President Obama needs to fire Sen. John Kerry. He can't fire him from the Senate, but he can get rid of him as his debate coach and his Mitt Romney substitute. Kerry is the wrong guy at the wrong time. Call it a suspension. If Obama gets an improved debate prep team, does better in the Oct. 16 debate at Hofstra and wins reelection, he could always appoint Kerry to be secretary of state. Kerry would be credible as secretary of state, but I can't imagine him as an effective substitute for Romney in practice debates.
When you think of Romney on stage — being happy, enthusiastic, endearingly wonky and candid to a fault — who comes to mind? NOT John Kerry. The senator is a serious, knowledgeable guy who participated in some debates eight years against an incumbent president, where he held his own but came up short. That doesn't qualify you as someone who can channel Mitt Romney's good nature and energy. In fact, I can't think of a more ill-suited person for the task than the taciturn, dour John Kerry.
(Stray thought: Doesn't Kerry look a little like Big Bird? On that note alone the president should have been better prepared for the Denver debate — if Kerry had been the right guy for the job.)
Anyway, at its core, Obama's problem isn't Kerry, it's Obama. He needs to change his nature and inform himself. Obama needs to be nimble and creative, as well as responsive, informed and positive, all at the same time. But I don't think the president is happy on the debate stage, and he doesn't appear to know much about Romney's proposals. The president's performance has a narrow range and he has a limited appetite for study. So his pledge yesterday to be less polite in the next debate might leave him looking rude and sour. No one can teach someone to be happy and informed if he doesn’t want to be.
Tonight's VP debate is just a warm-up act for the main event next Tuesday. Joe Biden and Paul Ryan may both produce some interesting lines and authentic exchanges could occur. Perhaps if the president notices Biden's emotional appeal and sincerity he may decide that he could use some of that himself and will replace Kerry with Uncle Joe.