While I disagree, the conventional wisdom has concluded that Obama blew the debate, phoning it in instead of engaging his opponent. But no matter: the reaction and aftermath are much more instructive about the distinct differences between liberals and conservatives.
I just finished watching Saturday Night Live (SNL) do hilarious skit after skit parodying Obama sleeping and clueless. And therein we find the big divide between right and left. There are really two clear differences here.
First, liberals did not blame "conservative media" or a conservative conspiracy for the outcome; they got down and made fun of themselves on one of TV's most popular shows. Now let's reverse the situation and assume Romney blew it, and SNL did similar skits skewering Romney. Need I say more? You can practically hear the constant drum beat against liberal media, or the spin to make his performance look good, or some pundits going so far as to deny there was ever a debate, and that liberals created a false debate to make Romney look bad (unemployment numbers anyone?).
Second, if Romney had blown the debate, where would there be the conservative equivalent of the SNL skits making fun of Romney? Nowhere -- because conservatives are incapable of making fun of themselves. If you deny that, show me an example. Show me the equivalent of an SNL put on by conservatives making fun of conservatives. No such animal exists. If conservatives have any sense of humor the joke is at the expense of others (blacks, Jews, Hispanics, poor people), never themselves. This all reflects a disease of taking oneself too seriously, which is part of the genetics of eschewing compromise and justifying any means to a particular end. Liberals can laugh at themselves because they know the world is complex with multiple points of view each offering valid insights, and those differences are ripe for self-deprecating humor. In contrast, it is hard to laugh at yourself when you know your point of view is god's word, only you are patriotic and only you can save us from the devil of temptation. The conservative lack of humor is serious stuff. Self-parody implies a mind open to new possibilities, to accept new perspectives, and to welcome new ideas. A lack of such humor implies the absence of all those traits. And that is why Democrats are going to be laughing all the way to the White House in November.
If you doubt my thesis here, watch a tape of the recent SNL and ask where is there the conservative equivalent of self-parody. There is none.