Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Live-blogging the Dem Cleveland debate
The Tao of Barack

By the traditional rules of debate, Hillary Clinton won this debate on substance. But Barack Obama doesn't play by those rules. He plays by the rules of the Taoists, whereby victory goes to the one who yields. Tonight he proved the point.

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Live-blogging the Dem Cleveland debate
Obama: I'm better

He's using the present tense in talking about himself as the nominee. She's using the past tense in talking about it having "been an honor" to have campaigned with Obama. And he did the same in talking about the campaign.

But in justifying her candidacy, Clinton said, "I think it's time we had a fighter back in the White House."

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Live-blogging the Dem Cleveland debate
Clinton: when anti-Semites embraced me, I rejected them

"There's a difference between rejecting and denouncing," Clinton said, appearing to try to make it seem as if Obama was trying to split the difference by not strongly enough disassociating himself from Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright.

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Live-blogging the Dem Cleveland debate
Tarring Obama with Farrakhan

Tim Russert is questioning Obama's stance towards Israel and the Jewish community -- because of Louis Farrakhan's endorsement.

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Live-blogging the Dem Cleveland debate
The public financing question

In asking Obama if he will hold to his promise, as Tim Russert cast it, to hold to only accept public campaign financing (in the general election), Russert said, "You seem to be waffling." Russert used the terms set by the Republican nominee apparent, John McCain, effectively making it seem as if Obama's nomination is a fait accompli.

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Live-blogging the Dem Cleveland debate
I'll give her points on delivery

That's Obama's response to a video showing of Clinton's critique of Obama's oratory, in which she mocked him, saying, "celestial choirs will sing..."

Clinton laughed heartily. A welcome moment of levity in a very tense debate.

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Live-blogging the Dem Cleveland debate
Would you go back in after you got out?

Huh? Tim Russert wants to know if Obama "reserve(s) the right" to go back into Iraq "with sizable troops" (as opposed to short people, one presumes) after having pulled out if the situation warrants. Huh?

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Live-blogging the Dem Cleveland debate
The meditational Obama

He's getting centered on national television while being castigated for being inexperienced in matters of foreign policy. Hands pressed together in front of his face, eyes lowered, he seems to be bringing himself to the middle path. Whoops -- now he seems to have remembered that he's supposed to be staring down his opponent.

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Live-blogging the Dem Cleveland debate
NAFTA natterings

NBC's Tim Russert started out going hard after Clinton on her previous support of NAFTA, trying to push her to say she would pull out of NAFTA. (She says she'll renegotiate.) Now Russert is accusing Obama of having been ambivalent on the issue, even though the Illinois senator has been sending out mailers in Ohio accusing Clinton of being a NAFTA booster (which she was, at one point).

Tactically, Obama seems to be seeking to disarm Clinton by saying her answer to Russert's NAFTA question was correct.

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Live-blogging the Dem Cleveland debate
Ask Barack if he's comfortable

Hillary Clinton made a point of noting, when asked the next question, that in the last several debates, she's always gotten the opening question. "I'm happy to answer," she said, but just wanted to make the point. She then made a reference to a Saturday Night Live segment that your blogstress did not see, saying that "Barack" should be asked if he's comfortable; if "he needs another pillow."

Obama did not take the bait. He did not even acknowledge the insult.

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Live-blogging the Dem Cleveland debate
Opening volley: dueling filibusters

Having started off the debate with a question on Barack Obama's disputed healthcare mailers, moderator Brian Williams unleashed Hillary Clinton's inner wonk on the topic she most cares about. The result, by Williams' own measure, was "a 16-minute discussion of healthcare."

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Live-blogging the Dem Cleveland debate
Who's staring down whom?

You'll recall, mes amis, that when last we saw our Democratic presidential rivals debate each other before the television cameras (less than a week ago), Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York fixed her gaze, quite constantly, on Sen. Barack Obama, a tactic that was noticed by commentators. Obama tended to write on note cards and issue wry smiles while looking down during Clinton's speeches.

So far the Cleveland debate has been a mutual stare-down contest. He does learn quickly, non?

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