Obama did an effective job looking resolute and focused, expressing reservation on his face without drifting anywhere close to Biden territory.
(Okay, here’s the Mount Rushmore version, which seemed good certainly through the first 20 minutes.)
Obama’s largest improvement over Hofstra? Still more confidence. Gives Bill Clinton a run for his money tonight as “Explainer-in-Chief, ” Obama detailing the nuances of U.S. policy while deconstructing GOP “whoppers.”
Just like at Hofstra in response to attack on his handling of Benghazi, Obama got angry about supposedly short-shrifting Israel. The passion was effective.
I’ve been impressed with Romney’s composure over the three debates. His temperature still shows as questionable in comparison to Obama’s composure/deliberateness, but looking at the last two frames, he’s done an impressive job keeping himself composed and in check. (Compare, for instance, these frames lashing out at Rick Perry in the GOP debates.)
…At the same time, however, that expression, especially in the second frame, also reflects how much Romney spent the evening on his side of the split screen getting schooled.
Obama could have benefitted from a larger range of emotions like we see here. What happened to humor?
Overall, the debate producing a lot of testoserone-charged stand-offs, here over Romney’s position on the Detroit bailout. We’ll have to see how it nets out. I can’t imagine it’s going to do much for the women’s vote. If you want to break out the popcorn, though, here they are banging (with the expressions we’ve been more familiar with of Mitt unplugged):
Listening to some video clips and then taking another look at my screen grabs, there are a couple more angles worth noting:
At various moments, Romney looked a little over his head, at which point he would resort to memorized lines filled with names of terror groups or obtuse geographic locations.
Licking the lip seemed like a nervous reaction.
In the debate chatter this last month, somehow smiling (or too much smiling) has been made out to be a bad thing. Granted, Obama was mocking and derisive at times (most notably delivering Mitt the weaponry lecture). What the screen shot seems to depict, however, is Obama not only looking at ease, but actually enjoying himself — a reassurance in itself to those who have questioned how much he really loves the job.