John Avlon Independent Nation

10.17.12

The Sound of Chugging Kool-Aid

Punchdrunk on party loyalty, conservative pundits prefer to say Romney ran away with the second debate – and damn whatever the polls say.

This is the sound of chugging Kool-Aid:  

"This debate goes to Romney. It seals his momentum and will lead to a big win,” Dick Morris writes at Fox.

“Game, set, match … one of the best debate performances ever by Mitt Romney,” Sean Hannity tweeted.

Some professional partisans feel that their job is relentlessly defending whatever their 'team' does or says, even when it conflicts with reality.  Polls by CBS and CNN show that Obama won this second debate by a comfortable margin.

We all know that the spin-cyle after these debates can be nauseating – the rise of partisan media made it worse, and it is now compounded by social media's real-time spiraling group-think. The hours after the debate have lamely become almost as important as the content of the debate itself in crafting conventional wisdom.  

Look, non-partisan doesn't mean neutral - I think that President Obama clearly won this second debate , just as clearly Romney won the first.  Being non-partisan is not the same as being neutral – an independent perspective is about refusing to reflexively support one party.  It's about at least trying to be fair and an honest-broker calling bullshit where the facts demand it and giving credit where credit is due. And from my perspective, it's about standing up to extremes on both sides. 

But after the first debate, avowed Obama supporters from The Beast's Andrew Sullivan to liberal comedian/commentator/donor Bill Maher mercilessly criticized the president's lame and listless performance. We haven't seen the quite same from folks who feel they are paid for being partisan good soldiers on the right. 

These delusional, drunk-on-Teamism takes are not just funny, they're sad, because they feed a feeling of intense mutual incomprehensibility, the sense that fellow citizens can see two separate political realities. Ultimately, this isn't healthy for our democracy - and it makes governing in the national interest more difficult when elections are done.