By Ed McManus
I watched the debate last night. No, not the third debate. The first one. And I think President Obama won it. And no, I haven’t lost my mind. Let me explain: On the evening of Oct. 3, I had a speaking engagement. I got home in time to hear all the TV commentary about how bad Obama was and how good Gov. Romney was, and of course we all have heard that ever since. So last night I decided to finally sit down and watch the debate–on YouTube.
It is true that Romney was much more dynamic. He was cheerful, and he acted like he was excited to be there and excited about maybe becoming President. Obama looked tired–who wouldn’t be, leading the Free World and all?–and he came across as the university professor that he is. But that’s what I like about Barack Obama. He’s so authentic. He is not your typical politician, glad-handing and kissing babies and promising everybody everything. To the extent that he does some of that, it’s because David Axelrod makes him do it, because that is how you get elected in America.
But the real Obama came through in that debate–an honest man, not a phony.
I consistently defended the President when all my liberal friends were trashing him for not standing tough against the Republicans in Congress. Obama stubbornly clung to the notion of bipartisanship when it obviously was a lost cause, but I firmly believe he did it because it is the right thing to do, regardless of the political consequences. (Also, frankly, as the first black President, he knew he would be held to a higher than usual standard.)
Many people believe it is foolish for politicians to not be political, and I guess they are right in that the only realistic way to win an election is to compromise some of your principles. But isn’t that a sad commentary on America?
At least two other people in the nation think Obama won the first debate. My friend Sherry said, “If it were judged on honesty, knowledge of the debate subjects, and nuanced ways of dealing with the topics, he really won, but as many have said, it’s form over substance.” My friend Penny said Obama was trying to be polite. “He didn’t feel he could keep telling Romney, ‘You’re lying.’ Obama was trying to follow the rules of a debate.”
Obama’s associates say he hates doing things that he considers transparently political. Fortunately for us, he listened to his advisers and performed much, much better in the second and third debates. But the fact is that it is still a very close contest, primarily because of the public’s reaction to the first debate.
The Obama campaign needs money for this final push, and I’m proud to say I am playing a part in raising it. I’m no longer ringing doorbells; now I have become a small-time “bundler.” If you will go to the following link . . .
. . . you will find my own personal “Donate” page with a picture of my smiling face! This is my answer to the big spenders who are trying to dominate American politics. The Obama campaign has recruited little guys like me to solicit small donations.
Please consider donating something today. All you have to do is enter your name and credit card and hit “Donate Now.” As you can see, the website is “donate.barackobama.com” so the money goes directly to them (not to me!). As of this writing I have raised $1,795, including three donations of $10 each and one for $500. I set a goal of $1,000 and eventually increased it to $2,000, and hopefully I can continue increasing it. If you have already given, consider giving again.
Many of us may wish that our candidate was a bit more aggressive and political. Me, I like the real Barack Obama. But I guess I have to admit that I enjoyed the second and third debates more than the first!
(Ed McManus is a Wilmette, Il, attorney and a former Chicago Tribune editor/reporter. Comments welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org.)