When Bill Maher has declared Romney the winner, I guess he's the winner. Maybe I just saw these two fellows for what I saw them as - Romney a smart businessman, well prepared to discuss finances, and probably a decent fellow with manners, up against Obama who is really only good in a prepared setting, and who greatly resents not being obeyed at the snap of his fingers.
The telling moments were when they were both interrupted by Jim Lehrer. It happened more often to Romney, but when it did, Romney made it clear he was going to respond to Obama's repeated attacks. He was firm, but he wasn't rude. When Obama was interrupted he got almost irritated, and at one point accused Lehrer of 'interrupting' him. You could tell a difference right there. One leadership, one resentful of being crossed.
But now we're in full damage control mode. My guesses for what you will see:
1. The MSM will focus on how Romney was really wrong and really lying, and what must Obama do to call him out on all those lies and fallacies. I expect Obama's people, like David Axelrod, will be given blank checks in this regard, rather than forcing him to confront possible problems with Obama's performance.
2. Big Bird. Just like the 90s, when Gingrich famously talked of cutting funding to PBS, expect pictures of Big Bird in a homeless shelter Oscar the Grouch panhandling.
3. Excuses. It was Obama's anniversary (I wonder if they agreed to have it the night of his anniversary just so, if Obama did poorly, they could point and say it's because he wanted to be with his lovely wife). Romney got away with lies. The moderator was lousy. Bad atmospherics. Whatever.
4. Fact checking. I don't know if Republicans are liars, incompetent, stupid, or what, but they always seem to be more wrong more often than the Democrats. I imagine all the 'fact checking' will benefit Obama. Just a hunch.
5. The Catholic Blogosphere. This will be fun. The Catholic blogosphere, usually a fraternal organization, has devoted much time in these last years to insisting that what the Bishops really mean is that we should call curses down on both parties and vote for a third party candidate instead (usually, but not always, Ron Paul). There is a subtle 'people who really love Jesus will clearly vote the way I know the Bishops should have meant you should vote'. And they've been gaining steam in recent months with two less than desirable candidates. To me, they're still the same candidates as before the debate, so nothing has really changed. But those who thought it was getting easier to call for the third party option will swing into full combat mode, making it clear that any arguments against third party options or for either major party is nothing shy of service to the Devil and his minions.
No links yet, as this is just beginning Just a few guesses based on past behavior where last night's debate performance will lead.