I watched my first Presidential Debate of the season straight through tonight, and I remembered why I don't watch these this early - they are basically stupid.
That said, let me give my take on it, because I watched it, and darn it, I am going to tell you what I think, whether you like it or not. First, from my point of view, it was a good night for putting pressure on the Congress to end the war, through the use of the Not Spending power. It was the early focus of the debate and Edwards pounded on Clinton and Obama on showing leadership in Congress on ending the war through use of the Not Spending power. It was the highlight of the debate.
Frank Rich must be pleased to see Senator Joe Biden adopt his veto proof majority line, but not so pleased when he said it ain't gonna happen. I think the Rich line on Republicans ending the Debacle is basically DOA, and that is a good thing. Because now we can focus on the one way that the Debacle can be ended, by use of the Reid-Feingold-Dodd framework. I hope and believe this will be a continuing theme of the campaign.
Now, if you care about how the horserace aspect, you should realize that by the time the votes are cast early next year, NO ONE will remember this debate in the slightest. It will have ZERO effect on the election.
That said, I think that Blitzer's early insistence on making the debate a 3 way contest between the frontrunners was extremely unfair. It was just a joke from Blitzer. That said, the fact is the three top candidates took advantage of the opportunity Blitzer gave them.
Edwards was the best in the first half. Clinton was good in defense and Obama was a bit choppy in the first half. Edwards scored some points early on Iraq and was sharp on most every question he was offered. Clinton's explanation on her war vote is simply not credible and she will struggle with it throughout. Obama has done an amazing thing in my estimation, he has allowed himself to be tarred as timid on Iraq when he actually opposed the war from the start. It is a startling bit of bad politics by him. He is now grouped with Senator Clinton on the issue, a remarkable thing.
Interestingly, I thought once he sat down for the second part of the debate, Obama improved immensely. Smoother, sharper and quick. Clinton was solid as always and really nailed the "most important thing in the first hundred days question" - saying ending the Iraq Debacle would be her primary focus. Obama had good moments on Iran, imo, and using Dennis "Department of Peace" Kucinich as his foil. I thought Edwards blew the last question by NOT hammering on Iraq.
Biden was shouting all night but had his moments.
Richardson was, as he always is in my opinion, just awful. I think he is one of the worst public speakers I have ever seen.
My man Chris Dodd got no chance in this debate because of Wolf Blitzer. Just unfair.
Gravel and Kucinich are not my cup of tea at all so I will just issue a no comment on their performances.
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