Did the Left’s panicked response to first debate make things worse for Obama?

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.

Moe Lane


  • Patrick M says:

    This analysis misses the point. I made the point in a post-debate-one analysis myself: I was SO IMPRESSED BY ROMNEY that I didn’t even have a thought as to how ‘badly’ Obama was doing.

    The real story out of debate #1 was that Romney wasnt the charicature the Obama team made him out to be. Dissing Obama’s performance was their indirect way of discounting how well Romney did. Had the left not done this, Romney’s poll rise would have had to be honestly explained this way:

    ” Romney is not the charicature Obama made him out to be. His dishonest campaign is out of gas.”

    Obama was petulant and derisive in all 3 debates, and the only real difference was that in debate #1, Obama was out of talking points after about 30 minutes, after Romney had eviscerated his talking points. In debates 2 and 3, Obama just kept at it, seeming to ‘win on points’, because he lied faster than Romney corrected him. But it was the same ol’ strawman attack pattern.

    Funny, but in none of the debates, even the ones Obama ‘won’, did he actually gain traction.

  • Shawn says:

    I think the problem with this is like Patrick noted. The problem with Obama’s ‘loss’ was that his politics of personal destruction blew up in his face; and took with it both his aura of inevitability and his ‘we like this guy, even if we don’t like his policies’ status.

    Obama spent so much time, and money belittling Romney and turning him into a caricature that Romney never was, that when people saw the real Mitt, there was no chance for Obama to look like anything but an ass.

    Why attempt to destroy the ‘person’ when you dislike their politics? There was no reason for that, other than his strict adherence to doctrinaire Allinskism. But people know that playbook now. They don’t buy it anymore.

    Two, this wasn’t Chicago, or 2008, where Obama would have such an overwhelming advantage in money that he could sat whatever he wanted about his opponent and not have the truth come out.

    Obama didn’t just lose the debate the 1st time, he lost his entire campaign’s message. He’s never gotten it back, because he could never define an agenda for people to believe in.

    His tactics work fine if you’re a challenger. Not so well when you’re an incumbent with a pesky record to have attacked. A record no one could defend.

  • John Barnett says:

    so glad to get this topic. I didn’t see the debate live. Watched it the next day after the “Obama tanked – Romney Was Awesome” was out there and running wild.

    It just didn’t seem to me to be the rout I had been expecting. Strangely, I think that the tidal wave of leftist hysteria did help cement the game-changing nature of it.

    I am sure seeing it live it would have been more intense. I agree 100% with the idea that Romney blew away the caricatures – and became instantly credible as a potential President. When you consider how many “medium information” and “low information” voters there are – the combination of Romney with his A game, Obama being Obama, and the Chris Mathews meltdown – a perfect storm!

  • DaveP. says:

    The problem for Mr. Last’s concept is that Obama was pretty horrible up there. I’m not saying Romney wasn’t at the peak of his game: in fact, he was much better than I had expected. I’m saying that in order to do a “Our guy lost on points but he still looked pretty good, eh?” it helps a lot if the debate was a lot more Balboa vs. Creed and a lot less Bambi vs. Godzilla.

  • techsan says:

    Obama’s problem was that he did live up to his caricature. This time, more people were open to seeing it.

  • Spegen says:

    It was obvious that Romney won, but I agree that the melt down by the media only magnified this fact. The fact that Romney walked on the stage without horns coming out of his head was probably enough to convince voters that there was an alternative to another 4 years of Obama .

  • DanB says:

    It’s their own fault. Confrontation in the Arena of Ideas makes your candidate (or President) stronger. The President has not been asked any hard questions since forever (I don’t count things like “What do you think, 6 or 7 iron?” as a hard question).
    He was never pressed about things like the Afghan surge, the aspects of his energy policy that are damaging to the energy industry, the weakness of recovery, etc. It doesn’t count if the friendly reporter asks you one time, accepts whatever gets spewed back, and then asks no follow up.
    It’s like when Pelosi was asked about the constitutionality of the Health Care Act. It had honestly never occurred to her that some people might view it as a possible infringement.
    These things are just like anything else, if you want to be good at it, you have to work at it. And this is the hard part for certain elements, when you screw up, you have to confront what you did wrong, and take corrective action. We won’t go into taking responsibility… one impossible hurdle at a time…

  • lourae says:

    Remember not too long ago (before the debates) some Conservatives ran around screaming, palms up. Or worse, went on the Sunday shows and undermined Romney. He wasn’t ‘aggressive enough’, etc. I think the difference is between our adult behavior–‘tighten up, y’all’–and what we see from Libs, the spoiled child being told ‘No’ for the first time. We kept it together, they had a tantrum.

  • EBL says:

    Of course their panic made it worse. I just hope Romney wins because their bitter tears of defeat will be the sweetest ambrosia!

  • Murgatroyd says:

    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.
    Wasn’t it Lenin who said that the greatest fool of all is the revolutionary who believes his own propaganda?

  • Rob Crawford says:

    The whole article has a flawed premise — that there’s no functioning Journolist-style operation.
    If there is not, why are all the networks and the NYT silent on Benghazi and Fast and Furious?

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