Don’t look now, but the Presidential race seems to be neck-in-neck with just 16 days to go. Nervous? Think how they feel. Both Romney’s and Obama’s campaigns undoubtedly spent last week gearing up for the final push with phone banks, GOTV, last-minute ad blitzes, election fraud monitor training, etc.
Rightbloggers spent much of it arguing over who won the second Presidential debate, and why what Obama said about Benghazi was not about Benghazi. And that was among their more intelligent efforts.
At WorldNet Daily, Joe Kovacs told the troops in advance of Tuesday’s town-hall-style Hofstra University debate how to perceive it: “MEDIA: OBAMA ‘WINS DEBATE BEFORE IT EVEN STARTS'” he headlined. “…left-leaning reporters and analysts have their Obama-as-victor copy already written in advance.” Kovacs’ source was Rush Limbaugh.
To make his argument even more airtight, Kovacs quoted “former debate moderator and left-leaning journalist Carole Simpson,” who said Obama had the edge going into the second debate — an uncontroversial statement, as the town hall format would seem to favor the community organizer over the plutocrat. Matt Hadro of Newsbusters also jumped in: “Liberal journalist Carole Simpson is at it again.” Neither mentioned that the 70-year-old Simpson is pretty much retired from journalism, including liberal journalism.
When it was over, polls by Gallup, CNN, Reuters et alia showed that normal people appeared to give Obama a slight edge. Rightbloggers either didn’t see it that way, or did their best to make sure you didn’t.
Some, like Bryan Preston of The PJ Tatler, bravely held the party line: “Mitt Romney Wins Debate on Smooth Presidential Performance, Obama’s Ignorance,” he said. “…Romney is clearly the more informed and presidential of the two candidates. He can speak in numbers and facts, while Obama speaks in mere rhetoric.” (Note to budding reviewers: Always make sure you stick in a couple of obvious pull-quotes.)
Others had a harder time keeping it up. “ONCE AGAIN, OBAMA’S RECORD WINS IT FOR ROMNEY,” headlined David Harsanyi at Human Events, but in the body copy he hedged: “On style points it was close,” he wrote, “but it’s unlikely anyone won by a wide enough margin to alter the fundamentals of the race.” (Hansanyi held out hope for the next debate: “It would be interesting,” he suggested, “if someone – perhaps at the next Townhall debate – would ask Obama to define what the free enterprise means to him.” Surely Romney can afford to hire someone to do that.)
“I will say that President Obama did better this week, but that doesn’t mean ‘he won,'” said Shane Vander Hart at the Des Moines Register. “I’m not going to declare Romney the winner either.” Well, that clears that up.
“I think Mitt Romney won the debate, but not by much,” allowed RedState’s Erick Erickson. Then he appeared to read out loud the scratched-out parts of his column notes: “While more thought Barack Obama won the debate, largely because his last performance was so bad, clear majorities outside the margin of error thought Mitt Romney would be best on the economy, jobs, the deficit, etc. That suggests Romney did win, but people viewed Obama’s debate performance as an improvement over the first one.”
Erickson then left the world of spin for that of clairvoyance, telling us that “[Obama] actually wanted the audience to believe that the economy is going gangbusters now as a reason for $4.00 gasoline — a delusion the undecided voters clearly did not buy.” Perhaps Erickson only saw a reenactment of the debate, in which the quiet, well-behaved audience of the event we saw were replaced with enraged mooks throwing trash and beer cans. Erickson was also pleased that “Romney, at one point, commanded the President shut up and sit down and the President did so like a dog told to sit. It was masterful.” If the election doesn’t go his way, Erickson can always warm himself with his memories.
Probably the wisest course was to shrug the debate off, as did for example Doug Gibson at the Standard-Examiner (“Obama edged Romney in the debate, but does it really matter?”). But there was still some pedantry to spare, as rightbloggers attacked moderator Candy Crowley for backing up Obama when Romney disputed his contention that the President had referred to the Beghazi attack as an act of terror the day after it happened.
The schtick became a rightblogger word game: Though Obama clearly said “no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation” in that address, rightbloggers insisted he was referring to other acts of terror which did not include Benghazi. Reasoning for this interpretation varied in particulars, if not in absurdity.
“From the context, it was clear that his reference to ‘terror’ was general,” sniffed Henry D’Andrea at the Washington Times. “Not once did he apply that characterization to Benghazi.”
“It’s clear that the president only made an oblique reference to ‘acts of terror’ — and not an explicit, purposeful condemnation of a premeditated attack,” said Donald Douglas at American Power. “The exact wording provides presidential wiggle room, and then progressives will just continue to shill for the administration’s cover up.”
“The reference to ‘acts of terror'” was “plural,” explicated loyal Romney retainer Jennifer Rubin, and thus could not refer to “the singular attack on Benghazi,” but must have been “in reference to 9/11/01 and other jihadist attacks,” since “plural,” as every good grammarian knows, means “anything but Benghazi.”
“He’d also spent the previous two paragraphs discussing the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath,” threw in Alana Goodman of Commentary. “‘Acts of terror’ could have just as easily been a reference to that.” Could have? Alana, don’t be a weak sister!
In a Twitter argument, Goodman’s editor John Podhoretz suggested that because Obama referred to the attack as a “senseless act of violence,” he couldn’t have also called it an act of terror, since these are opposites.
This kind of nonsense was too much for some rightbloggers. “Later fact checkers can clarify the dispute between the two men over Obama’s contention that his Rose Garden address on 9/12 called the Benghazi attack a terror attack,” bailed the normally more sure of himself Thomas Lifson at American Thinker. “But moderator Candy Crowley entered the dispute, essentially calling Obama correct, the clearest indication of her bias.”
Indeed, attacking Crowley for confirming Obama’s remarks (thus committing an “act of journalistic terrorism,” being “duped by David Axelrod to do President Obama’s bidding,” etc) was a comfortable fallback for many of the brethren.
The chivalrous Robert Stacy McCain pointed out that “not one” of his rightblogger comrades “felt it necessary to point out that Candy Crowley is fat, and I’m happy for that, because too many people resort to such cheap insults when they’re angry, and it hurts the feelings of fat people everywhere. This kind of cruelty toward BBWs and plumpers also bothers ‘chubby chasers’ like Dan Collins, whose appreciation of Rubenesque ladies is so often misunderstood.” One can easily imagine McCain and Erickson making an evening of it.
Later on CNN Crowley said about that moment: “We knew that the President had said, you know, these acts of terror won’t stand or whatever the whole quote was,” but “right after that I did turn around and say [to Romney] ‘you’re totally correct that they spent two weeks telling us this was about a tape, and there was this riot outside the Benghazi consulate, which there wasn’t, so he was right in the main, he just picked the wrong word…”
This merely recaps what Crowley said on TV, but rightbloggers reacted as if she had retracted it; their preferred nomenclature was “walk-back” (“vid of Crowley walk-back,” “Candy Crowley, walking back her headline-grabbing attempt to protect Obama,” “Candy Crowley Walks It Back,” etc). They couldn’t go with “apology” because Crowley didn’t apologize, which offended them greatly.
“Who is Crowley to decide whether or not someone picked the wrong word?” demanded The Lonely Conservative. “I think President Obama chose plenty of wrong words after the terrorist attack on Benghazi. For weeks he and other officials chose the wrong words.” That’s how you pick wrong-words, libtards! “Romney ‘picked the wrong word!’ howled John Nolte at Breitbart.com. “…This is a scandal; a total and complete media scandal committed by a woman who promised to violate her contract and to insert herself into the debate,” etc. “She owes Romney and the country a more forthright correction and apology,” screamed Rubin.
Looking for a unique angle, we guess, Kevin DuJan of HillBuzz devoted a column to explaining how Saturday Night Live was in the tank for Obama because its recent debate parody included too many Romney jokes. Sample: “Obama says that Romney better ‘bring your magic Mormon underpants.’ That’s odd for them to say… could this be the way the Left gets this stuff going, but having SNL do it? And then, the hope would be that the cubicle workers joke about it on Monday… The big reason I am taking the time to recap SNL for you is to illustrate how the Left uses this ‘comedy program’ to germinate the memes it needs to attack conservatives.” In a future column, DuJan will explain why the Kennedy family killed Chris Farley.
This semantic subterfuge eventually ran its course and rightbloggers focused on other strategies in support of their candidate, former RINO Mitt Romney.
A special unit of the brethren, for instance, has gone on Ooga-Booga duty — that is, circulating the old story that American blacks plan to riot if Obama loses. (To be fair, some offered evidence for their case: The New American, for example, wrote that “One month prior to the 2008 election, James Carville said that an Obama loss ‘would be very, very, very dramatic out there,’ leading some to believe he was predicting riots.” Also, in answer to liberals who complained that this was just race-baiting, The New American said liberals actually believe the same thing, and quoted in evidence Ann Coulter.)
Others just nibbled at the edges of racial politics. Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds suggested, in his usual coy way, that black-on-white crime in American was rising because Obama “never liked the suburbs,” hint hint. And Matt Welch, of that wing of conservatism known for some reason lost to history as libertarianism, complained that Obama and his comrades were “othering” Mitt Romney. “Democratic othering of Romney and Republicans has become central to their identity,” wrote Welch, “to the point where one of the biggest applause lines from the party’s opening-night keynote speaker was that ‘Mitt Romney, quite simply, doesn’t get it.'”
Gasp! Plus Welch heard another Democrat calling Republicans “ignorant, close-minded assholes.” Can you imagine white conservatives using slurs like that? Also on the case: Forbes‘ John Tillman, who denounced “The Unctuous, Impoverishing Bigotry Of Class Warfare” and “the vilification of those most successful in America,” and compared mockery of rich people to racist jokes.
No, we don’t see how that helps, either. But you have to put yourself in their place. If Romney wins, rightbloggers can say it was because a majority of Americans believe the same crackpot stuff they believe. And if Romney loses, they can always blame it on black people.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 21, 2012