Democrat Debate Blogging
This is the first debate of either party that I've deliberately sat down to watch, and I understand the conditions in play here may be different from all the others since it's the first debate since Barack Obama acknowledged publicly that avoiding all potential conflicts while Howard Wolfson did his deceitful, demagogic tap-dance was not a winning strategy. I should also add that I have a strong bias; I'm not only supporting Obama but I would actually vote for Mitt Romney against Hillary Clinton for reasons I'll elaborate at some later point.
All that said, I am dumbfounded by the strength of Hillary Clinton's candidacy to this point given her performance tonight. Every single answer of hers was not only a dishonest, calculated hedge, but was transparently so. And she was unable to give a coherent explanation of her vote for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment. The notion that Kyl-Lieberman accomplishes anything diplomatically, on one hand, and does not lend a patina of bipartisan support to the administration's war plans, on the other hand, is a ludicrous fantasy Hillary Clinton's admirers have been able to indulge in because not enough nor prominent enough Democrats have been calling bullshit on it. Again, this debate may have been a heretofore unseen moment of mass sanity among the candidates, but almost all of them* did indeed call bullshit. A good thing too. The Clinton candidacy is a paper tiger; there is very little there beyond the growl, and a series of winks and nods in every conceivable direction. I know all about how depressingly uneducated and uninformed average voters are, but that's not the same as being stupid, and I will be shocked if Democratic primary voters, after tonight, can't realize they're being lied to. (Whether any of them are watching is another matter entirely.)
I don't think that Obama's performance has been stellar by any means. He did, however, make the very salient point, responding to Hillary's harping on the fact that Republicans are attacking her as if it's a point in favor of her candidacy, that Republicans are attacking Hillary because it's a fight they are comfortable with, partly because they think they can win, and partly because, should they lose, their vital political interests --- most especially warmongering lunacy --- will not be threatened. Hillary has already won, let's not forget, both the Michael O'Hanlon and the Charles Krauthammer primaries, which is a good prima facie reason to ensure she doesn't win the Democratic primary. If anyone thinks, after a Hillary victory in November 2008, that in 2012 we won't be in the middle of a civil and/or regional middle-Eastern war while torturing innocent people in Guantanamo and at black sites in eastern Europe --- well, it's possible, but vanishingly unlikely, and if you believe it, please sit on a broom on Election Day.
If this debate has any effect on the race, it will be as much because of post-debate spin as anything else, and having observed the 2000 and 2004 elections closely, I'm far from sanguine about the ability of the pundit class to call lies 'lies' and liars 'liars,' but this debate surely demonstrates that the Clinton juggernaut is built on a flimsy foundation, and given that there is no argument for her candidacy on substantive policy grounds, but only on pragmatic, evict the bastards grounds, it should be clear that there is, in fact, no argument for her candidacy at all.
*Except for the gobsmackingly buffoonish Bill Richardson, whom I had regarded favorably up to this point in virtue of his position on Iraq. Granted, I had barely observed him in action up to this point, and had assumed his bizarre performance at the HRC forum [affirming that homosexuality is a choice? what? He must have been told to say yes to any mention of 'choice' -- ed.] was a fluke. But no, he really is that dumb. The spectacle of his pleas for comity among the candidates was humiliating for everyone involved, and would have been more efficient and more bearable if he had prostrated himself in front of Hillary Clinton's podium and pledged to sacrifice a virgin and a fatted calf if she would make him her vice presidential nominee.