I watched tonight's "debate" (I use that term loosely) on ABC between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as study prep for my radio debut next week.
First, if I had to call a "winner" tonight, it would be Hillary. She just looked better, for one thing; healthier, more relaxed and yet more animated, more concise and more interesting. Barack looked pretty damn tired, and he got off to a terrible start. Charlie Gibson threw his "bitter" quote from last week back at him and said, okay, you've said now you chose your words poorly. What did you really mean to say? Barack's response tonight frankly made less sense than it did the first time around.
Honestly, though, who cares? This was the 21st debate for the Democratic nomination. We know Barack can debate. We know he can speak eloquently and concisely and be inspiring. He can be funny and substantive. Tonight just wasn't his night. I don't think that changes the game.
I wish he'd been more on, and could have given a more forceful rejection and indictment of the idiotic "questions" thrown by George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson; they exemplified the politics of distraction which has disenchanted -- indeed, embittered -- voters across the country and the political spectrum. No wonder he looked exhausted: here he is campaigning to take over the White House from the criminal idiocy of the Bushies, and he has to keep swatting away these manufactured scandals.
I mean, my God, people. We kidnapped people from around the world, spirited them away to secret jails, never charged them with a crime, never granted them access to an attorney, gave them no opportunity to speak in their defense or see any evidence against them, we tortured them and some of them have died. And you want to ask, again, why Barack Obama isn't wearing a flag lapel pin?
Andrew Sullivan encapsulated my despair during his live-blogging coverage of the debate: "9.32 pm. No questions on the environment, none on terror, none on interrogation, none on torture, none on education, none on spending, none on healthcare, none on Iran ... but four separate questions in the first hour about a lapel-pin, Bitter-gate, Wright-gate and Ayers."