Even a narrow win for Obama, though, would not reestablish anything like the mandate and amity the president enjoyed on his Inauguration Day. The reason is that, as the Obama coalition diminished, Obama no longer disguised the prejudices, inflections, outlook, and approach of the progressive movement. A confessed reader of Andrew Sullivan’s hysterical web site, the president has taken on the maximalist characteristics of the liberal blogosphere. He is scornful and contemptuous of Romney, as could be seen in his patronizing lecture on aircraft carriers and submarines during the third debate. His campaign seizes on the most trivial comments—“I like Big Bird”; “Binders full of women”—to engage in juvenile jibes that would not make the first cut at the Late Show writers’ meeting. His rallies have become self-congratulatory comedy hours in which the assembled Democrats laugh heartily at the insults and zingers the president throws Romney’s way. Obama has been on a seemingly nonstop tour of television shows hosted by late-night comics. His new attack line that the Republican nominee has “Romnesia” was, as the vice president might say, literally taken from liberal blogs. The vice president even asked his audience at a recent rally whether it had watched The Daily Show the night before. The men who hold the highest offices in the most powerful country in the history of the world have been debased to the point where they look like fill-in guests on Up with Chris Hayes.
The Democrats allowed the progressive movement’s hatred of Bush to take over their old and storied political party. That party and movement found a champion and a path to power in Obama, but the electoral forces on which his power relied were unstable. In 2008, he satisfied the left and won the middle. Once in power, though, he kept the left satisfied and lost the middle and right.
In 2012, there is just the left. The Democrats are back where they started eight years ago. And this time, Barack Obama cannot save them.