Bad Debate

At the outset, let me say that I’ve only seen about two minutes of tonight’s Dem debate, the portion where HRC and Obama had their scintillating back and forth about Reagan, of all things.  But I have to agree with TPM on this being a bad showing for the Dems tonight.

This Reagan stuff that HRC (and Bill) keep pushing on Obama is just wrong.  He never said anything like what they are saying he said.  And the same is true of this issue about Obama voting “present” so often in the Illinois legislature.  They are making it something it’s not, and they obviously know that.  So, you’ve got HRC and the figurehead of the Democratic party making silly, scurrilous attacks against Obama.  That’s not good, as it reinforces all of the most negative perceptions of what they are as political operators.

Even worse, Obama seems completely unable to concisely parry these attacks.  It would be so easy for him to not only refute these claims, but to make HRC look silly for making them.  But he doesn’t even come close.   He gets caught up in detail, in wanting to offer a point-by-point refutation when the situation calls for something much broader.  These “attacks” against him are really a gift, if he were rhetorically nimble enough to call them what they were, desperate attempts to paint him as something they are not.  He has let them shift this discussion to the past, to MLK, to Reagan.  He can’t talk about the future if he’s always defending the past or talking about it.

He’s going to need to be a lot better than this on his feet.  This won’t cut it.

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5 Responses to Bad Debate

  1. Paul says:

    Remember me defending HRC the other day? After last night, I don’t know that I can vote for her. I dislike her so much that, if she wins the primary, I might actually vote for McCain over her. (Not that my vote, as a DC resident, means a damn.)

  2. pipelineblog says:

    Yeah, she left a pretty bad taste in my mouth, too. It doesn’t have to be that way. If her policy ideas are truly better, explain why. That she doesn’t tells me she doesn’t respect the American electorate enough to be able to follow her argument.

    That said, I’d still vote for her. But I’m disappointed in her for choosing this strategy. And I’m disappointed in Obama for not making her pay for it.

  3. kelly says:

    Here here, I’ve only seen the highlights reel from the debate; but HRC should be above that kind of noise, especially in light of the MLK nonsense.

    I can understand her strategy if she were behind, or the remaining primaries were even hotly contested. But based on the polls I’ve seen she still has a pretty significant margin on Obama. I’ll be interested to see what the effects of last night have on people’s opinion. When she got choked up she got a huge bump; does the reverse happen?

  4. Jeff H says:

    A couple of days later the rhetoric hasn’t cooled much, which does nothing to explain this from today: “Clinton leads Obama, 42 percent to 33 percent, down from the 24-point advantage she held in early December. Three out of five supporters of each candidate say they would like Clinton or Obama, if nominated, to choose the other as a running mate.”

    Is there really that much nostalgia for The Bickersons?

  5. Q says:

    I watched the entire debate last night on the cnn website. I have to say that the lowlights everyone is showing about the bickering don’t do it justice. Yes it was difficult to watch for 10-15 minutes, but they eventually got over it and had a somewhat substantive debate. I felt that a minor policy debate was actually happening. I wish they would have spent a little more time on Foreign Policy, but given the day I can understand why they wanted to keep it “in house”. There was a time about 2/3 the way through where you could see each candidate as genuinely committed and passionate about politics and this country. You felt that they were serious about the issues they were discussing and not just talking heads. It reminded me why i’m a Democrat.

    Democrats still have a long way to go on health care. All the candidates are crap on health care in my opinion. I don’t understand why the party hasn’t taken a stand on this issue. Universal Health Coverage is far, far different than Universal Health Care. Why is single payer feared as anti-american?

    In the end, Foreign Policy and bringing people together to enact policy are my guide to voting this year. On the latter, I feel Barack is the most capable of bringing people together. I also feel Barack is the best hope for reframing U.S. Foreign Policy. I support the notion of engagement over containment (that doesn’t imply tea and party games, just direct talk). Maybe he’ll be perceived as too weak. Maybe HRC would be better on this issue. I’m still considering this piece. Either way, I think HRC and BO will be good President’s.

    Distorting people’s comments is part of the game. Obama even acknowledges this later in the debate after they settle down. I agree with Doug he could do a lot better refuting them by using a broad response.

    My question to people is about the general. People are worried that if Barack is the nominee that Karl Rove and his ilk will be merciless on Barack Hussein Obama. My feeling is that it will get extremely nasty and could make one puke, but i think it will be so ridiculous that people won’t buy in to it and he’ll be able to rhetorically turn it into demonstrating why he’ll be a great leader. Anybody agree? Based on how Barack is handling Hillary, however, I’m starting to get worried on how he’ll be able to deal with it.

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