In the days since last week’s presidential debate, the Democrats have fallen into a very peculiar sort of disarray. Four days on, they are still, and apparently on purpose, sustaining the “Romney won big” story by furiously making excuses for Obama’s poor performance. He didn’t do that badly, but listening to Obama himself, his campaign, and his bewildered surrogates the last few days you would think that Obama was utterly destroyed by some kind of evil genius who was equal parts master actor, pathological liar, and bully. You should watch the debate again to see how silly this is. And it’s hard to understand why the Democrats continue to advance this story. I bet that if you polled people today about who won and lost the debate, Obama would do even worse than he did in Wednesday night’s instant polls, thanks to his and his campaign’s continuing self flagellation.
The Democrats also don’t seem to have fully considered what their excuses are communicating about Romney’s agenda. Romney advanced a series of principles and policies in the debate, and rather than argue that these are bad for the country, the Democrats are basically arguing that Romney’s ideas are too good to be true—so good, moderate, and sensible that they couldn’t really be Mitt Romney’s, and therefore that Romney is not telling the truth about his agenda. These charges of dishonesty aren’t just false (though they are false), they’re also downright strange. A Republican candidate stands before 60 million voters and commits to an agenda and his opponent responds that this isn’t really his agenda, and that voters should instead look to Democratic attack ads and liberal think-tank papers to learn what the Republican is proposing. That’s the strategy?