obama & romney*So, the best of three is over, and after all of the doom-and-gloom that surrounded the first debate, the sitting president actually acquitted himself quite well in the other two, scoring two big victories – albeit by decision, not TKO.

It might just be enough, because in the wake of the debate, the circus-like atmosphere that marked the Republican campaign right up until the first debate has returned in full elephant-stomp, acrobat-flying glory. Of course, the ringleader is – once again – poofy-haired real estate magnate, catch-phrase dropper and joke Republican candidate Donald Trump, who took time out of anchoring NBC’s fall lineup to make a desperate LOOK-AT-ME web video offering $5 million to a charity of Obama’s choice if the President would release his college records and applications. He was roundly – and rightly – chastised for his actions.

Next up? How about Sarah Palin, emerging from seclusion in Alaska to drop another elk meat-coated bomb of racism. In a Facebook post (how progressive) on Wednesday, everyone’s favorite Tina Fey impersonation referred to Obama’s “shuck and jive” on the Libya fiasco (Social media and CNN contributor Roland Martin quickly pointed out just how backwards the expression was. Even if Palin truly had no idea about the racial connotations of the phrase, it still gave her – and the whole party – another ugly incident to cloud the week.

Strike three? How about another really backwards comment from a Republican senate candidate, this time from the Hoosier state. Joining Todd Akin for the foot-in-mouth Olympics is Indiana treasurer Richard Mourdock, who dropped this doozy in a debate from this week: “I came to realize life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Yikes. That’s a candidate for the highest legislative branch in the land, folks. That’s scary. So, that’s what the voters will now have in their minds over the next few weeks – on one hand, there’s the party of Palin, Mourdock, and Trump; on the other, the party of steady, Obama-helmed leadership. Who do you think people will choose?