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If you’re my age – 62 – or close to it, you might remember the story of Henny Penny, AKA Chicken Little.


“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” hapless Henny was always clucking.
It seems a whole roost of liberal Hennys is in full cackle over the first presidential debate.

“Romney won! Romney won! All is lost! All is lost!”

Suddenly, it's 1858 and gaffe-a-minute Mitt is Abe Lincoln and President Obama is Sen. Stephen A. Douglas.

I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the MSNBC TV talking heads show up for work tonight in sack cloth and ashes.

At least Al Sharpton and Lawrence O’Donnell, bless their hearts, kept their wits about them.

Rev. Sharpton conceded that Romney may have won on style, but he argued that Obama triumphed on substance. He thinks that will make Obama the long term winner.

O’Donnell dared suggest that John and Jane Q Public, not the punditocracy, will ultimately determine who made the most political hay off the debate. He suggested the jury is out and won’t be back with a verdict in the polls for a few more days at least.

No matter, the verdict is already in from a lot of lefty hand-wringers: Romney routed Obama about as badly as Kerry clobbered Bush in 2004.

I remember that night. I was a Kerry fan and I was pumped. The quickie polls said Kerry won, hands down.

But Bush won the only vote that counted.

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the whole MSNBC lineup. They’re fans of the president over Romney.

No doubt, they meant their criticism to be constructive when they flayed Obama for not lowering the boom on Romney. I understand their frustration.
But have they forgotten the first Bush-Gore debate? Gore got after Bush, big time, and got tagged a bully for it.

I loved it when Gore—who I voted for--showed up Bush for the intellectual flyweight he was. But a lot of John and Jane Qs. figured the Democrat for a smarty pants.

All along, liberals have been urging Obama to be more like Give ‘Em Hell Harry Truman and less like professor Adlai Stevenson.

Truman won and Stevenson lost. Professor Obama won, too. And the election is still his to lose.

For Obama, the first debate was a case of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t, damned-if-you-will, damned-if-you-won’t.

He chose to play it presidential.

Henny Penny liberals would do well to cut him some slack and ponder some history, the subject I teach. Debate winners aren't always election winners.

Berry Craig

Most Americans know Lincoln bested Douglas in their famous debates for the Illinois senate. Though "Honest Abe" beat the "Little Giant" and two other candidates for the presidency in 1860, the Illinois legislature sent debate loser Douglas back to the senate two years before.

Berry Craig

Posted: Wednesday, 3 October 2012