The Debates: No Bundini Browns Necessary

“Panic? Me? “

There’s laundry to be done.  There are leaves to be raked.   There are plants that went in the dirt in the spring that need to come out for the fall.  There’s always bills to be paid.

There’s always something else I could be doing.    Tonight though I’ll put all that aside for 90 minutes for the second of the three presidential debates.    Nobody needs yet another recap of the first one.   Romney won, Obama lost and it wasn’t even close.   Sure,  Romney won on style while Obama carried the day based upon substance, but since when have presidential races been about substance?

After the first debate the boxing metaphors came down like rain.   Romney jabbed while Obama covered up.    Romney threw punches that were high to the head, directly to the kidneys and below the belt, but at least he was fighting.   Obama just gave away round after right.   And of course,  my favorite Facebook and Twitter fall-back was, “Obama planned this.   He suckered Romney into a rope-a-dope strategy.”

Yeah?  And how did that work out for him?   If you believe the polls all it did was cost Obama the lead as Romney has pulled ahead of him.

It doesn’t matter.   Really it doesn’t.  Obama knows better than anyone he didn’t bring the noise.   I  fully expect he will do better tonight in the rematch.   He can hardly be worse.

The only explanation I’ve heard for the president’s previously passive performance came from a gentleman who has forgotten more about politics than I’ve ever known.    We were talking recently and he said he felt perhaps what President Obama feared was overconfidence that he had this thing wrapped up.    By coming in flat he not only revived Romney’s flagging campaign, he sent a sense of urgency through the entire Democratic Party and every last one of this supporters.    Some thought Obama did fine in the first debate while others were certain he screwed the pooch.  Everyone had a opinion and in the absence of any better evidence,  all of them had a small degree of truth to them.

If post-debate advice for Obama were crude oil, the price of gasoline would be $2 a gallon.    Here, there and everywhere (including here), there’s been all sort of advice on what Obama should do for the next debate.   He should come on strong like a house on fire and burn Romney on his various lies, half-truths and misstatements.   He should lay back, don’t overreact and just call up that unique coolness Obama is known for.    He should panic and beat up on Mittens like an unwanted stray dog.    I suggested Obama take a cold shower and “wake the fuck up” as Samuel L. Jackson would put it.

I don’t think Obama will do any of those things.

I don’t believe Obama will worry about things he can’t control like whether he “won” or “lost” the debate.   Twitter and the post-debate talking heads will decide that so there’s no reason to  sweat it.   Obama has one thing he needs to do and one thing only.   He needs to remind everyone why he was the best man for the job in 2008 and why he still is in 2012.

Watch an old Muhammad Ali video.  You might have to go back in the day when he was still known as Cassius Clay.   There will be two men in Ali’s corner.   One was  his trainer, Angelo Dundee.   The other was a guy who was called a trainer, but what Drew “Bundini” Brown really was Ali’s biggest cheerleader.   Bundini Brown was always in Ali’s ear offering encouragement, advice, folk wisdom, and probably strategy on how to box that Ali let go in one ear and out the other.

Bundini was always there to tell Ali what he should do, but he wasn’t  the one in the ring getting hit.   It was up to Ali to win the fight by himself and all the advice in the world isn’t much help when you’re getting punched in the mouth.

Over the last two weeks,  Obama received unasked for advice coming from all corners.   I’ve told him when he needs to do.   Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama have probably told him what he needs to do.   Malia and Sasha have probably told Daddy what he needs to do.

Does Obama needs someone like Bundini Brown up in his face?

It doesn’t matter.  Nobody’s advice matters.   Not Bubba’s, not Michelle and certainly not mine.   Anyone can tell Obama what he should do but it’s up to Obama to get the job done.    He doesn’t need a Bundini Brown yammering non-stop in  his ear.     This isn’t the first time in the ring.   Obama has debated Alan Keyes, Hillary Clinton and John McCain and any one of them is a more formidable opponent than Willard M. Romney.   Obama has squared off with foreign leaders, members of both sides in Congress, academics, journalists, and been able to hold his own.   Are we supposed to believe he’s suddenly turned into 174 pounds of mushy pudding?

Either Obama steps up his game or he doesn’t.  What he shouldn’t do is panic.  There’s more than enough coked-up Chicken Little’s running around crying the sky is falling and the election is lost.

Nonsense.    Nothing has been lost yet.   Obama once said of himself, “I’m skinny, but I’m tough.”   Guess we will have to see how tough he really is.   Just don’t believe everything hinges on what happens 90 minutes at Hofstra University is the end-all and be-all of this election.

And don’t believe all Obama needs his own Bundini Brown in his corner.   He doesn’t need anyone reminding him how to fight.