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FRIENDS, WE NEED TO HAVE A HEART-TO-HEART, just among progressives.  Close the door.  I want say something.

I’m glad that Obama lost the debate.  Yes, I just said that.  It was painful, and it was maddening.  For those of us who have stood with Barack Obama since 2007, it was even a bit humiliating.  And it was just what we needed. It had to happen, the proverbial slap in the face.

Over the past few months, we progressives have grown complacent.  I admit that it happened to me, too.  All those blue arrows pointing upward.  And Bill Clinton’s convention performance – did you see him?  Wow.  Nate Silver was putting victory at 87% odds, after all.  That’s almost 90%, which is just shy of 100%.  One-hundred percent, guys.  Let’s celebrate!

And, so, the thought of showing up to another canvass or another phone bank to help turn out the vote faded from my mind.  Couldn’t I relax through October just a bit, and leave the slog to someone else?  Well, everyone started leaving it to someone else.

I was not fired up.  I was not ready to go.

The truth is that, up until Wednesday night, President Obama wasn’t beating Mitt Romney.  Mitt Romney was beating Mitt Romney.  Between the snarky comments about the 47%, the bizarre GOP convention, the tax returns, the idiotic remarks about the President sympathizing with terrorists, and the twenty seven houses and Olympic show horse, it’s actually shocking that Romney was only down by about 5 points.  All we had to do was sit back and watch the show.

That, apparently, was the President’s strategy going into the debate: put your head down and stay clear of the shrapnel as the R-Bomb explodes on stage.

We’ve gotten accustomed to this mental model, that a debate is about which candidate was more of a blithering fool or blustering zealot.  That’s understandable – George W Bush, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Rick Perry.  Need I go on?

BUT A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO DENVER: a different Mitt Romney showed up.  This one had energy.  And he sounded reasonable.  He was completely different from the Mitt Romney who had gone to twenty-plus Republican debates, moving ever-rightward on immigration, taxes, women’s rights, gun control, and Sesame Street.  Never mind that Wednesday’s Mitt Romney was entirely inconsistent with previous Mitt Romneys.  (All of that has been well documented by journalists already.)  The fact is that the typical viewer could imagine him in the White House and on their TVs for four years.  And that was enough.

Why am I happy about Wednesday?  Because this moment was inevitable, and I’m glad that it happened with a month to go instead of a week to go.  We needed a bit of fear in our otherwise-smug sail into a second term.  And now we’ve got it.

SO, I’M GOING TO BE BLUNT: STOP CRYING.  I don’t want to hear that Mitt lied, or Mitt beat up Jim Lehrer.  Yes, he did.  That’s politics.  No more hand-wringing.  We lost that round.  Get over it.  It’s just one round.

Now, get up off of the floor.  Let Obama worry about what Obama can do differently.  Let’s worry about what we can do differently.  Let’s ask ourselves: if we truly care about the election – about economic fairness, about Medicare, about rights for women, for LGBTQ people, for people of color – then we care enough to do more than watch a debate and shake our heads.  This is worth it.

Being “in this together” means being willing to work and fight, even when you’d rather be doing something else – especially when you’d rather be doing something else.

So get yourself to a canvass or a phone bank.  Or give money to support those who do.  And spread the word.  Let’s get to work.

Andrew Solomon is one of the founding Board members of ACT NOW. He summarizes his political philosophy as "progressive ends, pragmatic means." You can reach him at solomon [at]  More by Andrew at
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Comment Preferences

  •  Oh for fucks sake. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Olympia, Dave in Northridge, annecros

    I hate losing more than I like winning.  And that's not the same thing.

    I HATED Wednesday night, and I won't get over it for a long time.


    by GOPGO2H3LL on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 08:59:07 PM PDT

    •  you'll get over it after Rmoney- Obama Debate #2 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge, exterris

      Obama knows he must whoop Mittens or else its a coinflip.

      •  We need to keep expectations low - that... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annecros one of the first lessons from the first debate.  Remember that around 57% thought Obama was going to win the first debate.

        When the second debate comes around, expectations should be even.  Maybe even leaning toward Romney, given all the problems in the middle east now, giving him that much more to attack Obama with.  

        And there is nothing that a person can do in a few days to change how he really is.  Have you ever really seen Obama be a fighter, a showman on the debate stage?  Even against McCain he never put on a show.  He has always been this cool, lecturing type of debater, like he's giving a class.  This type of debater is never going to "whoop" anyone, especially someone like Romney who is as aggressive as they come when it comes to debates.  

        There is a strong likelihood IMO that Romney will win the 2nd debate and the last debate.  And after those unreasonable expectations before the first debate, I hope that becomes conventional wisdom, and I'm fine with that.  Lower expectations.  And who knows, if Obama does surprise and actually fights back like he's never fought before in any debate (did you see him against Alan Keyes for crying out loud?  Even against Alan Keyes he never raised his voice or fought back), then it will be a nice surprise for all of us, including the MSM, who will surely change the narrative again.

        "If these Republicans can't stand up to Rush, how can they stand up to the Iranians?" - Redmond Barry

        by xsonogall on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 09:31:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I would hate myself even more than you hate (4+ / 0-)

      losing if I knew I did not go out there and give it my all before Election Day, and had to watch a concession speech from our President.

      Let POTUS Obama be Obama, and let's get back to WORK and win this one for everything that is good in America.

      The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Clayton Act, Section 6.

      by Ignacio Magaloni on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 09:24:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  well if you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pittdem, subtropolis, exterris
      HATED Wednesday night, and I won't get over it for a long time.
      just imagine how long it would take you to get over a loss in November.

      Thank you for a wonderfully written diary.  

      This is what we are fighting for:

    •  well, i guess you're fired up then (0+ / 0-)

      Channel that anger.

      All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

      by subtropolis on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 10:19:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama was over it by Thur afternoon... (0+ / 0-)

      Did you see the crowd at the University of Wisconsin on Bascom Hill.  30,000 people until overflowing...then moved thousands of students to huge TV's on other parts of the campus.

      If the President felt down for a few seconds, this must have got his spirits up done cardinal red and white style

      Here's to you, Mr. President

  •  GOTV GOTV GOTV! (3+ / 0-)

    President Obama needs us!  We have his back!

    We're ALL better off when we're ALL better off!

    by susanWAstate on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 09:36:10 PM PDT

  •  Obama delibrately threw the first debate (4+ / 0-)

    to keep campaign funds flowing in Romney's direction and NOT to down ticket races.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged. G. K. Chesterton

    by redbaron on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 09:52:20 PM PDT

  •  Simple Really..... (4+ / 0-)

    One guy wanted it & one guy didn't.  When Romney is attacking him, Obama needs to stop bobbing his head up & down in affirmation.  

    Obama just got a 7.8% unemployment rate.  Use it, buddy.  Use house starts being the highest in 5 years.  Use the stock market reaching it's highest level in 4 years.  Use what you got.  

    Don't talk to the American people.  Concentrate on him.  Grind your opponent down, & remember......he wants your job.  

  •  Also, watch what Biden does to Paul Ryan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Olympia, subtropolis, blueoasis

    I don't expect the President ever to adopt a slash-and-burn style, but seriously.  Every time Romney tells another lie, how hard is it to coolly and calmly say, I'm sorry, Governor, but that just isn't true and then (also coolly and calmly and dispassionately) lay out the TRUE facts. I'm sure Biden will do something similar to Ryan, just with a little more heat.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent, and we are all Wisconsin.

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 10:06:23 PM PDT

  •  I had no doubt Obama would win (0+ / 0-)

    before the debate, no doubt now.  Romney allowed the cancer to metastasize too long to operate.  I criticized Obama's debate performance many times Wednesday night, but I also suggested it was a perfect opportunity (I said this glibly because I have no money to do so myself!) to lay some money on Obama on Intrade.  And sure, enough, Intrade showed a big upward blip for Romney the day after the convention, and a big downward blip the day after.  You could cash in now!  You could have sent that money to Obama (or bought me a decent computer, ahem) or spent it all on hookers and blow, whatever.

    Complacency about Obama winning isn't a real issue right now.  It's the Senate and house races we need to be angsty about, because that's not a done deal at all.  My biggest expressed concern debate night was that Obama's wussy performance would hurt the downballot, people like Elizabeth Warren. Letting Romney off the hook on Medicare and SS might seem to some people as good long term strategy for Obama's reelection (unnecessary strategy, if you think Romney's long past toast), but it's bad strategy if it defangs the attack against Republicans like Scott Brown for being part of a Republican Party out of the mainstream on SS and Medicare.

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