Randi Kreiss

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Bring back the Explainer in Chief! The last time I understood a policy presentation was when former President Bill Clinton explained the economy, the debt and taxes to us at the Democratic National Convention. It’s hard stuff, but I got it as he explained in detail, never losing the thread of his idea and, above all, achieving real clarity.

Last week’s presidential debate was alternately confusing, confounding, contemptible and a costly waste of time. The language of the debate wasn’t English. It was wonky, obfuscating words thrown together to confuse rather than clarify. And the prize for verbal gymnastics goes to the challenger, Mitt Romney.

However . . .

President Obama joked the next day that he didn’t recognize the guy who showed up in Mitt Romney’s place, and I’ll get to that, but I didn’t recognize the guy who showed up in the president’s place, either. As we all know by now, he was off that night. He looked deflated, and he acted tired and out of sorts. He missed most of the opportunities to make a strong point or rebut an assertion that was wrong. He seemed nervous, and even his smile seemed forced and awkward.

The next day, on the campaign trail, the president seemed to be back to himself, but it was a disappointing night for Obama supporters, who expected better from their candidate.

Still, I will vote for Barack Obama because I think he has been an effective president in extremely challenging times. I believe the country has the best chance of moving forward with him leading us. I hope he has a better debate next time, but he has my vote for what he’s done and for what I believe he will accomplish in a second term, not for one debate performance or another.

Mitt Romney was fascinating to watch during the debate. He was indeed a completely different man from the candidate who has been pandering to the right wing of his party. If the Tea Party is an anchor dragging him down, the whole nation got to watch as he severed the cord and let the anchor drop.

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