Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Obama-stare puts a spell on Romney

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
October 24, 2012 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: President's secret debate weapon was laser-like stare he shot Romney
  • Obeidallah: Romney's look turned from forced smiles to that of someone who's really queasy
  • He says the stare's power seemed to make Romney agree with Obama over and over
  • If Obama could train the stare on Congress, he says, maybe something would get done

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks, including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- The key to President Barack Obama's triumphant performance in Monday night's debate was not his command of the facts, his well-crafted answers or his cutting comeback lines. It was one thing: the stone cold, laser-like stare Obama shot his opponent when Mitt Romney was answering questions. I call it "Obama-stare" -- but unlike Obamacare, this Obama plan may not be good for your health.

For those, like me, who watch the other candidate closely when his opponent is answering a question, the contrast between Obama and Romney's reactions was like comparing Darth Vader with Honey Boo Boo. Romney's look vacillated between forced smiles to that of a person whose stomach was alarmingly churning and was worried he wouldn't make it to the bathroom in time.

But Obama pinned Romney with the look -- Obama-stare. It's not a look we saw at the previous debates. (Of course, Obama didn't even attend the first one.)

Opinion: Obama in command; Romney plays it safe

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

Obama-stare resembles the grimace that Wyatt Earp might have had on his face moments before guns were drawn at the famed gunfight at the OK Corral. Or even Clint Eastwood's classic scowl in his "Dirty Harry" movies just before shooting a bad guy -- not to be confused with the look he recently gave to an empty chair.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



The Obama-stare is more than just a laser-like game face -- apparently it causes people to agree with him on issue after issue. Obama-stare is more akin to Obi-Wan Kenobi's use of the Jedi mind trick, or vampires on "True Blood" glamouring someone into saying exactly what they want to hear. Romney agreed with Obama so often I thought Mitt was going to endorse him.

How else can anyone explain why Romney -- who is highly critical of Obama's foreign policy when he is out on the campaign trail -- would agree with the president on issue after issue when placed in the same room? Romney appeared as if he wasn't vying for commander in chief as much as for "agree-er in chief."

Obama: 'Fewer horses and bayonets'
Burton: Obama had edge at the debate

For starters, Romney praised Obama regarding Osama bin Laden: "I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in al Qaeda."

Romney then agreed with Obama's policy regarding Egypt during the Arab Spring: "I believe, as the president indicated, and said at the time that I supported his -- his action there."

Opinion: Romney endorses Obama's national security policies

Romney continued his "I agree with Obama" tour with regard to Israel: "I want to underscore the same point the president made, which is that if I'm president of the United States ... we will stand with Israel."

And on the Obama administration's use of drones, Romney agreed some more: "I support that and entirely, and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology. ..."

Romney also concurred with the president on employing a host of tough sanctions against Iran. (But I wish he would've said he would impose "a binder full of sanctions.") And Romney agreed with Obama that at this time, he would not call for the deployment of U.S. military personnel into Syria to stop the bloody conflict there.

True, there were some disagreements. But those were mostly in the area of domestic policy, which oddly dominated the middle portion of the foreign policy debate. Thankfully, moderator Bob Schieffer finally regained control and returned the candidates to foreign policy. I can only assume someone texted Schieffer the words "Jim Lehrer."

I'm sure there will be those who fault Romney for agreeing so often with Obama instead of articulating a stark contrast on foreign policy. But it was truly refreshing to see a Democrat and Republican actually agreeing on issues.

Opinion: Was Obama too relentless with Romney?

Now, if the president can just figure out how to use Obama-stare on the entire Congress, maybe then we would see Congress get something done.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1928 GMT (0328 HKT)
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
July 19, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1755 GMT (0155 HKT)
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1953 GMT (0353 HKT)
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1933 GMT (0333 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT)
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 2016 GMT (0416 HKT)
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1601 GMT (0001 HKT)
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1804 GMT (0204 HKT)
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1518 GMT (2318 HKT)
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0124 GMT (0924 HKT)
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT