What's wrong with the President of the United States?
First he gives a so-so and not very inspiring speech at his own convention and then on a night where he could have ended the contest, he way under-performed and let Mitt Romney get off the ropes and back in the center of the ring.
It's race on and the president's camp has to be wondering, who was that guy attacking the POTUS?
The Mitt Romney that showed up is not the same one whose been slogging around on the campaign trail and coming off a disastrous month of September with one stumble after another.
He took it to the president and rarely let up as the president spent too much time explaining in way too much detail, and not enough time doing what he does best, connecting with the American voter and sharing his passion for the future. There were no goose bumps as there were four years ago.
For once it was Mr. Romney who moved the passion meter, which has not been his strong suit. He backed the president into the corner to continually explain why the "status quo does not work" as the underdog ticked-off the jobless rate, the food stamp roles and all the other things he said went wrong in the last four years.
The president had answers as he lamented he inherited a whopping deficit from the previous GOP president but unlike Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Obama never used succinct rejoinders such as "No president could have solved this problem in four years including you Mr. Romney."
The fact-checkers had a field day slicing and dicing the "misinformation" that both candidates lavished on the viewers, but at the end of the day, not many folks will remember the content, but they will come away with the feeling that Mr. Romney had his act together and the president did not.
This is not to say that the president didn't score some points. For 18 months at the Romney web site, he has hawked a tax plan that was long on the rhetoric and woefully short on "how the heck is he going to pay for that."
Mr. Obama hit that theme several times and finally frustrated by what he termed a "trend" to avoid specifics, he wondered out loud why this was going on?
Was it because the "secret" plan was so good for the Middle Class? And then he responded to his own question with a firm, "No." But then he left out the hammer, "In other words my friends, Mr. Romney is saying, "Elect me and then I will tell you what I will do."
The president also tapped into a notion that has majority support. The public understands that to reduce the deficit you have to cut spending but you also need more revenue. The president called it a "balanced approach."
Mr. Romney would have none of that lapsing back into the time-worn GOP mantra that the way to grow more revenue was to grow the economy and as taxpayers get more jobs, they will contribute to that growth. The president could have said, "But while we are waiting for that growth Mr. Romney, what about all those Americans who need our help now. Are you telling them to just be patient while they get sick and have trouble putting food on the table?"
It was a debate of missed opportunities for the president which brings us to the next debate with two questions: Will the new and improved challenger show up again and can the incumbent get back on his game?
The answers to that, could determine who wins this thing.