“It took a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush and I think it might take another Clinton to clean up after the second Bush.” – Hillary Clinton
The applause after that line stopped the debate. Wolf simply decided it was
time to go to break.
Clinton commanded moment after moment. Issue after issue she took
the time and made her case. On health care, she separated their plans, while also putting herself
standing beside John Edwards. Clinton clearly came out ahead on this issue, because universal healthcare is something she has in common
with Edwards, but something Obama doesn’t offer. For the first time that was clear, directly refuting all the ads he’s been running. Clinton was also conversational when imparting
policy details, while Obama seemed to drift into endless rhetoric before he
got to a point. On experience alone, Obama talked about community organizing
and being a state senator. Clinton talked about 35 years of work, policies pushed,
traveling around the world and a lifetime of service, including women’s issues.
Obama was good, but got in the rhetorical trap, especially at the start. When
asked a question he immediately fell into the old John Kerry habit of giving his resume or dragging
on endlessly before finally getting to details and the point. He adroitly mentioned Senator Ted Kennedy’s endorsement,
but by the third time it seemed forced. I don’t think he’s capable of short, concise, to the point answers.
On the question of Iraq, the advantage went to Obama. That was one point in
the debate where I think he commanded. She got into specifics and going back
to bombing Iraq in the 1990s. However, they both have the same plans for getting out.
But the truth is, at this point, the economy and
health care are ahead of Iraq in importance.
Clinton’s response on illegal immigration scored big when she hit Obama with
the fact that she sponsored comprehensive immigration reform before he even
got to the senate. Obama scored when he rejected scapegoating illegal immigration,
but his snide remark about Clinton changing her mind reminded you of how petty
he can get. But those remarks from him were few and far between tonight. He
had to keep it in check.
The debate was woefully lacking on foreign policy. It hurts Democrats when
this happens. I find it startling, especially considering what we’re facing
in the world. I don’t think there was one single question on terrorism. On that
point alone it seemed pre-Bush in reality, but that’s not Clinton or Obama’s
fault. But it was eerily absent, which is not good for party presentation. It wouldn’t have happened to the Republicans. Democrats need to learn to inject the topics if we must, because we’re clearly the better leaders and deeper thinkers on national security.
In the end, I believe Obama still looked like the challenger to Clinton’s leader
role even though they’re supposed to be competing as equals.
When picking a president, though Obama is a gifted, talented man, Hillary Clinton is simply in a different league.