ALBUQUERQUE — After spending a weekend talking to voters in a close state that's no longer really "swinging," the first presidential debate has come to remind me of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Democrats walked out of the theater/turned off the TV saying "huh, well, I wanted it to be better." After a few days of talking to friends, it changes from a disappointment into the worst piece of crap in human history.
Roger that. As near as I can tell, here's how things went. People who were polled during the debate thought it was about even. People polled after the debate thought Romney won. People polled a little later, after the media feeding frenzy, thought Romney crushed Obama in an epic rout. Robert Wright chalks it up to weirdly high expectations for Obama, who's never been more than a fair debater in the first place:
Rather than a tie being inflated into a Romney win, a clear Romney win — one that shouldn't have shocked anyone — was inflated into Hiroshima-level devastation. And so devastation is what happened — though, as with Hiroshima, much of the damage seems to have been done not by the blast itself, but by the after effects.
I promise not to keep droning on about this, but I remain puzzled. Even after rewatching parts of the debate and listening to several days of apocalyptic doomsaying from liberals and conservatives alike, my take remains about the same as it did on Wednesday: Romney chalked up a modest victory. That's about it.