Dissents Of The Day I

The in-tray is overwhelmed with criticism over my recent posts (especially this one) on the president's dismal debate performance. The prevailing sentiment:


Another reader:

It's one poll – calm down.  He is up five in the Gallup Daily tracking and made up some ground in Rasmussen as well.

Or as another puts it, "The polls are volatile, but as Obama supporters we shouldn't be." I'm an Obama supporter but also a journalist and blogger. I'm not going to spin for anyone. Leave that to other sites. This one is biased toward my thoughts and feelings but balanced by yours. I'm not on the Obama campaign team, I don't belong to any party, and I feel I have a duty to say what I think when I think it, and let the chips fall where they may. I don't think, in the long run, you'd want me to blog the way true partisans do. Another:

Nate Silver is on the front page of the Times saying that the trend (job stats up, likability strong) will hold. So for the first time since I can remember – the Bush years maybe? – I closed my Dish tab. I cannot bear the stress of this election.  And in particular, now, I cannot bear your wailing about the polls.

Many readers are also taking a break:

That last post did it. I can't read you for a while, at least for a week.  You're being too negative, too dramatic, and really unbalanced.  This isn't the Andrew I've grown to know and love over the past several years. What happened to your faith?  Is this what happens when someone lets you down?  He's not perfect.  He fucked up.  He had a really bad night, at about the worst possible time.  But he doesn't deserve what you're giving him.

I want him to wake the fuck up. Another:

When the guy leading the way falls down, you pick him up. What you don't do is stop, unzip your fly and piss all over him.

How did the right wing react when Bush the Younger looked like he'd been drugged in that first debate with John Kerry? Did they run around screaming and rending their garments in despair? Did they amplify the bad debate performance by publicly excoriating Bush over and over and over again? Did they turn into pissy little bitches, willing to throw everything away in a fit of juvenile disappointment? No. They put their head down and kept fighting. As poorly as the President may have performed in that debate, far worse has been the narcissistic pouting from you and Jon Stewart and everybody else.

Barack Obama is not now and never has been a savior. It is not his holy mission to rescue us from Mitt Romney and the GOP. We are the masters of our collective fate. We our the captains of our national soul. If we're willing to hand the wheel over to a guy spouting economic gibberish and a return to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld foreign policy, it is not Barack Obama's fault because he gave a shitty debate performance. Democracy cannot survive if we must rely on someone to save us from ourselves.


It took a failed war and Abu Ghraib for you to turn on the incompetent mediocrity that was George W. Bush, but Obama now seems to be old news because he was uninspiring on the television?

I have not turned on Obama. I'm trying to tell the truth, as I see it. Another:

I watched the debate. I knew Romney was lying his head off, and I found him beyond smug and rude. I don't know why Obama was so flat that night, but instead of continuing the hand-wringing over the performance and attributing all sorts of speculative motives to a bad night, why not use the space to continue to hammer all the flat-out lies? Do you think suggesting that Obama wants out of the presidency helps in any way? You have a huge audience; please go back to using it to present arguments instead of just raving at him.

I will. I have. And the election is still entirely up for grabs. But my worry is not just one night – but that Obama hesitated to grasp the center firmly in 2011, and thereby allowed Romney to grab it last Wednesday. That's a strategic error, which is much more troubling than a tactical loss. And I don't think a purely negative strategy on Romney's lies, total make-over, and 47 percent remarks will be enough. Basically, Romney has told us that he wants a Grand Bargain too, but without any new revenue. And unlike Obama, he doesn't have a foam-flecked bunch of crazies to say no to everything. It's a form of blackmail – the moderate-seeming liar backed by the furthest of the far right, making a moderate Democratic president impossible. I fear Romney's shameless abandonment of the first Ryan Medicare plan, refusal to itemize the new deduction revenues to prove he won't hurt the middle class, and sheer chutzpah has now – incredibly – running as the centrist, while Obama who has tried manfully to pull off a centrist coalition, is now trapped in a left-of-center place. Maybe that's enough, if he can rally his base. But maybe it isn't. And to have gone from his solid lead to this in one night … well, I've never seen a campaign lose altitude at this stage of the game that fast.