Last night was the president's opportunity to peel the frozen steak off his face and step back into the ring. Not only did he come out swinging, but he connected like Manny mother****ing Pacquiao.
Here's your 10-second summary:
- In the first debate, Obama was bad. Last night, he was bad ass
- Mitt Romney didn't cagar la cama like Obama did last time, but the Republican came across as a cranky and bitter old man: more Ron Paul than Ronald Reagan
- To our surprise, Candy Crowley is not a sugary snack handed out on Halloween but a CNN commentator. Not that it stopped her from getting eaten up by the candidates
It's a journalistic cliché that politicians are like prize fighters, jabbing each other with facts and figures as the public scores the damage and declares a winner.
But last night's town hall style debate really was a bit of an old-fashioned brawl. As undecided voters sat in the stands, Obama and Romney took turns sitting uneasily on wooden stools as the other fielded questions from the audience. In some of the tensest moments, the two men circled each other with pointed fingers like billy goats battling to bang a nannie.
Tonight, however, the nannie goat was none other than the United States of America. And she went home with the same man she arrived with: President Barack Obama.
After debating like a wet turd last week, Obama took only 45 seconds to shift from fecal to ferocious.
After a kid named Jeremy crawled out of his oversized suit to ask an opening question that basically amounted to: Dude, where's my job?, Mitt Romney picked up where he left off from the last debate by hammering Obama over the economy.
"The middle-class has been crushed over the last four years, and jobs have been too scarce," Romney said in what would be an effective go-to line for the night. "I know what it takes to bring them back."
Obama smiled and stood up.
"Number one, I want to build manufacturing jobs in this country again," the president said when it was his turn to address Jeremy, who had receded into his Big & Tall sack like a hermit crab into its shell. "Now when Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, I said we're going to bet on American workers and the American auto industry and it's come surging back."
Somewhere in the White House, Joe Biden screamed "At-a-boy!" and crushed a beer can on his forehead in drunken Irish delight.
That opening salvo set the tone for the rest of the night. Obama repeatedly challenged Romney's assertions just as Biden did last week in his own debate against Paul Ryan. Romney, meanwhile, tried to stay on message by hammering away at Obama over the economy.
But Romney struggled at times. On several occasions he snapped at Crowley over not getting to rebut the president. And while Obama came across as patient -- even gracious -- with the moderator, Mittens acted a bit like an A-hole.
When Crowley cut off one of his answers, Romney treated her like the 47 percent of Americans who he openly disdains.
ROMNEY: He gets the first -
CROWLEY: -- and the next question -
ROMNEY: He actually got -
CROWLEY: -- for you -
ROMNEY: He actually got the first question. So I get the last question -- last answer -
CROWLEY: It doesn't quite work like that. But I'm going to give you a chance here. I promise you, I'm going to.
And the next question is for you. So if you want to, you know, continue on -- but I don't want to leave all -
ROMNEY: Candy, Candy -
CROWLEY: -- sitting here -
ROMNEY: Candy, I don't have a policy of stopping wind jobs in Iowa and that -- they're not phantom jobs. They're real jobs.
What really miffed Mitt last night wasn't the media, however, but a rejuvenated Barack Obama.
The president successfully parried Romney's sharpest attacks. When Romney tried to blame Obama for the high price of gas -- which is almost entirely dictated by global supply and demand, not domestic presidential policy -- the commander in chief flipped the question back around.
"[Romney] said when I took office, the price of gasoline was $1.80," Obama said. "Why is that? Because the economy was on the verge of collapse, because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression, as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney's now promoting.
So, it's conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down gas prices because with his policies, we might be back in that same mess."
At long last, Badass Barry came back last night
But Obama didn't rely on his charm or wit. Instead, he repeatedly reminded Americans of his accomplishments, from killing Osama Bin Laden to ending the war in Iraq to passing Obamacare and rebuilding the economy after George W. Bush treated like his dad's Ferrari and wrapped it around a tree.
There were a few moments in which Obama looked downright presidential, and Mitt Romney appeared an amateur out of his league. When Obama called Romney's tax plan a "sketchy deal" that the American people shouldn't buy because "the math doesn't add up," for instance.
The president's most powerful moment came when he blasted Romney for politicizing the killing of U.S. embassy personnel in Benghazi, Libya.
"And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive," Obama said, glaring at his rival across the red-carpeted stage. "That's not what we do. That's not what I do as president, that's not what I do as Commander in Chief."
Obama's last big punch -- not quite a knockout but enough to put the debate out of reach for Romney -- came in his closing remarks. And the president had saved his most powerful ammunition for last.
"I believe Governor Romney is a good man," Obama conceded. "[He] loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about."
"Folks on Social Security who've worked all their lives," the president continued. "Veterans who've sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country's dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don't make enough income."
It was a pean to the American middle class and a soliloquy stolen from Biden last week, but one that sounded even better finally coming from Obama.
"I want to fight for them," Obama concluded. "That's what I've been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds."
And with that, Obama had made Mitt Romney his b*tch and won the second presidential debate.
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