President Obama used his "cool fluidity" and "improvisational ease" to easily beat his debate opponent, writes David Maraniss in the Washington Post. The problem for the president's supporters is that the debate took place in high school. Can that old Obama return to form? Maraniss, who wrote a biography of the president, offers this hopeful summation for Democrats: "His history shows that, after flailing around, he tends to respond when the pressure is greatest—and that he appreciates the role of rhetoric."
Maraniss uses a good chunk of the essay to draw a comparison between Obama and Bill Clinton—their personal backgrounds forged personalities in which "strengths and weaknesses are inextricably linked." It's like they can't help but set traps for themselves, only to overcome them. Obama's current trouble stems from his tendency to see himself as a man of destiny above ordinary politics. To get out of this trap, he'll need to ditch the law-professor persona and get back to politics for the next debate. Read the full column here.