Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Ouch

Sometimes a candidate has an off debate night. Sometimes he leaves his best lines out on the stump. But a performance as bad as Barack Obama’s, this late in the campaign before a critical primary is unusual. And don’t take our word for it: Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch and ouch. The most devoted Obamaphile sums it up:

It was a lifeless, exhausted, drained and dreary Obama we saw tonight. I’ve seen it before when he is tired, but this was his worst performance yet on national television. He seemed crushed and unable to react. This is big-time politics and he’s up against the Clinton wood-chipper. But there is no disguising the fact that he wilted, painfully. . . .Obama has to survive and even thrive under this assault if he is to win. He failed tonight in a big way. And so this was indeed a huge night for the Republicans, and the first real indicator to me that Clinton is gaining in her fundamental goal at this point: the election of John McCain against Barack Obama. How else will she rescue the Democrats from hope?

And the post-debate fact-checking on guns and Bill Ayers is not helping matters. In short, the media may now be off Snobgate, but they will spend the next few days on “What The Heck Went Wrong?” analysis.

With all the geshrying over how hard the questions were, one wonders what the Obama supporters and media fan club think a general election would look like. Did they really believe that Bill Ayers would not come up? Did they think no 527 ads would mention the flag pin? Was the media not going to ever mention Reverend Wright again?

This only seems to confirm Hillary Clinton’s argument that Obama is unprepared to take the scrutiny which will come with the nomination. The more they holler “Foul!” the more Clinton will say “Told ‘ya so.”

Her audience, don’t forget, is not just Pennsylvania voters but lots of superdelegates who watch the debate and read the coverage. Harold Ickes, Clinton’s superdelegate persuader-in-chief, now will have something new to talk to them about.


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