Mona Charen
It's impossible to overstate the effect that Mitt Romney's performance in the first presidential debate has had on conservatives and Republicans. The past four years have been a torment as we've watched a committed left-wing activist grease the skids for America's decline into a socialist state. Our TV screens have featured images of violent protests in Greece, Italy and Spain as their socialist paper boats capsize.

Yet the Obama Administration's resolute march into that dead end has proceeded apace. There was a brief bloom of hope that the Supreme Court would save the country from the worst time bomb of the Obama presidency, but a late betrayal by a conservative justice extinguished it.

The past few weeks have been especially painful as Mr. Obama seemed to gain traction in the polls and escape responsibility for the completely foreseeable results of his policies -- economic enfeeblement, rising poverty and dependency, loss of world influence and looming insolvency. More than that, a mendacious address by Bill Clinton, blaming the economic meltdown of 2008 on free markets and Republicans, seemed to be the only argument on offer -- and one that voters were inclined to accept.

The Romney campaign seemed to be missing in action. Increasingly desperate conservatives (this columnist included) begged him to improve his television ads, which were insipid and off-topic; they pleaded with him to "go big" and address the crisis the Obama presidency has created for the nation; and they warned that the Obama campaign's lies about Romney's tax proposals should not go unrebutted. Incredibly, polls were showing that voters trusted Obama more than Romney even on the matter of taxes, though Republicans are well known to be the party of tax cuts.

The feeling on the right was that the fate of the nation was really at stake. Due to a tendentious and corrupt press, an inattentive electorate and a watery nominee, the country might be on the verge of an irreversible disaster -- reelecting an incompetent leftist ideologue. It was a nightmare.

So it was more than partisan glee that lifted our spirits when a supremely skilled, razor-sharp Romney sailed to victory over Obama in Denver. It was the release of years of pent-up frustration at the fact that Mr. Obama has skated by with platitudes, lies, misrepresentations and "cool," while the nation we love, still "the last best hope of earth," seemed to be sliding toward the drain.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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