Left unmentioned was the fact that the liberals were criticizing Obama for the very aspects of his personality they so often celebrate. After the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 Matthews praised this “cold-blooded” president, whom he now excoriates for aloofness and apathy. Sullivan famously argued that Obama’s high-mindedness would take the country beyond the cultural fights of the Baby Boom generation, but when Obama took a high-minded approach in his closing statement Wednesday night, and floated above the debate at 30,000 feet, Sullivan called it “f—ing sad, confused, and lame.” For years liberals have praised Obama’s intellect, fluency, demeanor, and dignity—qualities they now worry might be too “professorial” for the debate-watching public.
Did the scales just fall from their eyes? Had they really not considered the possibility that Obama might not be as formidable, or as “likable,” as they had thought? Or had they been so blinded by their preconceived notions about the man, so devoted to the idea that his opponents are nothing more than fundamentalist servants of Moloch, that they could not imagine what would happen when he encountered, face-to-face, a clever, smart, cogent, and determined opponent?