As a youth, I used to enjoy watching Mike Tyson do his thing in the 1980s. Tyson was a beast in the ring; a force to be reckoned with should one find themselves on the receiving end of his vicious punches. In his prime, Tyson would decimate his opponents without mercy, sometimes even knocking out his opponent within the first round of the fight.
People fed off this fighting style, and looked forward to every time Tyson got into the ring. Some people jokingly and otherwise would get upset when standing in line for their tickets, because by the time they got to the box office, the fight would already be over. However, as time went on, people started to figure out that this was his only dimension of fighting. He was never a finesse, technical, or even a distance fighter; in the proverbial manner of taking a sledgehammer to kill ants, all he knew was soul-crushing, mind-blowing, first-round obliteration once gloves were touched.
Towards the end of his boxing career, Tyson was known to only be as good as the first three rounds; outlast him, and the fight most often was yours to win.
This morning, news websites and many publications have already begun the comeback narrative for Mitt Romney, calling out President Barack Obama for a seemingly lackluster performance against an obviously prepared challenger to his office. Going on the offensive from the start, and steamrolling over the moderator, a feeble Jim Lehrer, multiple times throughout the debate, Mitt Romney displayed the style the entire Far Right base has lusted after for many a day throughout this election cycle. So many people, including MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz and others, showed genuine dismay when Obama did not knock the former governor of Massachusetts off the stage with lines about how Romney disrespected 47% of the American population back in May, or how the most consistent thing about Mitt Romney is how quickly he lies and spreads deceit.
Shame on progressives for wishing this President was Mike Tyson.
A toe-to-toe boxing match last night would have been a play into the hands of the Right. After all, vicious, withering, nasty battles are what they crave, as is demonstrated by Twitter trolls and Right-wing news outlets. Had Obama sunk to that low level, he would have seemed much less presidential, and Romney would have been validated as a hero for rattling the cage of the often unflappable President. Furthermore, with the seemingly uneventful re-release of his appearance at Hampton University five years ago, conservatives of every stripe were salivating at the opportunity to confirm their narrative of Barack Obama being the ever-dangerous Angry Black Man; therefore, slinging mud at a debate that was wonkish in its essence would have been counterproductive.
It's clear, one Democratic strategist said, that Obama's inner circle concluded it was best not to turn the debate into a slugfest and hit Romney personally. That might come across as not presidential. It could distract from his aim of persuading those few remaining undecideds that they should see this election as a choice between two starkly different visions for the future and select his. Besides, there are weeks of ads to come, and if the 47-percent theme continues to resonate, the campaign certainly can keep producing ads that use the video as ammo.
This debate season is far from over. With two more presidential debates, and a vice presidential debate coming in the next several weeks, it is beyond a doubt that the 47-percent video will come up. What is being lost among all the panic, however, is just what type of person we saw from Mitt Romney. Boorish, petulant, and reeking of desperation, the man who really, really wants to be President that damn bad came off last night as immature and a bully, which may have been the point all along.
Mount up, folks. This debate season is going to be great.