President Obama was not the the worst performer on the stage tonight, that dubious honor belongs to Jim Lehrer, who should resign from PBS first thing tomorrow morning.

But damned if he wasn’t a close second.

They are, as I type, acting desperate on MSNBC. I can’t bring myself to check out Fox.

Mitt Romney spent the entire night spouting the same old generalities about “plans” for which no specifics were ever demanded. Lehrer said early on that all the questions were his alone and not vetted by anyone else and those questions were all of the “you say something, now you tell me what you thought of what he said and so forth and so on” nature that does not begin to provide any framework for serious discussion, indeed precluded that possibility altogether.

It was an embarrassment, pure and simple.

And a victory for Romney of, as yet, unmeasurable proportions.

Dignified, my ass.

Presidential, my ass.

There was no indication that this president will, push come to shove, fight for anything.

And that is a terrible message to send to his base.

His whole (and I say “his” even though I suspect it is some sort of consultants’ consensus) “don’t let them characterize you as a Angry Black Man” approach was a disaster.

The polls over the next few days will show this race getting much closer. Looking inside the data, I suspect, will show that the national numbers will not reflect the reality that among key voting groups and in key states Obama will still hold a substantial advantage, but given that the Right is much more driven to vote against Obama than his base is to vote for him, the potential game change is significant.

Perception becomes reality readily.

Terrible, awful event. The next question to The Mittster asking for specifics about anything will be the first.

Joe Biden v. Paul Ryan just became really, really important.