I watched the debate without the company of the Web or Twitter, so I was surprised afterward to see the consensus that Romney had wiped the floor with Obama.   I humbly disagree.  He did well.  He didn’t do well enough.

Last night was a major reason why so many people, including Professor Jacobson, were so jazzed by the idea of a Newt Gingrich nomination.  Obama spent the debate pretending that he hadn’t been president the last four years.  Romney spent more time than he should have doing the same.

Every haymaker Romney landed came when he remembered to mention how Obama was responsible for [fill in the blank].  Every time he didn’t he missed an opportunity to get deeper under Obama’s gossamer thin skin and trigger a glimpse of the president’s authoritarian arrogance that he struggles so hard to hide.  You can see him fighting it, which I think is why he looks down.

What I’m waiting for is that defining moment when the real Obama is revealed, just like at the end of Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd, when Lonesome Rhodes accidentally lets the mask drop on national television to devastating effect on his career.

Romney has the power to make that happen by channeling his inner Newt.  If he can’t do it at least once over the next two debates—well, I tremble for our country.  You can bet that, next time, Obama won’t blow off his prep. Next time, he’s bringing Chicago with him.  And Salt Lake City won’t cut it.