Okay, President Obama had a bad outing last week. So did the Packers. It's not the end of the world for either team.
Of the two performances, it was actually the Packers' that hurt worse, because they collapsed in the second half after a strong start and they lost their running back to boot. Obama came out flat and ended dull. He never seriously contested the fight, but he also didn't hurt himself.
There are several reasons not to despair about the election -- we'll leave the football season for another day.
First, it's not at all unusual for the challenger to get a bump after the first debate. That's happened 80% of the time since 1976. Second, it's not unusual for races to tighten in October. A lot of voters with lives to lead just haven't focused all that much until now, and they're shopping around, taking a look at the shiny new model.
Third, while everyone including the President acknowledges that Obama got smoked, he didn't commit any gaffes, and Romney didn't score any knock out punches. When Gerald Ford said Poland wasn't under Soviet domination, it raised questions about his competence that haunted him until Election Day. When Ronald Reagan asked Americans if they were better off after four years of Jimmy Carter, it sent Carter to the mat and he never got back up. None of that happened last week.
Basically what happened is that we learned the value of a good night's sleep. Romney looked rested and sharp. Obama looked tired and dull. It was as if the President had the weight of the world on his shoulders, which by the way, he does. My guess is that losing a debate on the basis of energy level won't be as bad as losing one based on questions of competence or the actual state of the country.
Fourth, the economy is showing signs of picking up steam. So much so that yesterday Romney decided he'd rather talk about foreign policy. Nobody thinks this election will be won or lost on what's happening overseas.
And finally, who these guys are hasn't changed. Yes, Mitt Romney had a very good night, but he's still the same old Mitt. You know that before Election Day he'll put a couple more Cadillacs in his garage or put the family dog on the roof of the car (metaphorically, of course). And Obama will return to his usual cool, sharp, competent self. Anybody can have a good day (even the Colts) or a bad day (like the Packers) but in the long run they return to form.