It was in Denver one week ago that the long-running romance between Barack Obama and the national press -- aka the "Slobbering Love Affair," as Bernard Goldberg put it -- hit the wall. The motel bill, unpaid these many long months and ages, at long last came due.
It had been the real thing, not a commonplace fling with your generic Democrat, but the love of a lifetime, the genuine article, the sum of all dreams: He was not just a Democrat, he was also a liberal. He was not just a liberal, he also biracial, also multinational; also hip, cool, and clever. He was themselves as they wanted to be. Like them, he was gifted at writing and talking (and, as it turned out, not much beyond that), like them, he stood up for Metro America; like them, he viewed the people outside it with a not-very-measured disdain. "I divide people into people who talk like us and people who don't talk like us," said David Brooks, speaking for all of them. "You could see him as a New Republic writer ... he's more talented than anyone in my lifetime ... he IS pretty dazzling when he walks into a room."
Dazzled indeed, they turned on their old flames, Bill and Hillary Clinton. They dumped John McCain, with whom they had flirted; and when Romney appeared -- rich, square, and looking like Dad in a mid-50s sitcom -- it was clear the long knives would be out.
And so they attacked him, on all of the critical issues. He was rich; he cut the hair of a schoolmate in prep school; he was rich; he transported his dog in a sinister manner; he was rich; he managed somehow to give some people cancer; he was rich; and he failed to make friends with his garbage collector (as Obama undoubtedly had). Oh, and he was rich.
On Sept. 12, the day after mobs ransacked American embassies, burned the flag and Obama in effigy, and killed one Marine, two Navy SEALs, and one ambassador, NBC's Chuck Todd took to the air almost in shock and seemingly tearful, because Romney critiqued an official in Cairo who apologized for provoking the riots, citing a barely-seen YouTube video as the pretext for the violence. Voice shaking, he channeled the shock on the part of the White House (which later itself condemned the apology).
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.