Chris Matthews looked as though he saw the men with the nets coming for him, the tingles evidently having traveled from his leg and lodging in his frontal cortex. An astonished Bill Maher tweeted that, gee, this Obama fellow appears to need a teleprompter to speak coherently.
On MSNBC, Al Sharpton’s noggin resembled Thunder, the third Fury, who at the end of Big Trouble in Little China just realized his master Lo Pan lay dead. Rachel Maddow could do no better than echo the fans of the team that just lost the World Series, when she said Mr Obama should have won because he is the better man.
Mr Obama himself was reduced to pulling out a preprepared joke on Donald Trump—-Donald Trump!, for all love—a quip so bad that it landed with a squish and which everybody immediately pretended never happened.
Yes, overall it went well for the forces of Good.
But here’s the curious thing. This morning we hear voices aplenty saying, “Where was this Romney hiding?”, “Who is this guy?”, “Why hasn’t he acted like this before?” and the like.
My dears, the Romney of last night was the Romney of last week, and of last week, and the Romney we will have next debate. So why the widespread misperception? The only change was last night we saw him without his ever-present media filter.
Strike that: no. Without most of his media filter.
Did you, like everybody else, feel that Romney ran away with the microphone and dominated the airtime? That he went way over his alloted time? Not so. In fact, Mr Obama held the floor four to six more minutes than Romney, a substantial margin. How could this be?
Jim Lehrer did his best to interrupt Romney several times, pestering him with small questions, an act he tried only once with Obama.
In this debate, the mainstream media was forced to watch from the sidelines, and silently, too—although from watching Twitter you formed the idea that one of them was going to be like that guy in the crowd who saw an opposing player running unimpeded for a touchdown and who burst forth onto the field to tackle the ball carrier.
We weren’t bothered by Lehrer’s standard technique because he was one lone man, and a feeble one, too. If this debate would have been structured so that a panel of media sat in magisterial judgment (their usual pose), they would have peppered Romney with questions like, “Why is Mr Obama the best president we’ve ever had?” and then cut him off before he could finish a sentence.
This was the real Romney. This is the man the public were finally allowed to see. What will be the effect?
Update More proof of the conjecture: journalists of the left are pummeling Lehrer for not “controlling” the debate better, i.e. shutting Romney down and bolstering Obama.
Update Corrected time spent by Obama talking; there are various estimates. All say Obama had more minutes.