Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Debate Wrap

Just a few thoughts on what I learned from last night’s Democratic debate in Cleveland:

  • Whatever happens to Hillary Clinton, it’s pretty clear that she shouldn’t count on a successful career as a stand-up comic. Spontaneity is not her strong suit, and even the off-the-cuff remarks come across as forced.
  • Tim Russert asks a lot of questions he thinks everybody in the world wants to know the answers to, but in fact they are high-school forensics exercises in gotchas. The one about Louis Farrakhan to Senator Obama was just lame. What did he expect Mr. Obama to say, that he’s doing his own version of “I’m F***ing Matt Damon” with Mr. Farrakhan?
  • Did you know that Hillary Clinton is a fighter? Well, she is. She told us that a lot last night. Okay, I get it. She’s a fighter. (Although I understand why she has to keep emphasizing it — see below.)
  • I’m not a policy wonk, but when critics of both candidates say they don’t offer much substance, I’m confused. It sounded to me as if both of them could go on and on about specifics of their plans for health care, tax reform, immigration, and just about everything else to the point of numbness.
  • Am I the only one who thinks that the obsession some talking heads had about which Hillary would show up at the debate — the cranky, the smooth, the conciliatory, the catty, the whiny — carried with it the odor of sexism? The implication is that women are prone to mood swings because they’re … women? The inverse implication is that men are ploddingly predictable and never have “off days.” Sheesh.

Pundit consensus is that this was the make-or-break debate for the Clinton campaign. We’ll know in a week. Or maybe sooner.