Mitt Needs to Bring More Than a Knife to This Gunfight

Michael Iachetta
In June 2008, a trash-talking Barack Obama assured his admirers that he was ready for a street fight: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." Now that he has been accused by his followers of being too passive in the first presidential debate, Obama has promised he will come out fighting in the second one:

I think it's fair to say I was just too polite .... And, you know, I think it's fair to say that we will see a little more activity at the next one.

What will this activity look like? Will Obama continually laugh and smirk and interrupt Romney, as Biden did to Ryan? Will he walk up to Romney, as Al Gore did to George Bush, and try to make the most of his height advantage? Will Obama trash talk Romney, as he did at UW-Madison on the day after the first debate? Will he call Romney a liar, as David Axelrod did on "Face the Nation"? Or does David Axelrod have some other surprise up his sleeve?

More importantly, how should Governor Romney respond to a less polite President Obama? Assuming that Obama is capable of being more intimidating and annoying than Al Gore, should Romney try to outgun him?

No. In addition to a mere statement of the facts, the only weapon that Mitt needs to bring to this street fight is the much misunderstood virtue of gentleness-that is, a man's ability to make sure that he does not let his anger cause him to say or do something he will later regret.  If Obama succeeds in getting Romney to lose his temper, Obama may well win the second debate. 

This is a real concern.  When Good Housekeeping recently asked Ann Romney to cite a habit of Mitt's that she wishes she could change, she described her husband's long struggle with anger:

I guess the thing I'd say is he had to learn to control his temper a bit when the children were young. In other situations, he's quick to flare, and I've seen him learn to control that, too. Most people have a very hard time changing their behavior, and I've been impressed that he's actually seen [his temper] as a weakness and worked on it.

Has Mitt acquired enough of this virtue of gentleness to be able to handle the many ways in which Obama will try to provoke him? Let's hope so.  If he needs any reminders, I'd like to take this opportunity to recall to his mind a couple of verses from Scripture, with which I am sure he is familiar. 

Rosslyn Smith and others noted the relevance of Proverbs 29:9 to the vice-presidential debate.I believe that Proverbs 25:28 will be the key to the second presidential debate:"Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit" (NASB).If Governor Romney is able to control his spirit and simply speak the truth about the shortcomings of President Obama's foreign policy, we may see the fulfillment of the other key verse, a saying spoken by one who claimed to be even greater than Solomon:"Blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the land."


In June 2008, a trash-talking Barack Obama assured his admirers that he was ready for a street fight: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." Now that he has been accused by his followers of being too passive in the first presidential debate, Obama has promised he will come out fighting in the second one:

I think it's fair to say I was just too polite .... And, you know, I think it's fair to say that we will see a little more activity at the next one.

What will this activity look like? Will Obama continually laugh and smirk and interrupt Romney, as Biden did to Ryan? Will he walk up to Romney, as Al Gore did to George Bush, and try to make the most of his height advantage? Will Obama trash talk Romney, as he did at UW-Madison on the day after the first debate? Will he call Romney a liar, as David Axelrod did on "Face the Nation"? Or does David Axelrod have some other surprise up his sleeve?

More importantly, how should Governor Romney respond to a less polite President Obama? Assuming that Obama is capable of being more intimidating and annoying than Al Gore, should Romney try to outgun him?

No. In addition to a mere statement of the facts, the only weapon that Mitt needs to bring to this street fight is the much misunderstood virtue of gentleness-that is, a man's ability to make sure that he does not let his anger cause him to say or do something he will later regret.  If Obama succeeds in getting Romney to lose his temper, Obama may well win the second debate. 

This is a real concern.  When Good Housekeeping recently asked Ann Romney to cite a habit of Mitt's that she wishes she could change, she described her husband's long struggle with anger:

I guess the thing I'd say is he had to learn to control his temper a bit when the children were young. In other situations, he's quick to flare, and I've seen him learn to control that, too. Most people have a very hard time changing their behavior, and I've been impressed that he's actually seen [his temper] as a weakness and worked on it.

Has Mitt acquired enough of this virtue of gentleness to be able to handle the many ways in which Obama will try to provoke him? Let's hope so.  If he needs any reminders, I'd like to take this opportunity to recall to his mind a couple of verses from Scripture, with which I am sure he is familiar. 

Rosslyn Smith and others noted the relevance of Proverbs 29:9 to the vice-presidential debate.I believe that Proverbs 25:28 will be the key to the second presidential debate:"Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit" (NASB).If Governor Romney is able to control his spirit and simply speak the truth about the shortcomings of President Obama's foreign policy, we may see the fulfillment of the other key verse, a saying spoken by one who claimed to be even greater than Solomon:"Blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the land."