As everyone knows, the results of the first presidential debate are in and over 60% of those polled consider Mitt Romney the clear winner. Barack Obama’s performance was so unimpressive that millions of people around the world wondered how a man widely regarded as among the brightest and most eloquent of our time could have fallen so short of expectations.
Administration officials and Obama supporters were quick to offer a variety of explanations, a number of which were nominated for the coveted 2012 Presidential Debate Excuse Awards. And the winners are . . .
In the Funniest Excuse Award category, the award goes to a man better known for attacks on conservatives than humorous jibes at liberals, Michael Moore, who tweeted “That’s what happens when you have John Kerry as your debate coach.”
The Longest Running Excuse Award goes to all the individuals who blamed George W. Bush for Obama’s failed performance. The tortuous line of thought by which this conclusion was reached went like this: “Bush left Obama such a bad economy that he spent the last four years trying to straighten it out, and the effort left him too exhausted to debate Romney.”
The Most Self-Serving Excuse Award goes to Al Gore for claiming that arriving in mile-high Denver only a few hours before the debate caused Obama to suffer oxygen deprivation. The genius of this claim is that, though on the surface it defended Obama, its larger effect was to renew attention to Gore’s signature fixation, climate change.
The Lamest Excuse Award goes to administration spokesperson Stephanie Cutter and curmudgeon Bill Maher for blaming Obama’s failure on the debate moderator, journalist Jim Lehrer. They argued that Lehrer didn’t stop Romney from dominating the debate. (One tweeter commented that this claim “is like saying the racquet is the reason you stink at tennis.”) Lehrer later explained that the rules of the debate, which were endorsed in advance by both Obama and Romney, specified that the moderator should “stay out of the way” and let the candidates engage each other.
The Most Revealing Excuse Award goes to Obama advisor David Axelrod who placed responsibility for Obama’s wretched performance on his opponent, Mitt Romney. Axelrod reasoned that Romney’s performance was so filled with lies that Obama was “taken aback with [Romney’s] brazenness,” got defensive, and forgot his lines.
The “most revealing” category is reserved for excuses that have implications far beyond what the excuser intends. Axelrod obviously intended to emphasize that Romney is a liar and thus unfit to be president. That accusation was immediately picked up by other Obama supporters, who repeated it ad nauseam but without offering any credible evidence of lying.
But the rest of Axelrod’s claim—that Obama gets flustered when dealing with lies—is even more intriguing and deserves closer consideration. Being president requires dealing with lies and liars, not only in domestic affairs but also in international affairs. A president whose cognitive functions are paralyzed by lies can hardly carry out his duties competently.
One shudders to imagine how this disability of President Obama, attested to by his top advisor, has affected Obama’s judgment over the last four years. For example, what role did it play in the Fast and Furious weapons scandal? The waste of half a billion dollars on Solyndra? The decision to give the world advance notice of our troop withdrawal from Afghanistan? The refusal to provide the security requested by our Libyan embassy long before its destruction? The list of similar questions is depressingly long.
How ironic that the very claim David Axelrod designed to defeat Mitt Romney makes a powerful case for electing him.
Copyright © 2012 by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. All rights reserved