Last night was the final episode of the reality series “Big Bird, Binders, and Bayonets.” I came away thinking that the President was much more knowledgeable and coherent, but that it wasn’t as decisive as I would have liked. But the fallout says otherwise. The Right is visibly dispirited. The best Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal could say is that Mittens would make a “perfectly plausible” President. Basically, he didn’t have a psychotic break and accuse Grandpa Bob of putting ants in the porridge, so he’ll do.
The less stable elements of the Right are not so cautious. Glenn Beck tweeted, “I am glad to know that mitt agrees with Obama so much. No, really. Why vote?” Other tweets show righties going through the five stages of grief.
It was early in the proceedings here on Monday night when I was struck with a horrible vision. It may have been right about that moment in the final presidential debate when Willard Romney — who, for most of the past two years, has been the most bellicose Mormon since they disbanded the Nauvoo Legion — looked deeply into the camera’s eye and, inches from actual sincerity, said, “We can’t kill our way out of this mess.” Or, perhaps, it was when, in a discussion of his newfound dedication to comprehensive solutions to complex problems, he announced his devotion to “a peaceful planet,” or when he cited a group of Arab scholars in support of loosening the grip of theocratic tyranny in the Middle East.
It was the horrible vision of John Bolton in four-point restraints.
The “horses and bayonets” line is the most talked-about part of the debate. This morning Paul Ryan said he didn’t understand the “bayonets” reference. He was not wearing a T-shirt that said “Because I am a moron,” but he might as well have, because most of the rest of the nation seems to have got it.
[Update: Ryan’s comment was even dumber than I had realized. Ryan said that “to compare modern American battleships and Navy with bayonets, I just don’t understand that comparison.” He thinks we still use battleships?]
(BTW, my dad really was in the horse cavalry, at Fort Riley, nearly 75 years ago. After Pearl Harbor the horses were put out to pasture and the cavalrymen reassigned. My dad ended up being an airplane mechanic. Notice that since then all the battleships have been put out to pasture, too, so to speak. I’m surprised Mittens doesn’t want to bring them back.)
Let us now look at the horse race overall. I keep running into news stories that say Romney is still surging, but Sam Wang and Nate Silver have both been saying the surge stalled and began to recede about a week ago. This morning’s tracking polls have Obama in the lead with the exception of Gallup, which has been an outlier lately. But there is no better indicator that Mitt’s recent surge has stopped than the fact righties are starting to fall back on poll denial again (or, at least, Nate Silver denial).