Commentary Magazine


Posts For: January 5, 2008

NEW HAMPSHIRE: An Evening of Blogging

There were two presidential debates tonight (Saturday, January 5) — one among the Democrats and one among the Republicans. Just look below this post for dozens of posts throughout the evening offering reactions and responses to the hijinks in New Hampshire. Good night.

There were two presidential debates tonight (Saturday, January 5) — one among the Democrats and one among the Republicans. Just look below this post for dozens of posts throughout the evening offering reactions and responses to the hijinks in New Hampshire. Good night.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Recession

Hillary Clinton’s introduction of the possibility of recession — the first time the word was used this evening — made her sound commanding. The weakness of the economy, I suspect, will be the most powerful theme in the race for the next month, precisely because no one really knows how things will pan out. Yet once again, this reminds us that failure is the Democratic strong suit. Clinton’s response to economic uncertainty is to talk about fuel efficiency and the under-taxed wealthy. There is a serious opportunity here for sunny, Reaganesque optimism here in response.

Hillary Clinton’s introduction of the possibility of recession — the first time the word was used this evening — made her sound commanding. The weakness of the economy, I suspect, will be the most powerful theme in the race for the next month, precisely because no one really knows how things will pan out. Yet once again, this reminds us that failure is the Democratic strong suit. Clinton’s response to economic uncertainty is to talk about fuel efficiency and the under-taxed wealthy. There is a serious opportunity here for sunny, Reaganesque optimism here in response.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: My Nightmare

Hillary Clinton becomes president, and talks incessantly, as she just did, about “emergency weatherization” tax credits.

Hillary Clinton becomes president, and talks incessantly, as she just did, about “emergency weatherization” tax credits.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Hillary Against Lobbyists for Drug Companies?

Clinton likes to accuse her opponents of having staff members who are “lobbyists for the drug companies.” It’s a specious, meaningless charge. But shouldn’t someone point out that Mark Penn, chief Hillary strategist, is also CEO of Burson-Marsteller, the PR firm for Wyeth, Pfizer, Amgen and hundreds of other corporations? I don’t see anything wrong with Mark Penn’s career, but the depth of her phoniness is breathtaking.

Clinton likes to accuse her opponents of having staff members who are “lobbyists for the drug companies.” It’s a specious, meaningless charge. But shouldn’t someone point out that Mark Penn, chief Hillary strategist, is also CEO of Burson-Marsteller, the PR firm for Wyeth, Pfizer, Amgen and hundreds of other corporations? I don’t see anything wrong with Mark Penn’s career, but the depth of her phoniness is breathtaking.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Hillary’s Only Pitch

“Words are not action. And as beautifully presented and passionately felt as they are, they are not action.” This is the territory on which she must stake her ground — that she is actually more “authentic” than Obama because she is not as eloquent as he is, and because she is more of a doer than a talker.

“Words are not action. And as beautifully presented and passionately felt as they are, they are not action.” This is the territory on which she must stake her ground — that she is actually more “authentic” than Obama because she is not as eloquent as he is, and because she is more of a doer than a talker.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Nothing Like Victory…

…to get a politician revved up, Daniel. The story of 2007 in the Democratic field was that Barack Obama was terrible in the debates — confused, halting, wooden. Suddenly, in this debate, he is poised, comfortable, eloquent, and a pleasure to watch.

…to get a politician revved up, Daniel. The story of 2007 in the Democratic field was that Barack Obama was terrible in the debates — confused, halting, wooden. Suddenly, in this debate, he is poised, comfortable, eloquent, and a pleasure to watch.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Reviewing the First Half of the Democratic Debate

A reaction to the first half of the Democratic debate: What a shame that we have been denied a four-person stage for so many months. What a relief to be free of Kucinich, Gravel, Biden, et. al.

Clinton: Now with a loss under her belt, she appears to be trying harder — maybe too hard has the best arguments and facts, and the least amount of presidential personality. She is incapable of a presidential moment.  (By the way, does anyone really believe she is ready to be president on Day One?)

Obama:  He has the mannerism of a rock star with a number one hit. He refuses to be flustered, even when he doesn’t have anything to say.

Edwards:  He is still trying to persuade the audience that greed is the problem. That theme has never really taken off this year, but he is still selling fear and anger to a Democratic crowd that has never been more optimistic.

Richardson:  He keeps pushing his resume, which is remarkable.  But he is so verbose and self-important that it strips him of any presidential aura.  And boy, is he angling for a VP seat.

A reaction to the first half of the Democratic debate: What a shame that we have been denied a four-person stage for so many months. What a relief to be free of Kucinich, Gravel, Biden, et. al.

Clinton: Now with a loss under her belt, she appears to be trying harder — maybe too hard has the best arguments and facts, and the least amount of presidential personality. She is incapable of a presidential moment.  (By the way, does anyone really believe she is ready to be president on Day One?)

Obama:  He has the mannerism of a rock star with a number one hit. He refuses to be flustered, even when he doesn’t have anything to say.

Edwards:  He is still trying to persuade the audience that greed is the problem. That theme has never really taken off this year, but he is still selling fear and anger to a Democratic crowd that has never been more optimistic.

Richardson:  He keeps pushing his resume, which is remarkable.  But he is so verbose and self-important that it strips him of any presidential aura.  And boy, is he angling for a VP seat.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Likable

Hillary Clinton says Barack Obama is “very likable. I don’t think I’m so bad.” Obama: “You’re likable enough.” A little graceless on his part.

Hillary Clinton says Barack Obama is “very likable. I don’t think I’m so bad.” Obama: “You’re likable enough.” A little graceless on his part.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Clinton Rewrites Her Attack On The Surge

Hillary is asked to defend her remark that it would take a “willing suspension of disbelief” to believe the surge in Iraq could work. Her answer: “That’s right.” She claims she opposed it correctly because the Iraqi government hasn’t made political progress. It would take a willing suspension of disbelief to accept her coy revision of her own line. In her statement at the time, she did mention political problems, but as a subsidiary point to her main critique, which was that there was little evidence of a reduction in violence. She also scoffed at claims of a change-from-below among Sunnis in Anbar province, and she was patently wrong about that.

Hillary is asked to defend her remark that it would take a “willing suspension of disbelief” to believe the surge in Iraq could work. Her answer: “That’s right.” She claims she opposed it correctly because the Iraqi government hasn’t made political progress. It would take a willing suspension of disbelief to accept her coy revision of her own line. In her statement at the time, she did mention political problems, but as a subsidiary point to her main critique, which was that there was little evidence of a reduction in violence. She also scoffed at claims of a change-from-below among Sunnis in Anbar province, and she was patently wrong about that.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Democrats for Failure

When asked about whether the surge worked, the Democrats at tonight’s debate give us the best sense of why a Republican can win in November. They are all desperate to sell failure — only moments after an ABC report flatly said that the surge has succeeded to reduce violence in Iraq in a huge way.  If, ten months from now, the election becomes a referendum about declaring defeat and going home or accepting signs of success and figuring out how to build on it, the success team will be in a much better place.

When asked about whether the surge worked, the Democrats at tonight’s debate give us the best sense of why a Republican can win in November. They are all desperate to sell failure — only moments after an ABC report flatly said that the surge has succeeded to reduce violence in Iraq in a huge way.  If, ten months from now, the election becomes a referendum about declaring defeat and going home or accepting signs of success and figuring out how to build on it, the success team will be in a much better place.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Bill Richardson Makes a Fool of Himself

Richardson gets laughs by throwing out his prefabricated line: “I’ve been involved in hostage negotiations more civil than this.” He shouldn’t have. This is an extraordinarily civil debate.

Richardson gets laughs by throwing out his prefabricated line: “I’ve been involved in hostage negotiations more civil than this.” He shouldn’t have. This is an extraordinarily civil debate.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: John Edwards Implies He Is Being Oppressed…

…by the forces of the status quo. Because he wants change. Usually, oppressed people don’t have 28,000 square-foot mansions.

…by the forces of the status quo. Because he wants change. Usually, oppressed people don’t have 28,000 square-foot mansions.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Is Obama A Flip-Flopper?

Hillary does a very, very good job of making the case that Obama doesn’t fulfill his campaign promises and changes his positions — without anger and without shrillness. Obama, in response, speaks eloquently and beautifully and says nothing to address the charge.

Hillary does a very, very good job of making the case that Obama doesn’t fulfill his campaign promises and changes his positions — without anger and without shrillness. Obama, in response, speaks eloquently and beautifully and says nothing to address the charge.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Obama Goes Right to the Treaty

In responding to a hypothetical about a nuclear strike on the United States, Barack Obama says we need to repair the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In responding to a hypothetical about a nuclear strike on the United States, Barack Obama says we need to repair the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: John Edwards Wants the President to Be a Prozac Pill

John Edwards, asked about a nuclear bomb going off in an American city, says something inane and then something bizarre: “The first thing is, we have to find out who’s responsible and go after them.” Oh. “Secondly, it is the responsibility of the United States, of the president in times like this, to be a force for principled strength but also calmness…to do it in a way that is calming for the American people and calming for the world.” Yes. Because that’s what we’ll need after a nuclear attack. Calmness.

John Edwards, asked about a nuclear bomb going off in an American city, says something inane and then something bizarre: “The first thing is, we have to find out who’s responsible and go after them.” Oh. “Secondly, it is the responsibility of the United States, of the president in times like this, to be a force for principled strength but also calmness…to do it in a way that is calming for the American people and calming for the world.” Yes. Because that’s what we’ll need after a nuclear attack. Calmness.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Hillary the Hawk, Kind Of

Hillary Clinton just said the United States did not “aggressively go after” Bin Laden in Afghanistan, and that we need to do so now. How should we do it? With “NATO troops.”

Hillary Clinton just said the United States did not “aggressively go after” Bin Laden in Afghanistan, and that we need to do so now. How should we do it? With “NATO troops.”

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Obama and the Bush Doctrine

Charlie Gibson claims Barack Obama’s claim he would attack Al Qaeda in Pakistan when we have actionable intelligence even if the government there denied us the right to do so is an extension of the Bush Doctrine. Obama was flustered at the very notion…and he was right to be flustered, since that is a bizarre mischaracterization of the Bush Doctrine.

Charlie Gibson claims Barack Obama’s claim he would attack Al Qaeda in Pakistan when we have actionable intelligence even if the government there denied us the right to do so is an extension of the Bush Doctrine. Obama was flustered at the very notion…and he was right to be flustered, since that is a bizarre mischaracterization of the Bush Doctrine.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: A Strangely Touching Moment

ABC’s Charlie Gibson, who is moderating these back-to-back debates, asked at the conclusion of the Republican contest for the Democratic candidates to come out and shake hands with the Republicans. They had a civil minute of joshing and smiling. I don’t want to sound sappy, but there was something lovely about it.

ABC’s Charlie Gibson, who is moderating these back-to-back debates, asked at the conclusion of the Republican contest for the Democratic candidates to come out and shake hands with the Republicans. They had a civil minute of joshing and smiling. I don’t want to sound sappy, but there was something lovely about it.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Vertical Leadership

Mike Huckabee, speaking either some kind of Business Book argot unknown to me or inventing an entirely new system of political-science categorization, says Americans are tired of horizontal leadership and want vertical leadership. This might have worked as a double-entendre criticism of Bill Clinton, but it’s incomprehensible in this context.

Mike Huckabee, speaking either some kind of Business Book argot unknown to me or inventing an entirely new system of political-science categorization, says Americans are tired of horizontal leadership and want vertical leadership. This might have worked as a double-entendre criticism of Bill Clinton, but it’s incomprehensible in this context.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Perhaps Noticing That Romney Was Doing Well…

…the last third of the debate features a major gang-up on Romney, and he hasn’t handled it all that well.

…the last third of the debate features a major gang-up on Romney, and he hasn’t handled it all that well.

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