And by “you people,” of course I mean you, President Obama.
The extended North American/ Anglosphere Twittersphere is agog these days over the latest spectacle put on by Urblogger Andrew Sullivan, who edited The New Republic in the days when paper was king and who has spent the past decade blogging, in succession, for (a) himself (b) Time magazine (c) The Atlantic Monthly (d) Tina Brown. Since 2007 Sullivan has been perhaps Barack Obama’s leading gay British Republican supporter; he wrote a 2007 Atlantic cover story explaining why Obama was “necessary” to binding up the nation’s wounds and a 2012 Newsweek cover story asserting that Obama was about to become the most significant U.S. president since Reagan. (“The narrative writes itself. He will emerge as an iconic figure…”) About 6,000 times he has ended blog posts on Obama with the sentence-thing “Know Hope.”
But now comes Sully’s crisis of confidence.
He watched the same debate everyone else did last week; noticed, as many did, that the incumbent had a hard time of things, and then read yesterday’s surprising Pew Center poll, which essentially showed Obama’s support collapsing so rapidly he will soon owe Mitt Romney votes. So yesterday he wrote a blog post asking whether Obama has thrown the election away. Well, not really asking. More like telling:
Look: I’m trying to rally some morale, but I’ve never seen a candidate this late in the game, so far ahead, just throw in the towel in the way Obama did last week – throw away almost every single advantage he had with voters and manage to enable his opponent to seem as if he cares about the middle class as much as Obama does.
I’ve never seen a candidate self-destruct for no external reason this late in a campaign before.
I’m trying to see a silver lining. But when a president self-immolates on live TV, and his opponent shines with lies and smiles, and a record number of people watch, it’s hard to see how a president and his party recover.
Yoiks. Almost immediately, Sullivan was anointed with the Triple Crown of fleeting media-spectacle prominence: The top headline on Drudge Report…
A fake “Sully Panic” Twitter account…
Were we really the ones we were waiting for? Or was that just a lie, too?
— Andrew Sullivan (@SullyPanic) October 9, 2012
Like some CGI action movie, Sullivan’s Daily Dish blog is all explosions and implosions and dazed weeping survivors seeking only a catchphrase that will keep the wounds and memories fresh until the next apocalypse, tomorrow.
To his credit, today Sullivan is running a million emails from readers who either (a) want him to stop jinxing Obama with all this pessimism or (b) think he’s simply wrong and that Obama will win. For a guy with such thin skin, Sullivan often displays admirably thick skin. But one reason Sullivan’s wild mood swinging is so interesting is that it’s at least possible he’s right again, as he was in 2007 (on outcome, if not on rationale) when he endorsed the long-shot Illinois Senator who was at that point marching into battle against the fearsome Hillary Clinton.
It is, in fact, entirely possible that Obama blew the election with a single 90-minute display of I-didn’t-know-this-would-be-on-the-exam. Certainly if he does lose, all the post-mortem tick-tocks will begin in Denver on the night of Oct. 3. That’s one reason I found Ezra Levant’s column this morning more plausible than some of Ezra’s output, although I couldn’t help remembering that there’s another prominent North American politician who likes teleprompters more than news conferences, and that one works two blocks away from me.
Sullivan’s wild emotions are part of his appeal, to those (like me) who find him at least intermittently appealing. This week he’s a proxy for everyone who hopes Obama would win and suspects he is no longer a lock. Sullivan should be less surprised than anyone that Obama had a rough night in Denver: near the top of that 2007 profile, he noted that “a soaring rhetorical flourish one day” from Obama “is undercut by a lackluster debate performance the next.” Sure called that one, Sully. It’s never a good day at the office when you find yourself sliding from Know Hope to No Hope.