new hampshire

This is my response to Dick Morris’ recent blog entry at the Hill’s Pundit Blog.

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Hmmmm . . . maybe the Democratic debate I was watching on CNN’s Internet site (called Pipeline) was not the same debate that the rest of America was watching on CNN’s cable TV channel.

To me, Hillary seemed in command of issues and, as important, time and time again, re-framed issues and questions in ways that substantively addressed questions and, in so doing, educated the viewing audience on different ways at looking at issues.

For example, I liked her response to the question about how candidates, if elected, would utilize Bill Clinton: Hillary offered the only unique answer in re-framing the question, in effect saying the issue is not how to use Bill but how to use all past Presidents. My point: Hillary was on her toes and in command of the moment.

More importantly, she didn’t get suckered into a debate with Edwards, although he tried to draw her into one, especially on the question of Iraq.

Remember how she re-framed Edward’s thesis about Democrats and Iraq, from one in which certain Democrats (i.e Clinton and Obama) have been slow and silent in doing the right thing vis-a-vis Iraq, into the larger and more important point, on how Democrats are united in reversing Bush-Cheney’s failure in Iraq? I also liked her line about Dick Cheney, a riposte that came across as genuinely funny.

Thus, I can’t agree with your observations on Hillary in New Hampshire.

I agree with you that Obama did very well in terms of parrying and thrusting with Edwards and others, particularly on the virtues of their respective health-care proposals and on Iraq. That line by Barak was a memorable zinger (“You’re about four and a half years late on leadership on this issue”), as was the way he challenged the premise of the moderator’s question on whether or not English should be our “official” language. (By the way, I wasn’t impressed with Hillary’s legalistic distinction between “national” and “official” language, although I think I agree with her.)

I think Obama left a series of memorable and positive lasting impressions on the viewing audience. For good or bad, the voting public, I believe, base decisions on sum of impressions cast over time as much as on particulars. So, although Barak is still behind, at least he’s keeping pace with Hillary, and he’s in striking reach of her.

As for Hillary, she’s the big kahuna and, contrary to what you write, I didn’t see her losing an inch. In fact, she distanced herself from Edwards. Whereas she was presidential in the sense of re-framing issues from the vantage point of the bigger picture, Edwards, to me, seemed nit-picky.

As for Edwards, I believe he had to go into last night saying that there is a FUNDAMENTAL difference between he, Obama and Clinton, and he had to do so convincingly (i.e. not in a “nit picky” kind of way); as they left the auditorium or turned off their TV sets, the viewing audience was supposed to agree with Edward’s value proposition in part or in full. Edwards had to draw a lasting and fundamental distinction last night because the vast majority of Americans and Democrats are going to tune out presidential politics for the next three months — it’s summer time and our minds are (or soon will be) elsewhere (hot summer lazy days, Fourth of July, summer vacation, summer camp for kids, new school year for kids, etc)! We’re already overloaded as it is. But both Obama and Clinton rebuffed Edwards, as the skilled debaters that they probably are and had been in back in the days in high school and college.

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