october 4, 2012 by camille hayes leave a comment
Democracy is so annoying; it’s one of the reasons I don’t have a television. My TV-less life means I haven’t had to endure a single campaign ad this entire election cycle, and I am a calmer, happier person for it. Still, out of some misplaced sense of civic duty, I always watch presidential debates. But last night may have put an end to that for good. If we’d been smart, nobody would’ve shown up for that pointlessness, not you, not me, not my dog, and certainly not the candidates, both of whom looked like they would rather have been literally anywhere else on earth.
Romney, sweaty, jumpy, beady-eyed with the effort of selling a product nobody wants (the GOP’s crazy-ass platform, himself) arguably had it easier. That’s because Mitt Romney is kind of a jerk, and his bully’s zeal to impose his will upon us—“Make me president! Do it now!”—allowed him to undertake the debate with something resembling sincerity, even though most of what he said was a lie. At least he was lying with gusto, whereas Obama looked slightly embarrassed to be participating in such a transparent sham.
Let’s face it, at this point in our history being the American president is a job for assholes and narcissists—and Obama is neither. That doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally elect a decent person, it just means that person will fare better if they have some fundamental personality quirk, like Bill Clinton’s egotism, that renders them more or less immune to self-awareness. Poor Obama has self-awareness in spades. You could see the wheels turning behind his guarded, downcast eyes “I’m supposed to sit across from this sweaty-faced con for 90 minutes while he bleats mendacious nonsense, and pretend we’re having a real discussion as he tries to lie his way into a job he’s not qualified for, all for the sake of a news cycle that will last 72 hours at most?”
If the President seemed a little distracted, it was perhaps because he was entertaining ideas like this; troubling, complex ideas with multiple clauses. “Obama,” I wanted to cry, “Stop having thoughts about things! It’s just holding you back!” But Obama cannot stop having thoughts, to his everlasting credit and despair, and he probably doesn’t even want this crappy job anymore, so why sweat it?
To be honest, I’m not sure Obama is temperamentally suited to be POTUS. To be even more honest, I’d say there’s a chance he lost that debate deliberately, to change the media narrative of the last couple weeks: that he will definitely win. Democrats have plenty to worry about regarding voter turnout. Combine all those 11th-hour voter ID laws with a candidate who looks inevitable, and you could get a lot of Democrats staying home. Over half the states have already initiated early voting; could Obama’s team be playing a longer game? If they’re really that calculating, then hats off. He may be better suited to the job than I realized.