The debate lingers on
In 1927, Irving Berlin wrote his classic, “The Song has Ended but the Melody Lingers On.” The lyrics, “The song has ended but the melody lingers on, you and the song are gone, but the melody lingers on,” can be seamlessly applied to the first presidential debate. The debate ended over a week ago and it is still is right at the top of the “things to be talked about” list.
Gallop recorded a remarkable win for Mitt Romney with 72% of the debate watchers polled declared him the winner as opposed to the 22% who think President Obama came out on top. The 52% win for Romney is the largest margin ever. Prior to this, the record was the 40% margin Bill Clinton established over President George H.W. Bush in 1992. That was the famous debate in which Mr. Bush famously looked at his watch giving the impression he wanted out of there. Mr. Obama didn’t look at his watch but midway through the debate but I thought his expression must have resembled that of Colonel George Custer’s at the Little Big Horn when he famously asked, “Where the hell did all those Indians come from?”
It may, or may not, have put Romney in the lead but recent polls − Pew, Rasmussen, Gallop − show the race closing at the very least. But, there can be no question that the debate changed the mood among the candidate’s followers.
They can now take Bill Kristol off suicide watch. His columns in The Weekly Standard and in his appearances of FOX News revealed an increasingly severe despondency and his friends became concerned. Jonah Goldberg wrote, “After hearing the 47 percent comment, George Will jumped on his riding mower and crashed it through the plate-glass window of the local pet store, then freed all of the animals, screaming, ‘It doesn’t matter! Be free my beasties, feast on the flesh of the damned for there is no hope.” Goldberg, himself, considered committing aggravated assault on Stewart Stevens, Romney’s campaign manager. And, I doubt he was alone in that fantasy. Rush Limbaugh and Shaun Hannity were driven in their despair to search fruitlessly for a pre-debate ray of hope in the campaign. In short, as Goldberg noted, Republicans “were moping like big dogs whose food bowls had been moved.”
Romney’s performance brought together the entire range of the Republican Party. Now, Kristol, Hannity, Limbaugh, and all the rest, are singing from the same song book and proclaiming it was the best performance of a Republican candidate in their lifetimes. It is not to hard to believe that Romney’s debate performance put a new energy and optimism in Republican faithful throughout the country.
Obama’s rather strange evening seems to have done the reverse to the Democratic faithful. Things over at MSNBC went from triumphant to a surly disbelief.
Ed Schultz kept asking “what just happened?” Then, he went to “how could what just happened, happen?” Al Sharpton was so upset he forgot to attribute the debate outcome to a racist plot cooked up at FOX News. Rachael Maddow announced with firm voice that Romney lied about his tax plan and this so upset Obama that he lost his train of thought. This is understandable. Obama’s training in Chicago politics would have shielded him from lying politicians and other unsavory forms of life.
Mika Brzezinski, the following morning, displayed emotion that ranged from perplexed to pained. If there was an Emmy for “looking perplexed” Mika would be a certain winner every year. Chris Matthews was more stunned than angry. Obama had said, I think Governor Romney and I agree a lot about Social Security. What? He hadn’t even bothered to memorize the MSNBC talking points that had Romney pushing grandmother over the cliff and then feeding her dog food if she survived the fall. A whole year of pro Obama propaganda just wasted. Matthews couldn’t believe it. He was sure that had Obama just recited MSNBC talking points he would have crushed Romney.
The excuses began immediately after the debate and escalated on Thursday. The New York Times excused Obama’s performance alleging that he doesn’t like debates to begin with, he views them as media-driven gamesmanship, and they are something to endure, rather than an opportunity. Obama’s aids allowed as how busy the president had been the past few weeks. An hour’s speech at the U.N; an appearance on the view, a searching, all encompassing interview with a radio personality named, “The Pimp with a Limp;“ and, all those hectic fund raisers in Hollywood.
Al Gore chimed in with, it’s the altitude. After all, Denver is 5,000 feet higher than the West Coast fund raisers and the lack of oxygen made Obama a bit laid back. Al Sharpton joined in on this excuse but he said he wasn’t sure how many inches Denver was above sea level, thinking, perhaps, it was higher if you measure in inches. Say what you will, sometimes Al makes watching MSNBC fun.
Mr. Obama can come back strong in the remaining two presidential debates. And, don’t for a moment discount Joe Biden’s ability to charm the socks off folks while talking absolute nonsense. He has made five critical decisions on foreign policy in his career and was wrong on each one. Yet, I still think of him as an expert because I can’t help but like him.
Yes, the debate may be over but the memory lingers on. How long it lingers may well determine who is the next president of the United States.