Final Debate Thoughts: Obama’s Cowbell

After the utter disaster of the first debate, it’s almost as if President Obama and Vice President Biden decided they needed more snark and condescension like “Don’t Fear the Reaper” needed more cowbell.  The cumulative effect of all the mocking smiles, derisive laughs, and “zinging” one-liners (Horses and bayonets?  Really?) was not so much to stop Mitt Romney’s momentum as it was to obliterate President Obama’s likability advantage.  Before the debates, Barack Obama spent hundreds of millions of dollars to label Mitt Romney as an unlikable, extremist plutocrat.  After the debates, Mitt Romney is a reasonable potential president, and even the “favorability gap” has disappeared.

Where does this condescension come from?  The liberal cocoon.  Truly, the snark and condescension in places like Cambridge, Massachusetts (where President Obama attended law school), Manhattan (college), and Chicago (professional career), has to be experienced to be believed.  It’s not that activists liberals in those locations tend to think conservatives are wrong — they also think conservatives are idiots and evil.  To be clear, I know that there are conservatives who act the same way towards liberals, but there simply exist no corresponding conservative cocoons of the same density and ferocity.  Heck, even your average evangelical church (voting roughly 70% Republican in presidential races) has greater ideological diversity than the entire cities of New York, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.  Want to know what urban life is like for outspoken conservatives in those cities?  Imagine living your life on MSNBC’s set.

Consequently, when President Obama snapped at Mitt Romney about horses and bayonets, his handlers and fans not doubt fist-pumped with delight, but does that play in the rest of America?  Is that how adults talk to each other?  It’s simply not a serious retort.

Make no mistake, the debates cumulatively reset this race — and did so in Mitt Romney’s favor by every objective measure.  Now, prepare for a crazy last two weeks — full of desperate attacks, marathon campaign swings, and — no doubt — a surprise or two for the President and for Governor Romney.

I like our chances.

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