Obama vs. Romney: Round 2

Tuesday, 16 October, 2012

When the bell rang on 3 October in Denver for Round 1, it seemed as if American voters were willing to tolerate the guy defending the title. Sure, they weren’t thrilled about his performance on the job and things weren’t going that well overall, but there was no great clamour for “hope ‘n change” thanks to the relentless efforts of the press to present the challenger as a rich geezer who couldn’t open his mouth without something foolish falling out.

But Governor Romney came out swinging and that swift right hook, coupled with a wicked left jab, made an impression. Suddenly, voters saw a credible alternative to the media darling and celebrity favourite. Romney looked competent and up for it. The dynamics of the race changed overnight.

All this poses a dilemma for President Obama as he gets ready to enter the ring in New York tonight for Round 2. He’s under tremendous pressure to deliver a superhuman performance. His supporters want to see a more energetic, engaged champ, but he knows he’s got to walk a fine line between appearing aggressive and confrontational. The president has to appear presidential, after all.

The truth is, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Or, as F. Scott Fitzgerald put it: “There are no second acts in American lives.”

The Atlantic

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