President Obama won the third and final debate against challenger Mitt Romney on both style and substance. The pundits were full of wild speculations about how Libya was going to dominate the debate but nothing of the sort happened. Romney has consistently excelled as the nation's armchair-general-in-chief but the wind went out of his sail when Obama exposed his "wrong and reckless" policies on Libya, Iran and Syria.
Obama invoked John Kennedy's stand on the Cuban missile crisis 50 years ago (today is the 50th anniversary of the crisis) to remind Romney and American voters that he will keep America's military supremacy intact.
While Romney talked in general terms, Obama spoke in specifics. (Romney: During Arab Spring, people took to the streets of Egypt. Obama: Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square.)
It was supposed to be a debate about foreign policy but reverted to domestic policy again and again. Like a robot, Romney kept repeating his mantra about his 5-point formula to turn America into Utopia, in spite of its evisceration by economists and policy-makers. When Obama asked Romney to provide some specifics, Romney suggested that the president visit his website where apparently his plan is laid out in full. "We visited your website and it still doesn't add up," replied the President. The audience roared with laughter.
Obama spoke with ease and confidence and you could see hope draining away from Romney's face. There was none of the bravado and arrogance we saw in the first debate. "This guy has found my number," Romney's expression suggested, "and there is nothing I can do about it!"
Romney didn't endear himself to the teachers of America when he said he loved teachers as well but "you cannot solve America's problem by hiring more teachers and reducing class size." Obama responded that these steps make a fundamental difference and go a long way toward solving America's problems. While Romney tried to make the case (again) that under his leadership, Massachusetts had the best educational records in Math and English for 4th and 8th graders, Obama reminded him that the record was already in place before he became the governor.
Obama made the difference between him and Romney stark by stating that his challenger's policies will take America back to the "cold war of 1980s, social policies of the 1920s and the economic policies of the 1950s." All Romney could offer in response was ... stunned silence.
As I was watching the debate, another "momentous" event was taking place in San Francisco. The SF Giants were playing in the second round of the 2012 National League playoff series, facing the Saint Louis Cardinals in the seventh and decisive game, after being down 3 games to 1. In the first round, they were down 2-0 against the Cincinnati Reds but took the next 3 games away from home, a record comeback in a 5-game series. From being down 3-1 against the Cardinals, they took the next 2 games and were 3-3 going into the 7th game. So what happened in that final game? Giants beat the Cardinals 9-0! SF Giants have proven to be the ultimate comeback kid. Whether or not they win the World Series against the Detroit Tigers, their back-to-back stirring comebacks will inspire baseball fans and players for years to come.
Barack Obama, too, made a stirring comeback after his first defeat, so his parallel with the SF Giants is impossible to overlook. But the President needs to beat Mitt Romney on November 6. We cannot return to another George Bush presidency. While I will be rooting for SF Giants to win the 2012 World Series, the world will not fall apart if the team doesn't. I will be rooting for President Obama to get elected for a second term because I know the world will indeed fall apart if Mitt Romney becomes the next president of the United States.
I am confident of Obama's victory on November 6, even if by the narrowest of margins. I am confident that American voters will choose restraint over brinkmanship, reason over recklessness, coherence over crass pandering, and Obama over Romney.