For days after, Romney’s “mistake” was the story. On Sunday, after a week in which Obama was burned in effigy on several continents and his Middle Eastern policy exposed as a failure, he lost his best (perhaps his sole) campaign issue, and questions were raised about criminal negligence. But Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post said that Mitt Romney had had “the worst week in Washington.” Obama’s failures had turned out to hurt Romney, most of the press corps agreed.

Obama had seen that his friends would protect him, and so he believed he could mail it in Wednesday, but this was the venue that could not be spun. No filter. No edits. No choosing what to put in or leave out. No shaping of the story. Just the story itself, rolled out in real time, sans narration, before 70 million American voters, undoing six years of hype and hysterics. It revealed one small, not all that keen academic, having been inflated by the narrators beyond all recognition, dissolving before everyone’s eyes.