The prevailing opinion on the President's debate performance last night from partisan and non-partisan alike is that he did poorly, to say the least. But as to exactly why the President was so taciturn, lackadaisical, distracted, and downright peevish, the media's consensus was, in many cases, silly. In fact, a number of the President's supporters are actually blaming debate moderator, 78-year-old Jim Lehrer.
The voice closest to the President is that of campaign adviser and TV flack Stephanie Cutter, who was quick to dismiss Lehrer as an unnecessary part of the event. Ladling out her usual blather, Cutter told CNN that "we feel pretty good about the President's performance here tonight," but went on to take a swipe at Lehrer. "I sometimes wondered if we even needed a moderator because we had Mitt Romney," she said.
But Cutter wasn't alone. HBO's Bill Maher was as blunt as he usually is on his Twitter feed. "Lehrer sucked," he carped.
Sherri Shepherd, of ABC's The View, tweeted that someone should "throw a spitball" at Lehrer.
The Huffington Post's main Twitter feed wasn't too happy about Lehrer's work, either, saying: "Mitt Romney and Barack Obama moderated this debate. Where was Jim Lehrer?"
In her post-debate wrap up on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow said that Romney spent a lot of time battling both the President and Lehrer. "Romney won every exchange," she noted ruefully.
Maddow had other words for Lehrer, too. "I do believe that we saw this debate format die a very painful death on camera tonight... the format and, I think, the moderator, honestly, with all due respect to Jim Lehrer," she said.
Normally mild-mannered Al Roker of NBC's Today took a shot at Lehrer on his own Twitter feed. "I hope Jim Lehrer gets the license plate of the truck that drove over him in this debate," he joked.
Some wag even started a new Twitter account with the name "Silent Jim Lehrer."
Speaking of Twitter, Poynter has a nice rundown of jabs and slams of moderator Lehrer from such celebrities as Conan O'Brien, Bill Maher, the Onion, Michael Moore, various news folks and others, all slamming Lehrer as the man who wasn't there.
It is pretty amusing, if not a bit ironic, that all these leftists are attacking a card-carrying member of the left-wing media, isn't it? The left loves the Old Media until it does something they feel is counter to their narrative. In this case, though, it's like blaming a referee because a team lost by three touchdowns.
Some reports earlier this year claimed the debate commission had to coax Lehrer out of retirement to do this debate. He initially refused to do it but eventually relented and accepted the role. One might guess that Lehrer won't make the mistake of leaving retirement for a debate again.
Finally, for his part, former Vice President Al Gore had a completely different, but no more logical, excuse for the President’s loss last night. Gore blamed Denver’s high altitude!
"I’m going to say something controversial here," Gore began "Obama arrived in Denver at 2 p.m. today – just a few hours before the debate started. Romney did his debate prep in Denver. When you go to 5,000 feet, and you only have a few hours to adjust – I don’t know…"