NEW YORK – After the second debate between US President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, Obama’s supporters chorused in near-unison, “He’s back!” The languid, disengaged, and lackluster performer of the first debate had disappeared, and the impressive, beloved figure of the victorious 2008 campaign had reappeared. As the commentator Andrew Sullivan put it, “I saw the person I first saw...I saw the president I thought I knew.”
To my eye, however, the old Obama was not back. A new Obama had appeared. The old Obama was youthful, charming, graceful, and full of hope. His demeanor was crisp yet easy-going. His rhetoric soared. His smile could light up a stadium.