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.
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.)
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.
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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.”
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.”
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.
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.