Thursday, January 31, 2008
your pretty face is going to hell:
The debate was tepid, very substantive and saw minimal distinction between Clinton and Obama. Then came Iraq. And it ceased to be close.

Obama made the full-spectrum critique of the Iraq war -- tougher on terrorism than she was, comprehensive in his reappraisal of foreign affairs, vociferous on the need to get out of Iraq and what its implications are. This critique that Matt noticed yesterday? It's not a fluke. This is his closing argument against Hillary, and then McCain.

And Clinton had... nothing. A tiny incompetence-dodge argument, an obfuscatory pretense that she didn't actually vote for the war, and a refusal to consider the error an error even when predicating her support for leaving Iraq on the fact that the war is filled with... errors. (Not that she was naive for backing the war!) For ten minutes, Hillary Clinton looked like her caricature. By the time Barack Obama started his reminder that the vote Clinton cast in October 2002 was a vote for the war by saying "I don't want to belabor this..." it was like a mercy killing.

I don't know how a single Democratic voter watches that exchange and thinks, "Yeah, I'm gonna vote for Hillary Clinton! The war was a tough call and maybe it wasn't a mistake, but it's a mistake now!"

Update: My friend Rebecca reminds me: at one point in Clinton's rambling, spastic defense of the Iraq war -- sorry, but it went beyond a defense of her vote -- she said that Saddam Hussein was "competing" to be a champion of the Arab world with Osama bin Laden. Or something. What was that all about? Is Steve Hayes writing her talking points?

Late Update: Welcome TPM readers! God, I've missed you guys. Please read The Washington Independent while you're at it! All praises are due to TPM's super-awesome Brooklynite news editor, Rachel Weiner, for linking this post to the most valuable real-estate on the Internet. Did you know Rachel and I went to the same junior high? Only she was in the smart-kid program?
--Spencer Ackerman
Clinton thinks that the fact she was outsmarted by GW Bush is exculpatory. That's really all you need to know about Clinton and the war.
Blogger Mike | 8:56 PM

Didn't you know about the Stalinist Arab Dictators having a popularity contest with Jihadis In Caves? Whoever blows up the most Great Sataners gets a door-prize and the eternal title "Master of Blowbacks".

It makes perfect sense if you just turn your winger-brain on.
Blogger d. robert | 10:59 PM

Seriously though Clinton pulled off a lot of very skillful maneuvers, not the least of which were the subtle memes she would inject. As in:

A) The "we were afraid of Saddam!" line we're discussing. Dovetails nicely with her "Terrorists tested Gordon Brown" theme from before.

B) In the immigration debate she spoke to "an African American man" who apparently served as a foil for her to reinforce the racial tone of a race-loaded question. What the heck was that? Trying to get the black vote back? It looked almost like she was validating a race-based labor dispute in explicitly racial terms.
Blogger d. robert | 11:10 PM