“In the last four years you’ve cut permits and licenses on federal lands and federal waters in half,” Romney charged, turning to his opponent and hacking at the air.
“Not true,” Obama called out, eyes blazing. Then he looked away.
“How much did you cut the licenses by?” Romney continued, stepping closer to Obama. His finger jabbed the air. Obama tried to cut him off. Romney kept coming at him, and Obama got out of his chair, his head high and tilted back a bit, which felt like a silent taunt. (Say it again — I dare ya.)
Romney stepped forward, staring at Obama. The two men locked eyes.
You held your breath.
Obama looked away, and you let it out.
Time and again, as the tension built, Obama defused it with his eyes. It was a successful technique. He seemed to have decided that he would match Romney move for move, going so far at one point as to step toward moderator Candy Crowley’s desk so he was exactly the same distance away from it as his opponent...
Obama... didn’t match his opponent’s chilling gaze. Romney wanted a staring contest, but Obama didn’t take that bait. He shunted it aside, cutting his eyes to the audience. Or he’d diminish the threat with a joke...
Obama made a show of avoiding his opponent. He looked to Crowley with a grin, widened it to show his teeth, let out a chuckle. Finally, in a smooth legato, he delivered a crippling zinger: “You know, I — I don’t look at my pension.” He shot Romney a look, and just as quickly glanced away. He addressed the punch line to the audience:It’s not as big as yours, so it doesn’t take as long. Great line, taken out of context, in a who-is-more-macho contest.
“It’s not as big as yours, so it doesn’t take as long.”
But Obama knew, perhaps intuitively, perhaps by virtue of a lifetime of guardedness, how to avoid escalation.Obama has a problem maintaining eye contact. Romney proved his dominance over and over. And the dance critic says Obama won with his dazzling grin and pirouetting away from confrontation.
He simply looked away.
Tell Putin, after the election I will have more flexibility.