Three of my favorite writers had a few last words on the debate.
To begin with, Ace looks at the desperate and foolish excuses Obama’s fans are offering to explain his performance. (Just as an FYI, I heard two from people I actually know. The first assured me that it was the altitude that got to Obama; and the second said it was clear that there was some secret governing crisis that weighed heavily upon him.)
Here are the Top Ten reasons Obama lost the debate, per Obama’s friends, as sympathetically reported by The New Yorker:
1. He’s Just Too Interested In Finding Common Ground and Rising Above Petty Disputes To Lower Himself To Being An Effective Debater.
He did not go out of his way to defeat someone in argument; instead he tried, always with a certain decorous courtesy, to try to persuade, to reframe his interlocutor’s view, to signal his understanding while disagreeing. Obama became president of the law review—the first African-American to do so—but he won as a voice of conciliation. He avoided the Ames Moot Court Competition, where near contemporaries like Cass Sunstein, Deval Patrick, and Kathleen Sullivan made their names.
When Obama avoids competition, it’s always because he could win — if he wanted to. But he’s too good for that.
It’s never because he’s just not good at it.
Jonah Goldberg puts his finger on why I didn’t think Obama’s performance was shockingly bad — I just thought it was Obama-as-usual, since I never drank the Kool-Aid:
The media’s infatuation with Obama and/or their contempt for his critics only served to reinforce his delusions. When the press laughs at all of your jokes and takes your glib excuses as profound insights, the inevitable result is a kind of flabby narcissism. Kings can be forgiven for thinking they are the greatest poets when the court weeps at their clunky limericks.
The Obama who delivered a shockingly lackluster convention speech last month is the same man who walked into that Denver stadium in 2008 to rapturous approval. The man who lost the debate Wednesday night is the same man who never managed to make Obamacare popular after more than 50 speeches and pronouncements on it in his first year.
And Mark Steyn? Well, Steyn just explains everything, as usual:
Unlike Mitt, I loathe Sesame Street. It bears primary responsibility for what the Canadian blogger Binky calls the de-monsterization of childhood — the idea that there are no evil monsters out there at the edges of the map, just shaggy creatures who look a little funny and can sometimes be a bit grouchy about it because people prejudge them until they learn to celebrate diversity and help Cranky the Friendly Monster go recycling. That is not unrelated to the infantilization of our society. Marinate three generations of Americans in that pabulum and it’s no surprise you wind up with unprotected diplomats dragged to their deaths from their “safe house” in Benghazi. Or as J. Scott Gration, the president’s special envoy to Sudan, said in 2009, in the most explicit Sesamization of American foreign policy: “We’ve got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries — they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes . . . ” The butchers of Darfur aren’t blood-drenched machete-wielding genocidal killers but just Cookie Monsters whom we haven’t given enough cookies. I’m not saying there’s a direct line between Bert & Ernie and Barack & Hillary . . . well, actually I am.
You go, Mark! I never could stand Big Bird myself, being more of a Cookie Monster fan.