The president’s historic defeat last night profoundly impacted the election’s trajectory, but it has also created a wildly entertaining sequence of events within the left and especially across the lefty media, a sequence which began with mass hysteria, dissolved into panicked, serial spin misfires, and ended in a herd-like stampede towards Chicago’s desperate last ditch meme: Mitt Romney lied, lied, lied about everything, everything, everything!
It took a few hours to organize but as Anderson Cooper wraps up a media day with a hilarious hour of desperate lefties trying out all sorts of different “save-the-president” strategies (with the occasional reasonable voice mixed in) the overriding theme of “Romney lied” is the clear winner across lefty broadcast, blog, newspaper and tweet. That the president could not identify one such falsehood in the course of the debate itself is the biggest problem for this approach, but so it the fact that the left’s hysteria was the first reaction, not the outrage that would have nstantly followed any actual lie. The stunned “progressives” were all moaning about the president’s failure to cite the “47%,” until the word got around to fall back to the attack-Ryan’s-acceptance-speech memo. There were of course no lies, which makes the posturing painful to watch for the previously credible participants.
Other than the obvious air of desperation that accompanies this tactic, the president is also shedding his last bit of “bring us together” likeability by picking up the blowtorch of “liar liar!” 67 million people watched him get smashed up by a calm, collected and in-command Romney. Retreating to the tactics of an angry junior high kid is making a terrible situation worse, which I didn’t think possible this morning.
I spent the first part of Thursday morning moderating a conversation between James Carville and Mary Matalin, easily the best political duo on a platform in America. Carville’s candid assessment of the president pratfall last night –without a whisper of “He lied”– charted the reality of the fiasco for the Democrats. Mary Matalin’s appreciation for Romney’s superb performance amplified the reactions of nearly every single viewer of last night’s debate I have spoke with today, up to and including New York Magazine’s Jonathon Chait on air tonight, who indulged in a bit of the “He lied” meme in print but much less so on air where it just sounds preposterous.
The damage must be immense for the Chicago Gang to panic so visibly, something W’s team did not do after the first dust-up with Kerry, nor 41’s with Bill Clinton, nor Reagan’s after his first meeting with Mondale. Panic isn’t pretty, and it doesn’t produce good messaging, but the panic is obvious and widespread.
That’s because Wednesday night has the potential to be a “Black Swan” event for the campaign –something we have never seen before, an utter catastrophe for a candidate that lasts far beyond one day or news cycle, but enters political history in its own category above Ford’s “Poland” entry and W’s DUI. Thus the retreat to “He Lied Hill,” on which the president will try and regroup. Bad choice. An admission of fatigue or poor preparation would have served him better, but, hey, keep digging Chicago. All of America saw what happened, and much of it is watching now as the president and much of the left further embarrasses itself.
The president was as unprepared for the debate as he was for the presidency. Mitt Romney, in a stark and enduring contrast, was ready for the debate and appears to the crucial undecided voters as ready for the job as well. It is that simple.
A last note. Ask yourself why the huge audience for such an allegedly dull race with the incumbent holding a comfortable lead? The answer is the real fear abroad in the country of the return of recession and a spiraling series of setbacks abroad, of leaderlessness combined with fecklessness on the days the president shows up at all –Vegas on the day of the Benghazi massacre. Millions tuned in because millions are scared. Romney was reassuring, onboth substance and style. Now the president is calling him a liar. That’s not what the country saw, because Romney was telling the truth. The country saw a grown-up who is now dealing with yet another series of childish tantrums.
The president is managing to fall off the floor