As the dozens of snarky articles, brutal editorial cartoons, late night comedy shows taking new and unaccustomed shots at Obama (I'm not counting Chris Matthews and his epic rant) build up a certain cultural momentum, the sense that Obama's failings are suddenly funny is a deadly virus in the bloodstream of liberal opinion.
Barack Obama is a man of abundantly evident self-regard. The growing sound of mockery and derision must be painful to him, especially coming from the unexpected quarters of his erstwhile allies. Once the mockery starts, it's hard to stop. Ask Bill Clinton.
The clues of an Obama meltdown in high-, low- and even pop-culture tell me that the next debates for Obama aren't just consequential: they're existential.
Hmmmm. Obama meltdown. Where have I heard that before?
My best guess is that if the gaffe-prone president loses it, it will come during a debate with Romney. A compliant news media and the cocoon created by White House aides may well insulate Obama from much of the sting as Mitt lays out the record for the voters. But there won't be any place to hide when the lights come on and millions tune in. And I suspect that the GOP challenger will press home his case thoroughly and doggedly. Facile efforts to wave away the record by blaming others won't work. It wouldn't surprise me to see a moment where BO will be forced to confront the staggering reality of his ineptitude in the starkest terms with nowhere to run or hide and no one to cover for him while the whole world watches. And when that moment comes, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he snarled, snapped and lashed out in his pain.As it turns out, Chris Matthews snapped. BO just melted like the wicked witch of the west.