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."
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?