So the president sent me this email in the middle of the night:
I hope I made you proud out there explaining the vision we share for this country.
Now we need to go win this election—the most important thing that will happen tonight is what you do (or don't do) to help in the little time we have left:
The donate link shows that Obama's $3 minimum suggested donation has now been inflation-adjusted to $15. Thanks a lot, Bernanke!
As President Obama's taciturn panhandle indicates, Democrats seem largely to have acknowledged that last night's debate performance was a disaster for the incumbent. To give just one example, Intrade's "Barack Obama to be re-elected President in 2012" probability dropped to 65.4 percent from 79 percent two days ago.
There are a few efforts to paper over the disaster. The Think Progress fella in Reason's post-debate hangout seems to have been watching some other show entirely, while Newsday's exquisitely named Lane Filler says, "It does not seem Romney made any points that will change the spirit of the campaign," on the way to acknowledging that Romney won the debate. Others have been frantically shoring fragments against Obama's ruin.
A San Francisco Chronicle report card gives Obama mostly C and D grades, while Romney gets As and Bs. But even here the president gets graded on a curve:
3. Be nice (and respectful) to Mitt
Obama has been accused of arrogance by his critics. No such behavior was evident in Denver. The two men disagreed often, but they disagreed cheerfully.
It seems to me the president was the one who came across as self-absorbed, and Romney's sympathetic comment about Obama's time-chewing anniversary lamentation was kind of funny. (I was also confused: Is this the wedding anniversary, the engagement anniversary, or something else? It seems like I hear about the president and first lady's special memories several times a month, and like many Americans, I have found it hard to eat and pay my mortgage on a stipend of nothing but Barack-and-Michelle magic.)
Overall, however, the media have reluctantly conceded not only that Obama lost but that Romney won. This is a progress considering that four years back one of my MSM colleagues allowed that "Romney reminds me of Greg Stillson" (the insane presidential candidate targeted for righteous assassination by the hero of Stephen King's novel The Dead Zone). Andrew Sullivan, whose pants-soiling panic is rarely under control in any case, really dials it up with this shriek of horror:
Look: you know how much I love the guy, and you know how much of a high information viewer I am, and I can see the logic of some of Obama's meandering, weak, professorial arguments. But this was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach, and his effete, wonkish lectures may have jolted a lot of independents into giving Romney a second look.
Obama looked tired, even bored; he kept looking down; he had no crisp statements of passion or argument; he wasn't there. He was entirely defensive, which may have been the strategy. But it was the wrong strategy. At the wrong moment.
The person with authority on that stage was Romney—offered it by one of the lamest moderators ever, and seized with relish. This was Romney the salesman. And my gut tells me he sold a few voters on a change tonight. It's beyond depressing. But it's true.
I do appreciate Sully's pointing out that, in addition to his clumsy responses, silence-inducing jokes and off-topic talking points, Obama's presentation was terrible. In 1992, George H.W. Bush looked at his watch one time (a perfectly understandable action at a dull public affair), and two decades later this is still considered some kind of gold standard for bad debate body language. Last night Obama barely looked up from his game of Warcraft or whatever he was doing down there, yet today there's hardly any discussion of it. Nor was the chief executive's face-down posture available in any of the image galleries I consulted. I had to go back and screen-capture an image from the video feed.
Update: Former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones joins the exodus.
"I think he took Romney too lightly. I think he did not expect Romney to throw that kind of heat," Jones said. "Romney was able to 'out-Obama' Obama. On the connection piece, on the authenticity piece, on the being able to tell the story."
In case you find the "piece" talk strange, this is standard community-hustler speech, in which ruinous projects are separated into "pieces," with eminent domain seizures being the "land-assembly piece," taxpayer money being the "public investment piece," bribes from connected developers being the "private-sector piece," and so on.
And how could I have forgotten Chris Matthews' who-took-my-strawberries tirade, in which he explains that the president lost because he doesn't watch enough MSNBC and because (unlike most candidates these days?) he didn't have "Bobby Kennedy in the green room." (Rosey Grier is still alive, fortunately.)