Obama's "most dangerous opponent in the trio of upcoming presidential debates" isn't Romney, says Glenn Thrush at Politico — "It's himself." In the run-up to the first presidential debate on Wednesday, Obama has downplayed his debating prowess, telling an audience in Las Vegas that he is merely an "okay" debater, while Mitt Romney is a "good" one. However, despite such attempts to lower expectations, says Thrush, Obama's advisers are concerned that overconfidence — some would call it smugness or arrogance — could be his biggest enemy. After all, a callous dismissal of Hillary Clinton in a 2008 debate — "You're likable enough, Hillary" — betrayed a condescending streak that may have cost him a commanding lead in the New Hampshire primary. (For a walk down memory lane, check out Obama's dis of Hillary below.)
The stakes are even higher this time. So, unfortunately for the president's team, is Obama's level of contempt for his opponent — his feeling for the Massachusetts governor borders on disdain. Team Obama has faith in their candidate's discipline, but there are concerns his attitude could lead to another Al Gore eye-rolling or George H.W. Bush watch-peering episode.
"He can't be a bigger d—k than Romney," summed up the Democratic insider, familiar with the preparations.
One of Obama's biggest advantages going into the debates is that he's more likable than Romney. A new ABC/Washington Post poll shows that 62 percent of voters think the president is more "friendly and likable," and "by huge margins, voters say they would prefer seeing him rather than Romney on their TV or computer screens for the next four years," says Albert R. Hunt at Bloomberg. "Romney can't change that," but a flash of hubris on Obama's part could. Squandering his edge in the personality department could make the race a lot tighter, particularly for an incumbent overseeing a lackluster economic recovery.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Bush vs. Clinton in 2016 is the perfect way to make millennials hate politics even more
- This judge is the reason we're still fighting over net neutrality
- The latent sexism of the male marriage proposal
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: November 28, 2014
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How to adopt the perfect rescue dog
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- Why the poor can't catch a break on Thanksgiving
Subscribe to the Week