(I posted this earlier today at Instapundit; I’m cross-posting here if you’d like to comment.)
In the middle of September, when Glenn linked to one of Peter Ingemi’s patented “Ride right through them, they’re demoralized as hell!” posts at his Da Tech Guy blog, my first thought, especially after the media’s attempt to create a “September Surprise” for Romney by playing, en masse, Mother Jones’ “47 Percent” clip as some sort of death blow smoking gun, was…well, I want to believe.
Then came Romney demoralizing the hell out of MSNBC during the first debate, the New Yorker cover, the surging polls, and now Joe Biden’s weird performance last night, a cross between The Joker, Dennis Hopper’s nitrous-fueled Frank Booth in Blue Velvet, and if you’ll pardon the insult to the two aforementioned men, Al Gore.
Regarding Biden’s performance, Peggy Noonan, who praised Obama in 2008, and would normally love Biden when he’s in Goofy Ol’ Uncle Joe Mode, writes, “National Democrats keep confusing strength with aggression and command with sarcasm. Even the latter didn’t work for Mr. Biden. The things he said had the rhythm and smirk of sarcasm without the cutting substance.”
Along similar lines as Noonan’s observation, Richard Fernandez, my fellow PJM colleague, described Biden’s style as a reincarnated “Berserker” last night, noting that Biden played on that weird exaggerated macho angry pose that so many of the left seem to affect:
The Democratic debate strategy was apparently to put on a show in which Biden would visually dominate Ryan. This will have two effects. The first is it will convince the Democrats that they “won” the debate. But it will probably not convince anyone else. On the contrary, Biden seems to have infuriated all the conservatives who were watching the proceedings. The basic effect of the Biden-Ryan debate on the Democrats is to reassure themselves that they are not sissies.
Biden is doing a war chant for the benefit of the base. They are making the poor old man dance. From some of the tweets, you get the sense that Biden is taking the act a little too far, past eccentric and into gibbering.
Chris Rock @chrisrockoz
Joe Biden should just reach over and slap Ryan in the face and say ‘Don’t forget, Osama Bin Laden is Dead, General Motors is alive’ #debate
VANITY FAIR @VanityFair
Biden now calls Romney his “friend.” What do you think Biden thinks the definition of “friend” is?
Markos Moulitsas @markos
Funny seeing manly-men conservatives whining that Biden is being too rough and aggressive.
How will this net out? Biden will have not have succeeded in showing Ryan to be unworthy, a bully, unstatesmanlike, or arrogant — that was the principal pitfall that Ryan sought to avoid. But Biden might have convinced enough conservatives that he is a buffoon. The Democrats must be thoroughly demoralized if they found that spectacle bracing. My guess is that Biden has brought the president no net gain.
Concurrent to Richard’s post, at Ricochet, Clarke Judge watched the debate and asked, “Will the Bottom Drop Out for the Democratic Ticket?” Judge writes, “Biden channeled the now defunct Air America, the leftist talk radio that was full of rage, a tone that put them out of business.”
Before the debate, Mike Flynn of Big Government posited that Biden challenge was to “Keep Down-Ballot Dems From Jumping Ship”:
Biden needs to go beyond his tendency to misspeak and make gaffes and nail a coherent vision for Obama’s second term. If he doesn’t, down-ballot Dems running for the Senate or the House will start to aggressively move away from the national ticket. Obama may do a better job in the debate next week, but without a powerful assist from Biden on Thursday, many Dems won’t be able to wait that long.
Polling margins in many high-profile races are narrowing in the wake of Romney’s epic debate performance. There is clearly nothing coming from the Obama campaign until next week, when he tries to undo his disastrous debate. So, it all settles on Biden. If he doesn’t clearly beat Ryan, Democrat candidates will likely try to strike out on their own path for November. At the end of the day, a political career trumps political parties.
There’s one theme that ties all of these posts together: if you’re posturing because you’re worried about locking down your base and propping up down ballot races in the middle of October – you’ve got big trouble. Add to that Stephanie Cutter’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day yesterday, along with the Most Powerful Man in the Free World clutching onto Big Bird like he’s Radar O’Reilly’s teddy bear — to the point where even Jon Stewart is worrying — and you’re seeing a collective bunker-time flight into fantasy. And no wonder Stewart is raising an eyebrow, as the administration’s embrace of a surreal TV icon seems eerily reminiscent of Congressional Democrats in 2010 asking Stewart’s colleague Stephen Colbert to pop in for a congressional visit – a month before they lost their congressional majority, at a time when they had to have had plenty of internal polling data to all know the thumpin’ was on its way. (The administration once again underbussing inconvenient segments of their base is also highly reminiscent of 2010, as I mentioned yesterday.)
Does that mean that Romney-Ryan has it in the bag? Absolutely. Not. (The cockiness – do not acquire it, to paraphrase our Insta-host’s frequent refrain.) But it does indicate all the signs of a base on the left that’s demoralized as hell. Ride right through ‘em, as Da Tech Guy would say.
Update: DaTechGuy himself weighs in on last night here.