The “Unraveling”

One of the habits of political spinmeisters that I dislike the most is the tendency to claim that close contests are invariably about to break wide open into a complete debacle, a historic humiliation, a defeat of biblical proportions for their opponent. I don’t know what this sort of stupid, transparent, self-conscious lying is supposed to accomplish. Intimidation? Exciting “the base?” Discouraging the other “team’s” “base?” Working the refs? Beats me.

In any event, we’re getting a lot of this right now from the Romney campaign and its supporters. Here’s an item from The Hill:

A top Romney spokeswoman said the Obama campaign’s allegations that he misled the public over his tenure at Bain Capital are “reckless and wild,” and a sign that the president’s campaign is “unraveling.”

And here’s a post from Michael Walsh at The Corner:

The Obama campaign’s desperate “felony” charge against Mitt Romney ought to serve as a wake-up call for the Romney campaign and for the American public regarding the utter amorality of the president and his functionaries.

Neither of these excited people is offering any rationale for why the Obama campaign should be feeling “reckless and wild” or “desperate,” or should be “unraveling.” Well, actually, the Romney staffer in the Hill story, Gail Gitcho, offered this drooling bit of spin that wouldn’t fool a first grader:

[T]his attack from yesterday has frankly just jumped the shark and it shows that the Obama campaign, they are scared to death of having to run on their own record because they haven’t been able to create jobs and they have no plans in the future to be able to fix the economy, and that’s what the American people care about.”

That, BTW, is an excellent example of another spinmestier habit I absolutely hate, which is making generalizations about what “the American people” think or want.

But anyway, why would anyone actually think the Obama campaign is in extremis right now? Every time I turn around there’s another article about the incredible stability of the polls of this contest, and their utter imperviousness to the events of the campaign. The electorate is so polarized that Obama couldn’t drop to more than a few points behind Romney even if he suddenly came out and said his favorite writer was Frantz Fanon. The actual outcome is likely going to depend on GOTV efforts that aren’t even underway yet. So what, pray tell, is the point of the constant claims that Obama’s panicking or is going to lose as badly as Mondale or has been “rejected by the American people?” Will this change a single vote? I can’t imagine why.

What “the American people” really need are spinmeisters who are a little less shameless.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.