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The Emperor's Magic New Debate

The outcome of the debate between Obama and Romney had less to do with any extraordinary qualities possessed by Mitt Romney than with the purely ordinary qualities of Barack Obama. No matter how much Team Obama tried to warn the media faithful against any enthusiasm, the expectations were high and remained high until the Chicago Messiah began to speak. And then there was nothing.

Obama did not blatantly fail. He didn't forget the number of states or stand there stammering for five minutes before throwing a chair and storming off the stage. That would have been extraordinary. Instead his performance was ordinary, a bland heavily rehearsed stew of big government talking points with nothing behind them. It lacked confidence and inspired no confidence.

Romney did not come to the debate and deliver a brilliant performance. The former Massachusetts governor is not Ronald Reagan. He was just qualified and that word is more damning than any other because it highlights Obama's incompetence. His debate performance was the work of a professional politician who prepped for it, as he preps for everything.

Mitt had spent most of his life talking to people and trying to convince them of various things, religious, economic or political. His way of doing that is through methodical preparation for a presentation that convinces people of whatever he is trying to sell them on. He's not particularly charismatic, but he is qualified. And qualification means working to exceed the standards of your chosen profession.

Obama has spent most of his life convincing people that he is qualified for things that he isn't qualified for. He has faked his biography a disturbing number of times, padded out his resume and leaped from position to position until he became the living embodiment of the Peter Principle. He doesn't work for things, but skates by on doing the least amount of work possible. When he falls behind, then he quickly tries to get up to speed and dives in while hoping that no one notices.

That is what happened at the debate where Obama gave the kind of performance you would expect from an Illinois Congressman, which is the job that he should have had about now. And had he been running for that position, few  would have questioned his abilities or qualifications. But it's not an acceptable performance from a presidential candidate.

Romney is a qualified professional. Obama is a talented amateur. None of that is really new. What is new is the product comparison that the debate made possible.

We've all seen ridiculous trends take off, bad art, bad music and bad writing. The power of such trends is that they exist in isolation. They are either so different as to be presented as incomparable or comparison is carefully avoided. A legendary image is manufactured for their creators. They are iconized and elevated to a unique stature so that no one can possibly judge their worth by a real world metric.

The iconization of Obama elevated an ordinary ambitious junior machine pol with a funky bio to the status of a deity. And it was done by singling him out, by treating him as a unique incomparable quantity, a force of history, a living embodiment of poetry, a racial healer and a thousand other empty titles. All of those were meant to avoid comparing Obama with anything else, except the occasional iconic dead president.

On stage at the debate, Obama did not seem unique. He seemed like a shorter surlier version of the icon, a politician blathering endlessly about the things that politicians bleat on about, promises, jokes that seemed witty on paper at 1 AM, long defensive ramblings about his record. He didn't lose by losing, he lost by destroying his own iconography.

Suddenly Obama could be compared to another human being. Suddenly he was standing next to that human being and fumbling with his lines and looking withered. Suddenly he was not a trend, an icon, a glorious new future, but only human. Suddenly there was nothing special about him at all.

Every rock star, every shiny new writer, every bright new thing hits that moment of unspecialness sooner or later, because specialness can only be sustained in isolation. It requires faith and denial that begins to fall apart when the special thing can be compared to the work of its peers and is found wanting. And then what seemed like genius becomes only a resonance, an echo that people wanted to believe in because they were bored or hopeless and wanted something new and special to save them.

The pathological investment of the media in Obama demanded that he be larger than life, so they made him larger than life. Like idiot tinsmiths, they made their own god and forgot that they made him and that being made of tin, he will melt if the temperature is high enough.

The cult of Obama has needed to believe in him. And at the debate he let them down by not being extraordinary and by seeming only human next to Romney. The media had been complaining for a while that the magic was gone. But the "magic", as with so many of these trends, is not in the speaker, it's in the audience.

Years ago the media had already become atheists in denial, trying hard to recapture the magic of '08 and blaming themselves and then their man for not feeling it anymore. The truth is that after Bush they needed someone to believe in and they found him. Obama's extraordinary nature was as fake as the rest of his bio. He wasn't special, he was just there when they needed him. Now he isn't.

Obama was a story that the left told itself and then they told it to us. The debate doesn't end the story, but it hurts the story. Belief is reserved for extraordinary things. Faith is for amazing things, not for ordinary politicians who do the minimum amount of work and stand there droning on stage about technical differences. Only fools put their faith in that.

It's hard to tell that the emperor is naked, if you never see him next to a man with clothes on. Unique, you come to think that it's perfectly normal for him to be naked. That this is what an emperor is. And no matter how many small boys shout, "The emperor is naked", that doesn't change. Small boys shout things all the time. Who pays attention to them?

It's when the emperor struggles into his pants, one leg at a time, and poses for a photo with a prospective emperor, then the sense of wrongness sets in and the emperor with pants on seems more naked than he ever did before.


  1. Andrew7/10/12

    Obama thinks he can win anything with attitude. That's a street attitude.

    Obama believes in himself so hard that he never wants to do any hard work. All he has to do is show enough confidence.

    Debate isn't like argument. To win a debate you have to know what you are talking about.

    Argument is all about attitude.

    Obama doesn't debate. He argues.

    There's a big difference.

    It's the difference between Main Street and Detroit Street.

  2. Anonymous7/10/12

    Or as LA says


  3. Anonymous7/10/12

    While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old rancher, whose hand had been caught in the squeeze gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.

    Eventually the topic got around to Obama and his role as our president. The old rancher said, “Well, ya know, Obama is a ‘post turtle’.”

    Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a post turtle was.

    The old rancher said, “When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a post turtle.”

    The old rancher saw the puzzled look on the doctor’s face so he continued to explain:
    “You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there, he’s elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put him up there to begin with.”

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  5. The one and only great thing about Obama is that once racist segregated America within 40 odd years after the heyday of racism elected a black man to the presidency and on doing that truly cleansed itself from a morally very dirty period.

  6. Anonymous7/10/12

    Exactly ! and given this analysis , in the next debate he will be aggressive because this is the usual reaction of narcissists who were exposed.

  7. Mr ED7/10/12

    "He didn't lose by losing, he lost by destroying his own iconography."

    As is inevitable for all similar false constructs of the Libfilth. The lies and deceptions of the Libfilth have legitimacy only within the safe, reality-free zone of the MSM and infotainment machines. When the bitch goddess Reality intrudes into their false universe of lies and myths, they are utterly helpless. Pre-digested talking points spewed by the "smartest president ever" belie his fundamental ineptitude.

    Obamesiah the Immaculate - a carefully manicured false god of the Left - is nothing more than than an arrogant little twerp who has been coddled and protected by his Libfilth handlers. When the dust settles and their latest false god has been dispatched it is the Libfilth in the MSM, infotainment and the education cartel who need to be exposed and dispatched. Surely we have learned that failure to bring the Libfilth who seek to control the public debate to heel will only result in another incompetent, bumbling narcissistic fool being elevated to the highest office in the land.

  8. Daniel on the non-naked King….wearing moth-balled clothes off the rack at Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Daniel is the master of the well-aimed zinger. It's almost hilarious watching the liberal media sounding like Porky Pig, trying to explain The One's less-than-stellar performance. Excuses have ranged from his not having prepared for the debate to the altitude of Denver. It was amusing to watch Lefty Jim Lehrer try to save Obama's butt by steering the debate away from facts to fiction, and failing. The Ryan-Biden debate should also be entertaining, pitting a master CPA who's read Ayn Rand and maybe The Hobbit against a village idiot who's read Jim Thompson and Gaffes for All Occasions.

    1. Anonymous7/10/12

      My favourite was corpulent multi millionaire Marxist Michael Moore claiming that the lighting on Romney's shirt gave him an advantage - somehow.


  9. Obama is what happens when you place diversity above other values. You don't get excellence by pursuing diversity, you only get excellence by pursuing excellence.

  10. Anonymous7/10/12

    We're watching a Shakespearean Drama. It could be indexed in the Histories, or the Comedies, or the Tragedies; you can take your pick. My personal preference is for Tragedy, which is to say: an excellent man of high achievement brought down by a fatal character flaw.

    But Obama, of course, is not an excellent man of high achievement - he is a narcissistic phony with more flaws than you can shake a stick at.

    Comedy then? Well, the destruction of The American Dream isn't that funny, and as History, the great chronicle of our times becomes too banal.

    It's a tragedy for sure. For The Constitution, for Academia, for the Fourth Estate, for religious Belief and for the noble idea that a people can be free. It's also merely a chapter in the larger overwhelming Tragedy for American Blacks. If it weren't so tragic it would be comic - how an entire race who, having become emancipated, embarked on self-destruction.

    This ridiculous creature, Obama, upon whom so many hopes were vested, has now destroyed the perfectly legitimate notion that a black man could be a President for all. This will take some getting over.

    If he loses this election, expect to see a re-writing of history from the press. We will be reminded that his mother was white and that he has no slave blood in him. Obama is a microcosm of a larger truth: if a man is not called upon to account for his actions, he will become feckless, and this holds true for a race as it does for a man.

    If Obama wins this election, America may become immersed in a tyranny so great that she may never recover her freedom. And I will weep for her and for the world.

    In the face of this prospect I recommend Faith and Prayer. Do not submit weakly, fight and resolve to fight again. Hold fast to freedom and remember the sacrifices that earlier Americans willingly made. Their courage is your template for success.

    Heads up lads, the game's afoot.


  11. All true, Sultan, but the question remains: Is Obama still better for America? No one has more demonstably crystallized the direction America is heading (and where it's at). Romney will only obscure and delay. His very first declaration -- and can anyone really doubt this? -- will be to "heal" our racial divides. That always means more minority pandering, more government handouts, more liberalism and less confrontation with the forces destroying us.

    Here's a test. Romney promises to stop funding PBS. I'll cover any and all bets.

  12. Anonymous7/10/12

    " But the "magic", as with so many of these trends, is not in the speaker, it's in the audience"

    Ha ha! Great, Daniel, perfectly nailed. I laugh, because when I worked in marketing in the music business on a number of big artists, I used to pretty much say this to the team working for me...it's so true.

  13. Expat7/10/12

    This is a terrific analysis of what happened and why, Daniel. Certainly the best I've read by far, and there is no shortage of them out there.


  14. Some Guy in Wisconsin7/10/12

    Very good article. Well done.

    ...also to anonymous... I like the post turtle joke- too funny ( Ima gonna have to borrow it)- and true!

  15. mehere7/10/12

    To vote for a man because of the color of his skin, and to keep him in high regard simply because of that pigmentation, obscures the very real fact that there are tens of thousands of other men of that same color who could at least do what Obama does.

    He isn't the only black person in US politics, but he may be the only one to be given the job on the basis of hope. Hoping he is up to the job falls flat when he shows, so ably and so deftly and so often, that he isn't then ordinary Americans begin to wonder how and why they were duped.

    The United States was formed on a unique concept, and while in its history there have been cloudy days there has been more light than dark because the nation still embodies a remarkable idea; that anyone who is American can be president.

    However the liberals made a huge mistake in hoping that just anyone could do the job of leading such a great nation. Next time, the Dems ought to try harder to find someone more qualified than Obama.

    It's beginning to look as if such a task wouldn't be difficult.

  16. Obama is the Anotino Salieri of the political world. The patron saint of mediocrity. Obama often has his chin in the air as if he's above us. He might end up like Salieri--mediocrity mediocrity absolves.

    Skip that. Obama would hav to know Latin

  17. It's not so much that the Emperor had no clothes, but that the clothes had no Emperor! This guy is not only an empty chair, he's an empty suit.

    Not a man, but a chihuahua standing next to a lion.

  18. Anonymous7/10/12

    You have to appreciate the sheer brilliance of David Axelrod in marketing this over-hyped politician. On the other hand you have to marvel at the stupidity too, as the snake-oil pitch was never going to work again unless the guy could actually part seas.

  19. Anonymous8/10/12

    Two excellent essays by Professor Joseph Kay regarding empty suits.



  20. Anonymous8/10/12

    Romney is a bald face liar..and a crook who basically stole his money and hid it overseas to avoid paying taxes to a country that has been very good to him...who wants a liar and a crook for president?...one who will do anything for money and who say anything to get elected...actually promoting either candidate is sinful in my opinion...

  21. Anonymous8/10/12

    how can one take you seriously Daniel when you promote a liar and a fundamentally crooked man? Really...think about that will you...in my talks with Republicans one thing stands out...they argue every point..refuse to admit when they are wrong...its a game to them not about right and wrong... it was outlandish what Romney did... his sudden move to the center because he knows the American people are on to his evil designs against the elderly and the poor ...I seldom look at your site anymore because you've become just another right wing hatchet man...more brilliant yes but still a hatchet man afflicted with a "we must win every point" disease...do you really believe in your heart that Romney is moral enough and samrt enough to be president?

  22. Anonymous8/10/12

    there's a lot of arrogance flowing on this comment site...either by trying to keep of up with Daniel or in trying to prove their intelligence they only reveal their stupidity...its funny and in a way it reveals the Republican mind...a bunch of idiots voting for someone who is their enemy...if you don't belong to the !% you are the enemy...you are the bigger joke to the !% than the granny's and the poor...BECAUSE YOU ARE PRETENDERS of a status you have not achieved!

  23. Anonymous8/10/12

    Romney is the worst kind of man...he is average except for his birth which gave him a name which he used to exploit others...other than that who is he? a lousy politician, out of touch with the world he lives in...lacking in moral fiber, a man adrift in the world who thinks because he made dirty money he belongs in the president's office...do we actually want a man this out of touch as our leader? on the other hand Obama may be a secret Muslim...his foreign policy has been deceitful...called the Arab Spring it hos taken power from U.S. friendly regimes and given it to our enemies...he has given access to arms and power to Muslim fundamentalists...and called it a policy victory...by putting gays in the military he spawned the Wiki leaks because the one who leaked the secrets was a disaffected gay...by putting gays in the military he has brought on a curse to our military..if you say no to this then don't say you really believe in G-d...either candidate is a curse just pick your poison..

  24. Anonymous8/10/12

    The last couple of posts seem to me to reflect the effectiveness of this web site and Daniel's writing. That is, when you start drawing the shills for rebuttals or attacks, your words are regarded as prominent and mandating a response. Not clear how you can tar Romney as a sleaze, he gives a hell of a lot more money to charity than Obama(and Biden), and seems more committed and involved with his religion than Obama is with his "Christianity". Would the writer say George Soros is a better "role model" in terms of how he made his money?

  25. "Obama is a talented amateur."

    Amateur, yes. Talented, no.

    He's been incredibly lucky, and he's had a lot of unwitting, or evil help.

    Great piece, as usual, Daniel.

  26. "The one and only great thing about Obama is that once racist segregated America within 40 odd years after the heyday of racism elected a black man to the presidency and on doing that truly cleansed itself from a morally very dirty period."

    Ah, mindRider, the cost has been far too high...

  27. Re: The post turtle

    The other day I found a turtle shell on the ground right next to a fence post by my driveway. I immediately thought of that joke and Obama.

    He's an empty suit, an empty chair, and an empty turtle shell.

  28. Anonymous12/10/12

    this is in response to anonymous who couldn't understand how I can tar "Romney as a sleaze? is that a joke? he's been sued and fined by our government a number of times for his business activities...and then when the ever diligent spotlight of G-d's truth found him he (according to government investigtors) fabricated lies and excuses about his involvement..his evil, ignorant comment about the 47%..his obvious lies in the debate as he moved to the center for convenience...his participation in a company hat disposed of fetuses for profit...his avoidance of taxes...his job creation record as Mass. governor 47th out of 50 states and his constant harping about the unemployment picture...look at his presidential poll numbers in Mass. and now you know why he didn't run for reelection in Mass....his ruthless wanting to let the car industry fail...his attacks on the federal reserve when they stimulate the economy because an improving economy hurts his reelection chances and this goes with the republicans "we either rule or ruin the state" stance... he is no poster boy for any religion... especially the crazy one he belongs too...the man is a crook...who used the Romney name to raise money so he could buy companies, downsizing the work force so he could borrow huge amounts of money on their credit line then charge them enormous consulting fees and increase the dividends to him and his cronies, and after picking the bones leave the creditors holding the bag...I'm a shrill? maybe but you're a fool...

  29. Anonymous12/10/12

    again this goes to anonymous who said this site starts to draw shrills...typical right wing response...emulating their media hacks like Hannity, Limbauh and other self promoting crazies who never let anyone with a different opinion on their show...and if you debate with them never fail to stoop to personal attacks...

  30. Anonymous12/10/12

    typical right wing response...I'm not talking about Soros...I'm talking about Romney, a man who thinks he's entitled to the presidency because he made (stole) some money...I'm no fan of Soros..I'm not like you or the sleazy Republicans who defend the indefensible for political expediency...I attacked Obama when I felt he failed and his failure is greater, in my opinion, than Romney's


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