Over at the Atlantic, Molly Ball makes an astute point about Obama’s lackluster performance during the first presidential debate. Ball’s analysis could be summed up thusly: We shoulda seen it coming!
Recalling poor Obama performances leading up to the debate — at a Univision forum and on 60 Minutes – Ball argues that these events
showcased a president who was less than quick-on-his-feet in the less demanding format of a national television interview. His demeanor in both appearances prefigured the verbose, disengaged performance he would turn in at the debate. Obama’s poor pre-debate streak wasn’t just these two interviews — he had also been overshadowed at his nominating convention …
In retrospect, we shouldn’t have been surprised. But the reason we were stunned has to do with the halo effect that Obama has long enjoyed. Once people impress us in one area, we tend to think they will always rise to the occasion.
This phenomenon isn’t limited to politics. Think of how fans — and professional sports writers, alike — were stunned by he collapse of the Boston Red Sox last year.
They were only a few years removed from winning the World Series — and were leading the division — until an epic collapse in September. They didn’t even make the playoffs.
After the season ended, it was reported the starters were eating fried chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse during games. Meanwhile, their manager “might have been distracted by marital issues and the use of painkillers.”
It’s understandable how casual fans might have not noticed this sort of thing, but what about all the journalists who cover sports for a living?
We shoulda seen it coming!