There are a lot of "rope a dope" theories floating around the Twitter verse today, spread by Liberals and Liberal pundits. In essence, many on the left who are coming up with this notion believe Obama held fire to see where Romney’s head was at so he could attack more surgically in subsequent debates. The left wanted this debate to be the endgame rather than the beginning of the final battle for America’s hearts and all those undecideds’ minds.
I have a different take.
First, if the “rope a dope” analogy were to apply here, it would mean that Obama had come into the contest as the underdog. He wasn’t.
Second, if there is one consistency about Mitt Romney, it’s that his positions have ALWAYS been tailored to his audience.
While the right is celebrating Romney’s victory as a debater, the more savvy political operatives in his party are now faced with doing damage control between now and the end of the last debate to keep up the notion – in my view pretense - that after the first debate, Romney captured many undecided voters.
He may have temporarily gotten those undecided voters to give him and his campaign a second look. But he still is faced with what is to me an insurmountable, inescapable dilemma; he not only can’t deliver on his promises, but he will ultimately have to have some help remembering which ones he claims to have made and to which audience.
Well, Mr. Romney, the 40 million or so viewers who watched you in the first debate saw you tack skillfully to the center of where we all seem to be by skating across a sea of debunked talking points that many in the audience were hearing for the first time.
Fact checkers aside, the very groups you and your party have alienated by those same debunked talking points are still out there. All you did was give your campaign a chance to catch its “breath” while the newcomers begin to Google what you said.
The Moonwalking back of your own talking points and your masterful insertion of GOP Medicare/Obama scare “numbers” that we who follow such things know were a creation of your running mate’s debunked budget plan, did in fact help you look for the moment – Presidential.
Did the President play “rope a dope” on Romney by letting Romney strangle himself with his own words? Only the next two Presidential debates and of course November 6th will determine that. But what I see that happened last night was Obama was thrown off his game because he trained for a debate with someone who would present an opposing view – the radical Conservative view of the economy that Romney and Ryan have been hammering at out on the campaign trail.
That Romney didn’t show up.
Yes, Romney did carry many of those stump talking points into the debate, but when it came to crunch time – time to defend those positions with specifics, Obama was right to point out that Romney simply said in essence…”Never mind”.
Those of us who saw the Rumble in the Jungle can understand the use of the rope a dope analogy when dealing with an obvious underdog. If the real Romney had shown up last night, I don’t think it would have been that particular fight analogy people would be talking about today. More likely, it would have been – considering that 47% “gorilla” lurking backstage whose sound Romney reacted to late in the debate – the “Thrilla in Manila”.