Andrew Sullivan Suffers Obama Panic

And for good reason. Looking at the numbers from the Pew poll Mollie cited earlier, Sullivan, who has been the president’s most relentless backer in the mainstream media for more than five years now, wonders if Obama’s poor performance in the first debate will cost him reelection.

Sullivan’s article is the lead story on Drudge today, and I think the article captures a sense of the panic that is setting in on the left as the latest poll results show, conclusively, that Romney has seized the momentum in this race.

“I’m trying to rally some morale, but I’ve never seen a candidate this late in the game, so far ahead, just throw in the towel in the way Obama did last week – throw away almost every single advantage he had with voters and manage to enable his opponent to seem as if he cares about the middle class as much as Obama does. How do you erase that imprinted first image from public consciousness: a president incapable of making a single argument or even a halfway decent closing statement?”

What Sullivan doesn’t say, and what he probably doesn’t even realize, is that it is people like him, who failed to subject Obama to reasonable scrutiny for the last four years, who made the president’s devastating collapse possible. Sullivan, along with the president’s other admirers in the media, created and fed the image of Obama as a transcendent political figure, and marketed the hype of Hope & Change relentlessly.

Sullivan’s influential November 2007 Atlantic cover story on Obama even contained the word “transcend” in the sub-headline: “Is Iraq Vietnam? Who really won in 2000? Which side are you on in the culture wars? These questions have divided the Baby Boomers and distorted our politics. One candidate could transcend them.”

One…could transcend…

Sounds like the language they used in The Matrix to refer to the savior of the world.

What if Obama never was the world-historic leader that his admirers made him out to be? Sullivan suggests that Obama is apathetic or even lazy and consequently was unprepared for the first debate. Sullivan may be right as far as that goes. But I’m waiting for someone on the left to step up and admit the role the Democratically-aligned media and Hollywood machine played in setting up Obama’s rise and notably unscrutinzed four-year reign.

They exalted him, and created the myths that helped shelter him from reasonable scrutiny. Their devotion was so absolute that they often failed to criticize his decisions even when he broke promises he had given to his liberal base. (Guantanamo, for example, is still very much open for business.)

Nothing Obama did or didn’t do was open to criticism. Turns out, it didn’t take much teleprompter-free TV to deflate the image of Obama that his liberal admirers had spent the last four years building. They engaged in myth-making and mistook it for journalism.

As the saying goes, The higher you fly, the harder you fall.

Politically, the result was a 12 point shift in Romeny’s favor virtually overnight–and, as Sullivan puts it, “an unprecedented reversal for a candidate in October.” Romney did well, but was his performance so extraordinary that it alone explains the polls we’re seeing? Or were the images of and expectations for Obama built up so high and so far beyond the reality of the man that a collapse of this kind was just waiting to happen?

The question is, if Obama loses, will Sullivan and others in the media who have supported him so unobjectively for the last four years be willing to acknowledge the critical role they have played in his demise?

  1. Crow

    The notion in Sullivan’s piece that Obama’s administration has represented a reality-based gov’t is as laughable as it is revealing of the deeply self-deluded state of many Obama’s adoring press lackies.

  2. Illiniguy
    Nathan Harden:

    The question is, if Obama loses, will Sullivan and others in the media who have supported him so unobjectively for the last four years be willing to acknowledge the critical role they have played in his demise? · · 6 minutes ago

    You can’t be serious.

  3. Crow

    The line in Sullivan’s piece about Obama’s failure to deliver ‘the performance his supporters deserve’ is equally stomach-churning in the image it conjures of men on their knees awating the coming-in-glory of political salvation. Contra Sullivan, Obama delivered precisely the performance his supporters have long deserved–a rebuke from reality.

  4. Keith Rice

    I can tell you exactly when they’ll own up to their contribution to the delusion: When there are no consequences to themselves. It will start when one of their number jumps ship and starts blaming others and gets some traction. A few may be marginalized in the process, but it’s the Nuremberg trials, don’t expect much justice.

  5. Sandy

    The answer is “Not a chance.”   This is about survival.   WaPo’s Dana Milbank  started the ball rolling with this column, in which he castigates Obama and exonerates the press:  For the past four years, he has worked assiduously to avoid being questioned, maintaining a regal detachment from the media and other sources of dissent and skeptical inquiry.   

    They deserve each other.

  6. Paul Dougherty
    Highlama: I can tell you exactly when they’ll own up to their contribution to the delusion: When there are no consequences to themselves. It will start when one of their number jumps ship and starts blaming others and gets some traction. A few may be marginalized in the process, but it’s the Nuremberg trials, don’t expect much justice. · 1 minute ago

    Agreed, it will probably be much like the Democrat’s support for the Iraq war. We will just wake up one morning and the journalists will just pretend that they were never complicit in the “Competance Cover-up”. The silence will be deafening when the question of accountability is raised.

  7. Joseph Stanko
    Nathan Harden: Romney did well, but was his performance so extraordinary that it alone explains the polls we’re seeing? Or were the images of and expectations for Obama built up so high and so far beyond the reality of the man that a collapse of this kind was just waiting to happen?

    I think it was partly the Obama bubble bursting, and partly that a lot of voters got their first extended look at Romney and saw he was nothing like the straw-man monster they had heard about.  For instance, he’re an actual comment from my Facebook feed:

    Well, as an undecided voter, I have to say that Romney impressed me more than I expected him to. He was very articulate and consistent in his message, and didn’t sound nearly as wildly right-wing as the newspapers make him seem.

  8. PaulAZ

    Ha!  Sullivan will blame racism.

    We’re witnessing Paul Rahe’s preference cascade in action, all it took was the unhideable Obama to be revealed to all.  All the suppressed anger/ annoyance/ questioning/ disappointment was always there, Romney pulled back the curtain and the Wizard was shown for what he is:  The Great Mediocrity!

     

    Love it!

  9. RightinChicago

    I don’t think they’ll own up to anything. I can see them turning on Obama’s campaign like rabid dogs. They won’t attack Obama personally, but Axelrod will get it. They’ll probably lay blame on Hillary for screwing up Benghazi and Obama’s foreign policy blunders in general. The electorate will be scolded as racist, ignorant, and dupes that fell for Romney’s “lies”. Besides, they’ll be busy savaging Romney from Day One. I wouldn’t count on two seconds worth of self-scrutiny from the press. Like a cornered and wounded animal, they will lash out.

  10. Percival

    Someday, someone will write a play on the last four years that will make King Lear look like Peter Pan.

    Shakespeare would have killed for material like this.

  11. Joseph Stanko
    RightinChicago: The electorate will be scolded as racist, ignorant, and dupes that fell for Romney’s “lies”. Besides, they’ll be busy savaging Romney from Day One. 

    But of course.  No need to wait for Day One, it’s already there at the end of Sullivan’s article:

    If the lies and propaganda of the last four years work even after Obama had managed to fight back solidly against them to get a clear and solid lead in critical states, then reality-based government is over in this country again. We’re back to Bush-Cheney, but more extreme. 

  12. Kermadec
    Percival: Someday, someone will write a play on the last four years that will makeKing Lear look likePeter Pan.

    Shakespeare would have killed for material like this. · 3 minutes ago

    First as tragedy and then as farce, as one of the Marx brothers once quipped.

  13. Douglas

    Sullivan is a whiny, hysterical little girl. I used to enjoy his writing years ago, when he was actually thoughtful (and back when almost everything he wrote wasn’t about gay). Everything he writes these days is a swing for the fences, most of the time ending badly.

  14. Guruforhire

    Conservatives keep missing the story there: read the phrase “reality bases government” and work backwards from there.

  15. Mama Toad
    Mel Foil: Obama’s training methods only work in SNL skits:

    http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/little-chocolate-donuts/280260 · 1 hour ago

    In my rugby club, we used to call beer and doritos the breakfast of ex-champions… But little chocolate donuts sound yummy too…

  16. George Savage

    ONewswk.jpgThat sound you hear is the implosion of Andrew Sullivan’s considerable Reality Distortion Field.  Just look at the cover of the current issue of Newsweek (remember when weekly news magazines were actually relevant and therefore widely read?).  I just had to snap a photo.  

    I later read the article online (for free, of course) and considered taking it apart in a Ricochet post.  But every bit of Sullivan’s analysis was so bizarre and disconnected from reality, even before considering the shellacking the One suffered last week, that I gave up before I started.

    New title suggestion:  The Democrat’s Second Carter, Why Obama Deserves to Lose

  17. Indaba

    Sullivan is an excellent writer but he is carried away by the dream of what Obama could have been.

    Imagine if Obama could have smoothed the Culture wars between the Boomers, and brought in gay marriage, and made the Middle East love America? Imagine if all of the Taliban had picked flowers (but not poppies) and put one in each barrel of a soldier’s gun to the soundtrack of Hair? Imagine all the people….

    OK, slap to the face, back to the reality of people. It ‘s messy out there. America seems to have been on some delay reaction sabbatical. Time to get back to real life, which is far from The West Wing.

    i hope Andrew reviews political theory And brings a fresh view to his writing, with more heft, more historic depth. He does have a role. He does need to help America and the world and the Right and the Left look at the gay community. But also the gay community look at itself too. We all have a long way to go still. 

  18. Copperfield

    I read Sullivan’s breakdown earlier and just kept thinking what one witty Ricocheteer commented about MSNBC after the debate last week: 

    His tears are like candy to me. 

    Basking in the pure schadenfreud. Mmmm, it tastes so good!  

  19. Valiuth

    I was just watching the Matrix last weekend and all I could think was, boy Morpheus must have confused Keanu for Obama because he keeps calling him the One. 

    What I hope happens is a if Obama looses democrats will yell at him like Obi Wan in Revenge of the Sith.

    “You were meant to destroy the Republicans, not help them get elected!” 

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