Jonathan Last has an interesting thought:
[H]ere’s my question: Imagine a world in which, during and after the debate, the left didn’t have a collective, public freak out. In other words, a world in which a still-functional Journolist-type of operation was able to corral lefty elites and get them into something like a coherent message instead of having them set themselves on fire over Twitter. Imagine if they had gotten some message discipline and taken a line more like Republican heads did after the second and third debate–Yes, our guy probably lost this on points, but this was a strong performance and blah-blah-blah.
Would it have made any difference? The debate would still be the debate, and the insta-polls would have been the same. But if Chris Matthews and Andrew Sullivan and their fellow travelers hadn’t micturated on the carpet in public panic, would the story out of the Denver debate been anything more than, Strong performance by Romney, Obama needs to up his game.
I personally think that there would have been a serious backlash against Obama even if the Left hadn’t let their guard down and got punched in the solar plexus: but the Democrats’ post-debate panic didn’t help their cause at all, at all. Moral of the story: parrot the agitprop, don’t believe it. Apparently there were far too many Left-type ‘elites’ that actually thought that Mitt Romney was the ineffectual caricature that they were serving up to the rubes in their base.
Trust me: if Romney had been, he wouldn’t have survived the Republican primary.