Debate Debate

So, I’m hearing this morning that despite the fact that President Obama clearly won last night’s foreign policy debate, he actually lost:

Josh Marshall tweeted that reporter friends of his are saying Mitt’s playing 12 dimensional chess. I guess that makes sense since he has basically morphed himself into Obama 08 in these debates. (Yes he can!)

The right wingers are working the refs big time as you can see by this exchange I had last week with Jeff Greenfield:

Today’s update:

Yes indeed. Michael Tomasky writes about this in his piece this morning:

Today may be the most important single day of the campaign. Obama won the debate. Everyone this side of Charles Krauthammer agrees that Romney was general and platitudinous and not that engaged. That makes two out of three. You might think that would mean momentum. And yet the conventional wisdom is congealing right now—it is hardening this morning, minute by minute—that Romney is going to win the election.

From Playbook, which distills the c.w.: President Obama won last night’s foreign-policy debate on substance, in snap polls and with the pundits, but Mitt Romney did well enough that for the first time in six years, Romney folks emailed, “We’re going to win.”

In reality, Obama is the favorite. The state maps still make him so. Nate Silver, the only person who takes every single poll into account (plus loads of other indicators), still has him so. This emerging c.w. is built more on spin and smell, which the media are starting to buy. One piece that Mike Allen bought this morning in that Playbook item: A Romney aide told him New Hampshire leans their way.

[…]

At worst from Obama’s perspective, the thing is tied. As far as we know, looking at all the averages, on a state-by-state basis he’s ahead. If you assume seven or eight states in play and go through all the permutations, Obama often wins by taking just two or three of them. Yes, a lot hinges on Ohio. But he can win even without it (he needs a strong inside straight, but it’s possible). Romney absolutely cannot.

Conservatives know all this. But they’re constructing an opposite reality. This is at the heart of everything going on right now, I think. It’s what they can do that liberals can’t really do. They’ve always done it. “Romney is going to win” in 2012 isn’t so different from “We’ll be hailed as liberators” in 2003. They say something and try to make it so, and the media go for it time and time again.

And… they are.

This is the right’s great advantage. They have their own media, (which the Democrats stupidly validate every chance they get) and they have a boatload of professional spinmeisters ready to instantly hit the talking points. They have been at this for a very long time and they are probably better at doing it than anything else — especially governing.

To me, it was clear that Obama won the debate. He was much more fluent on the issues, and obviously truly engaged. This is what he cares about. Indeed, everyone should remember that until the fall of 2008, domestic issues weren’t at the top of the list and Obama made his bones on his foreign policy promise. The country was looking for someone who would get us out of the stinking mess Bush’s bellicose neo-cons had created. It was only toward the end that everyone focused on the economy and frankly, Obama had a steep learning curve. Luckily for him (and the world) McCain was simply unintelligible.

Now, there’s no doubt his vision has shifted. It’s not that he didn’t say the same things, (people always thought he was more of a peacenik than he clearly said he was.) But he is now fully engaged in a series of covert wars than simply didn’t show up on the radar screen in 2008. (Or, really, in the campaign of 2012.) It’s different than Bush’s loud and boisterous muscle flexing, to be sure. But it’s also different than what a lot of liberals thought they were getting.

None of that seems to be salient in this campaign. I have no idea what Mitt really thinks about foreign policy, but the fact that he has the entire neo-con establishment (including psychopaths like John Bolton!) advising him, tells me that it will not go well. I’m guessing covert wars, plus Iran and God knows what else. (Covert action just isn’t as satisfying as “projecting strength” through chest pounding.)

Romneybot One, which was online until the first debate, makes Dick Cheney look like Dennis Kucinich. Romneybot Two seems to be trying to be Dennis Kucinich. (All that talk about “peace” last night much have made the hardcore wingnuts shrivel up like raisins.) But the handlers know that they’re (finally) in the bag which allows Mitt to pretend to be kinder and gentler in order to corral a few stray women and drag himself over the line.

Most importantly, in the final stage of any campaign, they always go for the bandwagon effect. They even go to great lengths to fake out the Democrats by playing in states they can’t win and feigning confidence in odd ways. And, needless to say, they are whispering bogus poll numbers in the media’s ear in the hopes of getting them to push the “inevitability” button.

Here you go:

But never fear. Everyone will eventually agree that it’s liberals’ fault for not clapping loud enough. That much we can be sure of.

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