Anybody who’s ever raised a child knows that for them to get stronger, they must “take their lumps” along the way. If you shelter children too much, particularly from the consequences of the choices they’ve made, they don’t learn from their worst mistakes, errors, and simple bad judgments. The mainstream media has been treating Barack Obama as an affirmative action case for more than four years, and on Wednesday night in Denver, they paid a price: Unprepared on the facts, and unaccustomed to facing pressing, difficult questions, Barack Obama looked stunned at first, and then annoyed, and finally petulant as he was thoroughly drubbed by Mitt Romney in the first Presidential Debate. Even Jim Lehrer couldn’t prevent it, despite his obvious efforts to coach and guide President Obama. No amount of deck-stacking on the night could save Obama from his own state of unpreparedness. This stunning defeat was a demonstration of the real world result of affirmative action, and since the media who has sheltered him is composed of leftists who believe in that nonsense, rather than toughen-up Obama, they will seek to shelter him further.
In the 2008 campaign, the media succeeded in sheltering Obama through the election. They got their man in place because they were able to conceal his many warts, and because McCain was not at all aggressive. The Republicans ought to be more prepared for any debate, simply because they are almost never coddled by the media. The real problem began for Obama after his disastrous press conference during which the subject of his former professor and friend Henry Gates arose, and Obama went well off script, telling the press that the Cambridge Police “acted stupidly.” From that moment on, both his own staff and the press, often in a joint effort, went into full protection mode because they realized Obama wasn’t up to the scrutiny or the tough questions.
Since then, the actual number of press conferences that Obama has conducted has been quite limited, and all of the questions were known in advance. This permitted Obama to prepare for the soft-ball questions, so that he never fell into any mire quite so sticky as the earlier press conference debacle. Most other times Obama has appeared in public, it has been to issue prepared remarks, fed to him on a teleprompter. When everything he’s going to say is scripted for him, he can deliver a speech quite well, irrespective of whether you agree with its content. In the debate on Wednesday night in Denver, he had no such advantage, the closest thing to shelter available being the coaching given by the moderator Jim Lehrer. The lack of readiness merely highlights the matter: Obama hasn’t taken many hard questions during his presidency, but under the harsh lights of the debate stage, that simply won’t help him. He was neither agile nor strong. He had no substance, but uncharacteristically, he didn’t seem even to possess style. On Wednesday night, the media could not conceal it for him.
This doesn’t mean the media will simply give in. They took a pounding last night, when even Chris Matthews seemed to have lost the tingle in his leg:
“Tonight wasn’t an MSNBC debate, was it? It just wasn’t. It didn’t mention all the key fighting points of this campaign. [...] I don’t know what he was doing out there, he had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it.
“Romney on the other hand, came in with a campaign, he had a plan. He was going to dominate the time, he was going to be aggressive. He was going to push the moderator around, which he did effectively. He was going to relish the evening, enjoying it. Nothing to do with the words he spoke.”
“How is Obama’s closing statement so f*cking sad, confused and lame? He choked. He lost. He may even have lost the election tonight.”
I’d be happy to explain to either man why Obama debated so poorly, but neither would listen: Their constant coddling, their covering, and their failure to hold Obama’s feet to the fire on any issue over the last four years has led to a debacle for the left in which their guy, the President of the United States, is a bumbling, inept candidate who is arrogantly unaccustomed to being questioned on anything. They built this candidate, and this candidacy, but also this administration.
Naturally, this is far from over, and you can expect the media will go after Mitt Romney relentlessly over the coming days and weeks. There will be no cessation in hostilities, because rather than learn from their failures, the media will double-down. They will criticize Obama a bit in the wake of this debate, as they must, but the media will close ranks around him and continue to shield him. They will because they cannot conceive of the fact that it is precisely this sheltering, coddling affirmative action that has left their candidate wholly unprepared. Indeed, that is the story of his entire presidency, and their role in it. Rather than being hardened by repeated hammering and heat, Barack Obama has been able to maintain his stature by the artifices erected by a sympathetic media.
It is in these moments when a candidate’s character becomes known, and on Wednesday night, what was revealed about Barack Obama is that he had been too small a man for the office to which he had been elected. He was not able to rise to an occasion for which the media’s lack of testing had not prepared him. Here was a petulant child, caught with his hand elbow-deep in the cookie jar, and as he stammered through excuse and rationalization, one after the other, the media could no longer hide the fact that he had been unprepared to lead four years ago, and that even given the job by the manipulations of their own affirmative journalism on his behalf, he remains unsuited to the office because after four years, he’s learned nothing, because it was never demanded of him. The media will double-down on this approach because they’re desperate, and don’t have any other ideas, except to attack Romney, but at this late date, there is nothing they can do to make up for their malpractice. Obama is who he is, and it’s too late to fix that, but that doesn’t mean the media won’t try.