Obama better get serious about debates

Columnist

Most of us have found ourselves unprepared for an assignment, paper or speech.

We find ourselves furiously typing away late on Sunday night, trying to stretch our material to cover the assignment length. When (or if) we finish the assignment, the grade we get is reflective of the time we put into it—a “C” if we’re lucky.

When all that is at stake is your grade in “comparative gum wrapper design 1814-1856,” you can chalk it up to experience and call it a lesson learned.

President Barack Obama’s college days are far behind him. Yet, he had an important assignment due on Oct. 3, which he failed to prepare, and he got the grade he deserved.

When I began writing this column, I intended it to be a humorous piece about how bad Obama got clobbered. A little hyperbole and a few mentions of how smug Romney looked, and the jokes would write themselves. However, I realized that the situation is more on the serious side.

The debate showed Obama is not taking the election seriously. It is not 2008, and he cannot run on the “I am not George W. Bush” platform. Mitt Romney is not John McCain. Romney believes he can win this election, and he used the debate to convince a great number of people that the election is not a foregone conclusion.

Romney showed respect for the debate process and the American electorate by giving the debate the attention it deserved. Obama is now in a position where he must make amends for a miserable performance that might give the impression that he holds the debates, the electorate, and possibly the entire election, in low regard.

There were two people on the stage in Denver last week, and only one of them wanted to be president of the U.S. that night.

Romney has made it clear that he is a serious challenger who expects to win. Obama needs to rise to this challenge in the next two debates and show that he, too, is serious about the presidency.

Polls, job approval ratings and celebrity endorsements are meaningless on the sixth of November. Both candidates must strive to convince the voters that they are the right person for the job, and so far, only one of them is doing so.