|The sky, believe it or not, is very likely NOT falling|
Now this should have been news for about 24 hours. A single debate in a year-long campaign matters, at least to some extent, but it cannot be a game-changing event. Unless it brings about a large-scale Democratic freak-out, a week long rending of garments and dire predictions of the collapse of the Obama campaign into rubble and dust. And so the media did what they do, reporting on the debate and the reaction in typical horserace fashion. The Republicans crowed that their candidate had mopped the floor with the President, and he had turned the whole election on its head in two hours in Colorado. Meanwhile, Democrats, from politicians to pundits, roundly cried and wailed that Romney had mopped the floor with Obama and turned the whole election on its head in two hours in Colorado. The media, acting in its preferred role as stenographer to the stars, duly reported that Mitt Romney had mopped the floor with Obama and turned the whole election on its head in two hours in Colorado. Cause and effect.
So people watched the news, read the blogs, and talked to each other about the news and the blogs. And based on the media reports of the reactions of partisans on both sides, they "knew" that the debate had been an epic disaster for Obama and a stunning turn-around win for Romney. But the key here is that they got this information not from the event itself, but from media reports of unified Republican certainty of their candidates fabulous performance and unified Democratic certainty of their own candidate's epic failure. And when the pollsters came calling, they knew the answers to the questions, and as the poll results trickled out that only fed the coalescing conventional wisdom on both sides.
But here's the thing - absolutely nothing has changed. Romney is still Romney, an unlikable buffoon who will say anything for a chance to grab power. Obama is still Obama, a centrist technocrat and at the very least a competent government executive. Romney's policies are still deeply unpopular - voucherizing Medicare, deep tax cuts for the wealthy, reducing financial, environmental and food safety regulations, slashing government services and starting wars. Romney still has the mostly discredited Paul Ryan as his running mate. Obama is popular and trusted, while the people view Mitt Romney with skepticism and even outright antipathy.
It's about a month to the election. There will be more events, and more reactions, and the media will play each of them up, as if it is the biggest event in the campaign, rather than just another day in the 24 hour news cycle. But in the end, the American people will reject Mitt Romney, as they reject the extreme Republican ideology. We all lived under the loathsome GW Bush for 8 years, we know where that got us, and we have collectively internalized that lesson.