When Obama aides say that the real Romney didn’t show up in Denver, what they really mean is that he failed to live down to their rank caricature of him. The deception, though, isn’t the flesh-and-blood Romney, but the one-dimensional version broadcast far and wide by the Obama campaign. As he showed during an hour and a half of high-pressure television, Romney is a capable and intelligent man who is ready to be president and has a substantial reform agenda. The Obama campaign’s response to his debate victory basically was, “Don’t believe your lying eyes — believe our super PAC ads.”

Democrats have convinced themselves that all the president needs to do to come roaring back in the next debate is rebut Romney’s dishonesties, which will expose his indefensible agenda and shallow reinvention. The president’s team evidently underestimated Romney once already. If it believes this “lying liar” interpretation of the debate — rather than pushing it in the media for lack of anything else to say — it will underestimate him yet again.