There is still a lot of discussion regarding President Obama’s lackluster performance at the first debate compared to Mr. Romney’s energetic and animated performance. The operative word here is performance. The debate is, in fact, a performance. It is rehearsed, lines are memorized, gestures are prepared, sets are built and costumes are chosen. What we are seeing is what the best minds in each campaign think that we want to see. The format allows for little, if any, spontaneity, and unfortunately, lies are passed on as truths.
There is no doubt that President Obama did not challenge Romney at times when he should have. There is no doubt that President Obama did not confront Romney with past statements that were in direct conflict with those he was making during the debate. We can speculate from now until the cows come home, but to determine why the President seemed to allow Romney to get away with these lies, is a waste of time. I think it is enough to say that Romney had a better performance. But what does that tell us about Romney versus the President?
What do most Americans seek as the most basic characteristic in their President? It is clear that the answer to this question is truthfulness, honesty and integrity. We don’t want a President who will be loose with the truth. We don’t want a President who will reverse his position in order to cater to one group or another. In short, we want a President who displays strength of character. The debate performance presented by Mr. Romney may have been energetic and animated, but it surely did not display character. The lies and position reversals were so numerous, the fact checkers were working overtime. This is not surprising from a campaign that stated clearly during the Republican Convention that it would not allow facts to get in the way. Romney’s debate performance was the result of a calculated decision to move towards the center and say whatever necessary to appear more palatable to potential supporters.
While the President will be the first to acknowledge that he and his administration have made mistakes and missteps, he has never lied to the American people. He has always told us the truth, sometimes when he knew the truth would be difficult for us to hear. While the Romney campaign has obliterated the truth, the President has demonstrated a strength of character that has helped this country recover and retake its position as a respected world leader. The past four years have been difficult, but it is less difficult when we know what we are hearing from the White House is the truth.
During the weeks to come the polls will show what they will and the pundits will say what they will. But it is only the will of the people that is important on election day. The only decision that the American people have to make is between performance and character. I know what I will decide. How about you?