Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Obama-stare puts a spell on Romney

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 5:22 AM EDT, Wed October 24, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: President's secret debate weapon was laser-like stare he shot Romney
  • Obeidallah: Romney's look turned from forced smiles to that of someone who's really queasy
  • He says the stare's power seemed to make Romney agree with Obama over and over
  • If Obama could train the stare on Congress, he says, maybe something would get done

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks, including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- The key to President Barack Obama's triumphant performance in Monday night's debate was not his command of the facts, his well-crafted answers or his cutting comeback lines. It was one thing: the stone cold, laser-like stare Obama shot his opponent when Mitt Romney was answering questions. I call it "Obama-stare" -- but unlike Obamacare, this Obama plan may not be good for your health.

For those, like me, who watch the other candidate closely when his opponent is answering a question, the contrast between Obama and Romney's reactions was like comparing Darth Vader with Honey Boo Boo. Romney's look vacillated between forced smiles to that of a person whose stomach was alarmingly churning and was worried he wouldn't make it to the bathroom in time.

But Obama pinned Romney with the look -- Obama-stare. It's not a look we saw at the previous debates. (Of course, Obama didn't even attend the first one.)

Opinion: Obama in command; Romney plays it safe

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

Obama-stare resembles the grimace that Wyatt Earp might have had on his face moments before guns were drawn at the famed gunfight at the OK Corral. Or even Clint Eastwood's classic scowl in his "Dirty Harry" movies just before shooting a bad guy -- not to be confused with the look he recently gave to an empty chair.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



The Obama-stare is more than just a laser-like game face -- apparently it causes people to agree with him on issue after issue. Obama-stare is more akin to Obi-Wan Kenobi's use of the Jedi mind trick, or vampires on "True Blood" glamouring someone into saying exactly what they want to hear. Romney agreed with Obama so often I thought Mitt was going to endorse him.

How else can anyone explain why Romney -- who is highly critical of Obama's foreign policy when he is out on the campaign trail -- would agree with the president on issue after issue when placed in the same room? Romney appeared as if he wasn't vying for commander in chief as much as for "agree-er in chief."

Obama: 'Fewer horses and bayonets'
Burton: Obama had edge at the debate

For starters, Romney praised Obama regarding Osama bin Laden: "I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in al Qaeda."

Romney then agreed with Obama's policy regarding Egypt during the Arab Spring: "I believe, as the president indicated, and said at the time that I supported his -- his action there."

Opinion: Romney endorses Obama's national security policies

Romney continued his "I agree with Obama" tour with regard to Israel: "I want to underscore the same point the president made, which is that if I'm president of the United States ... we will stand with Israel."

And on the Obama administration's use of drones, Romney agreed some more: "I support that and entirely, and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology. ..."

Romney also concurred with the president on employing a host of tough sanctions against Iran. (But I wish he would've said he would impose "a binder full of sanctions.") And Romney agreed with Obama that at this time, he would not call for the deployment of U.S. military personnel into Syria to stop the bloody conflict there.

True, there were some disagreements. But those were mostly in the area of domestic policy, which oddly dominated the middle portion of the foreign policy debate. Thankfully, moderator Bob Schieffer finally regained control and returned the candidates to foreign policy. I can only assume someone texted Schieffer the words "Jim Lehrer."

I'm sure there will be those who fault Romney for agreeing so often with Obama instead of articulating a stark contrast on foreign policy. But it was truly refreshing to see a Democrat and Republican actually agreeing on issues.

Opinion: Was Obama too relentless with Romney?

Now, if the president can just figure out how to use Obama-stare on the entire Congress, maybe then we would see Congress get something done.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
updated 1:21 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT