Can Obama repair his iconic image?....
In Denver he didn't just lose a debate—he lost the carefully cultivated illusion of a larger-than-life figure who was Lincoln and FDR and Moses all wrapped in one.
Mostly this image was the making of his own immodesty, starting the night he clinched the 2008 Democratic nomination. Mr. Obama might have simply declared victory and congratulated Hillary Clinton on a valiant fight. Instead it became the backdrop for one of his more infamous egoisms. History, he said, would look back at his victory as the moment "the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."
This was no aberration. A man who interviewed for a job on the campaign was told by Mr. Obama: "I think that I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm gonna think I'm a better political director than my political director."
In Denver the air was let out of the balloon:
That night, the American people watched "the smartest guy in the room" struggle to put together a simple declarative sentence, and then ask the moderator to move onto another topic after Mitt Romney had given a strong statement about jobs and growth and tax revenues.
Some 67 million Americans were watching on TV. What they saw was the scene from the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy's dog pulls back the curtain to reveal there is no wizard at all, just a man from the Midwest who pumped himself up into something far beyond his mortal self—and got the whole of Oz to believe it.
In the two remaining debates, Mr. Obama will surely be more assertive, more competitive, and more engaged than he was in round one. But this time the curtain has been pulled back and the aura is gone. That means Mr. Obama's Republican opponent—for the first time in two presidential contests—will finally be contesting a mere mortal, not a wizard of his own Oz.
Bottom Line. Obama's incredible magic carpet ride is over. He will have to win tonight's debate on the merits. But a debate victory cannot rebuild an iconic image. Only a spectacularly successful second term could do so. Swing voters, however, are not looking for icons; they just want someone to put America back on a path to success. They fell in love in 2008--at least, enough of them did so. They fell out of love in Denver.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Conservative Politics