Global warming scammer Al Gore suggests the Mile High City's altitude triggered President Barack Obama's lackluster performance in the first presidential debate. Someone else opined it was because John Kerry was his debate coach. Others wondered whether it was Obama or a pod left behind by aliens who showed up at the presidential debates in Denver.
Whatever the problem -- and arrogance seems a likely cause -- Obama could not have appeared more smugly disinterested. More listless. More unfocused. More disconnected. More just wanting it to be over, oh, Lord, please. He spent the next day looking even more a loser -- complaining Romney had remade himself on the debate stage. Good grief.
It was as if by turning off his teleprompter, Obama was rendered a limp sock puppet waiting for somebody, something to bring him alive. The Left, especially those who believe Obama is nowhere near pinko enough, went absolutely berserk.
James Carville, campaign adviser to President Bill Clinton, told the Daily Caller: "My point is this -- President Obama came in, he wanted to have a conversation. It takes two people to have a conversation. Mitt Romney came in with a chainsaw. He's trying to talk to a chainsaw."
But Romney? Romney was past conversing. Romney was an attack dog, a meat ax, a debate beast who showed up with a beaming smile and a fire to win despite the moderator, despite the setup, despite the media. Win. Nothing less. When Obama was talking -- as Democratic leg tingler and sycophant Chris Matthews sniffled -- Romney stared at him as if he were prey. "What was he doing out there?" Matthews wondered of Obama.
Romney seemed anxious to tangle with Obama. On point. Always polite. Taking it straight to him. Rising gas prices. High taxes. Picking economic losers. Handing out $90 billion in tax dollars to fund "green" energy projects -- mostly for failures; some to Obama campaign contributors. Score. Score. He was, to paraphrase someone we all know, the guy we were waiting for. All it needed was "Rocky" theme music.
For his part, Obama defended government, even dragging into the fray Abraham Lincoln and long-term investments such as the trans- continental railroad, land grant colleges and the National Academy of Sciences. Weak.
The challenger punched out his lights. He clearly offered a vastly different view of himself and Obama, one that may reset Romney's struggling campaign, much to the chagrin of Democrats and their lapdog media. (How painful must it have been for them to watch?)
All the effort was aimed at influencing the ever-shrinking pool who claim they are undecided, even now. Perhaps the most important thing the debate did was give them and the rest of America the clearest, most unvarnished view of the glaring differences between Obama and Romney on government.
That is something more Americans are wondering about. The United States' growing national debt -- more than $16 trillion -- joblessness ticking along above 8 percent for more than 43 months, 47 million Americans on food stamps and nearly 1 in 6 Americans living in poverty should give anyone pause. Add to that the lousy economy, a buried middle class -- Joe Biden said so -- a sluggish housing market and gridlock in Washington, D.C., and you have the recipe for national disaster.
Each of the candidates has a distinctive and wildly differing view of government and its role. It comes down to this: Government should help entrepreneurs, Romney believes, then get out of the way, holding interference to a minimum. Obama sees government doing much more with mandates and regulations and public money; getting actively involved in the economy.
Romney called Obama's view "trickle down" government -- ever-growing, increased spending and more rules hamstringing America's entrepreneurial spirit. Obama characterized Romney's view as "skewed toward the wealthy" and said the former governor supported "top down economic policies that helped to get us into this mess."
Romney's views clearly are closer to the Constitution, which calls for limited government with specifically enumerated powers, something Obama has seen as a hindrance. The president once lamented wistfully that the document, designed to hold government at bay, did not deal more with "social justice."
Romney clearly won the debate and not just because he was on fire. He won because less intrusive government and a vibrant private sector resonate with a majority of Americans who fear four more years of Obamanation.
They should be very scared.
And it's not the altitude.
Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet.com.