I was mildly amused by the reaction of liberal pundits to the carnage Mitt Romney inflicted during Wednesday night's presidential debate. The left has been almost uniformly shocked at the president's poor showing and uniformly astonished at Mitt Romney's impressario performance.
I think both reactions show how out of touch the left is with reality and how much they've been gulled by their own mythologizing.
Ever since Barack Obama first strode onto the national stage at the 2004 Democratic convention, liberals have apotheosized the man, creating a myth and an aura that was out of all proportion to his actual accomplishments and record. Adducing no evidence to support their claims, Mr. Obama's media acolytes nevertheless insisted that he was the most brilliant human being ever to campaign for high office. He was an eloquent policy expert who mastered the minutiae of every issue, and who would bring peace, tranquility and renewed respect for the U.S. to a troubled land. His administration would banish lobbyists and achieve historic levels of transparency, racial comity, and bipartisanship. Nor would any taint of corruption ever attach to the administration led by the man who was sending tingles up the legs of television pundits and inducing fainting spells among young women at his rallies.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, was a stiff, wooden, doofus or, alternatively, a cunningly malevolent Darth Vadar. A rich white guy who was not only a felon, a tax cheat, a murderer of men's wives, but, perhaps worse, inarticulate and geeky.
The prospect of these two meeting on stage in mortal combat caused liberal hearts to pound and mouths to water. They couldn't wait to see their god-like gladiator fell the evil, insipid, goofball Romney with a mere word from his divine lips. Their anticipation of the impending rout and their scorn for Mr. Obama's adversary approximated, perhaps, how the Philistines must have felt when the Israelites sent out an unarmed David to face their great Goliath. And likewise was their utter mortification at the result. The debacle was completely unanticipated because the left had come to believe their own caricatures of both men. They created an image of both Obama and Romney that the former could never live up to and which completely misrepresented the latter.
Now they're bitter, and, as Matthew Continetti writes in a scintillating column at Free Beacon, they're turning on their own like a bunch of cannibals. Yet the liberal punditocracy is as much to blame as is their humiliated champion. Nothing in Mr. Obama's past could have given anyone who wasn't blinded by his superficial charm the idea that he was really anything more than a very lucky community organizer who rose to the highest office in the land in much the same fashion that Chauncy Gardner rose to prominence in the movie Being There.
Mr. Obama's votaries are now reaching for even the most risible excuses. Al Gore blamed it on Denver's altitude. Bob Woodward suspects Obama had something weighing heavily upon his mind. But the fact is that Mr. Obama was forced into the unfortunate position of having to defend an indefensible record without the benefit of a prepared speech or a complaisant media to run interference for him. He had to rely solely on his true abilities and so did Mr. Romney. The results and the contrast were pretty stark.