President Obama now has to do something that is hard to do. He has to show new energy and intensity without looking panicked. Obama doesn't have a good hurry-up offense, and now almost everything he does will be analyzed for signs of having had to adjust to a new, less confident reality. This includes actions he might take not just as a candidate, but also as president. What Obama and his White House do between now and November will have to pass through a filter that sifts for attempts at political rehabilitation.

For that reason, the presidency is probably frozen for the rest of the campaign. Any retaliatory attack for the killing of our ambassador in Libya or a new bold stand in Syria would run the risk of backfiring on the president. We will never know how Obama's poor debate performance has affected American policy and options.

In the meantime, I'm sure the Obama high command is looking for ways to do what Carter suggests and break the gruesome news cycle that is quickly becoming a highlight reel of a wipeout. Unless the Obama campaign gets a gift in the form of a mistake from Mitt Romney or a meteor strike on planet Earth, they don't have many good options. Team Obama will probably have to let this wave break over them and hope the polls that appear before the Sunday shows don't show any erosion.