This blog post almost was going to be about Joe Biden's strong debate performance last night, where he smiled, smirked, and that's malarky'd in a "give 'em hell" manner that raised my progressive spirits.
I was all set to discuss some analyses of Paul Ryan's dissembling, a.k.a. lying, the most obvious of which was his resolute reluctance to provide any details at all about the Romney-Ryan plan to cut tax rates 20% across the board without increasing the deficit or the middle class tax burden.
This magic is supposed to happen by limiting certain deductions and other tax expenditures. Bizarrely, Ryan steadfastly refused to cite even one example of how trillions in tax cuts and increased defense spending will begin to be paid for.
But that quasi-wonky subject faded from my mind after I read Nate Silver's most recent Five Thirty Eight post: "Romney Debate Gains Show Staying Power." It's depressing. To a progressive like me. Conservatives must be dancing with joy, or whatever they do when they're happy.
(Say the Pledge of Allegiance and read the Bible?)
I've been doing my best to sublimate how deeply angry I am at Obama for his lackluster debate performance. I've been hoping that Romney's bounce in the polls would fade after a week or so. Isn't happening.
So I embraced my inner grouch. I decided to finally read Andrew Sullivan's post-debate column, which I'd heard was brutally honest about how disappointed Sullivan was. The title fits with my mood: "Did Obama Just Throw the Entire Election Away?"
Seems entirely possible. Since misery likes company, I felt better after reading words that matched how I've come to look upon the debate after a brief period of excessive optimism. Sullivan said:
Look: I'm trying to rally some morale, but I've never seen a candidate this late in the game, so far ahead, just throw in the towel in the way Obama did last week - throw away almost every single advantage he had with voters and manage to enable his opponent to seem as if he cares about the middle class as much as Obama does.
How do you erase that imprinted first image from public consciousness: a president incapable of making a single argument or even a halfway decent closing statement? And after Romney's convincing Etch-A-Sketch, convincing because Obama was incapable of exposing it, Romney is now the centrist candidate, even as he is running to head up the most radical party in the modern era.
We've all heard the sports cliche. "Got to leave everything on the field." As a fan, I've never been disappointed in a team that did just that, even if they lost horribly. Effort is what counts. A team that fights to the end, though overmatched at every position, deserves a lot of respect.
But a president who stands on a debate stage for 90 minutes and lets his opponent get away with lie after lie, falsehood after falsehood, changed position after changed position, even saying "sorry" at one point when Romney chastized him for bringing up too many rebuttal points on some issue -- that's pathetic.
At the moment there is only one comment on today's depressing Five Thirty Eight post. It's got a spelling error. Aside from that, I could have written it myself.
I guess we're going to have a new narrative for the ages....how to loose an election in 90 minutes. Once again the Democrats fumble on the one yard line.
Geez, I hope not. Things are just really tight now. All-important swing state electoral votes can go one way or the other with just a swing of a few percentage points. If Obama doesn't hit it out of the park next Tuesday, we could end up with a President Romney.
And that would be really depressing. I second the sentiments Andrew Sullivan shared in his final paragraph.
I'm trying to see a silver lining. But when a president self-immolates on live TV, and his opponent shines with lies and smiles, and a record number of people watch, it's hard to see how a president and his party recover. I'm not giving up. If the lies and propaganda of the last four years work even after Obama had managed to fight back solidly against them to get a clear and solid lead in critical states, then reality-based government is over in this country again. We're back to Bush-Cheney, but more extreme. We have to find a way to avoid that. Much, much more than Obama's vanity is at stake.