“No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that question since it was first asked in 1984,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
There are two ways to look at last night. One is the “The Emperor Has No Clothes” view. This debate format and this Republican candidate were the perfect combination to reveal Obama for what he is – “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” As Scott Johnson said on Powerline:
Barack Obama is a big-time bs artist. At least since his law school days he has risen in great part through his perception that the people around him want to like him and see him succeed. He is a big faker who has never been pushed or exposed.
Until now. In this analysis, last night essentially ended the campaign. Once the emperor has been revealed in his nudity no amount of clothing can restore his former status. It may take awhile for this to all sink in, but it’s over.
The other analysis is also one that Scott Johnson well summarized in the same post:
Watching the debate, I thought of Apollo Creed’s trainer in Rocky, when Creed is shocked by the pummeling he is taking in the championship match that Creed has blown off. The trainer says to Creed: “He doesn’t know it’s a damn show! He thinks it’s a damn fight!”
I hope the Rocky analogy is limited; Creed recovered. Rocky went on to lose the fight on points to Creed.
Obama lost last night, but he is a competitive guy who has his Chicago cornermen and the refs working overtime to make him a winner.
There are a couple of difference though. Creed was a great fighter made silly by his press. Obama did not have the tools to begin with (as Johnson pointed out earlier.) The other difference takes a bit more explaining. Jim Geraghty went on at length yesterday about “The Post Cold-War Celebrity President.”
One of my recurring one-liners is that voters shouldn’t decide their president based upon which guy the Black-Eyed Peas are singing about. This is less about that particular group than the phenomenon of which candidate is deemed more “cool,” and which political figure inspires the most admiration from our national arbiters of “cool,” i.e., movie stars, musicians, and . . . er, professional athletes.
Our nation has always had a bit of a schizophrenic view of its head of state. In serious times, we want serious people, but when things are copacetic, we get strange and tend to view the presidency more like the British Royals than an actual functioning office. I think it is related to the same attitudes that always cause us to spin down the military way too far when we think we do not need them. But just like when they push our backs to the wall we have and can again build the greatest fighting force the world has ever known, so too we have great presidents come seemingly out of the woodwork when we need one.
To any but the completely blinded – we need one and he rose to the top last night.
This does not mean that we let up in the campaign. It takes a lot of buzz to make sure everyone sees that the emperor is well and truly naked, but the dam is now broken and people are going to listen. What happens now is that the silliness gets sidelined and the issues start to really matter. In just the last 24 hours, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and Real Clear Politics have carried articles saying “the Mormon thing does not matter.” Die hard Evangelical outlets like the Christian Post are saying things like “Mormons may be strange, but come on the choice is obvious.) In point of fact, the Mormon issue which really has been a sideshow all along, as gotten so sidelined, that our compatriots the Frenches at Evangelicals for Mitt have been able to have a little fun with it.
Stories are even starting to appear that say what many of us have known for a long time – “Romney is really a nice, regular guy.”
Romney won the debate last night, and he turned the tide in his favor. But the election is still weeks away. Stay busy, work hard, and be confident. Oh, but do take a minute to laugh at the Tweet of the night.