashing 47 percent of the country as freeloaders. Obama didn’t let that go when he got the chance to answer the question. After saying he believes that Romney is a good man, the president pounced.
But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims, who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.
Folks on Social Security who have worked all their lives. Veterans who have sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas tax, but don’t make enough income.
With that, the Democrats and progressives who were venting their spleens at Obama on Twitter over his terrible debate performance on Oct. 4 were singing his praises. A tweet from @Myrone07 summed up the reaction perfectly: “Yeeesss! IM JUMPING UP AND DOWN! GO OBAMAAAAA!”