I love the smell of understatement in the morning, which was David Axelrod's matutinal gift to the nation yesterday, via CBS' Bob Schieffer: "[President Obama] was a little taken aback by the brazenness with which Gov. Romney walked away" from ... Gov. Romney.
A little taken aback. Taken aback. Surprised. Astonished. Stunned. Speechless. A president expects the worst sort of disingenuous bile to spew across the negotiating table from a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Joachim von Ribbentrop. But on national television from the domestic opposition's presidential nominee?
It was another governor who once splendidly aphorized the raw beauty of American politics. Paraphrased: Though we must govern in prose, we are first advised to campaign in poetry. Nothing devious here, just a license. In Romney's hands, though--if I may take my own license with Virginia Woolf--it's become "poetry the wrong side out." He's corrupted our traditional politics of poetic spin into the ugliest brutalities of barefaced inventions and jackbooted effrontery. And, unlike his foreign predecessors and drawling, antebellum forerunners, he's not even very good at it.
He can't be, really--not in a nation that, even with its sorry abundance of low-information voters, has for more than 150 years now rejected the sinister politics of the Big Lie.
Also yesterday, on ABC's "This Week," Paul Krugman nicely summarized Romney's campaign philosophy as "a contempt for the whole process." Back to Axelrod: "That’s something we’re going to have to make an adjustment for in these subsequent debates."
The "adjustment"? There will be blood. Romney's blitzkrieg of beerhall bluster is about to meet some major resistance.