By Scott L. Vanatter

It’s been a number of years since a heavyweight boxing match captured our fancy. In the biggest matches we want a clear winner. We don’t want a split decision. We want a good, clean, tough, evenly-matched contest. Some spectators want to witness a match for the ages, one which ends with a knockout. Real knockouts are both memorable and definitive. There is no question who won.

Unlike baseball and football, in boxing — barring a real knockout – ring judges are there to make the final call as to who won.

To score and to win, boxers must master several punches: jabs, crosses, hooks, uppercuts, short straight punches, and cross-counters. Not to mention skills, strength, strategy, and stamina, etc. Yes, some matches have been decided almost solely by an accumulation of jabs. But much more satisfying and definitive are those matches where plenty of other more powerful punches are thrown.

Ring judges, color commentators, and, yes, spectators make their individual judgments as to how many of these punches really land. In other words, from a distance, a jab thrown might appear to come close. But this jab may not really do any damage at all. It depends on the jab in question. Also, sometimes there are phantom punches, those which appear not to be that devastating but which take a lot out of the recipient. Simply because a boxer appears to be busy, even aggressive, his hyper-activity may not be determinative on who wins.

In the first Obama-Romney debate it is fair to say that both judges and spectators saw Romney the clear winner, by essentially a technical knockout. Some liberal commentators thought that Obama almost threw the fight, so puzzled were they by his lackluster performance. In the first debate Romney proved himself to be a real contender, if not a new champion. He is no pretender. He is not a person who does not care for the poor and middle class. He is not a person who cares only for the rich. He is not a person without a plan. He is not a person who does not have a clue. He is not a person without a personality. Obama keeps throwing this soft jab (as his only punch) at his own peril. Most unbiased spectators have now discerned that these jabs are not landing, having no power, and no effect. Obama thinks he is throwing a real punch when he is only jabbing. Weakly at that.

Most reasonable judges and spectators have called the second debate a split decision. Romney did not lose any ground, an Obama only got back in the game.

Obama’s supporters hope against Hope that his jabs had the combined effect of winning the bout. In reality, most did not land. They did not hurt the challenger, the probative new champion. Romney gave as good as he received. Better. Remember, as Carvel said, “It’s the Economy, Stupid.” Romney wins in most every poll on these crucial punches.  Both after their first and second debates.

In the last question of the second debate, the pugilists were asked to speak about themselves. Romney laid out a comprehensive vision for the future. Obama used his time to, again, toss a weak jab at and about his opponent. A real punch on Obama’s part would have been to make a strong case for his vision for the future. That he would build on the accomplishments of his first four years. A real punch would have given spectators a real Hope that Change is gonna come. The problem is, Obama has no real accomplishments, has no clear or stated “Vision Thing” for the future. All Obama could do in his weakened position was to flail away tossing another pathetic jab which didn’t land, which did him no good, and did Romney no harm.

We can view the three debates and the Get-Out-The-Vote activities as a series of bouts. Or, we can view them as a series of rounds in a single bout. At this stage of the game, Romney is ahead in the boxing metaphor, in most new polls, and in the minds of key independent and undecided voters who judge this match on jobs and the economy.

In both boxing and politics, some spectators change mid-fight who they want to win; who they cheer for. This is because they see the grit and determination of an underdog, or the strength and dominance of a true champion develop right before their eyes.

In the first debate, Romney was seen anew by fresh eyes. It was a game changer. He is now seen as having a common sense, experienced, and practical plan and path to solving tough economic problems. He is seen as having the knowledge, skills and experience with free enterprise to actually lead. When Obama speaks of free enterprise and personal responsibility it is only as a set-up for a pathetic punch line about how bad businesses are, how businesses inherently and consistently break the rules. As a former moderate Democrat governor lamented, “Where do liberal Democrat leaders think jobs COME from?” Businesses, that’s where.

Notice that Obama’s campaign slogans of 2008 are long forgotten. Hope and Change. They are now almost embarrassing. After all, that is all they were, just slogans — cynical, in fact. Yes, they were effective as a slogan, but they are not a governing strategy. And Hope ran out when the Change that was expected did not happen.

It’s hard for a punched-out boxer, gasping for air, to maintain his confidence. Obama cannot even find the breath or the Courage to spit out the words, through a boxer’s heavy mouthpiece, “Yes We Can.”

All he can do is mouth the word “Forward” as he falls backward onto the ring as a new champion rises.

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