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A Debate About the Future


Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Il.) stand at their podiums during a break in the Democratic Presidential Debate at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, April 16, 2008. (Reuters)

By Dan Balz
PHILADELPHIA -- Barack Obama got the first real glimpse here Tuesday night of what he will face if he becomes the Democratic presidential nominee. Between now and November, the most important question he will be forced to answer is: Who is Barack Obama?

That was the subtext of the relentless questioning he faced at the National Constitution Center here on Tuesday. For the first half of the debate, ABC's Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos threw one question after another at Obama that all shared the same underlying themes: what are your values and what do you believe?

This was the first debate in which Obama felt the real heat that comes with being the front-runner for the Democratic nomination -- and it was an uncomfortable, though not necessarily politically damaging, evening for the senator from Illinois.

Because of who she is, Hillary Clinton long has been treated as the leading candidate in the battle for the Democratic nomination. Even after she slipped well behind Obama in pledged delegates, even after his February winning streak, even after her path to victory had almost disappeared, Clinton still often found herself under the microscope, asked to explain and clarify and justify her positions and her campaign tactics.

On Tuesday it was Obama's turn. How does he explain his long association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and did he deliberately look away when he heard things that were truly offensive? What did he really mean by his comments at that fundraiser in San Francisco, where he was no doubt enveloped in a cocoon of liberal supporters? What was his relationship with William Ayers, once a member of the radical Weather Underground?

There was so much to deal with that the name Tony Rezko, Obama's longtime friend and fundraiser -- who is now on trial on corruption charges -- was not even mentioned.

Some viewers took umbrage at the questions. After all, it took 45 minutes or more to get to real policy, which is where the discussion remained for the rest of the night. But after 20 previous debates, Obama and Clinton had plowed through much, though not all, of the policy ground they were asked to return to on Tuesday. What had not taken place was a prime-time airing of questions that some voters may have about Obama -- and that his Republican opponents sense will be the keys to winning or losing in November.

Obama is the least known of the three remaining candidates. Hillary Clinton has been on the public stage for two decades, John McCain even longer. They bear scars from that exposure, particularly Clinton. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll underscored how damaging even this campaign has been to her. A majority of Americans do not think she is honest or trustworthy; a majority now have an unfavorable impression of her.

Obama is not in that situation. His campaign for president has been extraordinary in many respects. For the most part, he has handled the adversities that have come his way, whether from his own missteps or the barbs of his opponents. And yet, it is clear that his biggest challenge going forward will be to make the country fully comfortable with who he is, where he has come from and what he believes.

The campaign has begun to take a toll on him, as first the Rev. Wright controversy erupted and, more recently, his comments about small town values came to dominate the political dialogue. Neither appears at this stage to have damaged him significantly in his bid for the nomination. He remains on a slow grind toward that prize.

But the signs of doubt and disillusionment from a wider audience have been growing. Some prominent conservative thinkers, people initially drawn to Obama's inspirational message of hope and unity, have taken a second look and come away with serious reservations about him. Republican strategists, who long have credited him with running an impressive campaign, now see vulnerabilities that were not evident early on.

Democratic pollster Peter Hart long has said that Obama must yet cross a threshold with the voters before he can be elected president. That threshold is more than whether he is ready to be president, whether he can be a credible commander in chief. Instead it to give people a sense of confidence that he is someone with whom they feel comfortable, that he shares with them a life story and a set of values they expect of their president.

Obama repeated Tuesday night what he has often said on the campaign trail, that his is a story that could only have happened in America. Born to a biracial couple, raised by a single mother without much money, given the opportunity to attend prestigious universities and succeeding in that competitive environment, then working his way up from community organizer to the first African American with a genuine chance to become president. That is the uplifting side of his candidacy, the stuff of story books.

But his also is an unusual story, as befits someone who was born of a father from Kenya, who lived in Indonesia as a child, who grappled with his own racial identity, who worked on the streets of Chicago's South Side and who now, after only a few years in the Senate, seeks to occupy the most powerful office in the world.

Some of this is clearly frustrating to Obama. First he was not black enough, now because of Rev. Wright he is accused of being too black. He and his mother struggled on limited means and now he is accused of being an elitist. Even more frustrating are the outright falsehoods that have trailed him throughout the campaign.

He has been running now for almost 15 months. His positions on Iraq, health care and the economy have been laid out and, if not dissected fully by the voters, at least discussed at considerable length. But winning the presidency requires meeting other tests and Tuesday's debate offered a preview of what is to come if Obama wins the Democratic nomination.

This is by no means an insurmountable test for Obama -- nor is it unfair of the media or his opponents to put him through this. Obama has reached a point in the campaign where he can almost touch the nomination. The presidency itself remains farther out in the distance, and reachable only if he successfully cross additional hurdles. That's what made the Philadelphia debate important.

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 17, 2008; 12:43 PM ET
Categories:  Dan Balz's Take  
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Next: Obama, Post-Debate, Decries "Gotcha Games"

Comments

I think we can all agree the "flag pin" question was a bit much, though I didn't realize "the women on the street" who asked the question was actually someone the NY Times quoted about this, but all these other questions really were legitimate. The media has focused on the Rev. Wright and "bitter" remarks ad nauseum, and this IS the first debate held since these issues came up. But the larger point is that of the other 20-something debates, many of them focused rather harshly on Clinton's negatives. This ONE debate was more focused on Obama's, the front runner's, negatives, and the whining is deafening - just deafening. I think that highlights pretty starkly just how great the bias in the media really is. And let's face it, if he had actually performed well, no one would be saying a word, other than to praise how he tough he is.

This entire argument highlights IMO a greater issue, the liberal media's overwhelming favoritism toward Obama, and that's actually the more substantive issue here. When Clinton was the front-runner, that was the "excuse" for her getting the majority of the hammering. If Obama makes it to the general election, you can bet he's going to get roughed up plenty and that these issues are going to come up again.

I know Obama supporters and the Obamedia are angry about this debate - well take a walk in my shoes. This is how the frustraition feels when the media is unduly influencing this election.

But Obama sure never complained about being the liberal media's darling for all these months. So . . . he can cry me a river. He's still way ahead on the media bias scale.

Here's an interesting article on the pin issue:

CNN's glass house: Sr. VP reportedly criticized ABC debate question about flag pin -- but CNN has repeatedly covered issue

http://mediamatters.org/items/200804180011

Posted by: Teri B. | April 20, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Quote: "To the Obama slimy gutter rats"
"So long, Obama gutter rats.
"The Obama supporting pukes promptly go on the whiny binge, calling WaPo a Clinton rag.
These buffoons have to be joking, except they are not funny, and they reek of vomit."
"please don't come running to us Clinton supporters for help. You anaimals stink."
"ANd yet, the Pampers diapered Obama supporters keep whining till the PA primary that their man got asked by ABC about statements he heimself made..."

Now there is your typical Clinton supporter, under-educated as the exit polls say, and as foul-mouthed as the Senator from New York.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

So Sen Clinton gets endorsed by 3 actual superDs and it gets a small print link on NYT and nothing at all on WaPo. Obama gets endorsed 3 old foggies (with one of them being a well known backstabber who has been all over the media badmouthing CLinton for a while now) whose support counts for exactly nothing, and the endorsement gets BIG print, big link, and talked all over the net, TV, blogs...

ANd yet, the Pampers diapered Obama supporters keep whining till the PA primary that their man got asked by ABC about statements he heimself made, and about the pastor who married him and got his children baptized.

When Sen Clinton got grilled by "I am Mr Fair" Russert over the spelling of Medvedenko (or Medvedev, or some gas company CEO Putin lackey), none of these same Obama fans moved a lip and said that was n't a relevant question.

ANd yet, these Obama supporters think they can win the general election w/o the support of 1/2 of the democratic party.

Keep dreaming.

Posted by: intcamd | April 18, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

The WaPo, after thoroughly infested with racist and sexist viruses like Eugene Robinson, Colby scumbag, EJ Dionne, Gerson, and other assorted pondscum, finally posts a token article saying that the debate was not unbelievably unfair to Hussein Obama.

The Obama supporting pukes promptly go on the whiny binge, calling WaPo a Clinton rag.

These buffoons have to be joking, except theyare not funny, and they reek of vomit.

When Mr Hussein Obama is given a proper Lee Atwater and Karl treatment in the fall, please don't come running to us Clinton supporters for help. You anaimals stink. Please turn to your pits of the earth heroes and heroines like Rich, Reich, Dowd, Kristoff, Matthews and other stinkeroos to try and stem the damage, but by then, Obama will be likethe emperor with no clothes.

Posted by: intcamd | April 18, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

The Obama suppporting gutter rats are whining all over the net, as is their main man, that oh mommy, he got asked a question or two on Wright, and how MR Hussein Obama himself shot his Harvard educated mouth all over the topic of bitterness and further compounded by saying joblessness leads to clinging to god and intolerance of strangers.

The same Obama gutter rats and their main man Obama of course sat smiling smugly through 20 debates as moderators piled on Hillary, asked her to spell the name of Medvedenko, to taking the mike away from her for a commercial, to thundering her down on driver licenses for illegals, and so on; in the mean times, spinster bi**&es like MoDowd were yucking up all over the net about what Hillary wears, her hair, her sex life, her husband's sex life and so on.

To the Obama slimy gutter rats, any thing is fair game on Clinton, but oh no, their main is not to be touched.

Come the fall, when he is raked over the coal by the Rethugs, the CLinton supporters will be smiling as well. Hopefully, a whole bunch of us will vote McCain or write ROn Paul's name or just sit home and enjoy the balmy Nov weather.

So long, Obama gutter rats.

Posted by: intcamd | April 18, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

From today's news. Another one:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Robert Reich, a former labor secretary during President Bill Clinton's administration, endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday.

"My conscience won't let me be silent any longer," Reich wrote on his blog in announcing the endorsement for Obama, who is in a hard-fought Democratic presidential battle with former first lady Hillary Clinton.

Reich said he had delayed a formal endorsement because of "the pull of old friendships" but he believed Obama offered the best chance of creating a new kind of politics and transcending old divisions."

Posted by: wly34 | April 18, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

bi-racial. Anyone could have put up that link on the internet. Including YOU??

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

All I know is that biracial people have been talking about taking over the world for some time now (see: Biracial World Domination - http://www.biracialworlddomination.com ) and it looks like Barack Obama is just claiming whatever racial heritage he needs in order to further their goals.

Posted by: biracial | April 18, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I think that I have worn a flag lapel pin once in my long life. And someone else pinned it on me then.

Does that make me a bad American?? Nope.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"Some viewers took umbrage at the questions."

You haven't been paying close attention. A visit to the post-debate forum at ABC News, among many other sites, will reveal to you the near universal loathing that's representative of the feeling viewers had about the circus sideshow that masqueraded as a debate. You also seem blithely unaware or unconcerned that the questions raised in the first 50 minutes of the "debate" have been answered so many times that rehashing them on Wednesday night merely has the effect of badgering the witness. With the exception of yourself, David Brooks, and a handful of other mediocrities which whom you really don't want to be associated, most reasonable people recognize the questioning of both Clinton and Obama (but mostly Obama) as a reputation-destroying hatchet job. The sad conclusion your readers must draw from your "Take" is that Barack Obama can offer no explanations or justifications for any of his decisions, choices, or beliefs that will satisfy folks like you.

(This may be a double post. If so, my apologies.)

Posted by: Sam Hankins | April 18, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Senator Clinton has my vote if I were an American. Cable Tv is looking for cable repair personnel who can dodge sniper fire. By the way, where was her Pin??

Posted by: justadad55 | April 18, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

When Clinton was asked about sniper fire in Bosnia, I wish Obama would have asked permission to answer that question on Clintons behalf. He could have made a sharp case against gotcha Politics by pointing out that the issue had been rehashed on end for the past weeks and that both he and Clinton were there to discuss Politics, to debate issues that matter to the American people in their daily lives. In this way, Obama would have undoubtably won acclamation from both campaign camps. He thereby would have pressured ABC to change the course of the debate and he would have come across as both with it and above it. - Michael Mettler, Switzerland

Posted by: Michael Mettler | April 18, 2008 7:04 AM | Report abuse

If they were both to be forced to wear flag lapel pins jammed into their foreheads until they die, Stephie and Gibson--and now by extension, Balz--shouldn't live their performance in this "debate" down. Before the next election the entire journalist-moderator-45-seconds-to-reply format should be junked. It leads to consistently awful results and has since the 1970s.

And my God, that Mr. Gibson, who normally poses as Mr. Average Joe, is sure worried about anybody raising his capital-gains taxes!

Posted by: Anthony | April 18, 2008 4:22 AM | Report abuse

Long ago, in the posh suburbs of NY, a plan was hatched.

"We shall find a man, a man who is totally unelectable. He must be able to hide his unelectable nature until there are only two left."

Later, the man kept winning, one after another of his faults kept blowing up all around him. He stank horribly, but the people kept voting for him.

"What is this?", she said, "How is this happening?" "We do not know" they told her honestly, "the man is an obvious Marxist, he is secretly a Muslim, his wife is the only woman is the world hated more than you, he has been exposed as a hater of whites, Jews and small town America, a hater in fact of all things American, yet they keep voting for him and defending him"

So she fired them all. Then she had him secretly drugged just before an important debate. He babbled and stuttered and stammered his way through that night, looking totally confused. "Brilliant!!!" his supporters screamed. "God damn ABC", yelled others.

Alas the end is not yet written, stay tuned to see how it ends.

Posted by: Hello Everyone | April 18, 2008 2:35 AM | Report abuse

stupid article.

Posted by: tabassum | April 18, 2008 1:25 AM | Report abuse

Hillary should have won Super Tuesday with all of her base infrastructure and Clinton machine and old brand name but did not! As to the vetting "show"-- passed off as debate--of Barack Obama by ABC moderators and Hillary, yes Senator O did manage to see it through with a degree of composure. BUT obviously O was not prepared to withstand attack by the 2 moderators and Hillary v. Barack Obama (Vetting). The old guy moderator was even discourteous to Obama, interrupting Obama as he responded to questions!
But, contrary to posts congratulating you for performance of last evening, Hillary, you lost again big with your, "yes, yes, yes"! Remember, under cover of MSM and "shows" your campaign handlers & you said, "no, no, no". For shame, Hillary! Last evening debate you showed yourself a liar again and also a big coward--your closing statement was slack, after having spent all your energy attacking Obama. Obama's closing was thoughtful, on his message, strong enough after the drubbing by 3 on 1. Unsurprisingly, an dismayed audience expressed vocal outrage for the ABC hit "debate" and moderation.
Time's Halperin scored Obama and Hillary B range overall for style, substance, offense, defense, indicating that the debate did not change front runner status of Obama. Time's Halperin noted that Hillary camp would view H as the winner based on the outward dynamics. IMO Hillary didn't convince supers that she is the ONE: That is unless, supers want to send to the GE a consummate liar who also showed herself flopper and coward in response "can O beat McC?"question. But Hillary did say that she may be many things but she was not dumb: =dumb enough to say "no, no, no" to the O beat McC question in full broadcast, though she and her campaign say so on "shows," MSM, conference calls, etc. all the time!
The democratic party should broker an endgame with neither Hillary or Obama as nominee--since Hillary lost at super Tuesday and has responded by reacting so viciously to the campaign of Obama: She's a surrogate for the republican McCain. I am so ashamed of the democratic party's fiasco of a primary. So, I'm finished following it after PA April 22. How sad sad sad sad a primary! Out of Control!

BTW this post of Whippy is ON MESSAGE:
"Actually, the subtext of the questioning was *not*
"Who is Barack Obama?"
The subtext was "What can the media -- and Hillary and McCain -- get away with pretending Barack Obama is?"
Trying to fit him into a dismissive storyline hasn't worked, so far."
BTW this post of ? is OFF TOTALLY:
"... I say to all those who have been penalized for fighting tough battles. To all those who have paid their dues only to see a cute, ambitious upstart stroll in and steal the show. To all those who favor substance over style. To all those who have had to work so hard only to see the tall and young and good-looking get the credit. To all those who are sick of seeing hard earned experience get wiped out by 'charisma'..."
No, with everything going for her Hillary was out-strategized by young Barack Obama.
FINALLY, Senator O may not win because he is 21st century phenomenon; he is the global new world order; he is an American some Americans FEAR for such reasons as first USA president potentially of the new global order of governments. He is young, brilliant, and fresh. IMO, Hillary and McCain truly fear Obama who campaigns out of a new playbook. So, at endgame now Hillary, Bill, with McCain, with media vet him. Obama upended team Hillary and Bill; but Obama is indeed struggling now Vs. Billary the McCain surrogates AND McCain abetted by their operatives? Three vs. One.

Posted by: Victoria PA | April 18, 2008 1:03 AM | Report abuse


OBAMA failed the test during the debate. He still has a lot of questions to answer for... especially his association with Ayres - the TERRORIST!

Posted by: East Side Love | April 18, 2008 12:37 AM | Report abuse

To some extent this was more of a belated interview than a debate, with Barack Obama having to answer questions about his personal associations. But some of us actually do want to know more about Barack Obama's character. Reasonable people are not going to get hung up on whether he wears an American flag on his lapel. But there are reasonable concerns about some of his personal associations. These are not easy questions, but they are an important part of the vetting process. Even if some of these questions have been asked before, Obama still was not providing satisfactory answers on ABC. The defensiveness of Obama supporters is telling in itself - if he was able to provide straight answers, they would not have to post thousands of angry rebukes of the questioning.

Posted by: Ross | April 18, 2008 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Look this is one of the few times Obama got the Hillary treatment from the media, and he didn't look near as good as she does when the going gets tough.

Obama took the Karl Rove playbook from Bush's 2000 campaign. . . . AND NOW, he's acting just like Bush did toward Florida . . . and now also Michigan.

If Obama was a real difference maker, he would be saying things like, "I'd rather the people have a real say, than be President. Let's seat those delegates and let the chips fall where they may."

But no, with Florida and Michigan Obama's shown his true colors -- and they are not noble, just a plain, ordinary, tell the lies politican.

Anyone, who wants a President that can rise above the muck of politics and bring an honorable standard to the White House, need look no further than Florida and Michigan to see that Obama's not their man.

Posted by: Coldcomfort | April 18, 2008 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Obama going to change how things are done in Washington. Every election the candidates say that and it is the same and has been since John Adams. Our founding fathers foresaw it and designed a system around it. Learn from history or you will repeat it. George Bush ran on a platform of changing how business is done in Washington and ending partisanship, and look what that got us. The Obama supports have drunk the cool-aid and are incredibly out of touch with reality. Obama needs to be touch enough to deal with the "Swift boat" attacks and all the scrutiny that every other Presidential candidate has had to live through for the last 35 years. Get over it and grow up. Everyone blames the press when they are not receiving flattering stories; the press merely asks what thousands if not millions of Americans ask. Nice to see Obama finally getting scrutiny. So stop being cry babies.

Posted by: Amused | April 18, 2008 12:11 AM | Report abuse

You write, approvingly:

"...Obama must yet cross a threshold with the voters before he can be elected president. That threshold is more than whether he is ready to be president, whether he can be a credible commander in chief. Instead it to give people a sense of confidence that he is someone with whom they feel comfortable, that he shares with them a life story and a set of values they expect of their president."

Huh? Are you saying that Obama needs to make voters feel like he's someone they'd like to have a beer with?

Isn't that the Washington Borg mindset that got us into this atrocious war? Isn't that the mindset that has given us 43 white male presidents?

Haven't you Washington turds learned ANYTHING??????

ABC/Washington Post sucks.

Posted by: Amy | April 18, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

The President of the United States is the most powerful position in the world. The individual who is seeking such a position cannot shrink from any questions, and must be able to explain himself or herself, fully and completely, and without exception. The president must be above reproach in all aspects. That President Bush may be viewed as not attaining that standard cannot justify an argument that such a standard is obsolete. If any candidate, Democrat, Republican or any Third Party chooses to run for that office, that person must be able to be tough and to handle any situation. While I am 'only' 43 years old, I have followed politics for most of my life, and I cannot remember any debate where the moderators were blamed and attacked with such vitriol and name calling as what has occurred with this debate. My impression is that the moderators posed very difficult and very relevant questions to both candidates, and that the reason that those who are blogging who support Obama are so beside themselves is that the curtain on this candidate, and what he stands for, and who he associates with (which are issues that are unquestionably relevant), has been lifted, and he has now been asked to explain himself and now has been compelled to reconcile his beliefs, which, by most accounts are not shared by the majority of voting Americans (emphasis on 'voting'), with such a majority view. Going just a bit further, it almost seems as though there is some trepidation on the part of Obama supporters that their candidate will be so scrutinized to such a degree so as to reveal his true values systems, political agenda and beliefs, and that the vexation that the Obama supporters appear to share as a result of last night's debate ultimately finds its source in the fear that the voting population as a whole, having been made aware of Obama's true posture, will be voting for McCain in November for the reason that McCain will be viewed as the 'lesser of two evils.'

Posted by: Brian | April 18, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

The sad thing about this article as much of what I've choked back vomit to stomach is the bias against Obama. It's so unfortunate in a nation that is supposed to be for the free and the brave.

The bias against him may be racial, it may be because he signifies change. This bias may be because he signifies a joining together of blacks, whites, asians, latino and other races that frightens mainstream biases that linger from antebellum and pre-antebellum days.

It's really sad in this day and age that a paper such as the WaPo, NYTimes, even ABC could be so ignorant as to purposely call themselves professional in this election.

The CNN faith forum on this past Sunday showed a commentator so racist, she should be removed from her position as a reporter. This woman was a vulture in that her obvious bias and mean spirit not only shows unprofessionalism, it exudes her racism.

Many people like her seem to be ignorant when they act in such a disparaging manner.

When persons of color meet these ignorant types, who come across mean, condescending, even asking such personal questions about his daughters, minors the show the ignorance of their racism, hate and venom permeates outward, yet the people who experience such behavior, never call them out, but acknowledge and experience within him/herself that these people are have an ignorant disease of racism that exists this day and time, unfortunately.

Posted by: scheduler | April 17, 2008 11:59 PM | Report abuse

I keep saying Americans are a funny lot and whenever I log onto the news, I'm proven right each and every time. I just couldn't stop laughing at the moronic questions posed to Senator Obama. The flag pin was a killer. I couldn't stop laughing over that one, especially since neither moderators nor Hillary Clinton were wearing one. And then there were 8 shots of Chelsea Clinton sitting in the audience - one or two shots would have been, well, normal media coverage. But 8! If that isn't a blatant effort to sway the electorate, I don't know what is. So much for ABC objectivity. And then there were a myriad questions regarding Senator Obama's associations most of which were inane to say the least. How terribly convenient ABC didn't ask about Senator Clinton's affiliations with a whole host of dubious characters let along the controversies that plagued her and her husband the last 15 years. But my hat goes off to Senator Obama, he neither shrank from the inquisition nor did he wine as Mrs. Clinton did during a debate about questions always being directed at her. In fact he looked pretty presidential and pointed out the blatant contradictions (i.e. 2 members of some long gone radical group that Bill Clinton himself pardoned). I see how it works at ABC: guilt by association for one candidate and a free pass for the other. Too funny. And then there are the attacks on Senator Obama for being elitist. I just can't keep from tearing up from laughter over that one: Americans constantly wine about their deteriorating education system and when someone actually manages to get an excellent education, they tear him down for being elitist! Oh America, you just gotta love it. And the sad thing is this ABC political hack job may just work because the average American is, well, just not too bright. No you say? I'm being elitist you say? A snob? Well, please allow me to retort: Ronald Reagan, two Bushes and the Iraq War. I rest my case.

Signed one of the many citizens of the world still waiting for a Gentler Kinder America. Oh please....I can't stop laughing!

Posted by: World Citizen stilling waiting for a gentler kinder America | April 17, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Although I only saw snippets from the debate, after reading these comments and the other coverage on the net and in the newspapers here in Europe, it looks as if Stephanopolous (wasn't he from Sesame Street?) did his worst - and Obama tackled it well. The only thing you can do when coming under groundless personal attack is to try to pull the debate back to the issues. He didn't lose his cool. Clintons supporters (and McCains') seem to have very little to throw at him. Pastor Wright? A tenuous connection with a former Weatherman? In the succinct phraseology of the Vice President: "So?"

Posted by: Roger | April 17, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

The media just won't admit that its possible to ask tough questions about issues that matter, and that ABC chose not to do that. Come on Dan, stop spinning and print the truth.

Posted by: JoshA | April 17, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Unless Jesus the Christ is running for president, I think everybody ought to back off a little. Don't be stupid! This country is in for a tough ride no matter who wins. America will need to back the next president if she is to come out of this hole that she's in. We had better learn that none of us are truly worthy to hold the highest office. Take a look at yourself and look in your closet and you will see what I mean. I'm sure that because we are so critical of others that we probably have eliminated some other good candidates to run this country. Why? Because we want someone who's perfect....like us. Someone who looks, act, and think like we do. To bad you and I are not running and quess what, Jesus the Christ is not running for the office either. So lets just stick with the real issues and no more "Obama who when he was eight at the time, shook hands with the hotel doorman who turns out use to be a KKK member. Therefore he should have known and not shook hands with that man. Didn't he know what KKK stand for? What would His pastor have to say about that. Doesn't he know that it un-American to associate with people like that?" Just kidding but I think you get the point.

(What's in your wallet, I mean closet?)

Posted by: Keep It Up! | April 17, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I believe he was drugged before the debate. The fix was in. Someone must come forward and volunteer to be Barack Obama's food and drink tester. I am too old and cannot stay up until 3:00 AM in the morning, which presidents apparently do quite often. Please, somebody else give this man some help!

Regardless, Mr. Obama will survive and learn from this. He will come back strong. He will have the rain and sun gods on his shoulder. Women will want to get to know him too.

And best of all, he will turn off the Iraq war machine.

Wowowowowowowowowowooooo

Posted by: Chief Two Dogs | April 17, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Obama = kerry = dukakis = stevenson.

Liberals of all people should aknowlege that a from-humble-roots black guy can be an elitist.

Pelosi and all the rest are only here because the Clintons dragged the Dems kicking and screaming to the center. It now seems we're determined to slip back to sucking our thumbs in loserville proudly discussing how the rest of the county just doesn't understand what's good for them.

Does anyone else think it's funny that Obama is talking about unifying the country from a position TO THE LEFT of Clinton. Before he goes for the big prize he should first try to just make back a little closer to the middle.

Posted by: Peter | April 17, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Questions surround Obama's candidacy:

http"//questionbarackobama.blogspot.com

Posted by: Steve | April 17, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

This piece is entirely newsworthy because it points out a debate that Obama got hammered rather than Hillary. News to those of us who follow the information avidly, yet got tired of watching the debates about 15 ago :)

Frankly, I think his association with the Rev. Wright was purely about maintaining political status in his hometown, without the intention of running for POTUS. When it comes to church, it's not only the preacher you are making contacts and ties with.

I'm also curious as to why we have this almost hyper-obsession with every single choice these people have made since birth. Is it trying to compensate for re-electing GWB? Well we can't change that. Let's look at them as potential leaders, not saints. I'm fairly certain I couldn't stand the scrutiny, could anyone else?

Posted by: Silverlining | April 17, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse

More horrible coverage from the establishment media as usual.

GUESS WHAT - we don't care about this crap, so stop writing about it! I want to read the real issues, not you trying to fit these candidates into some same old script comparing politicians' personalities.

Posted by: Shawn | April 17, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse

I think Jtk's comment is worth repeating:

nonsense. it was tabloid tv disguised as "news" or "journalism." it was an embarrassment to ABC and an insult to viewers. and no amount of "the republicans will do it to him later" rationalization will change that.

and I would add the Mr. Balz is an embarrassment, too.

One always hopes that these "debates" are about public policy issues important to all of us: the economy, health care, war and peace, etc. etc. Last night's debate takes the prize for absence of discussion on anything of substance.

Instead we got the trivial and specious.

Dear Mr. Balz, the polls seem to show that the voters have moved on and are not concerned with "anger and bitter," the Pastor, and lapel pins. Unfortunately, the media talking heads still are. Why is that. Stupidity? Ego! Or, are they having difficulty with the notion that the next President of the United States will not be a white, anglo-saxon protestant male or female.

Posted by: Peter | April 17, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Obamaniacss!!!
GET A GRIP! HE LOST IT LAST NIGHT. TAKE IT LIKE A MAN YOU ALL AND DO NOT BE A BUNCH OF CRYING BABIES. HE LOOKED REALLY BAD DURING THE DEBATE BECAUSE HE DIDN'T HAVE ANY HONEST ANSWER FOR ALL THE QUESTIONS HE GOT. HE WAS NOT PREPARED FOR MODERATORS THAT WANTED TO KNOW THE TRUTH. WE DO NOT KNOW WHO BO IS. THE ONLY THINK WE KNOW ABOUT HIM IS HIS NAME, THE WORD CHANGE AND THE NOT SO PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN, WIFE.

Posted by: KH | April 17, 2008 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Yes, you're right. The Republicans are masters of inane and asinine non-issues. Unfortunately, this election will be about issues that affect us not more Lee Atwater stle wankery. Everyone has seen the devastation that those types of policies and politics have brought us.

Posted by: January 20, 2009 | April 17, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

To all Democrats who say they will vote for McCain if their candidate (be it either Hillary or Obama) doesn't win the nomination: WHY would you vote for the Republican platform - take a good look at what they stand for. Please do not do the "I didn't get my way so I'm going to take my toys and go home - so there!" attitude. That will spell further disaster for the country. Do you really want another war-mongering, far right thinking person in the White House??? McCain is not the moderate he once was. He has flip-flopped more than a beached mackerel - check out his most recent views on all the major issues. And prepare for more years of war in the Middle East.

Posted by: mew | April 17, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Hillary's "image" is irrelevant. What are we? Too stupid to not realize that she's a say anything shrew? I'd have liked her a great deal more had she run a decent campaign on the issues and not relied on her "machinery" to crown her by acclimation. She made wrong assumptions which lead to the wrong strategy and now she has been using childish tactics which are quite transparent and empty. Too bad for America. She needs to re-group and become a Senator of note, and help and support Obama get this country corrected and on the right path again. She still has work to do, just not as President.

Posted by: michael4 | April 17, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Does Obama normally stutter? Or is this new? Also he used "thing" too many times.
Puzzling..

Posted by: ruth | April 17, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I've been reading a lot about the candidates and have been open to Obama's message but I'm getting the same feeling some others are expressing. I know he's a smart guy and a great speaker but I worry about him being elected President. Bush was elected by people who believed in his simple message and look where we've wound up. Presumably Obama has some very good advisers but the country has a lot of challenges and I'm afraid he's not up to the task. Clinton's and Obama's policies are similar and whoever wins the presidency will have to deal with Congress. I don't believe that Congress is going to be swayed by a good speech.

I've seen many references to Obama being a transformational leader but I don't see how he's going to transform society. He's biracial which is fine but assuming that makes him transformational (whatever that means) is to me a reverse kind of racism just as assuming that because he's biracial that he cannot be a leader. I guess I just don't see where all the passionate belief of so many supporters comes from. I truly wish I would have an opportunity to see his performance in the Senate for a few terms so I could decide.

I have a much better idea of how Clinton handles things. Some other posters here commented that they don't mind her being a b****. I guess since I don't plan on being buddies with her I don't care a whole lot about that either. Other countries have had successful women leaders who were tough. I want someone who will stand up to other countries who wish us harm and to folks in this country who think Cheney and Rove are heroes.

Posted by: Linda | April 17, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

AT LEAST HE DIDN'T "CRY" YET AS HILLARY TRIED TO DO IN N.H.!!! I DIDN'T SEE TEAR THE FIRST!!!

Posted by: Mary | April 17, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Rev. Wright served his country in the Marine Corps...

Posted by: Mary | April 17, 2008 10:19 PM

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hey, Virgin Mary, Son Jesus is wailing. He had a bad debate night. Can you go change his diapers?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

What utter nonsense. Who is Hillary Clinton?

Why has she gotten off so lightly? W
Posted by: saraz | April 17, 2008 8:14 PM
-----------------------------------------------
Hey Shiraz, I love you a lot as a wine. As a person - NOT! Obamanuts are very stupid but most will concede, Hillary has done many things. Getting of lightly IS NOT ONE OF THOSE THINGS. LMAO!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Obama and the Country of Doom

Obama spells doom for this country. Not only because of his dubious affiliations with mob members like Rezko and criminals like Auchi, but because of his lack of experience and bias education especially his bizarre religious affiliations. He is like silly putty; able to change his ideas for the public as needed so as to achieve his goal as supreme leader.

His intentions are unclear, but his affiliations are clear. Being surrounded with people like the violent Ayers, or the Hiteresque Wright, or his American hating wife Michelle, or his Kenyan half brother Islamic Jihad terrorist Abongo "Roy" Obama, or his Jewish/Israeli hating best friend Rashid Khalidi, or his close advisor Robert Malley who advocates supporting and helping the terrorist group Hamas, or Mr. McPeaks, Obama's military advisor who open believes American Jews are the "problem." and "Christian Zionists were driving America's policy in Iraq to benefit Israel," or Obama's super delegate and major long term supporter Senator Meeks who openly hates and distrust all whites and gays or Obama's most dangerous affiliation to Mr. Auchi who was Saddam Hussein right hand man and made billions in Iraq and has been a important supporter and behind the scene man throughout Obama's rise to power.

And besides all this questionable laundry in Obama's life, another serious question is why is Obama protected and promoted by the media? Is this also being directed from behind the scenes? The American public has been fooled before and I guess those in power know we can be fooled again. (Kennedy's assassination, Martin Luther King's assassination, the invasion of Iraq...).

The fact that Obama has made it this far demonstrates the collective lack of discriminative intelligence and education of this country. And nothing demonstrates this better than how well Obama plays his black card; which plays on our fear of being labeled a racist.

Posted by: Sammy Rauls | April 17, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

As usual, Dan Balz gets it absolutely right. Any candidate who can't tell people who s/he is is going to lose. Would people be so upset if he hit a home run with any of those questions? Does anyone even remember what Obama's answers were? If not, that's a problem

Posted by: Seattle skeptic | April 17, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh, poor Barry the bitter Bigot. He didn't get nice questions about diversity, and global warming. People asked him questions about character and associations and he objects. Poor Barry the bitter bigot.

Posted by: Quiet Patriot | April 17, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Obama, tell me of your accomplishments that merit my vote for you as POTUS.


It's a simple request.

Posted by: Ed | April 17, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Rev. Wright served his country in the Marine Corps, which I'm sure you already know and has also been a guest at the WHITE HOUSE of your girl Hill and Mr. Casanova!!! Also, at the time Barack was living in Indonesia, would you have had any reservations about Muslims??? No? Your answer HAS TO BE "no". Because at that time SEPT.11th hadn't happened. So why do you keep bringing up the fact that he lived in Indonesia, etc.? Remember...he lived there when he was a KID...MANY, MANY, YEARS AGO!!! BUT IT ALL COMES DOWN TO WHO YOU'RE PERSONALLY BACKING...FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO THINK LAST NIGHT'S "DEBATE" WAS WARMLY RECEIVED BY MOST AMERICANS, WHY DON'T YOU GO TO ABC NEWS' WEBSITE AND SEE THE RESULTS OF WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THAT JOKE!!!!

Posted by: Mary | April 17, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

"It's so interesting (and somewhat pleasurable) to see the Obama supporter attack machine set its beady eyes on the media now that Obama is starting to be asked the hard questions. I encourage you all to send the usual death threat emails to ABC so they can finally write a story about the hatefulness of Obama supporters."

Hillary, go to be honey. The bags under your eyes are getting scarry. And Dont worry about Bill-- He always shows up the next day looking for some reasurance from you.

Posted by: Ann Lewis | April 17, 2008 10:11 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hey, Ann. Don't know if your husband or brother or sister or mother or father or pom-pom or chiwawa told you this: Humor NOT your strength.
Put Comedy down, raise your hands and step away from it.

Posted by: You Not Funny | April 17, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Andrew | April 17, 2008 7:23 PM
--------------------
Andrew, a great comment.

Posted by: HarryJ | April 17, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

There was a shot of Gordon Brown shaking hands with Obama. It was hilarious. Even Obama could not believe he was being allowed to touch Gordon Brown.

Ha ha ha ha ha!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 10:12 PM | Report abuse

"It's so interesting (and somewhat pleasurable) to see the Obama supporter attack machine set its beady eyes on the media now that Obama is starting to be asked the hard questions. I encourage you all to send the usual death threat emails to ABC so they can finally write a story about the hatefulness of Obama supporters."

Hillary, go to be honey. The bags under your eyes are getting scarry. And Dont worry about Bill-- He always shows up the next day looking for some reasurance from you.

Posted by: Ann Lewis | April 17, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Dan Balz, Yes!!!

The only sober guy in the business of Journalism. Obama mania has not left him untouched either but he is a real trooper. He is trying all he can not to turn.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Mommy! Mommy! Journalists are asking my candidate some tough questions. Stop them. Stop them. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

Posted by: Wimps | April 17, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Obama's wimpiness is enough in my mind to disqualify him from the Presidency. The guy up on the podium was anything but ready to be The President of United States. He was a joke. Irritated, petulant, whiny - it was pathetic. What he dealt with, Clinton has been dealing with for 16 years.

So wake up Obamabots and smell the coffee. Return to planet earth.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Man! We need a change in the media; some new fresh blood. We need new faces with new though provoking ideas. we need real journalist, not real jokers. The networks and cable stations are full of egos. Does the story has to always be about them? For instance, why are Charlie and Stephanopoulos the story here after a so called debate? Didn't these knuckleheads learn anything from Carol Simpson and her performance? Shame, Shame, Shame, on these tabloid entertainers working for Disney. Stephanopoulos ought to identify himself as someone who worked for a republican administration everytime he interviews a Democrat. Fox or better known as SLY TV doesn't have to much to say on their unfair and unbalance tabloidcast either. Rise up young people and take back the airways as well as our country to a higher level!

Posted by: Journalist not Jokers! | April 17, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

"By the way, you were wrong, you can choose your family. You chose Bill as your spouse. You should have walked out the door twenty years ago."

Posted by: Gloria S | April 17, 2008 9:55 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hmmm.... So let's see.

Bill cheats on Hillary.

Pastor goes:

"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people."

"God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people ... God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye."

"We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

"We started the AIDS virus ... as a means of genocide against people of color."

Hmmm... let's see.

Hillary hangs with someone who cheats on her.
Obama hangs with someone who commits treason.

Hmmm....

What should we do ... what should we do.

WHAT, IN LAW, IS THE CRIME FOR SOMEONE WHO CHEATS AND WHAT, FOR SOMONE WHO COMMITS TREASON!!!!

KNOCK, KNOCK!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Dan Balz is just another Washington lightweight reporter. If you've ever dealt with news people like I have, they're just after the quick one liner. They want the headline, not the real story. Whether or not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton can handle the presidency is not as important to these news gatherers as is a quick soundbite. Major issues of the day which require a complex mind to analyze are not half as sexy as flag pins, mild associations with acquaitances, and other irrelevant garbage. These are not the issues that define how a leader will perform. They are irrelevant small minded junk that fits the small mind of the reporters who ask them. last night's debate gave us 50 minutes of crap. Timethat could have been spent on Trade, china policy, global warming, and things that really matter. When issues werea addressed, no one bothered to question Hillary Clinton on her astounding pronouncements on the middle east and her beligerant attitude toward Iran. But these reporters were on top of the slips of the tongue that both candidates had made. Great reporting? I think not!

Posted by: Jaybrams | April 17, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

This kind of analysis can only be written from deep inside the political media bubble. because you have heard the candidates' policies debated many times, you assume voters have too. But many primary voters don't tune in to the campaign at any level of detail until it's in their state.

Posted by: jssmad | April 17, 2008 1:29 PM
----------------------------
jssmad: You are absolutely right, and some of those primary voters are college students who don't have the time to follow the campaigns closely. An example: Yesterday in an article written in our newspaper after Chelsey Clinton spoke at a local college, a first-time voter is quoted about Obama as follows: "He was the only one who voted against the war from the beginning." "He never flip-flopped or changed." This shows two basic things that the student doesn't know about Obama. One, not knowing when the vote was taken and two, not knowing that Obama was in the Illinois state senate in 2002 when the vote was taken,so he couldn't have voted against it. Accidentally, the student did get one thing right, but it didn't have to do with the vote on Iraq. It had to do with Obama flip-flopping and changing his mind on his "oops" votes in the Illinois senate. I do not think this student is the exception, and there are thousands of them who are not informed about the candidates.

Posted by: HarryJ | April 17, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Shame that the media has decided only now to get serious with Obama.

They had so little time and so many things to discuss with him that they couldn't even get to Rezko.

Wow.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

"By the way, you were wrong, you can choose your family. You chose Bill as your spouse. You should have walked out the door twenty years ago."

Indeed. They are both seriel abusers-- they abuse the public trust, and Bill is a creepy old man, and before that a creepy younger man.

I can't understand why so many are still so enamored with the Clintons.

The Clintons set the tone for dishonesty and cynicism that justified BushCo to say and do whatever they want.... "because they can". As Slick Willie said regarding why he had his intern give him oral sex, "because he could".

Folks, it was not a very good eight years..... Heath care reform debacle, the Republican landslide, I did not have sex with that women... depends on the definition of what the word "is" is, the right wing conspiracy... lying to a grand jury, having sex with a young intern under his employ, stained dress as evidence, DNA tests, Whitewater, Hillary's destroyed documents, the small investment that magically turned into a fortune, Marc Rich and cash for Pardons. All of the missed opportunities and lost years because of Monica. Credible allegations of rape against Bill when he was Governer.

Don't we deserve a chance at something better?

Posted by: Gloria S | April 17, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Why does Obama need angry supporters to defend him? Ins't he supposed to be applying for the job of defending us?

So ABC grilled Saint Obama for a change. He didn't exactly soar above the flames. In fact, he actually came away with a few subtle third-degree burns.

It's good to see what Obama will do under intense pressure. If he survives grilling by American reporters, he's well on his way to understanding the adversity he'll face with stubborn foreign leaders as President. If he can't handle ABC, how will he do when he sits down with the leaders of Iran and Syria?

Finally, Obama himself fuels continued controversy over the "40 minute issues" because he consistently clams up when his judgement or past connections are questioned by the media. If he (1) stopped hesitating to answer questions fully from the beginning and (2) stopped dismissing questions about his judgement as "manufactured issues" maybe he'd actually dispell some of this controversy surrounding him. He keeps the sharks swirling around his boat because he keeps dropping blood in the water and then gets mad when the sharks won't go away.

Obama can put all the controversy to rest, but first he needs to understand that he needs to answer questions to the satisfaction of the media and the voters, not merely to his own satisfaction.

If Obama is as good as he says he is, he will survive these attacks. If he sinks, he has no one to blame but himself.

If we make Obama out to be a victim, and vote him in because we feel sorry for him, he will truly be "President of the United States of Victims." He must be "President of the United States of American," or nothing at all.

Posted by: Andrew | April 17, 2008 7:23 PM

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MAGNIFICIENT!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Did any of you people who are so obsessed with American flag pins ever think that maybe people don't want to wear pins of ANY KIND because they put holes in clothing??? Personally, I can't afford to buy new clothes all the time...too many other more important things to take care of !!!

Posted by: Mary | April 17, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

hehe Obama wore a flag lapel pin yesterday, a few months after bitterly railing that it was phoney patriotism.

First he for the flag, then against it, now for it.

Guess he is a phoney patriot.

Posted by: Harold | April 17, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Obama's spiritual advisor Rev Wright's church is building Rev Wright's retirement home, a 10,000 sq foot home with a golf course and $10 million line of credit in a white neighborhood called Tinley Park in Chicago. Maybe, he only hates poor whites. Because the church is tax exempt, it is hard to get more information.

Posted by: skinsfan1978 | April 17, 2008 8:30 PM

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

WHAT! HA HA HA!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Sara Bergstein | April 17, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Look at all the whiny Obama people...Obama takes a little heat and all the Whole Foods shoppers wags their indignant manicured fingers. THIS is what is wrong with America where PC has triumphed over reason and experience. Where the self-righteous pompous hypocritical liberals are so used to getting their way that they can't fathom the reason why anyone would dare to even question their favorite pseudo post-racial poster child.

Obama has himself to blame to fend off those questions. It is his own conceit and lack of judgment that has put him in the spotlight. Obama has to take those punches like a man.

We're electing a president here; not a high school council president. If the liberals really want to walk the walk they should move out of their gilded encaves and into black neighborhoods. They should take their kids out of private schools and have them experience what real America is like.


Posted by: mtlyorel | April 17, 2008 8:03 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Beautiful.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I thought the moderators did a great job. For the first time Obama wasn't handled with kid gloves. He didn't get to answer the majority of questions after Clinton, so he had to come up with his own answers. His supporters are outraged because he didn't perform very well. Part of the reason is that he hasn't been given the same treatment as Clinton, and he actually seemed shocked and angry that he might actually be called on some things.
He would have been a better candidate if he had not been given a free pass from the media for so long.

Posted by: greenfun | April 17, 2008 4:41 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Good, good!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

One thing is clear from the debate.... Barack is a gurly man incapable of articulating his own defense when challenged. This does not bode well once the republican attack machine rears its ugly head. He will never deliver on his promise to reduce the price of bitter arugula at Whole Foods Market.

Posted by: Fran | April 17, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

It's so interesting (and somewhat pleasurable) to see the Obama supporter attack machine set its beady eyes on the media now that Obama is starting to be asked the hard questions. I encourage you all to send the usual death threat emails to ABC so they can finally write a story about the hatefulness of Obama supporters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So many nice postings, so little time...

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 9:47 PM | Report abuse

What utter nonsense. Who is Hillary Clinton?

Why has she gotten off so lightly? W
Posted by: saraz | April 17, 2008 8:14 PM

Saraz! What planet are you living on?

Posted by: Kevin99999 | April 17, 2008 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Its funny. This article gets published in the middle of the day and the Obamabots descend like a swarm of zombies. As if they had been waiting for a debate related publication. Middle of the day. HRC supporters out to work. Evening comes. HRC supporters return from work. Balance returns. Its beautiful.
A thought comes to mind. Either the Obamabots don't have a job or this is there job.
Hmmm ... where is Obama putting all that money ? I wonder ....

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse

An underinformed, overstimulated Wesleyan sophomore liveblogs the Democratic debate:

\"8:22: Gibson poses a question to Obama about Jeremiah Wright\'s anti-American comments. But has anyone considered that Wright said some pretty true things about pervasive racism in America? Read your Cornel West, folks.\"

http://www.236.com/news/2008/04/17/the_democratic_debate_guest_li_5926.php

Posted by: Eliana | April 17, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse

The overt Obama-bashing tenor of this debate will inevitably generate some sympathy votes for him in the same way a few debates did for Hillary.

Posted by: Mary Collins | April 17, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Dan,

It wasn't "heat" it was mud.

Oh how I would have loved a discussion of solar energy as focused as the discussion of whether Obama's pastor loved Jesus more that this mighty nation.

Heat might have been something like, both of you seem to be supported by the Nuclear power industry money.... Or, heat to Hillary, "You voted for the war in Iraq, and now you are talking about extending the nuclear umbrella of the US to include additional nations....

Heat indeed!

Posted by: jfp | April 17, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

LYNN PARKER: NO ONE ELSE EVEN WANTS TO DIGNIFY YOUR THREATENING-SOUNDING POST, BUT I WILL; GET SOME HELP!!! YOU NEED IT!!!

Posted by: Mary | April 17, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

WHAT TO expect FROM THESE TALKING HEADS? THEY PRETEND TO KNOW EVERYTHING AND THEY KNOW NOTHING. IT IS ALL ABOUT THEM TRYING TO BE THE HEROES OF OUR EVER SHALLOW media.WE NEED A PANEL OF REAL INTELLECTUALS AND SCIENTISTS ASKING QUESTIONS AND NOT THESE pathetic IGNORANTS.

Posted by: Gus | April 17, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Copyright Reverend Irving Wright with twenty years of Amens from Barry Obama

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us repudiate a land that's so called free,
Let us all be hateful for a land that's so called fair,
As we raise our bitter voices in a solemn prayer.

God Da-mn America,
Land that I loathe.
Stand astride her, yet despise her
With a chip on a shoulder from above.
From the plantations, up to Harvard
To the Jews rich from our blood
God Da-am America, keepin' us down down down.

Posted by: Harold Icky | April 17, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A RACE CARD, LOOK NO FURTHER THAN OBAMA . . . . He's a walking race card.

Less qualified, worse Health Care Plan, and 90% of the black vote.

And on the side lines, the Republican big wigs are pulling for him, because they can skim off the Latino vote.

Well, now Obama's near-about's got the election in the bag, so the media can start coming out of its closet and begin to look neutral.

Quietly, the Republican big wigs have been pulling strings for Obama. Just look at the response of CORPORATE media.

Posted by: Coldcomfort | April 17, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

"21 debates and 16 months of HRC getting this kind of treatment and look at the complaints when Barak gets it once. This is why I have been saying lay off the personal attacks and let's look at real policy, what they have done and their proposals.

Same old Clinton/Rove deceptive polemics. No basis in fact.. Just shrill threats, impertinence and sneering lies. UGLY and the Nation is catching on.

No one in the media has dared lay a glove on HER ARROGANCE because of the Clinton/Rove code of knee capping anyone who dares challenge.

Hey ABC News, how bout those donations to the library and the Chinese contributions?? Talk about character issues.

No. Let's play the diversion game of questioning Obama about his loyalty to the US. Lapel flag, etc.

MCCARTHISM AND SHAMEFUL.

Have you decency Hillary, ABC News, Lieberman, Weekly Standard????

This behavior and ethic is not what the US is about and will be repudiated. Yes, it does result in short term gain, like kicking a man in his balls. But it is fundamentally inhumane and we know it in our gut.

Posted by: Sara H | April 17, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

It's funny how the minute someone asks Barack Obama some hard questions, everyone who supports him is up in arms.
In previous debates much time was spent hammering Hillary Clinton and giving Obama a pass and no-one complained.
ABC did an excellent job. They asked questions that had not yet been answered and the only reason it took so long to get past it is because Obama took so long to answer. He tried several times to give speechy responses that didn't answer the question and for the first time he had interviewers who pointed him back to the actual question. The reason everyone is so angry is not because the questions weren't relevant. They are angry because Obama came off angry and defensive. He avoided answering questions and on numerous occasion resorted to attacks on Hillary which he always followed with his BS but I don't want to be negative.

Anyone who watched this debate with an open mind came away feeling that they had actually seen a DEBATE.

Barack Obama and his campaign have done nothing but whine all day because he wasn't treated with Kidd Gloves. He has been attacking Hillary Clinton non stop for weeks and yet has the gall to continue to say she is being negative.

If we had seen more debates where the candidates were pushed to answer the actual question as they were last night we would be seeing very different primary results.

Posted by: cheryl | April 17, 2008 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Balz,
What a load. I just lost all my respect for you.

Posted by: Jotham Stavely | April 17, 2008 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Dan is right - this is the first debate where Barack Obama was put on the defensive and all the Obamaites are screaming foul and other assorted insults to everyone in their path. Hillary gets this daily and nightly, and all through the debates - so maybe now you guys know how it feels!

Whatever you may feel about the ABC moderators, they are the first to go this length to dig deeper into who Obama is. Be glad, guys and gals - he needs a little more practice in being in the hot seat just in case he makes it and takes on the GOP nasties. I still think Hillary is the real thing - but if BO gets it, I'll be there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ah, so many nice postings to second and so little time.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Again the Obamaites prove that they are delusional, bereft of factual knowledge, scream like infants when they don't get their favorite toys. Yes, your idol has feet of clay and no amount of posturing, denial, screaming and yelling on the part of Obama and his supporters will hide the fact that Obama is not ready for prime time.

Yes I am interested in the questions posited at last night's debate and in Obama's and Clinton's answers. I don't want a President who can't explain satisfactorily his association with Wright and Ayers and who has difficulty in articulating his convictons and beliefs unless he has a script and teleprompter. I don't want a thin-skinned President who can't own up to the truth.

I am surprised no one has hauled the race card yet. What are you Obamaites waiting for?

Posted by: alee21 | April 17, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

At each of the debates, the moderators have phrased difficult questions in such a way as to be almost apologetic to Obama. I have serious concerns about Obama's past associations and his dismissive, condescending tone and evasive answers. The man is only asking to be the President of the United States. Can you imagine Churchill or Roosevelt taking a stand on an American lapel pin or not holding your hand across your chest during the national anthem. It's disrespectful. With respect to his pastor, his answer was not truthful. Obama is a highly intelligent man. You mean to tell me that he never heard or was aware of Wright's incendiary remarks after 9/11. Unbelievable. As far as the Ayres controversy is concerned, Bill Clinton pardoned. Hillary is not Bill.

Posted by: David | April 17, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

May be it is time to have a debate about the sleeziness of the media, both on the right and the left. Who should we choose as a moderator?

Posted by: Kevin99999 | April 17, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

If you note the tone of the Obamamaniacs, that is the way they respond. You might think that they do not think. We need to remember that Obama is paying over 3,000 bloggers so we do not even know if the postings are from real people or from one of those mechanical robots known as the hired Obamananiacs. You can ever hold an intelligent discussion with them, since they only resort to insults to the media, in this case ABC for asking the proper questions, or against Hillary because they really do not have any factual basis for their insults. There is nothing to discuss since all they can write is a bunch of blah blah blah blah based on no proof or facts.

Posted by: Definitely Common Sense | April 17, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting that some folks would count acting in a dignified manner as a "loss". Regardless of your political bias, if you believe in honesty, dignity, and respect than Senator Obama clearly met the mark. HRC supports who wonder why no outrage came when she was supposedly under attack was because she was being questioned on things she actually did or said - not about the people she associated with. Lastly, I guess Clinton supporters also don't mind that she went 'all Republican' last night when she forcefully spoke of major aggression toward Iran. Goldwater's girl is back and this time she's not just helping to block Civil Rights for African Americans...she's Bush-Rove-Cheney bent on dismantling humanitarian rights all under the guise, "I'm a good American because I'll shoot ya"

Posted by: Carrie | April 17, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Quote: "Should be THE deal breaker."

No, the "deal breaker" will be the upcoming Clinton fraud trial where Hillary will be required to testify. Before the general election too. I can hardly wait.

Posted by: annonymouse | April 17, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Dan is right - this is the first debate where Barack Obama was put on the defensive and all the Obamaites are screaming foul and other assorted insults to everyone in their path. Hillary gets this daily and nightly, and all through the debates - so maybe now you guys know how it feels!

Whatever you may feel about the ABC moderators, they are the first to go this length to dig deeper into who Obama is. Be glad, guys and gals - he needs a little more practice in being in the hot seat just in case he makes it and takes on the GOP nasties. I still think Hillary is the real thing - but if BO gets it, I'll be there.

Posted by: jblee | April 17, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

There is an interesting pattern here with Obama. I remember when the Rezko thing first came to light. Initially, it was greeted with a chorus of "tabloid" journalism, but as questions progressed Obama has been forced to change 3 times his account of how much money he has taken from the slumlord. He still has not explained the strange transaction where Rezko purcharsed that parcel of land then sold it back to Obama, all in the same day, for less than he paid. Smell a rat? Am I a racist for asking legit questions about Obama's character? This is one Dem who is not about to drink the Kool-aid.

Posted by: No Kool-aid for me | April 17, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Just what is it that make BHO think he is tough enough to be President? Hillary Clinton has faced a lot of tough questions. When she made a mistake she admits it, but then she comes back swinging. No question the girl has guts. I would not want to be the one opposing her on health care, jobs, or brining our troops home.

Nor would I want to be a country attacking an ally of the United States when she is Commander in Chief. She knows leadership and she knows the importance of standing tough.

Posted by: djstates | April 17, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I have news for you, Obama is the next president. First president for all Americans whit and black. Debates like last night sealed the deal just like the NCAA Championship in the 60s between Texas Western and Kentucky. Field the racist team, and lose. Obama will win because he is simply better.

Posted by: Paul J. Nolan | April 17, 2008 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Finally, people are waking up to what a paper maiche candidate Obama is. Actually, He's like a balloon. Prick him a little and he bursts. The bit about brushing dandruff off his shoulders during this speech today is another example of of his condescension and arrogance. He's like a spoiled child who cries when things don't go his way. The Democrats could/should easily won back the presidency in 2008. But if Obama is the nominee, it ain't gonna' happen because this country doesn't want a juvenile in the White House.

Posted by: Jay | April 17, 2008 9:12 PM | Report abuse

To Obama & his big ugly in your face racist wife a typical white American is closed minded, anti-immigrant, gun toting, bigots! Maybe that is due to spending 20 years listening to the hate filled rants of the Rev. Weight against Whites, American or hanging around with terrorist, slum landlords and the Islam Nation leaders!

Obama From Dreams of My Father,

" I FOUND A SOLACE IN NURSING A PERVASISVE SENSE OF GRIEVANCE AND ANIMOSITY AGAINST MY MOTHER'S RACE". Barack Hussein Obama
From 'Dreams of my Father', "The emotion between the races could never be pure, even love was tarnished by the desire to find in the other some element that was missing in ourselves. Whether we sought out our demons or salvation, the other race (WHITE) would always remain just that: menacing, alien, and apart." Barack Hussein Obama
From Dreams Of My Father: "That hate hadn't gone away," he wrote, BLAMING "WHITE PEOPLE - some CRUEL, some IGNORANT, sometimes a single face, sometimes just a faceless image of a system claiming power over our lives." Barack Hussein Obama
From 'Dreams Of My Father', "There were enough of us on campus to constitute a tribe, and when it came to hanging out many of us chose to function like a tribe, staying close together, traveling in packs," he wrote. "It remained necessary to prove which side you were on,to show your LOYALTY TO THE BLACK MASSES, TO STRIKE OUT and name names" Barack Hussein Obama

OBAMA EXPRESSES HIS ADMIRATION FOR ISLAM: &g t; Quote from Barack Obama's book, Dreams Of My Father: "THE PERSON WHO MADE ME THE PROUDEST, though, was [HALF BROTHER] Roy .. HE CONVERTED TO ISLAM"
From 'Dreams of my Father', "IN INDONESIA I SPENT TWO YEARS IN A MUSLIM SCHOOL" "I STUDIED THE KORAN"
From 'Audacity of Hope: "Lolo (OBAMA'S STEPFATHER) FOLLOWED ISLAM...."I LOOKED TO LOLO FOR GUIDANCE".
From 'The Audacity Of Hope, "I WILL STAND WITH THE MUSLIMS should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."
From The Audacity Of Hope, "WE ARE NO LONGER JUST A CHRISTIAN NATION," "WE ARE ALSO a Jewish nation, A MUSLIM NATION, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers."
Obama is telling us plainly that he APPROVES of Islam. DENY TH AT HE ISN'T! He tells us how proud he is of his brother who converted to Islam!!
(by the way, his brother is a radical Islamic in Africa!) He tells us that he looked to his stepfather for guidance and that he was a MUSLIM. He tells us blatantly that HE WILL STAND WITH THE MUSLIMS. He tell us that he DID attend a Muslim school, although his handlers have tried to deny it. He is telling us that America is no longer a Christian nation- that western civilization which owes its greatness and strength from the morality outlined in the Bible, and by Jewish teachings is no more!!
What do you think might be the possible consequences of electing a president with admiration for Islam??
Mass immigration of radical Muslims?? Yes. He wants an open border! Amnesty for the invading horde!

Posted by: jeff | April 17, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

For the first time we can say that Obama treated him the way they should have treated him from the beginning. Since he is used to hold the press and media in the palm of his hand, his reaction was a mixture of surprise and "how come"? He was unable to get out of that mood. Well, Obama, since this is the way you handle pressure and real questions, it is enough to support my conviction that you still have a long way to go to even try to run for the presidency of this Nation. While looking at you I kept remembering your images mockering Hillary shouting and laughing like a demented man "Annie Okley, Annie Okley." I believe they forgot to ask you about why you decided to make the comments you did to a bunch of rich guys in CA when those rich donors were asking you why you were failing to convert voters in PA. I hope you learned a lesson from Hillary yesterday. You still have such a long way to go that it is unbelievale. And yes, for the first time I disagree with Hillary, if you are to be the candidate, I will vote for McCain since even when you might be ellectable, it does not mean that you are ready to be elected.

Posted by: Definitely Common Sense | April 17, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

21 debates and 16 months of HRC getting this kind of treatment and look at the complaints when Barak gets it once. This is why I have been saying lay off the personal attacks and let's look at real policy, what they have done and their proposals. This type of coverage should happen to neither candidate- so I think Obamites can maybe take a step back and let go of this method of dealing with HRC now- although this seems unlikely. I feel like more likely someone will respond to this post with accusations of killing Vince Foster, calling her emotional or crafty or yelling about an embellished story in Bosnia.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

I've noticed that many of the negative comments directly at ABC seem to be very similar, using words like tabloid. Come on, this is an election for President. People who ask questions are either racist or biased. This may fly with the kool-aid Democrats, but come the general election it will be 1972 all over again!

Posted by: Fred | April 17, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

"Stephanopoulos strongly defended his handling of the debate. He dismissed criticism that it had focused too heavily on "gotcha" questions, arguing that they had gone to the heart of the "electability" that, he said, is forefront in the minds of voters evaluating the two Dems."

It is going to be a hard lessen when these arrogant little fu**s realize that there will be accountability for this kind of behavior. It may not be immediate but people are indeed keeping score and there will be a reckoning.

Same for the Gov of Penn. If he doesn't distance himself from Hillary's despicable racist McCarthism he too will have limited political career options.

The Clinton's or Rove do not have a monopoly on retribution.

Obama is not the type to think in terms of retribution. But a lot of his supporters will enforce retribution so that this grotesque behavior does not get rewarded. It will be clear that there is a huge cost to not speaking against the Clinton/Rove/McCain/ garbage.

She is beyond sleazy, corrupt and dishonest.

She is the Joe McCarthy of this Millennium.

Posted by: betty | April 17, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Look, I've never seen anything like that in my life and neither have u. It is not accurate to say this is what he will face. He will never face that kind of a cauldron again, a freakishly one sided group of moderators and a two flanked attack. A debate structured in that way has never occurred before, it can only hapen once because it was a right wing ambush. I challenge you to give an example of a debate between a Democratic and Repubican candidate in the past that was in any way similar.

Now Bill says he is whinging because he wants to talk about issues. And Hillary (who uses the talking points of the far right) was the one going on about cushions a few weeks back.

Posted by: b ryan | April 17, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

You call that heat?!

I call that republican babble. The "issues" addressed in the first 50 minutes of the debate are republican "issues".

Let's do a reality check--democrats don't give a flying-bat's behind about the republican's issue. Democrats find republican standards for picking a candidate ridiculous.

Made in China flag lapel pins is not a democrat issue--it's a republican issue

Who Obama sat next to on a philanthropic board is not a democrat issue--it's a republican issue.

Whether there was sniper fire or not in Bosnia is not a democrat issue--it's a republican issue.


Republicans don't vote for democrats, so what do we democrats care what the republicans think.

Posted by: Catherine | April 17, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Well now . . . Obama's near-about's got the election in the bag, so the media can start coming out of its closet and begin to look neutral.

The fact is that Hillary is by far and away the best candidate, AND with the best health care plan. . . . But because there's a "black thing" going on (code word for prejudice), a lesser candidate has ridden a 90% black vote to the nomination, because of the color of his skin.

If the Republicans really wanted to run against Hillary instead of Obama, they would actively be recruiting their folks in a get out the vote drive. And I'm not just meaning their talking peanut-brains like Rush Limbaugh.

Quietly, the Republican big wigs have been pulling strings for Obama. Just look at the response of CORPORATE media.

Posted by: Coldcomfort | April 17, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

To me, a flag pin is an empty gesture if you have done nothing to actually demonstrate your patriotism and love for your country.

Just like bumper sticker patriotism--because the sticker on my car will get better medical and educational benefits for our vets.

Posted by: jlm062002 | April 17, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

obama will disarm and enslave America. his rolodex is full of America haters, can you really believe they have no influence?

Posted by: Dwight | April 17, 2008 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Get real!This is just a very small taste of what is to come after he wins the party nomination.Sing the ditty,"The swift boats are a coming"to the tune of The shrimp boats etc.You get the picture.By the time Rove and company get through,going into a shredder would be more merciful.

Posted by: Ray | April 17, 2008 8:42 PM | Report abuse

After 20+ debates of basically the same thing over and over...wasnt it nice to have something a little different?? Come on you bunch of morons!! FREE YOUR MINDS!!

Posted by: maddogjts | April 17, 2008 8:42 PM | Report abuse

the only thing this debate answered was the question of whether the media can keep sound bites of both candidates alive for ratings.

Posted by: jlm062002 | April 17, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

The media made the mistake of assuming that the people of the United States can be manipulated as easily as they were in the last century. Lets not forget that during that century they pitted wasps against immigrants and white against black. But if they paid attention to the change in education, that most people have friends across racial lines, and that Americans are multicultural today -- media would have known that they were way behind the times. Reality is hardly spoken of that Americans love each other, whether of different race or background and dont care about superficial patriotic symbols like flag pins and such. They care whether the candidate really loves us all as a people, and is prepared to accept us. That's what matters. The old way is no longer the way and its time to realize that the change has already happened.

Posted by: Paul Nolan | April 17, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we could all email KenM1 's lists of topics ignored to get to stupid flag pins to Dan Balz and ABC!.

How about?
*Global Warming
*Wall Street reform
*NAFTA
*CAFTA
*Financial stimulus
*Government corruption
*Finance reform
*Oil subsidies
*Afghanistan's decline
*Rise of China
*Medicare going bankrupt
*Medicaid going bankrupt
*Social Security going bankrupt
*National dept
*Reliance on China's funding
*Lead paint in toys, lack of regulation
*Transportation infrastructure
*Port security

So really. Nothing left to talk about. My opinion of the nation press is dropping faster than housing prices.

Posted by: steve k | April 17, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama's spiritual advisor Rev Wright's church is building Rev Wright's retirement home, a 10,000 sq foot home with a golf course and $10 million line of credit in a white neighborhood called Tinley Park in Chicago. Maybe, he only hates poor whites. Because the church is tax exempt, it is hard to get more information.

Posted by: skinsfan1978 | April 17, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

This kind of analysis can only be written from deep inside the political media bubble. because you have heard the candidates' policies debated many times, you assume voters have too. But many primary voters don't tune in to the campaign at any level of detail until it's in their state.

Why don't/won't political reporters take ANY responsibility for their role as agenda-setters, perpetuating the almost-exclusive focus on so-called character issues?

Posted by: Srdjan | April 17, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Check out the article "Barack's "Underground" Friends" http://savagepolitics.com/?p=291


http://www.savagepolitics.com
brilliant writing plus it offers a great community in which to discuss. The editor actually takes time to answer and the political humor section is awesome!!!

Posted by: Seth | April 17, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

ABC News is not the only one who should be ashamed. The media in general has been extremely stupid and sleazy for several months. You are immature, and I include you Balz and the Washington Post. You talk about process, about silly gaffes. That is how we got into that goddamn war. You have failed in your jobs to inform. And death of 4000 dead soldiers is partly your fault.

So I implore you to grow up, grow a spine, and start covering news like an adult.

Cut the garbage, give us real news on real issues.

Posted by: Kelly | April 17, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Shales. I tried to watch but switched to History channel once the first commercial came. I could tell even then how the questioning would go. George S. and Charlie G. should be embarassed with the National Enquirer type questions asked. Laziness or agenda, or a little of both. In hindsight, I should have expected this from ABC. Maybe Gibson and George are not as smart as I thought they were.

Posted by: Bob | April 17, 2008 8:22 PM | Report abuse

p.s. I look forward to WaPo and the rest of the MSM vetting MCCain in the extreme just like they are slamming both the Dems.

You will do that, right? You're not just GOP shills, right? So prove it.

Posted by: Jim | April 17, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

"Barack Obama got the first real glimpse here Tuesday night of what he will face if he becomes the Democratic presidential nominee."

So he will have to face debate moderators who spout rightwing talking points?

So he will have to face onesided attacks by the so-called moderators?

The problem is not the heat, it is the bias. You just DON'T GET IT!!!

Pledges about taxes? Rightwing talking points that their sacred capital gains MUST NOT BE RAISED? Pledge on Israel? Guns?

They might have well have had Sean Hannity and Dick Cheney moderate, because this was the RNC debate, not the ABC debate.

And yet, WaPo still doesn't get it.

Let me spell it out: Not the scrutiny, but the **BIAS**.


Posted by: Jim | April 17, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

To me, the best argument for electing Barack Obama is that we will finally be rid of 1968. The year that created the template for all political discurse since.

William Ayers????!!!!! Flags on the lapel -- didn't Nixon start that? The Reverend Wright -- a throwback to the Panthers. Enough already! John McCain still has his head in the Tet Offensive.

It's sad that these things constitute the overriding concerns in Dan Baltz' outmoded political world.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Yes and his vision won. Look at the hundreds of thousands of responses every major news outlet is getting. Look at the 17,000 ABC got on their website, almost 95% of them taking the network to task for this ridiculous "gotcha" debate.

A real sea-change took place last night. Offered more of the same the American people, including those who don't support Senator Obama, roundly rose up and told the media enough! Journalists should be quaking in their boots.

Posted by: John Diclerico | April 17, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

What utter nonsense. Who is Hillary Clinton?

Why has she gotten off so lightly? Why hasn't the press scrutinized where the Clinton's got their money from? Why didn't the press play the tapes of Hillary using identical segments of her most "heartfelt" speech from both her husband and John Edwards. These embarrassing side by side video clips were all over the blogs.

If Hillary Clinton is the nominee, you can be sure that the Republicans will be scrutinizing her closely. The exposee of the "real Hillary Clinton" has not yet begun.

Both Obama and Clinton will be "under the microscope", but Clinton has a longer history with more dirt to uncover.

This article is ridiculous.

Posted by: saraz | April 17, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

You are right -- it is not unfair to put Obama through this. The problem is, it just goes on and on. We get it. The Rev Wright issue was legitimate, but there's nothing left to say about it. Nothing in the debate helped me decide who to vote for. I felt ABC did a terrible job coming up with questions, the answers to which might make a difference to voters.

Posted by: Jack Baker | April 17, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Its actually amusing to see American media flailing in the 21st century using the yellow journalism of the last century like it has any meaning today as our jobs are destroyed and health care benefits taken away. ABC was like a colonial newspaper trying to act like some segregated state protecting the population from change. It was really laughable because ABC was living in the last biggoted century rather than the multi-racial America of today. When will they get it that their constituency is not lilly white and conservative any more. Dont expect asians, african americans, and hispanics let alone many whites to support this trash journalism.

Posted by: Paul J. Nolan | April 17, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Don't legitimize dirty politics. Just because he'll face more slimy attacks on the way to becoming president doesn't legitimize the ones in last night's debate. This isn't the NFL where a quarterback's got to learn to play against tough opponents in the regular season before winning in the playoffs. This isn't a game. It's for the direction and well being of our country. Dirty politics is a tactic, but unlike blitzing the quarterback, there's a moral element to it as well - it's wrong. And it's wrong because it's bad for our democracy and for the well being of the people. You're not a sports reporter - you're a political columnist - try to remember that.

Posted by: C Liss | April 17, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Happy "By the way, why does Hussein studder so much? Is he an idiot, lead poisoning, or does he suffer from some type of mental disorder?"

You are the moron. He is the one that both Clintonista and McSamians have been calling too glib. One tired performance and you bigots are all over him.

Get a life or join the local chapter of you-know-what.

Posted by: DrRay | April 17, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

ABC stepped to a new low last night. That was nothing but biased tabloid journalism directed primarily at Obama.

You would expect that from Fox News, but hardly from ABC. Of course, now I know better. ABC has lowered its principles of what constitutes professional journalism, namely: focus on "gaffes" and side issues rather than substantive ones.

Posted by: WaltD | April 17, 2008 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me flag pins and patriotism is heat? I call it a weak attempt at replicating 20th century prejudice in a new century where it wont work. It not only fell flat, it was offensive to America. We are not a white mass of homogenous bigots, we are a people who expect reasoned questions. This debate was an example of how American has failed the world in the most explicit and obvious terms.

Posted by: Paul J. Nolan | April 17, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

It is a shame for liberals that most of us bitter white folk think Obama is a crock of shet. His view on government finance seem to be crafted by some B- student in 9th grade high school. " I want to raise taxes to make things fair. " How stupid of a statement is that?
What has to drive Obmama supporter crazy is the fact that he cannot win without the support of us crazy white folks who thinks he has not a clue about how to lead.
By the way, why does Hussein studder so much? Is he an idiot, lead poisoning, or does he suffer from some type of mental disorder?

Posted by: Happy | April 17, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Look at all the whiny Obama people...Obama takes a little heat and all the Whole Foods shoppers wags their indignant manicured fingers. THIS is what is wrong with America where PC has triumphed over reason and experience. Where the self-righteous pompous hypocritical liberals are so used to getting their way that they can't fathom the reason why anyone would dare to even question their favorite pseudo post-racial poster child.

Obama has himself to blame to fend off those questions. It is his own conceit and lack of judgment that has put him in the spotlight. Obama has to take those punches like a man.

We're electing a president here; not a high school council president. If the liberals really want to walk the walk they should move out of their gilded encaves and into black neighborhoods. They should take their kids out of private schools and have them experience what real America is like.

Posted by: mtlyorel | April 17, 2008 8:03 PM | Report abuse

To quote another poster from elsewhere, "Pro-War then Anti-war, Pro-Nafta then Anti-Nafta, Pro-gun control now Happy Hunter, Pro-Colombian interests now Anti-Colombian interests and now she has also found religion.."

With all these contradictions and lies, Hillary got off easy. Obama on the other hand was publicly lynched by two white men and a white woman.

And I say this as a non-African American.

Irish for O'bama! Obama-Gore or Gore-Obama or even Obama-Pelosi '08!

Posted by: DrRay from Ohio | April 17, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

COME ON PEOPLE OBAMA´S MANIACS
IN FRANCE THE CRADDLE OF DEMOCRACY
ALL CANDIDATES HAVE THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME ON TV ADDS, AND THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR THE RACCAMPAING
AND THAT IS EQUAL OPORTUNITY
THE OVER SPENDING IS A DIRTY GAME

Posted by: STORY | April 17, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

The vast disconnect between the media "elites" on ABC and the concerns of ordinary Americans was more than in evidence last night.

How is it possible to conduct 1 hour of "debate" that is completely devoid of substance? How is this possible?

Oh, I get it -- you have a phony journalist like Chuck "the median income in the U.S. is about $200,000" Gibson who merely pretends to be a serious newsman for 22 minutes each night -- a guy who cut his chops on a morning "news" show -- and a guy like Stephanopolous who has the profile of a decent political pundit, but not a serious journalist.

Both are largely insulated from the realities experienced by last night's viewers -- those guys are in a completely different universe -- and the substance of the questions revealed the disconnect. Capital gains taxes was about the limit of substance.

Someone suggested the idea of a League of Women's Voters debate -- questions asked by ordinary citizens who actually care about policy -- that strikes me as a great idea.

If this is truly a preview of what is to come, God help America. What an unmitigated disaster.

Posted by: JP2 | April 17, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I think Gibson and Stephanopoulos did America a great service!

By focusing almost entirely on "Gaff Bashing", they solidified the absurdity of it all, in the minds of most viewers. "Love it to death" as Alice Cooper once said.

In a way, they are helping defuse the RSBs that we know are just drooling and foaming at the mouth, like a bunch of crazed jackals.

RSBs? Republican Swift Boaters of course.

Wait what's that I hear? Is it thunder? Noooooo, it's the Republican Swift Boaters (RSBs) revving their engines, with John McCain at the helm.

Even with Capt. Crunch at the helm, you can bet that Republicans feel backed into a corner. They know their feeding frenzy on the carcass of America's middle class is coming to an end.

And we will, in the general election, be witness to a savagery that will go down in history as the AbuGrabe of marketing.

Posted by: Robert | April 17, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Obama's wimpiness is enough in my mind to disqualify him from the Presidency. The guy up on the podium was anything but ready to be The President of United States. He was a joke. Irritated, petulant, whiny - it was pathetic. What he dealt with, Clinton has been dealing with for 16 years.

So wake up Obamabots and smell the coffee. Return to planet earth.

Posted by: | April 17, 2008 6:54 PM

Are you a Democrat? If you are you just used a typical tactic used by the right-wing by calling Obama wimpy. This is how the right-wing always characterizes any male Democrat. For female Democrats they use butch and man hater comments. Do you really have to help them destroy Democrats? There is an excerpt from Glenn Greenwald's new book "Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics." on the Salon.com website that talks about personality politics. I hope you will take the time to read it before making any other ill advised comments that only help the Republicans. By the way I'm an Edwards supporter not an Obama supporter.

http://www.salon.com/books/excerpt/2008/04/17/glenn_greenwald/

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/04/17/debate/

Posted by: pmorlan | April 17, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

As an Obama supporter. I agree with this article. Obama is the new face and now the front-runner. I welcome the withering criticism of him and no doubt expect more as I would guess he would as well. He has passed each of the roadblocks in front of him and continues to get stronger and stronger (notice poll numbers have barely change! in the last two months).


Really? Stronger and stronger ? Very interesting. Why then was last night was one of the weakest debate performances Obama has put in yet ? The Wright scandal has been out more than a month. Plenty of time to develop a more saleable response than shuffling of feet or starting shifty-eyed at the ground.

And the campaign is still reeling from the trauma of George and Charlie this afternoon. Axelrod crumbled under the strain of a routine question into how Obama could have denounced Don Imus more than Carter for meeting with Hamas. How in the hell is this guy going to remain calm and poker face with leaders of genuine rogue nation states ?!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

All the Obamistas are up in arms about ABCnews being so unfair. Get real. The man is running for President of the United States and every debate is not going to be a MSNBC lovefest. If he is to be the nominee, is better to have all the potential political bombs out now, so he can deal with it. Treating Obama with kids gloves out of fear of offending him is not going to do him any favors-- the Republicans are doing their opposition research and will have a field day with him!

Posted by: Fred | April 17, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

What a completely silly column by Dan Balz. That wasn't heat. That was the usual rightwing smokescreen for distracting people from the real issues.

Think back. This "heat" process really told us who George Bush and Dick Cheney are, didn't it.

What a bunch of cheap bunk.

Posted by: Aformerjournalist | April 17, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

The fact is the debate was more like an Enquirer interview than a national debate on the future of this country. The moderators came across as third rate.

Posted by: Oscar | April 17, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh Woody-- have always been so naive. He's in decline, especially with super delegates. Despite what people say "new" or more accurately "unknown" has never been a good thing in politics. Why do you think we have so many pole-sitters in congress.

Posted by: Ray | April 17, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

This assertion that Obama hasn't as yet been properly vetted is poppycock! No one gets to be a US Senator without being properly vetted.

Posted by: Woody | April 17, 2008 7:25 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
erm, Cowboy, Obama's opponent for US Senate resigned in the middle of the race because of a scandal. His last minute competition was - get this, hold your pants - Alan Keyes.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I THINK AN ACT OF DECENCY SHOULD BE DONE ON BEHALF OF THE MEDIA, AND PRESENT TO US, THE CITIZENS OF USA, THE REAL OBAMA, NO PRODUCT OF A MARKETING PROCESS, THE ONE THAT HARASS THE PEOPLE WITH 2.5 MILLION DOLLARS PER WEEK WITH PUBLICITY, AND HOW DOES HE RAISED THIS OBSCENITY OF MONEY,?? HOW DOES HE DARES TALK ABOUT POVERTY???', WHAT IS HIDDEN THAT HE HAS TO SPENDS ALL THAT QUANTITY OF MONEY?', HE ALMOST LEAVES THE COMMON PEOPLE WITHOUT DISCERNIMENT..... TO THE POINT OF CATALEPSY
WE SHOULD KNOW HOW HE GOT ELECTED AND HIS LEGISTAVE RECORDS

Posted by: STORY | April 17, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

This assertion that Obama hasn't as yet been properly vetted is poppycock!

Posted by: Woody | April 17, 2008 7:25 PM

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

poppycock... poppy..cock...yeah, an Obama supporter would know a thing or two about those two things in tandem.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Where were all of you scandalized bloggers when HC was getting grilled at the last debate. Me thinks that you protest too much.

Posted by: Robert | April 17, 2008 2:06 PM

-------------------------------------

You mean, last 20 debates, partner. She has only once while dealing with all this for 20 debates. Obama and his camp break down in wails when *any* tough question is asked of them.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

We are in trouble as democrats if Obama is
nominated.

I want a new democratic party.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | April 17, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

As an Obama supporter. I agree with this article. Obama is the new face and now the front-runner. I welcome the withering criticism of him and no doubt expect more as I would guess he would as well. He has passed each of the roadblocks in front of him and continues to get stronger and stronger (notice poll numbers have barely change! in the last two months). If he can go toe-to-toe with Bill, Hillary, and John McCain for the next two months and still remain standing ,which so far he has, I have no doubt he will win in the fall...

Posted by: navi8001 | April 17, 2008 7:27 PM | Report abuse

This assertion that Obama hasn't as yet been properly vetted is poppycock! No one gets to be a US Senator without being properly vetted. The insinuation that Senator Obama is still an unknown entity by guilt of association was despicable. What next? Accusations that Obama isn't fit to be president because he went to a baseball game attended by a left wing radical on the opposite end of the field? The spin being used to suggest as much in the line of questioning by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, including the 8 times the camera panned on Chelsea Clinton sitting in the audience, certainly raises questions about the objectivity of ABC News. Notably since Senator Clinton wasn't asked about her dubious relations in regards to her Husband and her husband's contributors. If guilt by association is truly a measure by which a president is elected, Senator Clinton shouldn't even be allowed near the podium. ABC, you should apologize forthwith for this shoddy piece of bias moderating - not only to Senator Obama but to the public who are more interested in what to do about skyrocketing gas prices than flag pins.

Posted by: Woody | April 17, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

One of the best paragraphs written on this subject:

"Some viewers took umbrage at the questions. After all, it took 45 minutes or more to get to real policy, which is where the discussion remained for the rest of the night. But after 20 previous debates, Obama and Clinton had plowed through much, though not all, of the policy ground they were asked to return to on Tuesday. What had not taken place was a prime-time airing of questions that some voters may have about Obama -- and that his Republican opponents sense will be the keys to winning or losing in November."

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I am beginning to not like Obama as a person. I saw a clip today in which he was at a rally in NC. He came across ( again) as condescending. Thr ehave been to many times now where he comes across as condescending toward women and now anyone haughty towards anyone who takes issue with him.

He was no my candidate but now i don't think I like him.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | April 17, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

This assertion that Obama hasn't as yet been properly vetted is poppycock! No one gets to be a US Senator without being properly vetted. The insinuation that Senator Obama is still an unknown entity by guilt of association was despicable. What next? Accusations that Obama isn't fit to be president because he went to a baseball game attended by a left wing radical on the opposite end of the field? The spin being used to suggest as much in the line of questioning by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, including the 8 times the camera panned on Chelsea Clinton sitting in the audience, certainly raises questions about the objectivity of ABC News. Notably since Senator Clinton wasn't asked about her dubious relations in regards to her Husband and her husband's contributors. If guilt by association is truly a measure by which a president is elected, Senator Clinton shouldn't even be allowed near the podium. ABC, you should apologize forthwith for this shoddy piece of bias moderating - not only to Senator Obama but to the public who are more interested in what to do about skyrocketing gas prices than flag pins.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Marjon,

You obviously didn't see any early debates or interviews with Hillery. She's been attacked relentlessly and way more unfairly than Obama. She just handles it better because she's smarter more experienced and yes-- tougher

Posted by: Dana | April 17, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Obama's new campaign slogan:

"Whining you can believe in."

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Obama had come to believe that a stranger can come out of nowhere, learn to deliver speeches full of nice-sounding phrases to adoring crowds filled with rock fans, appear before liberal reporters on Sunday talk shows, knowing they will not challenge him and wake up one day in the White House. Fortunately, Gibson and Stephanopoulos put questions to him that put Obama's character and good judgment at issue. His relationships with an American terrorist is bothersome, if not to liberals, to those of us who consider terrorism a grave threat to our country. Reverend Wright is a racist, anti-white bigot whose award to Farrakhan and his traveling with him to visit Qadaffi with him makes real Americans wonder how deep Obama's anti-Americanism goes. Obama's attitude toward rural Americans should bother them as well. This guy appears to share the elitist attitude that sank the candidacies of Dukakis, Gore and Kerry. His fate should be the same as theirs. The two ABC reporters did not spare Ms. Clinton so why is Obama whining. Remember that Stephanopolous was in the Clinton White House- he cannot be rationally accused of serving the right wing.

Posted by: mhr | April 17, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Why does Obama need angry supporters to defend him? Ins't he supposed to be applying for the job of defending us?

So ABC grilled Saint Obama for a change. He didn't exactly soar above the flames. In fact, he actually came away with a few subtle third-degree burns.

It's good to see what Obama will do under intense pressure. If he survives grilling by American reporters, he's well on his way to understanding the adversity he'll face with stubborn foreign leaders as President. If he can't handle ABC, how will he do when he sits down with the leaders of Iran and Syria?

Finally, Obama himself fuels continued controversy over the "40 minute issues" because he consistently clams up when his judgement or past connections are questioned by the media. If he (1) stopped hesitating to answer questions fully from the beginning and (2) stopped dismissing questions about his judgement as "manufactured issues" maybe he'd actually dispell some of this controversy surrounding him. He keeps the sharks swirling around his boat because he keeps dropping blood in the water and then gets mad when the sharks won't go away.

Obama can put all the controversy to rest, but first he needs to understand that he needs to answer questions to the satisfaction of the media and the voters, not merely to his own satisfaction.

If Obama is as good as he says he is, he will survive these attacks. If he sinks, he has no one to blame but himself.

If we make Obama out to be a victim, and vote him in because we feel sorry for him, he will truly be "President of the United States of Victims." He must be "President of the United States of American," or nothing at all.

Posted by: Andrew | April 17, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

This guy is a JOKE. I mean, he cannot stitch two words together without a teleprompter. I saw him in NC today. He was so eloquent and shiny - reading from prepared notes. Unbelievable. Good looking people all over the world - there's a key to becoming the President Of United States. Make great speeches from a teleprompter. We ought to have Brian Williams or Charlie Gibson run against Obama. That is a competition made in heaven.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

All these so called 'important' questions are a waste of time!
Ohhh, they thougth they grilled Obama..just wait and see how Billary will bite the dust! The looser, said she was under sniper fire, one BIG LIE!
Obama is going to change this silly politics once he is president!

Posted by: Marjon | April 17, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

How come there was a question regarding Hillary's misstatement on Bosnia and hardly any regarding to all these Obama lies:

Obama said he was for a single payer health system, but now opposes plans that cover every American.

He promised to repeal the Patriot Act, but then voted to extend it.

He promised to normalize relations with Cuba, but flip-flopped when he started running for president.

He rails against NAFTA in Ohio while his top economic advisor assures the Canadians his rhetoric is just "political positioning."

He promises to opt in to public financing if the GOP nominee does, but then breaks that pledge in real time.

He promises to withdraw from Iraq within 16 months, and now his top foreign policy adviser says that he's not relying on the plan.

At first he knew of no controversial remarks from his pastor. Then he knew it. Then he knew some but not others.

At first the "union" that brought him into this world was caused by the bridge crossing/civil rights movement in Selma which, by the way, actually happened 5 years afterwards. Long after he was born.

He flattered Kennedys by crediting them for funding his father's arrival to US when the Kennedys had nothing to do with it.

Don't even get me going over the questionnaires he has filled indicating positions he has completely contradicted during this campaign cycle.

Obama claims he doesn't take money from lobbyists. Semantics. Because about HALF of his donations come from big donors and "bundlers" who in terms of influence on campaign and favors they expect in return are not much different from lobbyists. His bundlers include partners from 18 top law firms, 21 Wall Street executives and power brokers from Fortune 500 companies. Use of bundlers was perfected by George W. Bush who established a hierarchy of "Rangers" and "Pioneers" to monitor their progress.

Obama didn't think he was experienced enough to run for President in 2004. "I am a believer in knowing what you are doing when you apply for a job. And I think that If I were to seriously consider running on a national ticket I would essentially have to start now before having served a day in the senate. Now there's some people who might be comfortable doing that but I am not one of those people."

List keeps on growing.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Yeah right! I did not see anyone grill Hillary way back when she had so called fore-runner status! She probably would have burst out in tears! Could not handle the 'sniper' attack!

Posted by: Marjon | April 17, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

The Obama activists, that is, the extreme left wing of the party (MoveOn, Democracy for America, DailyKos, Keith Olbermann etc) are threatening to do to the Democratic Party what they did to us in the Connecticut Senate race. They got Ned Lamont to beat Lieberman in the primaries only to see the former get wiped out in the real race. Now, since I don't care much for Lieberman I tought that was rather cute. Big mistake. I had no idea how malicious these guys are. Their sunny fronts like Politico (this article notwithstanding) and MSNBC are trying to shut Hillary down. I say to all those who have been penalized for fighting tough battles. To all those who have paid their dues only to see a cute, ambitious upstart stroll in and steal the show. To all those who favor substance over style. To all those who have had to work so hard only to see the tall and young and good-looking get the credit. To all those who are sick of seeing hard earned experience get wiped out by "charisma". To all of you: MAKE A CONTRIBUTION TO HILLARY RIGHT NOW.

https://contribute.hillaryclinton.com/form.html?sc=2390

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I agree with CT and who ever said that Obama off message is lost like Ronald Reagan off message.

Posted by: Kay | April 17, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Obama falsely claimed in the debate that his campaign only talks about Bosnia when asked. He said the only reason his campaign has raised Bosnia was because they were asked about it. That is not the case. The following are some examples of the proactive attacks they have launched:

Obama campaign memo: 'Clinton's fantastic invention of a sniper-raked landing is only one in a growing list of instances in which she has exaggerated her role as first lady.' "'Clinton's fantastic invention of a sniper-raked landing is only one in a growing list of instances in which she has exaggerated her role as first lady..." [New York Post, 3/27/08]

Obama campaign memo: 'Unfortunately, Clinton's fantastic invention of a sniper-raked landing is only one in a growing list of instances where she has exaggerated her role as First Lady...' [Obama campaign memo, 3/26/08]

Obama campaign memo: 'Senator Clinton's claims about her visit to Tuzla, Bosnia - and the footage disproving her account - have created quite a stir. And with good reason.' Senator Clinton's claims about her visit to Tuzla, Bosnia--and the footage disproving her account--have created quite a stir. And with good reason... [Obama campaign memo, 3/26/08]

Obama campaign memo: 'The claims Senator Clinton makes turn out to be little more than stories.' "The refrain that Senator Clinton 'has the experience to lead on Day One' has been repeated endlessly since she entered the race..." [Obama campaign memo, 3/26/08]

Obama Press Release: '"Misspoke"? Clinton's Prepared Remarks on Bosnia Join Similar Stretches on FMLA, SCHIP, and NAFTA' [Obama Campaign Press Release, 3/24/08]

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

As far as I know, Obama is a big baby in diapers when it comes to answering hard questions. No one would be asking him those question if he had not going to a church fuel by hate against the rest of us; associating himself with ??? people and thinking that he's better than others and has a right to criticize them. Sorry HC haters but you didn't like the debate ONLY because BO looked awful and you couldn't believe your own eyes. Your beautiful baby!! He had never looked so pathetic before. He's so arrogant that he reminds of Bush and... look where we are.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, the Obama spin on this debate is kind of silly. It boils down to "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

We can't talk about Obama's record because he doesn't really have one. Normally, you'd switch to character but Obama apparently doesn't want to talk about that, either. "Don't ask me about my life choices. Don't ask me about the church I attend. Don't ask me about my friends. Don't even ask me about what I say in private." All he wants to talk about is his carefully-chosen policies and sound bites that appear to have been designed with the help of focus groups. He's a Democratic Romney.

Posted by: CT | April 17, 2008 6:42 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

The whole guilt by association attacks smacks of the Red scare inuendo...do you know or have you ever known...did you go to school with...did you ever meet, did you ever attend...

I am deeply disappointed with those who conduct these attacks. These smear tactics are unbecomming of a candidate.

Posted by: Bill | April 17, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

This article by Dan Balz is basically the most balanced, intellectually honest article on Web. Kudos to him for keeping his sanity amidst all the hysteria.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Wish I could get my Obama primary vote back.

Posted by: Ray | April 17, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

As Harry Truman said, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Posted by: Herman Krieger | April 17, 2008 7:00 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hear, hear!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

The whole guilt by association attacks smacks of the Red scare inuendo...do you know or have you ever known...did you go to school with...did you ever meet, did you ever attend...

I am deeply disappointed with those who conduct these attacks. These smear tactics are unbecomming of a candidate.

Posted by: Bill | April 17, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh my God, how unbelievably arrogant Obama is!! Look at this folks,

In a speech to Jewish community leaders in Philadelphia, the Democratic presidential candidate was asked whether the recent controversy over Jeremiah Wright, Obama's retiring pastor, could lead to him being attacked by Republicans in the fall and create the possibility of turning his candidacy into one akin to failed candidates George McGovern and Michael Dukakis.

At the end of a long response, Obama said: "Let me make one last point about the comparison to McGovern and Dukakis, both excellent men, but I'm a pretty darn good politician. And I can give a pretty good speech and I can connect and inspire the American people in ways that I think will become apparent. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't pretty good at mixing it up. And so much of the attack machine that's been built up is part of the old politics."

Posted by: I am God | April 17, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

If Obama had done well, all the Obama folks would be praising ABC. Accept the truth, Obama is not good under pressure and that's a bad thing for a presidential candidate and especially a president. And thank you ABC for showing us his pressured side. Which was the point of the commentators guestions. We needed to see it.

I agree with whoever said "accept Hillery or you will be accepting McCain. I'm making the switch to Hillery. I voted for Obama in the VA primary but have never really trusted him. Last night helped me decide.

Posted by: Ray | April 17, 2008 7:09 PM
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Am in Indiana here. Thank God I hadn't already voted. I wouldn't have forgiven myself.

Posted by: Leaving Obama | April 17, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Even though the debate was conducted poorly, I am glad Obama had a chance to handle it the way he did. He was calm and collected, attributes he will definitely need in the future.

Posted by: everystep | April 17, 2008 7:07 PM
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Calm and collected?!!! LMAO!!! Dude, watch your step. Drinking and walking is bad for health. I have NEVER seen a presidential candidate so petulant and out of sorts. Actually ironically, it was Nixon who was as much out of sorts - against JFK. That really kills me. It is hilarious.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

If Obama had done well, all the Obama folks would be praising ABC. Accept the truth, Obama is not good under pressure and that's a bad thing for a presidential candidate and especially a president. And thank you ABC for showing us his pressured side. Which was the point of the commentators guestions. We needed to see it.

I agree with whoever said "accept Hillery or you will be accepting McCain. I'm making the switch to Hillery. I voted for Obama in the VA primary but have never really trusted him. Last night helped me decide.

Posted by: Ray | April 17, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

My only complaint is that this didn't start months ago, because of it he was handed the nomination on a silver platter. I am very happy that Obama's free ride with the media is over. Thank god, now we can figure out who this guy is and decide if we are willing to vote for him or not.

Posted by: DCDave | April 17, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Obama has shown that he is not ready to be commander and chief. Whining about how he was treated is pretty pathetic, but his performance in Raleigh today brushing aside the questions, his performance and his opponent simply reinforces his arrogance. Obama complains about the first 45 minutes of the debate, but during the last 75 minutes that addressed policy issues regarding tax increases, Iran, etc., he did just as poorly in his responses as he did during the first 45 minutes. If he really is concerned about discussing the issues, then why didn't he spend his time today in Raleigh addressing his responses to those issues raised during the debate, rather than whining and taking pot shots at Clinton?

Posted by: ST | April 17, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Even though the debate was conducted poorly, I am glad Obama had a chance to handle it the way he did. He was calm and collected, attributes he will definitely need in the future.

Posted by: everystep | April 17, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I woke up this morning with this realization: Hillary is the remaining man in the nomination fight. I am finished with Obama. I still like him but I want him to take up the VP slot which he will surely be offered and get a little seasoning.

Posted by: Leaving Obama | April 17, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

How can a guy who cannot take 45 minutes of heat from journalists, take the most pressure-filled job in Universe. GET OBAMA OUT OF THIS ROOM, folks.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

If flag Lapel Pins are so important - why does ABC prevent it's reporters and personnel from wearing one?

Posted by: Ellen N. | April 17, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

They are going to find a way to take Obama's victory away. Just watch.

Posted by: Albert | April 17, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Obamabots Camp Clinton is rocking! No hard feelings. Come on over and be Clintonistas too. We'll all get behind a Clinton\Obama ticket and start getting your guy ready for 2016. We'll scorch the Republicans.

Posted by: John | April 17, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

As Harry Truman said, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Posted by: Herman Krieger | April 17, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

So I suppose what this debate means is that when Obama stares down Pres. Ahmadinejād of Iran, he should be wearing a lapel pin, while the pastor of the Republicans choice prays, his wife sings God bless America, and all of his aquaintances take lie detector tests.

Or could it mean that Obama is a different kind of politician and the game rules don't fit the man?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

By contrast, Clinton was crisp in her responses. Her full mea culpa on the Bosnia sniper lie - "I'm very sorry that I said it. And I have said that, you know, it just didn't jibe with what I had written about and knew to be the truth" - left little opportunity for follow up. And she was crisp and detailed when the debate finally moved to the policy front, particularly when the ABC inquisitors asked whether she would dare defy (may we all bow our heads in reverence at the mere mention of his name) General David Petraeus. Yes, she said, even if the surge is going well next January, she'd still require an incremental pullout plan: "You know, thankfully we have a system in our country of civilian control of the military."

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Obama even failed to slam-dunk the easiest hot-button question of the evening. It came, via videotape, from a lady in Latrobe: "I want to know if you believe in the American flag. I am not questioning your patriotism, but all our servicemen, policemen and EMS wear the flag. I want to know why you don't." (ABC co-host Charlie Gibson added, "It's all over the Internet," as if that somehow validated the question.)

His response: "I have never said that I don't wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins. This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and, once again, distracts us from what should be my job when I'm commander in chief..."

Instead of answering straightforwardly, Obama lied.

Contrast his statement last night with what he said on Oct. 3, 2007, when a TV reporter in Iowa asked why he wasn't wearing a flag pin: "You know, the truth is that, right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that (pin) became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is (about) speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security. I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great and, hopefully, that will be a testimony to my patriotism."

Apparently, he decided last night that a truthful response would not be a sufficient pander; either that or he was too rattled to remember what he had once said.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I support Obama and I feel that some questioning on who he is is totally appropriate. In a debate that lasted 110 min when only 20-25 minutes contains substantive material there is an obsession with the trivial. Add to that Charles Gibson's interruption of Obama and his statement "my question has not been answered" made for a thoroughly unprofessional debate.

My solution would be to have the debate on PBS. Gwen Ifil is a tough questioner and a total professional. I think that Gibson got confused about his role because of his concern about ratings.

Posted by: Ron M | April 17, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Obama muffed his latest explanation of his recent remarks on small-town America. He said last night: "The point I was making (last week at a private San Francisco fundraiser) was that when people feel like Washington's not listening to them, when they're promised year after year, decade after decade, that their economic situation is going to change, and it doesn't, then politically they end up focusing on those things that are constant, like religion. They end up feeling 'This is a place where I can find some refuge. This is something that I can count on.'" (italics mine)

I doubt that churchgoing small-towners will be satisified with that. They worship for affirmative spiritual reasons - "in good times and in bad times," as Clinton quickly pointed out last night. They don't think "politically" about the importance of worship. And, most importantly, they don't merely "end up" worshipping.

Obama defenders might dismiss all this as quibbles over wording. But, as Obama himself frequently points out, "words matter." And his latest words on the matter aren't likely to charm the voters whom he needs to break through in Pennsylvania.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

I listened to a recap of the various nations that DO have universal health care and with pros and cons brought forth. I am wondering if either of the candidates have bothered to look at what other nations are doing? Can't hurt , and might help far more useful than flag pins made in china.
btw why didn't they get/have the Pins made in America? What eles is our gov buying that is not American made?

Posted by: Daly | April 17, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Just how bad was Barack Obama's debate performance last night? Not as bad as Britney Spears' song-and-dance routine at the MTV Awards. Not as bad as Bill Buckner's legendary error during the '86 World Series. Not as bad as Bob Dylan's music during his God phase. Not as bad as John Travolta's Scientology cinema experiment in Battlefield Earth. Not as bad as Mike Dukakis' fateful ride in a military tank.

In other words, Obama could have done worse. Neverthless, if he still harbors any hopes of driving Hillary Clinton from the Democratic race by scoring an upset victory in Pennsylvania, he might be wise to get real. It's hard to imagine that he won over the working-class, culturally-conservative Democrats who constitute the swing vote; if anything, his performance during the first 45 minutes of the debate may well have cemented their suspicions.

Obama's devotees will no doubt complain today that the ABC News inquisitors were grossly unfair, that they focused their fire on Obama while leaving Hillary Clinton relatively unscathed, and that they asked too many dirtball questions at Obama's expense. (George Stephanopoulos to Obama: "Do you think Rev. Wright loves America as much as you do?") Whatever. Whining about the media is the last resort of losers. The bottom line is that Obama didn't successfully adapt to the environment.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Obama's wimpiness is enough in my mind to disqualify him from the Presidency. The guy up on the podium was anything but ready to be The President of United States. He was a joke. Irritated, petulant, whiny - it was pathetic. What he dealt with, Clinton has been dealing with for 16 years.

So wake up Obamabots and smell the coffee. Return to planet earth.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse


.
The MSM is up-in-arms of over George and Charlie in the "debate". Apparently these two failed to live-up to the MSM's required "special treatment" of its favorite candidate.

And what was the result: Sen. "God Da'mn America" hussein folded like a cheap suit!!!!!!!

LOL.

/

Posted by: ALEX H. | April 17, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Church bombing. My bad.

Posted by: K.B. | April 17, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

dumb questions
dumb issues
shame on abc

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

So if the Republican candidate had a political relationship with bombers from the 1963 Birmingham school bombing, would that be significant to devle into?

Posted by: K.B. | April 17, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, the Obama spin on this debate is kind of silly. It boils down to "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

We can't talk about Obama's record because he doesn't really have one. Normally, you'd switch to character but Obama apparently doesn't want to talk about that, either. "Don't ask me about my life choices. Don't ask me about the church I attend. Don't ask me about my friends. Don't even ask me about what I say in private." All he wants to talk about is his carefully-chosen policies and sound bites that appear to have been designed with the help of focus groups. He's a Democratic Romney.

Posted by: CT | April 17, 2008 6:42 PM

##################################

Beautifully said.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

real heat?

This was old-style McCarthism...

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

"Between now and November, the most important question he will be forced to answer is: Who is Barack Obama?"

Mr. Balz, you are a great journalist, but this attitude is the exact reason why most people think the debate was a waste of time. The most important question Obama and McCain will be forced to answer is, "What are you going to do for the country?"

Posted by: Lucas Westmaas | April 17, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Other issues of the day that could have been discussed:

WTF is President Carter doing? Like it or not, there is only one POTUS and only one official American government. I understand the desire to open a dialogue with Hamas, but Carter does not represent the United States. As a former President, he has an obligation to be more responsible about these things.

Would love to know what Obama or Clinton would do if, say, President Bush were to circumvent the American government by holding peace talks with another government. How would they respond? What would they say?

Their answer would provide a glimpse of their philosophy towards the Constitution, the unitary Executive, etc. You know, things that would help us understand how they would perform as POTUS.

ABC missed such a great opportunity. Sad, really.

Posted by: P Diddy | April 17, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the subetx of the questioning was *not* "Who is Barack Obama?"

The subtext was "What can the media -- and Hillary and McCain -- get away with pretending Barack Obama is?"

Trying to fit him into a dismissive storyline hasn't worked, so far. After the media's successes against Edwards, Dean, Gore, etc, etc, this must be a little frustrating and confusing.

Posted by: Whippy | April 17, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

when will the cacophony of complaining on both sides about the media and how wrong the other side is stop? can we talk about ideas instead of falling into the self-aggrandizing media trap. The more we buy into the sideshow, the more we complain but we have only ourselves to blame. Obama to me is the one who is trying to approach things differently, who seems the least influenced by partisanship. And, he is a true leader. That is why he has my vote. All of his downfalls mentioned in this string could equally be applied to historically "great" presidents, and his ability to articulate the English language and the attention he pays to effective communication can only enhance our position in the world. Sadly, our country has a tragic history of snuffing out hope, and of mistaking diplomacy for weakness, among other things. Who has the ability to bring all the disparate threads of our nation together? Obama. Go on go head get down.

Posted by: modernpitung | April 17, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, the Obama spin on this debate is kind of silly. It boils down to "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

We can't talk about Obama's record because he doesn't really have one. Normally, you'd switch to character but Obama apparently doesn't want to talk about that, either. "Don't ask me about my life choices. Don't ask me about the church I attend. Don't ask me about my friends. Don't even ask me about what I say in private." All he wants to talk about is his carefully-chosen policies and sound bites that appear to have been designed with the help of focus groups. He's a Democratic Romney.

Posted by: CT | April 17, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Well put, Watched It.

ABC was disgraceful last night and, as I mentioned earlier, the tape delay to the West Coast was proof that the entertainment division of ABC owned this debate rather than the news division. We're talking about an event where we'd ostensibly get to know the stances espoused by one of the three people who will be the leader of this country and the free world come January.

And they talked about flag pins. Crazy.

Again, I'm all in for Obama in this election, and I have no qualms about my preferred candidate getting grilled. But about flag pins? That's just plain stupid and a wasted opportunity.

There are legitimate problems with both Clinton and Obama's desire to create a massive entitlement program for health care, particularly when my generation and the generations after mine will be paying for my parents and grandparents' enjoyment of existing entitlement programs, with likely little to spare when it comes our time to do the same. Whoever claimed that it was a Ponzi scheme is right.

This and issues like it are the ones that are worth discussing.

Posted by: P Diddy | April 17, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Pray tell what do you expect, Stephanopoulos is a die-hard Clinton man, all he was trying to do was to give Her a leg up and it backed fired. Now he will try to lie his way out and blame it on other people that are what the old Clinton clan does.

The Clintons will do anything to win no matter what, point blank.

Posted by: Leon | April 17, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

An Open Letter To Disney & ABC
Whether you support Hillary or Barrack is irrelevant. Last night's hijacking of the Presidential Debate forum, turning the USA into a laughing spectacle around the world, is unfathomable. I do not for the life of me understand why Charles & George purposely wanting to disgrace America, her political processes, and her citizens!

Having been a loyal Disney and ABC supporter for all of my adult life, even having made plans to have a three generation family reunion this summer at Disneyland, I can unequivocally (sp) say that never again will I support a Disney or ABC entity...EVER!

To be treated as mentally inferior sub human beings who would rather enjoy trash tabloid than hear what our potential leader of the United States of America, ABC should be banned from ever claiming itself a legitimate news organization.

I do not appreciate- not one single solitary bit - that your organization treated me and the rest of America to this public humiliation. Having formerly worked for US-AID, The White House, and the National Education Association, I have spoken with many of my friends around the world since last evening. Their thoughts equal mine in that what was once a respected world news organization has lost their credentials.

I will never, and I repeat, never again, as long as I have breath support in any way your organization again. You have disgraced the country I love and the country for which I honorable served as a United States Marine. My grandchildren will play with rocks and sticks before I ever take them to another Disney movie, buy a Disney product or be associated with an unpatriotic and unamerican organization such as ABC and Disney. And I will fervently seek to encourage other organizations, families, and individuals, regardless of political affiliation, to do the same. You are a disgrace to the legacy of Mr. Walt Disney, Peter Jennings, and a host of respectable media. You are no better than the sleazy tabloid magazines and television shows; willing to do anything for a buck.

A Proud American Citizen & Marine

Posted by: emeraldfalcon | April 17, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Funny how the Obama spinners here just can't take it when the press presses the O man for unrehearsed answers. Hillery's been dealing with those kinds of press attacks for months. She handles hem a lot better than Obama. Get him off message and he's lost-- like Ronald Reagan was. Nice to see Hillery getting treated fairly for a change. Good job ABC. We all needed to see how Obama handles pressure. It wasn't pretty but it spoke volumes.

Posted by: Bob | April 17, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Where were all of you scandalized bloggers when HC was getting grilled at the last debate. Me thinks that you protest too much.

Posted by: Robert | April 17, 2008 2:06 PM

Sadly, it's thinking like this that allows the media to get away with spoonfeeding the public the tabloid trash. HC supporters won't criticize the media when they go after Obama and Obama supporters won't criticize them when they go after Clinton. Both camps refuse to realize that they are part of the problem.

It's called divide and conquer folks and unless you open your eyes the media will paint both Clinton and Obama as unlectable and we will end up with John McCain.

Both camps need to understand that they do not help their choice of candidate in the long run by allowing the media to get away with this crap. Oh sure your candidate may benefit temporarily if you allow the media to unfairly attack their opponent but in the end the pendulum will always swing back to your candidate. Stop being your own worst enemies. If the media is accurately reporting a serious issue then that is fair game but stop letting them get away with the faux issues that are designed to tear down each candidate. Wake up before it's too late! Everyone should be criticizing ABC today.

Posted by: pmorlan | April 17, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Dan Balz, it's not about whether the media are fair to Obama. He's a big boy and he can take it. If he can't, then he doesn't belong in politics. It's about whether the media are fair to the American public.

I watched that debate last night, and for a whole hour, the moderators didn't ask any questions about health care, the economy, or the Iraq War. What gives?

Yeah, Dan, I know. The media have heard it all, and they're bored with "the issues." But the public's not bored. Lots of people are just starting to tune in. Don't you think they deserved more than an hour's worth of questions about flag pins and gaffes?

I've watched a lot of debates in my life. Probably 75 or 100 of them, all told. ABC News broadcast a carnival sideshow. The game was "let's see if we can get Obama to say something that we can jump on." Or even better yet, "let's see if we can get him mad, so he'll scare everybody."

I'm going to be really interested to see what happens now that ABC News decided to dump journalism and try to goad Obama into participating in some twisted version of the World Wrestling Federation.

Like I say, the loser isn't Obama, but the public. It's just breaktaking to see just how stupid this country's news media thinks the public is. It doesn't get a whole lot worse than what I saw last night.

Posted by: Watched It | April 17, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Hooray for David Brooks of the New York Times! Finally, Brooks has come around to my tough traditional American Indian point of view. I do enjoy watching Brooks and Shields on PBS. Those two are quite the pair to draw to.

I much enjoyed last night's debate between Obama and Clinton. I understand many sissified Americans are upset, as is expected. I am not sissified nor upset. This debate last night provided America a chance to observe the behaviors of both Obama and Clinton when confronted with surprise questions and confronted with tough questions. These are a type of questions which will be foremost during our general presidential election. Be sure, the republican party will raise all these issues and much more. Both Obama and Clinton must be prepared to tackle seemingly silly personal topics. Any weakness displayed in dealing with these types of questions will be votes lost.

My personal take is Obama stuttered, stammered and stumbled over his words being taken by surprise. Obama was not prepared, not ready for unexpected topics.

Clinton, such a wonderful performance, such wonderful dodging of personal issues! Clinton did not hesitate, she was articulate, assertive and did not miss a beat. Clinton made a point to diplomatically chastise Stephanopoulos. Clinton was clearly prepared for anything.

This debate was a critical display of how each candidate, Obama and Clinton, will react and will conduct when subjected to surprising and stressful issues.

Obama fell apart. Clinton proved herself cold, calculating and cutthroat. Clinton is no sissy!

My congratulations to ABC news for daring to broach issues which have sissified Americans tugging at their hair while anxiously screaming, "This is not fair!"

All is fair in love and rock & roll.

Job well done ABC, my feather is off to you!

Okpulot Taha
Choctaw Nation

Posted by: Purl Gurl | April 17, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

I didn't see the debate. Obama must have gotten whupped real bad. Those Obamanites have whined and cried all day. Not one mentioned he won. Their arrogance has disappeared.

Couldn't happen to a better group> What is going to make it more fun is that it has just now started. Funny.

Go Hillary Go.

Posted by: Chief | April 17, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

I am so sick of the BS rhetoric! "We do not know who he(Obama) is?" It is complete crap. All the underlying innuendoes of he is a muslim manchurian spy to a black supremacist are here. Really we do not know who he is? Ummm... he wrote two books. One was incredibly personal, detailed, and open on his life and struggles as a bi-racial kid. Read it! Or get cliff notes version from NYT article or Time Magazine. As for his patriotism, again this is crap that no other politician would put up with. It is because his middle name is Hussein. Listen to his speeches! Please, tell me now that he is not patriotic when he reduces almost all of us to tears of hope and the great potential of what this country can do when we are united. It is simply crap. It is due to the underlying movement to paint him as some radical muslim. the hypocrisy of it is unbeleivable. How many people in the audience were wearing freaking flag lapel pins? Moderators and Hillary were not! The Ayers "connection" ummm... Bill pardoned two weathermen and you are going to take Obama to task for associating with one on a charity board? Or receiving 200 dollars in campaign funds? Or this idea that Hillary and McCain are vetted? Really? When will we see their earmarks? When will we see Bill's library donors? When will we see McCain's tax returns? Hypocrisy.

Posted by: Brian | April 17, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Hillary and Obama have participated in 20 debates. Everyone has heard their positions on policy and people that do not know their positions should not be posting.It was time for the candidates to be asked about their associations with shady characters as well as their gaffes. While Hillary responded to her issues by admitting her mistakes, Obama did the two-step.

Posted by: skinsfan1978 | April 17, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Ziggythe Piggy====You may not be crowing so much after you feel the backlash>Whoosh!

Posted by: DownOnTheFarm | April 17, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Folks, do your part.

Moveon has started a petition "protesting the (ABC) network's trivialization of what should have been an important debate." And pledging to run an ad protesting ABC if 100,000 people sign the petition.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

They didn't sign a petition against MSNBC
when Russart and Williams sicced Obama and Edwards on Hillary. What's the matter Obamanites. Your Baby a wussy. Bless his heart. what is he going to do when, say Chaves or some other rough dictator, asks him tough questions? Cry? Bless his little ole heart.

Hillary has lots more balls than he does.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Tom Shales is just a fat pudgy man who is simply regurgitating Obama's campaign points.

Chin up Obama and accept that you lost the debate. Don't be a whiny can't-bowl wimpy elitist ;)

Posted by: bo2bs | April 17, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Lynn Parker===You better stay in your little toilet where you are safe=====Obama's coming===gonna get you !!!

Posted by: kissofDeath | April 17, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

well, obama lost another debate, this one by a landslide, so he's whining about the questions

"They didn't Pamper me!"
how utterly unPresidential!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Dan Balz===I could really give a rip what Pat Buchanan or Bill Kristol think or how many reservations they have. They aren't in the Democratic Party and they wouldn't vote for a Democrat if he was running against Fidel Castro, so get away from me with that.

Posted by: triptomars2008 | April 17, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Dan: Why do I have visions of you sitting in a chair all day long eating nachoes, burgers, fries and adding tonage because you are too lazy to get off your behind and actually do some reporting. The debate wasn't a debate, but it was the re-run of a bad soap opera directed by two equally bad moderators. Stop trying to defend what cannot be defended. Both candidates deserved better.

Posted by: Fat Behind | April 17, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

There is Hillary , right in the picture, pointing that nasty stink finger.She is on her way out. That little trick of getting your buddies at ABC(All Big Cowards) to ambush Obama in the name of a debate backfired big time stink finger bobblehead lady.By the way, you were wrong, you can choose your family. You chose Bill as your spouse. You should have walked out the door twenty years ago.

Posted by: LetthemdrinkCrownRoyal | April 17, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Dan: I've been reading the Post for three decades. My respect for its editorial positions has plunged so much that I no longer even bother reading them. Three-quarters of the Op-Ed page is now dreary, stale, fossilized thinking. The political analysis has largely slipped into shallow horserace noise (e.g. The Fix).

But you were always a bright spot. I looked for your byline and always read the piece. I like your writing style. (I also read George Will for his style. I disagree with 95% of his conclusions, but he writes well. The difference, of course, is that Will is an advocate, whereas you are an analyst.) I thought you were among the best and most thoughtful political analysts; I felt that I had learned something--or understood something better--by the time I finished your piece.

So I am very much surprised and disappointed by this article. I want to be charitable: Certainly 15 months of campaigning must take a toll not only on candidates, but on analysts and commentators as well. Call it fatigue, filing pressure, whatever. Even good hitters have days when they just don't see the ball.

I suspect you are I are probably contemporaries: I remember watching Nixon-Kennedy debate Quemoy and Matsu as a child. I've probably seen every presidential and vice-presidential debate (general or primary) since then--except for the years when I was overseas with the military.

The ABC travesty was the worst I've ever seen. It was shallow fluff at a time when the nation needs serious discourse about major problems and large issues. We're at an important crossroads in our history. Jeremiah Wright is more important than the limits of Executive power? Bittergate deserves more time than the hollowing-out of the U.S. Constitution? ABC broke the story about the Principals Group sitting in the White House establishing torture regimes--yet can't ask a question about it? Not a single question about the surveillance state or signing statements or perverting DOJ into a political instrument?

I'll still look for your byline, Dan. But that piece was a total stinkeroo.

[For the record: I am a registered Independent with a history of voting for minor-party candidates. I am not a supporter of any declared candidate.]

Posted by: IceNine | April 17, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

All this MIGHT hold water if you applied the same standard to McCain, but of course you don't.

Even if you did, it would still be shallow vapid and idiotic. Challenge the candidates on their positions and real world problems, we've had enough of press created "controversies" over flag pins.

Posted by: Mike M | April 17, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Somebody send Obama a box of Kleenex. He's a cry baby. Finally a network other than Fox asked questions that should have been answered a long time ago. Apparently it ruffled his feathers. Does a future President of The United States have any business associtating with a former terrorist now turned english proffesor who still does not disavow his Actions, Should he belong to a radical church for 20 years and then lie that he knew nothing about the rantings of his lunatic so called pastor? Should he be buddies with an anti semite like Farakahn? And why has his wife not been proud to be an American until now. These questions and more need to be asked every day until there is a satifactory answer. We already know his policies, negotiate with terrorists, raise taxes, and hope for change. GOOD JOB ABC!

Posted by: Ziggy 1 | April 17, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Well, as they say, talk is cheap; it takes money to buy whiskey.

I just sent Obama another $100.00.

The fact that he(unlike Hillary/Bill,and especially mccain) is not beholden to the military-industrial complex;or the drug industry;or the insurance industry;or the banking industry; or the Chamber of Commerce;transcends ALL ELSE.

Obama is like a third party candidate with major party backing.What could be better for America?

And nothing I have heard so far makes me afraid of him as my president...especially with a democratic house and a democratic senate.

Posted by: thopaine | April 17, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Another lame-brained analysis by someone who should know better. I was SO looking forward to this debate, and look what I got. Gibson and Stephanopoulos dished up some of the some of the most inane garbage I've heard in a long time from anyone other than Fox News. A truly puerile performance from supposedly reputable TV journalists.

Posted by: Tosca4 | April 17, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Great piece. Obama's campaign really does seem to be crumbling. It was obvious last night, as he bumbled through his answers that he's not ready for prime time. Hillery on the other hand seemed strong and presidential. Months ago I was in the Obama camp-- thinking he was a different kind of candidate. But the mania has gotten old and now Obama seems a lot like George McGovern. Remember what happened to him when November came around. Last night was another low point for him any way you slice it. If the Dems out there want to win in November, they better start thinking Hillery. Last night the press pounded both candidates and Hillery was the one left standing. She may not be perfect, but she's a whole lot better than McCain-- which is what Obama will bring.

Posted by: Robert | April 17, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

oops

Kudos to ABC

Posted by: lucci 8 | April 17, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

ok, so I went an re-read the article and fail to see why you all are so mad at Dan.

Everyone today is so focussed on who "won" the debate that they can't see the forest for the trees.

This article was not about that. It was about what Obama has to face IF he wins the nomination and that is questions like these over and over and over.....

For example, Rev Wright - that will be a major issue, not for his supporters but by the republicans and rightly so. He said atrocious things, Barak has given them an early Christmas present.

Of course that he stayed in the church for 20 years and donated money to this church is all Hillary's fault, Dan - how could you not elaborate on that?

Supporters of Obama ususally cannot wait to revel in the glory of Hillary being bashed by the media and when that did not happen today, they were crushed and disappointed. Possibly the debate revealed to them just how much more prepared and focused on the issues Hillary is and what a better leader she will make. (I see veins popping, love it).

Charles and George asked Barak very good questions, and that was turned into "Charles and Hillary and Fox and George are in cohoots." Amazing.

This was good for Barak, he needs to toughen up. I love it when Hillary gets b..... As woman, I am not afraid to get b.... when I need to, thats why I love her. Besides, b.... is the new black!

Independent for Hillary
Kudos to ABD
Dan - GREAT ARTICLE (and lately Dan, I haven't been too crazy about you)

Posted by: lucci8 | April 17, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

One day, a little girl awakened & found herself fatherless. She rubbed his eyes & saw her family villa destroyed -- even the old adobe barn that bore a target her father painted when he taught her how to shoot.

For years after (disguising herself as a boy so men would not gang up on her), the poor girl trekked through many lands of all the continents -- over mighty mountains & up Antarctic heights & through vast & arid salt-troughs & deep beneath the crusts of frozen seas (a mighty feat, since she tended to float) & across the great Sahara (& other deserts, like Washington DC) & around-and-about the half-timber houses & cobbled ways of Hornburg, Eisenach, Strasbourg, Warwick, and Rouen & into the gridworks of Manhattan's canyoned streets & the midnight of late June's Iceland lighted by a sun bright as pre-twilight's. Even did she brave the shell-strafed airports of Bosnia & Ulster...

Then one night -- after downing a shot of rye & a beer pint chaser (for she was a real man's boy, a boy of the real folk) -- she started to weep. "Where is father? Where is home?" She fainted & fell unconscious to the old village tavern's sawdust-covered floor.

When she woke she stood beneath a clearest sky above the clouds & peered into the vision of a great gold gate mammothing before her. Behind the gate sat a tallish gaunt man whose beard was untrimmed & mousey brown & who wore just a loincloth.

The little girl (still little despite her 59 years & still disguised as a boy) -- the wee girl approached the gate & put her nose between two bars, so her eyes could be closest to the man seated inside. "Father?" the girl pleaded with cracking voice, cracking so it sounded like near-pubescent boy's.

The tallish, gaunt, untrimmed-bearded, loin-cloth-wearing man rose & leaned forward slowly & hopefully, his face nearing the nose of the 59-year-old girl disguised as a boy. "Pinocchio?" the gaunt, tallish, untrimmed-bearded, loin-cloth-wearing man inquired with a whisper.

Posted by: loup-bouc | April 17, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Charlie Gibson got the whole capital gain thing dorked up. 100 million people, if that number is correct which I doubt, have their money in 401k and Ira accounts which are not taxed at the capital gain rate when the funds are removed from the account. They are taxed at the ordinary income rate so his views/questions were simply incorrect. He must have a lot of Disney stock to be that concerned or a lot of hedge fund friends who are making billions.

Posted by: BEAUFORT | April 17, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Finally, Obama has been subjected to some searching probe. He has now dismissed the debate as a waiste of time because he was subjected to a real personal scrutiny. He wants to discuss issues. I am floored. When Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton were subjected to endless attacks as a racist, as a liar, as an unpleasant person and what not, he was quite comfortable during 20 debates, because he was the darling of the media. Now that he is getting attacked, he dismnisses the debates as worthless. Obama did not distinguish himself under attack. Hillary apologized for her Bosnia mis-speak, and said I am sorry. But Obama thinks that he is larger than himself, and can't express his outrage at himself for the stupid remarks he made about the rural folks. It is time he realizes that his crude attacks on the ABC format is going to hurt him just as much as his defensive posture during the debate. Now, I wonder what issues separate Obama and Hillary. Their positions on a variety of issues are well known and have been debated in 20 debates. But his personal issues have not been sorted out. The people need to know him against the background of the controversies of his pastor, of his other friends and his own attitudes. But he does not want to accept a public discussion of his personal failures because it will bring him down to the same level as other candidates. Unfortunately for him, he enetered the presidential contest with inadequate background and with an air of adoration by young kids. The adoration obviously got into his head so much that he can't face character questions except when they pertain to Hillary. I think that he lost his credibility in his crude reaction to the many questions that people have about his person and his candidacy. It is quite clear that he is going to be a sitting duck for Republican attacks if he is the nominee.

Posted by: Nathan | April 17, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Oh, so MoveOn.org is going to circulate a petition? In other words, the billionaire George Soros is mad at ABC?

Posted by: graniteman | April 17, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Judging by earlier post by West Pointer, looks like catfighting is now part of the curriculum. Hilarious that the former cadet welcomes somebody to the big league by talking about undergrad quotes about high schoolers. Wow. Like ABC, the Point must not be quite what it used to be.

Posted by: Maxwell | April 17, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Barry's frightened of Hillary and doesn't want to risk going without a teleprompter anymore.

He knows he's useless without out his teleprompter.

So does everyone else in America.

If he gets the nomination, I and every other mainstream Democrat will vote for McCain.

If Howard Dean thinks we're bluffing, he's in for a rude surprise.

Posted by: Obama feels helpless without a script | April 17, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Folks, do your part.

Moveon has started a petition "protesting the (ABC) network's trivialization of what should have been an important debate." And pledging to run an ad protesting ABC if 100,000 people sign the petition.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to ABC News for asking Senator Obama a few tough questions instead of spray painting another coat of protective Teflon on his campaign. I am so tired of the very junior senator from Illinois and his empty rhetoric of "hope, unity and change." Let's see if he is now willing to admit that his agenda is a far left liberal one. If he does, Senator McCain will command the political center in November and, once again, the Democrats will fumble the presidential ball.

Posted by: graniteman | April 17, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

It appeared ABC was trying to compete and outbeat NBC/MSNBC. It has been said NBC/MSNBC has been partial to Obama and supporting him. So, ABC deided to support Clinton. It appeared as though it was a ABC-Clinton conspiracy against Obama. Journalistically such a one way questioning was not fair. I also noticed the camera did not give enough light on Obama. To me, he looked as though he was sitting in a dark room. Between Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolis, Charlie monopolized. On the whole, the debate was rather boring. I was looking for an exciting and challenging debate on presidential issues and decision making process.

Posted by: Ven Parameswaran | April 17, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

So, so concerned about whether Obama can cross that threshold into readiness and credibility as a commander in chief, could anything be possibly worse than the commander in chief sitting in the White House at the moment? I think not.

Posted by: muslit | April 17, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Let's just figure out who is the most likely to get us out of the economy breaking war in Iraq, stop the torture of "suspects" and spying on Americans, get some economic policies in place that might actually help someone besides the ultra-rich, and generally deal well with the aftermath of the current administration's incompetence. Too bad more of the debate wasn't on the immediate issues. God help us all if the war-monger McCain is elected.

Posted by: Stanislau | April 17, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

It appeared ABC was trying to compete and outbeat NBC/MSNBC. It has been said NBC/MSNBC has been partial to Obama and supporting him. So, ABC deided to support Clinton. It appeared as though it was a ABC-Clinton conspiracy against Obama. Journalistically such a one way questioning was not fair. I also noticed the camera did not give enough light on Obama. To me, he looked as though he was sitting in a dark room. Between Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolis, Charlie monopolized. On the whole, the debate was rather boring. I was looking for an exciting and challenging debate on presidential issues and decision making process.

Posted by: Ven Parameswaran | April 17, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Does a tabloid Q and A really count as a debate? It should make for a great Saturday Night Live skit this weekend. Really.

The first questions may have been relevant (45 minutes?!), but the non-personal, bigger picture issues that affect us all are the ones that didn't get asked. Really.

Yes - they helped "prep" Obama for the fall, but they didn't really help the voters in the upcoming primaries make an more informed decision. Really.

Posted by: DonJulio | April 17, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

So how is the question "do you love your country more than Rev Wright" going to help us determine who is qualified to be president? It reminds me of the stereotypical question lawyers are not supposed to ask, "So, when was the last time you hit your wife?"

Posted by: alterego1 | April 17, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

the kiss of death!!!!!!!!!

OBAMA, DO NOT GO NEAR SMALL TOWNS AND BLUE COLLAR WORKERS

YOU JUST F----D UP BABY!

Posted by: LYNN PARKER | April 17, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey, ABC, are you reading these comments about your so-called debate? Some of these people sound downright bitter!

As a news organization, it was your job to play the watchdog for the current presidential administration, and keep their actions in check. You failed. As a news organization, it was your job to ask pertinent questions at this debate about the future of our country and who was most qualified to lead us there. You failed. Instead, you gleefully engaged in more tabloid mudslinging. How much did your Corporate Masters pay you to sex up the cute little Democratic Debate for your Big Advertisers?

We're not bitter about America. We're bitter about what superficial journalism such as what you practiced last night, ABC, have allowed America to become. Get out of the news business, you tabloid hacks, and stick to reality TV. It has more integrity than your news organization.

Posted by: Bitter Elitist | April 17, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

At the nation's most selective school (West Point, not Harvard), they have a term for this: The Graveyard of High School Heroes.

Welcome to the Big Leagues, kid.

Posted by: Grow Up | April 17, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

As far as I know, Obama is a big baby in diapers when it comes to answering hard questions. No one would be asking him those question if he had not going to a church fuel by hate against the rest of us; associating himself with ??? people and thinking that he's better than others and has a right to criticize them. Sorry HC haters but you didn't like the debate ONLY because BO looked awful and you couldn't believe your own eyes. Your beautiful baby!! He had never looked so pathetic before. He's so arrogant that he reminds of Bush and... look where we are.

Posted by: Kat | April 17, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I guess all the questions about raising taxes, the Iraq war and the 2nd Amendment did not count for anything. Clinton actually answered those questions better then Obama did. She will not get the nomination. This Democrat is voting for McCain instead of obLoser!

Posted by: Davester | April 17, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

"Democratic pollster Peter Hart long has said that Obama must yet cross a threshold with the voters before he can be elected president. That threshold is more than whether he is ready to be president, whether he can be a credible commander in chief. Instead it to give people a sense of confidence that he is someone with whom they feel comfortable, that he shares with them a life story and a set of values they expect of their president."

EXCUSE ME???????

What the hell did Jack Kennedy or Franklin Roosevelt share with the common people?! Both were sons of privilege. So Obama was raised abroad, bfd. Thank God someone who wants to represent the US to the rest of the world has an innate understanding of how the other 95% of the world thinks. We've tried uninterested and phony populist for seven years and what's it gotten us? I don't WANT a president who's just like me (or pretends to be). I want a president who's BETTER than me! Obama is that man.

Say no to phony populism!
Say yes to intelligence, honesty and vision!
Obama in '08!

Posted by: treetopflyer | April 17, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

The press are both lost, and sheeplike.

The paparazzification of journalism seems have been completed. Nullifyung the concept of 'journalism.'

At any rate, the country's not a collective block of wood:

Obama 54%
McCain 44%

I'm taking bets.

Posted by: Rob L. | April 17, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Obama supporters don't listen to anyone. That's alright, everyone else is getting tired of listening to Obama's BS.

All Obama can do is read from a teleprompter.

He's an ACTOR.

Hillary's the real thing.

She's going to be a great President.

Posted by: Obama supporters don't listen to anyone. That's alright, people are getting tired of listening to Ob | April 17, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Listen up George Stephie. those pearly words of wisdom came out volintarily from the big FOUL MOUTH OF BARAK OBOMA. nO BODY WROTE THE SCRIPT FOR HIM. HE SAID WHAT HE FEELS ABOUT aMERICANS FROM SMALL TOWNS, AND HE PROBABLY FEELS THE SAME WAY ABOUT BLUE COLLAR WORKERS AND AMERICANS IN BIG CITIES! LET OBAMA, THE MONKEY, KEEP CLIMBING AND MUCH MORE THAN HIS BACKSIDE WILL AND IS SHOWING. maybe oprah can make nice and let her dear boy cry on her big shoulder. YOU GEORGE CAN GET RIGHT BEHIND HIM. WHEN THIS IS OVER THE BOTH OF YOU WITH YOUR LOUD SAY NOTHING WORDS CAN HAVE SOMEONE'S MOTHER WASH YOUR MOUTHS OUT WITH SOAP (BROWN BORAX)

Posted by: LYNN PARKER | April 17, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

All the flag pins are made in China. Does anyone realize that?

Posted by: Anna | April 17, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I'll never watch ABC ever again. That's what you get when the media gathers news from the top down instead of the bottom up. They are the ones who are out of touch with the America people. Thank God for NPR and C-Span. Now those are intelligent news sources.

Posted by: ttacner2 | April 17, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

From the NYT --

Republicans know that the can defeat Obama easily.

February 28, 2008, 6:14 pm
Why I'm Afraid of the Clintons
By Dan Schnur

If it's not the first rule of Republican politics, it should be: never, ever, ever underestimate anybody whose last name is Clinton. Not Bill, not Hillary. Not Chelsea, not even George. They're very good at what they do, and when they're about to be written off for dead, that's when they're at their very best.
We've counted out the Clintons before: during the New Hampshire primary in 1992, after the death of health care reform and the Republican takeover of Congress, and at the height of the impeachment brawl a few years after that. On each of those occasions, we had convinced ourselves that this was going to be the end of this unique family's political journey. Each time, we were wrong.
When Hillary Clinton decided to run for president, I promised myself I would not be fooled again. As an equally loyal fan of the Republican Party and of the Green Bay Packers football team, I had come to regard the Clintons the same way I've always thought about the Dallas Cowboys. I don't like them. I root against them. I want them to lose and occasionally find myself wanting bad things to happen to them. But they are very good at what they do. And if someone can knock them out in the playoffs -- whether it's the New York Giants or a senator from Illinois -- I'm just as happy not to have to go up against them when the stakes are at their highest.
So throughout the Democratic primaries, I've been rooting for Barack Obama. The nobler side of me admires him, even across party lines, for the tremendous interest and enthusiasm he has engendered among younger Americans. But the larger, less decent part of me believes that Hillary Clinton would be a more formidable general election opponent for the Republican nominee. She's certainly on the ropes right now: her campaign has been flailing through the last few rounds of primaries in a way that Clintons are usually able to avoid. But we've been losing to Clintons for a long time now: I'd still just as soon avoid her in a general election campaign.
There's something other than superstition at work here: there's also a question of ideological positioning. Many of my fellow Republicans don't believe it, but Mrs. Clinton has actually fashioned a relatively centrist career as a senator. By contrast, Mr. Obama's voting record has been designated by the respected and nonpartisan National Journal as the most liberal of any of the Senate's 100 members. This is not merely an epithet: it represents a series of policy choices and legislative votes that leave Senator Obama to the left of Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Barbara Boxer. Even the most inspirational and inclusive language in the world will face a stern test in the face of accusations on that front.
Without yet knowing the specifics of his record in office, general election voters are beginning to display an instinctual awareness of Senator Obama's potential shortcomings. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg News poll released earlier this week showed Senator Clinton defeating John McCain on the question of which candidate would best handle issues relating to the economy and immigration, while Senator Obama came up short against Senator McCain on both questions. While the differences were not as notable, Hillary Clinton also matched up better than Barack Obama against John McCain on questions relating to health care and on terrorism. (Senator Obama ran three points better than Senator Clinton against John McCain on Iraq, the only issue on which he outpaced her.)
Which brings us back to the question of change versus experience. While Senator McCain is an insurgent and a maverick, he is also 71 years old and he has been a member of Congress for roughly a quarter of a century. Not surprisingly, both Democrats defeated Senator McCain on the question of which candidate would bring necessary change to Washington, Senator Obama more decisively than Senator Clinton.
But the debate over change -- and perhaps age -- may be overshadowed by the overwhelming margin (53 percent to 22 percent) by which voters say that Senator McCain has "the right experience" instead of Senator Obama, almost three times as large as his advantage over Clinton. American voters have made it clear that they want change, but in the middle of a difficult war and an impending recession, they want reassurance as well. Far more than against Senator Clinton, a McCain campaign against Senator Obama could benefit from the perception among voters that John McCain is better prepared for the presidency.

Posted by: Republicans know that the can defeat Obama easily | April 17, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

The debate sucked and the mediators are idiots.

Posted by: andre gill | April 17, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I still do not understand people who post on these message boards/blogs who make comments like Senator Obama is being handled with kid gloves. I guess you are deaf and dumb. Last night was not a debate it was personal attacks on both candidates but mainly Senator Obama. You know, John McCain is not a good debator like G.W. was not. G.W. won the election because he and Dick Cheney scared the American people into voting against a democrat by making statements that America will more suceptible to terrorist attacks if you vote for a democrat. How we forget the actual September 11th attacks took place on a republicans watch. I think Senator Obama will shred John McCain in head-to-head debates and that is what the republicans are afraid of. That is why they are fighting hard to get Hilary Clinton nominated. They don't want to go up against a NATURAL leader. And I read more attacks on Senator Obama supporters on these blogs, all of them, than I do on Senator Clinton supporters. People call Senator Obama supporters Obamabots, Obamanites, sheep being lead to the slaughter, blind followers, etc. I don't read those comments about Senator Clinton followers. So, for the people who made comments on here about Senator Obama supporters always name call and attack Senator Clinton supporters, show me, where has this happen to the degree that YOU ALL do it to the Senator Obama supporters? See, this is why your candidate's negatives have went up and you are a reflection of her!

Posted by: Citizen AJ | April 17, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

"And yet, it is clear that his biggest challenge going forward will be to make the country fully comfortable with who he is, where he has come from and what he believes."

Stop trying to disguise it. What you really mean is "make skittish white people comfortable that he's not a scary black man." All of that other stuff is plainly out there for the world to see.

Posted by: Eddie | April 17, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse


The ultimate losers of this campaign sadly may be the people in this country. The superficial, "gotcha" mentality of most reporters, is demoralizing most thoughtful, concerned people in this country.

A couple recommendations for future debates:

1) Have real "debates," limit the role of egotistical reporters, by expecting candidates to speak at length, at least ten or fifteen minutes each on a single issue, and toward each other about the most important issues.

2) Limit reporters' role to a miniumum and expect reporters involved to have a basic knowledge of history and the issues they are asking questions. Disqualify any reporters who have a known bias for or against a certain candidate or being involved in working for a spouse.

These are the questions which should be asked and answers ideally expected from candidates:

A) Should the United States be the world's policeman, intervening anywhere American leaders want? Why?

B) Are budget deficits and the rising national debt serious problems? What needs to be done, if they are problems?

C) What can the government and localities do to substantially lower crime, including growing identity theft?

D) How can educational opportunities be improved for all children, especially those in urban schools? Please no platitudes.

E) Would you like to see any changes in the Medicare and/or Social Security systems? Be specific.

F) Why shouldn't all Americans have health care coverage? Members of Congress have good health care plans, why is this good enough for them and not millions of Americans?

G) What steps can the United States and other nations take to bring about lasting peace in the Middle East?

H) Are you concerned about the huge gap between the rich and poor in this country?
What should be done, if anything, about this issue?

I) Leadership is often about taking bold initiatives, even when many or most people are opposed, to effectively deal with problems. Are there any important issues where you are willing, if so, what are they, to take bold leadership, although you may be opposed by most people?

J) How concerned are you about the legacy of all who are living today to future generations, in terms of the environment and climate change? Should Americans be asked to make any sacrifices, if so, what, to protect the environment and minimize climate change's impact upon the earth?

K) What actions should the government take to reduce inflation? How would these policies help ordinary people?

L) How do your religious and/or ethical values jive with recent huge tax breaks for the rich, the incredible gap between the rich and poor, the suffering and unnecessary deaths of millions of poor people, especially children, in other countries?

Posted by: An Independent | April 17, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

... and we wonder why nobody cares or watches network new anymore. Shame on you Charles Gibson and Georgey boy stephanopolous. what you moderated was not a debate but a gotcha political agenda that has no new information beneficial to the american public.

Posted by: projectscope2002@yahoo.com | April 17, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to you ABC NETWORK !!!! You have shredded the last bits of credibility you have left.

Posted by: projectscope2002@yahoo.com | April 17, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Four reasons why I will be voting for Barack Obama on Tuesday:

1) The Clintons had a chance to help Pennsylvania in the 1990's, and I didn't see much help coming. It's time to try someone new.

2) The US has never been a nation of monarchs, and the last thing that we need now (after Bush II) is another dynasty amassing political power.

3) Polls currently suggest that McCain would beat Clinton but would lose to Obama. Obama is our best bet for putting a Democrat in the White House.

4) I am never really sure whether I can trust what Clinton says. You can always gain experience, but you can never regain your integrity.

What are your thoughts? Perhaps you want an older leader, somebody like your mom, who you can count on to get the job done. Or perhaps you want a woman in the White House. Or perhaps you feel a little uncomfortable with having an African American in the White House. Or perhaps you want somebody who can take a shot and a beer. What are the other reasons to vote for Clinton?

Posted by: Chris Dackhouse | April 17, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I had a very high opinion of Dan Balz until I read this article. Gibbson and Stephonopouls were idiots last night. The country is deep trouble and they are worried about lapel pins! Incdinetally, do they wear Americal Flag on their lapels.

Dan you along with Gibbson and Sephenopouls are fat and lazy. Give your brain some exercise and cover what in the interest of the country rather than lapel pins and trying to judge someone guilty by association.

SHAME ON ALL OF YOU

Posted by: rk | April 17, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

... and we wonder why nobody cares or watches network new anymore. Shame on you Charles Gibson and Georgey boy stephanopolous. what you moderated was not a debate but a gotcha political agenda that has no new information beneficial to the american public.

Posted by: projectscope2002@yahoo.com | April 17, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

ABC: Fire those two idiots for the trivial, sniveling questions they asked.

Posted by: Benjamin Cole | April 17, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

You have put a spin on this, that I can live with, but I think many of us are justifiably angry about how that debate was moderated, and I think Senator Obama would be justified in refusing to participate in another debate on ABC, during the rest of the primary season or the upcoming general election season.

Posted by: Rob Fenwick | April 17, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

This is ridiculous. I have heard plenty about Obama to know he is the most decent man/woman running. He even showed it in the debate. When Hillary got in trouble about Bosnia, he came to her defense. Did she ever do that for him? No she has never. She just attacks. She has no class. He does. That speaks volumes.

Posted by: Len | April 17, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Dan Balz is a victim of the Boomer-Era political paradigm. In such a system a candidate seeks to cut his or her opponent and then punch it again and again to draw blood. The political media tries to create news (as in a gaffe) to help the violence up -- a boxing match is more fun to watch when the opponents hit each other. All of this is framed as "vetting" and "testing."

What Balz doesn't realize is that America is moving past this paradigm. People want to improve their lives and solve problems. In the post-Boomer Era of politics, columns such as this one seem dated and trite.

Posted by: Leon | April 17, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

A good article. To become the President you need to answer these serious questions. There are no free passes on the road to occupy the White House.

Posted by: John | April 17, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Bridgit, best post on this thread. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by: Sluggy | April 17, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I watched this entire debate and it was nonsense. ABC is horrible. What was the point? can we talk about the real issues as oppose to Rev Wright, immaginary sniper fire and a flagpin? What happened to NAFTA, Columbia trade agreement, immigration? 50+ minutes was spent on Tabloid Media mess! Billary did not make out any better than Obama. Obama seemmed very uncomfortable but with good reason, he wanted to discuss the real issues. His associations have already been discussed in the last 15+ debates, voters dont want to keep hearing about this. Can Obama hurry up and end this thing so we can focus on McBUSH!

Posted by: Shay Shay | April 17, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

It is obvious that ABC's moderators have no meaningful knowledge of the issues and/or no confidence in their ability to make the issues of sufficient interest to the viewers to keep them from switching the station. It is way past time that Obama, HRC, McCain, and all the others put the media in its place. They should point out, on-air, that they are being asked stupid horse race questions because the reporters haven't done their homework and are afraid of boring their audience. Obama basically said that the media did not have confidence in the American people, but he should have said it in much stronger terms. On the "flag pin" issue, he should have said, "Charlie, where is your flag pin? George, where is your flag pin? You there in the audience, where is your flag pin? And where is yours, sir? Why are politicians now expected to wear flag pins? Because we are expected to wave the flag so that people will ignore what we are actually saying and doing." It is a stupid issue for stupid people to worry about.

Posted by: J. C. Smith | April 17, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Nice try to defend your media colleagues. The media's "values" are a load of (poo). Minor associations with semi-suspect characters are not of interest to us. What is of interest is how we're going to turn this wayward ship of America around--instead of all those moronic questions spewed last night, the moderators could have asked for more specifics. But the truth is you reporters are lazy, and aim for the easy story instead of something that would require more legwork, more analysis. And you do it in the name of "that's what the people want."

On your logic of understanding values, why aren't seeing the same searing of John McCain? Because the press has already decided he is a saint.

Obama is feeling the heat of the bloated beast known as the establishment press. The more you try and justify this beast's behavior, the more rankle you will feel.

Posted by: gavin930 | April 17, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

WOW! Hard to believe we all heard the same debate. Early during the debates, they were anything but short 60 second segments on specific talking points about their candidacy. WOrthless really. Now, since there only remains two candidates, it becomes more heated and yes, character counts. Obama says so....he's the one who can "bridge the gap" between black and white, rich and poor, latino and white. This was the FIRST debate that talked about character issues and did not serve as a platform for both candidates to simply serv e up the 60 sec spiels. If Obama is to serve as the "bridge", then I want to know where he's coming from and what he stands for. Weather underground buds, a hate preaching pastor for 20 years that's his "uncle", a relationship with a known, and now being prosecuted scum bag........lets all take a look. It won't hurt Obama, because the truth is never something we want to ignore. It may be he's a great guy that would be a great leader. I may just not like his friends. Let's find out, shall we?

Posted by: jeff | April 17, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Senator Clinton is the tough, pragmatic, experienced centrist who will carry the Democrats back to the White House. Go Hillary!

Posted by: John | April 17, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I thought the moderators did a great job. For the first time Obama wasn't handled with kid gloves. He didn't get to answer the majority of questions after Clinton, so he had to come up with his own answers. His supporters are outraged because he didn't perform very well. Part of the reason is that he hasn't been given the same treatment as Clinton, and he actually seemed shocked and angry that he might actually be called on some things.
He would have been a better candidate if he had not been given a free pass from the media for so long.

Posted by: greenfun | April 17, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I am very angry about this process. It is not only unfair but totally screwed up to have to torture our candidates and the public in this way. There is no excuse for how messed up the political process is. So don't make excuses for it, Dan Balz.

Posted by: johnyates1@bellsouth.net | April 17, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I would love to believe that America could wait until 2012 for a qualified AMERICA-FIRST candidate to emerge to truly lead this nation again.

Unfortuanely, by 2012, all of these Pres candidates will have granted amnesty and citizenship to 20 percent of El Slavador and 40 percent of Mexico which means, by 2012, Philipe Claderon will run for President of the US....and win.

Adios America - Hillary, Juan and Bama all have the same Jorge MEXAM SPP Bushie plans for you.

And, these candidates will tell you plainly -

"You Natives better learn to speak Spanish now or we will Deport You back to your English-speaking nation of origin"...even if your ancestors have been here since the 1600's.

Posted by: Tom Jefferson | April 17, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Leanza wrote:

Obama served on a board with Mr. Ayers in the 1990's, the Woods Foundation, which was a paid, underlined PAID directorship position.

Its the Woods Fund, not the Wood Foundation. And you know who or what it is? Its a Fund designed to provide grants and assistance to help Chicago's less advantaged residents. Other members of the board include the Executive Director of Public Affairs for UBS (one of the World's Major Banks), and the Director of Media and Public Affairs for Skidmore, Owings (the Internationally reknowned architectual firm). It was established the 1940's by the Wood family. They were in the Coal Business.

Was William C. Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois Chicago (and son of the Former CEO and Chairman of the Board of Commonwealth Edison, one of the Country's major Electric Utilities) on the Board. Yes. He has served his time to Society for his acts in the 1960's and has been readmitted to society.

They worked together, attended fundraisers together, Ayers held fundraisers and was a contributor to Obama's Chicago's campaign, plus they are neighbors and visited each other quite often. Enough said. This relationship deserves being vetted. What's the fear? If Obama has nothing to fear then his associations with Farrahkan, Wright, Ayers , Auchi, and Refko should be fully vetted

The problem is that they aren't being fully vetted, they are being used in a "smear by association" format. The Farrahkan smear is particularly laughable. Obama is being smeared and tied to Farrahkan because he knows someone who is related to someone who expressed some mild degree of support for Farrahkan. And its a "no win" game. If Obama points out similar associations by his opponents, its a charge that he's not actually bringing change. If he doesnt, then he gets hit with the brush that he's different (and dirtier) than the others.

The real problem is that Hillary Clinton has adopted an Apres Moi Le Deludge approach and has, instead of defending and helping her party, has decided that the only way to win in 2012 is to destroy the democrat in 2008. If she had, for example, had, instead of charging elitism, agreed with Obama that voters in Pennsylvania had the right to feel bitter after 8 years of Bush, she would have not given McCain a soundbite for the fall and would have also, frankly, helped her own campaign.

Or last night she could have said that the Ayers comments by ABC were off base -- for they were.

Posted by: Sick and Tired of Lies | April 17, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Obama can not win in November, period. Some of the people voted for him in the primaries simply didn't think it through. Obama got 100% of the black votes but he does not represent the Democratic party. If Democrats nominate Obama, it means a 40+ state landslide victory for McCain. Obama may get 100% of the black votes in the general election. But he will get only low 30% of the white votes, Hispanic votes and the Asian votes.

When it comes to his 2002 anti-war speech, it was primarily for his Chicago district constituents' consumtion. Since then, he has voted to continue the war.
The war issue alone is not enough to get "Reagon Democrats" to vote for Obama.

Now what should the Democrats do?

Do the right thing - nominate Senator Clinton!

Posted by: G.Y. | April 17, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

It was the least substantiative debate I've ever seen. Even if the more irrelevant topics (Bosnia, Weather Underground) had to come up, they could have been asked/pursued in a way that allowed the candidates to add something new to our understanding of these over-reported topics. Does anyone really think that reporters haven't been trying to dig everything up on these two for the last year? As a result, we get questions on the Weather Underground or Bosnia that have nothing to do with the candidates' ability to be an effective president, and in the case of the Weather Underground, if you're going to ask questions like that, you may as well ask Hillary if she had Vince Foster killed. Both topics are right-wing nutjob conspiracy theories that more 'mainstream' republicans use to their advantage.

(Oh, what? Sean Hannity gave that question to George Stephanopolis? OK, now I get it).

And to Dan Balz: Sorry, but the "He needs to be Tested and Vetted" argument can't be used to justify the political pornography we witnessed last night.

Posted by: CyndiAlexandria | April 17, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Baloney! And unworthy of Dan Balz. All of the attack ad topics(Reverend Wright, Obama's gaffe in San Francisco, Clinton's gaffe on Bosnia) have been discussed ad nauseum by both the candidates and the media. There is absolutely NOTHING miore to say about them, and nothing more we can learn about the candidates from them. On the other hand,the ABC debate allowed a few minutes (FAR too few) for an important debate about tax policy, which hasn't been aired thus far. THAT is what the media and the candidates should be focusing on.

Posted by: Forrest1 | April 17, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Once again Barack Obama proved that he is not ready to play in the big leagues. Face it: he doesn't like to be crossed. First, he get angry. Later, he gets snotty.

Just wait for the day (soon, I hope) when Obama is asked his opinion on his church congregations naming of its soon-to-be-opened elementary school for the Marxist firebrand Kwame Nkrumah. And just wait for the follow up questions about his notion of Marxism and his past associations with Marxism and Marxists. Should be THE deal breaker.


Posted by: Inquirer | April 17, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Hum. The writer of this story is surprised that Republican strategists have a problem with Obama.

That seems like a REAL tough one to figure out.

Great job, Bullocks.

Posted by: Greg | April 17, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

For all those who are claiming that Obama hasn't had his feet held to the flames long enough, I suggest that you all take down them there Rabbit Ears and get something called cable. If that's too complicated, they make it in basic form too.

Posted by: CNN (1 and 2), MSNBC, FOX, C-SPANs | April 17, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Obama supporters can't possibly be so dense as to not realize that the discussion of the lapel pin is symbolic of the broader concern many Americans have with Obama's attitudes toward the United States.

It's not about the pin, it's about his committment to ALL of the people of the US, his judgment and his ability to represent this country in a global environment.

He's weak on foreign policy and experience and on patriotism. He has a pattern of surrounding himself with radicals. He has been neither truthful nor forthcoming when he is asked to address these issues. Another of his patterns is to redirect the focus, ramble on and on and never actually answer the questions he's asked.

Obama's supporters should be thankful the debate focused as much on the game of politics as on the issues, because every time a question was asked on the issues, Hillary's answers were informed and pro-active. She also scored a number of points against the current administration. Obama's answers were stumbling, ill-informed and often simply turned into attacks on Hillary.

Obama claims to love the United States, yet he consistently speaks in a condescending and contemptuous manner about the broadest segment of the US population. Does he love the US as it is, or does he love it only as he imagines it?

Posted by: Lynn | April 17, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Moderators should be like referees - invisible - NOT center stage. But the temptation seems beyond human endurance. So here's an idea.

Setup something like UTUBE where people can ask questions, and then have people vote on them. Questions asked in the order of the votes. No media filter.

A rough barometer what (us little) people want to know. Remove the personality of the moderator from the thing.

And if enough of us want to dwell on clothing accessories - then we only have ourselves to blame.

Posted by: Steve | April 17, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I wholeheartedly agree with your article. Maybe the beginning of the debate could have been better, but as far as I know, I was glad to see the ABC moderators actually hit him back with tough questions about his policy. He still couldnt explain most of it.

Posted by: Talimee | April 17, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Dan. You are out of touch. The public isn't interested in an endless cycle of trash about the candidates. They want to know what the candidates plan to do if elected, and it is NOT being adequately covered. You may have a clear idea because you cover these candidates every day, but the average voter hasn't been paying as much attention. Hammering away at this nonsense will cause them to pay even less attention, to all our detriment. Obama, despite being taken aback the frontal assault from three sides last night, will end up being the debate "winner" because it was such an obvious set up. Hillary's attacks are backfiring and ABC's "moderators" and apologists like you are seen as part of the reason politics has been broken in this country. Obama is trying to take the high road above this type of politics and we appreciate it.

Posted by: Chuck | April 17, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I think the Obama campaign is well on its way to raising another million today post-debate. Keep it up right-wingers & Hill-raisers!

Posted by: slavin | April 17, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Listening to Obama supporters is like listening to the guy who takes a single karate class, brags, brags and brags, and when someone pokes him in the nose, says "that's not fair, you're supposed to do it like this"

The President of the US has to be able to handle every problem, every crisis.

They can't complain to Russia or China that they asked to tough a question, or say "no you're supposed to attack me this way"

Hillary's ready to be President.

Obama's not ready to do anything.

His supporters need to start being intellectually honest.

This isn't a game.

Posted by: Obama's an arrogant, incompetent, braggart | April 17, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I am shocked that you believe the debates should be about the stuff that 527s, Rush, etc bring up rather than the issues. Real journalism has scratched the surface about issues - what about poverty in Africa (foreign policy) - farm subsidies - unemployment - signing statements - FISA - rendition - veteran mental healthcare. Heard lots about the war, taxes, and healthcare in general - but little new (except guns last night) has been asked recently. Don't waste our time in debates on stupid issues that can be dealt with 1X1 on news shows and interviews. Let's have a debate on the ISSUES rather than what each thinks about eachothers problems. What a waste of time. Balz - read Tom Shales column - HE got it right.

Posted by: obama supporter | April 17, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Last night's 'debate' (more like debacle) was an insult to all Americans. It didn't serve Hillary Clinton any better than it did Barack Obama. She reinforced all the negative images she's come to have in this campaign. Her answer to the sniper lie was, in effect: yeah, I lied. So? And, why, when 99% of Americans (including politicians) don't wear flag pins, was that even a question? And what was that weird thing she was doing all night where she didn't look at the moderators when she was answering their questions? Her eyes kept wandering and she looked disconnected. It was creepy.

Posted by: Sueb2 | April 17, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

great questions, loved them

He needs to toughen up. Rev Wright was a serious problem that should have been addressed a long tim e ago.

how dare Obama put the democrats in this position.

His run for presidency was obvioulsy a way to seel more books, and I don't think he ever thought he would get this far

then a bunch of marketing white guys started to exploit him, his success is their succes kind of thing

now we have a possible nominee that is clearly not ready - can't take pressure, and does not know what he is doing

dems - why don't you just shoot yourself in the foot

Independent for Hillary

Posted by: lucci8 | April 17, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Like all bullies, Obama and his supporters are cry-babies when someone stands up to them. When Hillary was getting beaten up and kicked repeatedly while she was down, Obama supporters couldn't wait to line up to stick knives in her and twist them.

Hillary's beaten Obama in every debate.

She knows her stuff.

Obama doesn't know anything that's not on his teleprompter. He's useless without it.

Hillary's going to be a great President.

Obama can only pretend, and can only play a candidate on TV.

If we nominate Obama we lose

Democrats can't afford for that to happen again.

Posted by: Obama is a cry-baby | April 17, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

What if you were asked such stupid catch-22 questions???

"Are you patriot even though you have a problem with wearing flags on your person? Do you even like U.S apple pie flags and what are you willing to do to prove it, because everyone is quit concerned that you do not love America like a real American, can you prove it?"

"It is believed the unAmerican pastor, your pastor, who hates America speaks through you, everything he has ever said you agree with on some level, thus making you unAmerican or some say a traitor, knowing is the oppisite of patriotic, I want to know if He is as patriotic as you and visa versa?"

"In 6th grade, you sat in front of Buddy Dookie, who later that year murdered his family with a knife, And this year contributed to your campaign, I want to know first, if you gave him that knife, and second who the 2 of you are planning on killing next?"

"Lastly, I wish to say how dare you, how dare even think about raising capital gains taxes, this country has been running on fumes just fine now, little extreme liberal guy, your not touching my portfolio, how dare you!. So I ask, will you raise capital gain taxes and doesn't that make you mean man?"

Thank you for coming!

Posted by: GreenMeanies | April 17, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I have to say, I just still don't GET why Obama won't wear a flag pin.

He STILL didn't give a direct answer as to WHY, he just talked about all the other things he did. I mean, I like the guy, but as President of this country, I think most people want to see him chosing to embrace the flag, not keep trying to explain why he dosen't wear it......

This one thing...it just dosent smell right.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Will these Obama-fanatics GET A LIFE????

We know NOTHIING about this man - aside from what he has deigned to put in his self-serving autobiographies. Others have written similar things about themselves - and it has ended badly when they obtained power. Mein Kampf comes to mind.

He has NO track record on the national stage - and precious little at the state level.

Being a community organizer for a couple years after college does NOT qualify one to be president.

He has not record of long-time public service at a serious level. (The man couldn't even stick to practicing law and ditzed off after 3 years as an associate which means sitting in the office doing the grunt work.)

He should be grilled - long and hard - about his background and his associates.

That is NOT negative campaigning. It is an assessment of his character. If such information hurts your self-appointed messiah, oh well.

Frankly he has offerred up so much deadly ammunition on a plate that the RNC must be salivating and rubbiing their hands in glee.

Posted by: Ann | April 17, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The reason that there are less comments by the HRC gang than the Obama gang is that we are more measured in our analysis and less likely to give into the shameless name-calling of the other folks. Hillary has been BASHED for months now, whereas Senator Obama has gotten a free pass. Now that he has gotten called out on some of his stuff, he wants to change the subject and his supporters are screaming "foul." Grow up. You are all being played and you can't even see it. God help us come November.

Posted by: David H | April 17, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton started this campaign with all the advantages: huge organizational edge, formidable fundraising advantage, universal name recognition, favorable polls, a huge head-start among superdelegates. She's squandered every bit of it. Obama built by all accounts a stronger, nimbler, more disciplined, and more efficient organization; Hillary still led in all other categories. Then he caught up and quickly outdistanced her in fundraising, building a revolutionary new approach to grassroots fundraising on the Internet on a scale never seen before. Then he easily outdistanced her in racking up wins and primaries and caucuses, giving him an insurmountable lead in elected delegates. Then he caught up and passed her in the national polls. Now he's rapidly closing the gap in superdelegates, by last count only 22 down with all the movement in his direction. Anyone in their right mind can see this thing is over: Hillary's campaign is the Titanic, and the only question that remains is whether she can keep its damaged, hulking wreck afloat beyond Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary, where the latest polls show Obama closing fast, having all but eliminated Clinton's once-formidable lead.

Now in the last desperate days of her campaign, Hillary turns to the last resort of scoundrels: scurrilous mudslinging, name-calling, even McCarthyite red-baiting against a fellow Democrat and the all-but-certain head of the Democratic ticket in November, apparently determined to take Obama and the entire Democratic Party down with her if she can't have the nomination that a few months ago seemed hers for the asking. As someone once famously said of Joe McCarthy:

"Have you no sense of decency, Hillary, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

Posted by: Brad K | April 17, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

All I can say is:

"Vote Obama for President if you hate politics as usual!"

Posted by: JBE | April 17, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Obama really hasn't felt the heat until now? I suggest that ABC (and Mr. Balz) turn on CNN, MSNBC. Dare I even say Fox News.

Obama has taken a repeated drubbing from these media outlets for days on end. Those networks have perpetuated these guilt by association stories for weeks. Lest not forget the Republican opposition, including Hillary, have taken their shots as well. Lest not forget to throw in the pundits' rebuke, 20-second sound bites, talk radio and George Ws criticism.

Obama has condemned, rejected, denounced, apologized, apologized again for weeks on end now. Doesn't ABC follow the news?

Last night's debate was a joke. Not even a funny one.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I do not like this format, therefore, I will not participate. There is no record of what we say here, and it is more difficult to read. gw.

Posted by: Iowatreasures | April 17, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

The media is lacking journalist. High school students can do a better job.

Their incompetence is obvious, just look at how they all report on the same stories with the same exact words.

P I T I F U L !

Posted by: OneFreeMan | April 17, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

What is this? We're not allowed to ask a Democrat a tough question?? After the debacle of last night, I think it might be best for the party to seek another candidate. It was revealed once and for all last night that we've got TWO McGoverns on our hands - these 2 can't win. Oh, they'll take New England, New York, and California. But that might be it. Too d--- kooky.

Posted by: muskrat | April 17, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Agreed! Nonsense. Last night was trash. Pure garbage. The right thing to do is not respond, to rise above the gutter.

Posted by: GutterGuy | April 17, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

To the people who loved the start of the debate -- what exactly did you learn that was new? All of this has been hashed and rehashed already.

I'd like to hear some talk about the Ponzi scheme we call Social Security.

Posted by: Phoebe | April 17, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

It's the issues stupid!

it's not about being fair, it's about the economy.

it's not about it being "his turn", it's about how he will carry out his agenda.

it's not about his patriotism, it's about how he will repair America's reputation.

it's not about someone he knows that did or said despicable things, it's about Iran.

it's not about will he choose Clinton as his running mate, it's about how he will deal with climate change.

it's not about bittergate, it's about what he will do to change the bitter American's attitudes about government

and lastly, it's not what he will face in the future election, it's about America's future!

worst debate ever...

Posted by: Elektrik | April 17, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I meant "care" about wearing flag pins. Which I don't care about.

Posted by: fangorina | April 17, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I continue to be completely stunned at how "dumbed-down" the campaign coverage has been. Last night's debate was truly an all-time low. Don't let the media continue to drag us down this yellow tabloid-y hyper-partisan path. Obama is right: I am bitter...........bitter about the media thinking that we are all so stupid that we can about wearing flag pins instead of ending poverty or saving our fellow Americans from foreclosure. Wake up.

Posted by: fangorina | April 17, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The best debate yet. I learned something new. The first 45 minutes were the best. I want to know the character of the man who may be president. We did not know G. Bush ahead of time and look how he turned out. I want straight answers not spin. If he had answered without spin it would not have lasted 45 minutes. We obviously need to know more about him. He scares me.

Posted by: kt | April 17, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Quote: "Why so angry on those long-due questions?"

"Long due questions". They have been hashed over and over in the media for weeks. What planet have you been on!?

The people who know better and care, would like to hear about the issues for a change. Apparently you are not one of them.

Posted by: annonymouse | April 17, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

nclwtk, "hardly grown up people talk about real problems and try to come up with real solutions."

Yeah, but I'm not running for office. McCain has a track record of reaching across the aisle in an attempt to find bipartisan solutions, at considerable risk from the extreme of his own party.

What has Obama got, other than words, that is.

Posted by: Ed | April 17, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Really i think Clinton got tough questions before, but they were about issues. This debate repeated personal attack waged by republicans. It was a ridiculous. A pathetic day for journalism, but Dan Balz, proud member of the beltway media cronies only has nice things to say, about the moderators. What a joke.

Posted by: Julian | April 17, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I did not see the debate but I did read the transcript of the debate. I agree that many non-issues took up much of the "debate".

However, into the second hour the "debate" DID touch on several issues: The economy, guns, Social Security, and taxes.

Some of the comments here suggest to me that many only watched the first hour, got so disgusted with it, and turned off the TV (not that I blame anyone. I mean really, do we NEED more debates?)

FWIW, the candidates' views can be researched ad nauseum: From other debates, websites, news articles, etc.

It's our responsibility as voters to search out the information NOT the other way around. Take some initiative already and stop waiting for the answers to come to you. That approach is how we got to this point in the first place.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

It's so interesting (and somewhat pleasurable) to see the Obama supporter attack machine set its beady eyes on the media now that Obama is starting to be asked the hard questions. I encourage you all to send the usual death threat emails to ABC so they can finally write a story about the hatefulness of Obama supporters.

Posted by: Gayle | April 17, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I know televised debates are a new concept(we've only been having them for about 50 years now) and it takes awhile to master this new technology. That being said, what a missed opportunity. I posted an open letter to Peter Salinger who is in charge of the debates for ABC on my blog.

http://www.MortalSpin.com

Posted by: BlackJack | April 17, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

The debate was a joke, thanks to George Stupidopoulos!

Posted by: Dray | April 17, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Interesting...not the article but the comments. There are many fewer pro-HRC comments than/slam Obama comments than usual. Is the Clinton camp sleeping this afternoon or is there a general shift in opinion. Very interesting...

Posted by: scott032 | April 17, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

ED , welcome to the big leagues? hardly grown up people talk about real problems and try to come up with real solutions. This debate was definately Bush league (pun intended)

Posted by: nclwtk | April 17, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

It is so funny to think the debate is only about him and her.

Why so angry on those long-due questions?

Except you and you and you, how many else know what he really is?

You are like bunch dictator, do not question me but just follow me otherwise you are lalala lalala.

That is shame.

What do you think what you are? Are you GOD trying to save bitter people?

Just shut up! Follow you Uncle Wright but do not sell this country.

Posted by: jy2008 | April 17, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I was so disappointed by last night's debate. Instead of focusing on the real issues Americans are facing today, Senator Obama was asked about a FLAG PIN!

What does his wearing/not wearing of a flag pin have to do with his ability to run the country? Seriously?

I've had it with the pandering. I've had it with the media patting us on the head and pretending that they know what issues Americans really want to know about. I've had it with the media feigning shock and moral outrage over non-issues, and treating us like we are all blathering idiots who can't see exactly what they are doing. What about the economy? The housing crisis? The war?

I will still be voting for Obama in the Fall if he is the nominee. However, if he isn't, I can safely say that I will be done with politics for a long time. Not because my candidate will have lost the race, but because I don't want any part of politics as they are being played right now. Politics today have nothing to do with the issues, or what the candidates can really do for this country. It's about God-damning America, sniper fire in Bosnia, and a 100-year war. Politics are nothing more than a game of one-upsmanship, and tearing down anyone who gets in the way.

And the media is just as much to blame as the candidates who engage in these types of politics. Elections are not won by the best candidate, but by the PR firm that can get the media to help them spin non-issues into campaign-crushing issues. It happened in 2004, and it will happen again this year. In the end, it will be the candidate that comes up with the best sound bite, and is better at spinning his/her opponent's words and making them stick, that wins. It won't matter what that candidate actually believes in - just what they (and the media) made the American public believe their opponent believes in.

It's not right. Americans deserve better than manufactured, tabloid issues.

Posted by: Bridget | April 17, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

If you want to state your opinion of the debate to folks at ABC, here are some email addresses newsradio@abc.com; cristi.d.landes@abc.com; wayne.fisk@abc.com; jeffrey.t.fitzgerald@abc.com; heidi.b.oringer@abc.com; jonathan.m.newman@abc.com; joyce.a.alcantara@abc.com; james.f.kane@abc.com; andrew.l.kalb@abc.com; robert.garcia@abc.com; peter.salinger@abc.com; steve.jones@abc.com; Natalie.J.Raabe@abc.com; aberke@constitutioncenter.org; feedback@abcnews.go.com

Posted by: Floyd | April 17, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Things will have to get much worse economically for the middle of America to roll the dice for Obama in the general election. The Rorschach candidate will be relentlessly hounded to define himself and he will be painted from the right as a pure lefty.

Welcome to the big leagues, Senator Obama.

Posted by: Ed | April 17, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

ABC News should be ashamed to believe that their viewers would prefer questions about lapel pins over questions about the looming economic crisis or healthcare. Dan Balz should be ashamed for believing that this was a serious debate and not an embarrassing train wreck for the media. When do we get to elect a new press?

Posted by: ed12 | April 17, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

This is from Rasmussenreports.com-this past Monday...please notice the very last sentence--unaffiliated (independent) voters disagree with Obama 2-1!!

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters nationwide disagree with Barack Obama's statement that people in small towns "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 25% agree with the Democratic frontrunner while 19% are not sure.

Partisan and ideological differences suggest that the comments are more likely to be a factor in the General Election than in the Primaries. A plurality of politically liberal voters--46%--agree with Obama's statement while 33% disagree. Moderate voters take the opposite view and disagree by a 51% to 27% margin. Seventy-four percent (74%) of conservatives disagree with Obama's statement, only 12% agree.

Democrats are fairly evenly divided--34% agree with Obama and 43% disagree. Generally, Obama supporters agree with him while Hillary Clinton's supporters disagree.

Republicans overwhelmingly disagree with the statement and unaffiliated voters disagree by a two-to-one margin.

Source link:
http://rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/56_disagree_with_obama_s_comments_on_small_town_america

Posted by: charko825 | April 17, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm anxious to see the pundit hackery to occur this weekend, when they wisely agree with each other about how awesome and relevant this debate was. Congratulations, yes, good job old bean! We needed to know these things inside the Beltway, and therefore it is obviously relevant to those outside the Beltway. Yes, yes, we are so wise and learned. Remember when we got Iraq right?
....

Posted by: Drew | April 17, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that the media and the Clintons are obsessed about the presumed Democratic nominee, Senator Obama, having to endure and survive the onslaught of the Republican attack machine? Are they to promote the notion that there is no such thing as a Democratic attack machine that could be turned on Senator McCain? The difference is that the Democratic attack machine can focus on real economic and foreign policy issues and the related failure of the Republicans.

It is a pity that ABC failed to have a debate on substantive policy issues. And on which Democratic candidate is likely to fare better against Senator McCain in that debate.

Mr. Balz, you are no better than ABC news.

Posted by: ssens | April 17, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Everyone should call or email ABC about this sham of a debate.

Posted by: annonymouse | April 17, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Quote: "Who won the ABC Democratic Debate in Philadelphia Pennsylvania?"

John McCain.

Posted by: billy | April 17, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Mr Balz,

Policy issues? well, then, how about these issues:

TORTURE
WIRETAPPING
EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE

Why not those kind of Gotcha questions?

AND, McCain is not well known to the electorate. He has been a somewhat visible Senator, but do people really know much about him?

A recent poll showed that a minority of people could identify him as strongly anti-choice, for one thing.

Do you wear a flag pin, Mr Balz?

Posted by: Fred | April 17, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Kudos for Obama for refusing to play the game when Gibson asked him to comment on HRc's lies about snipper fire. Obama tried valiantly to move beyond the old politics that George Stephenapolis is so ingrained with.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

it was not some sort of appropriate "test" for obama. it was a sham. a tabloid of a debate that had nothing to do with what matters in this country. it is a sham in the tradition of a news media who has made sure to destroy the last bits of integrity they had left. and if you can no see that, Mr. Balz, then you are surely part of that problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

The debate was an assault on Obama. Really, Gibson, Steffa...(who??), Billary and the Republicans. I watched ABC religiously for years, now I tell my friends that this ABC is a Republican channel just like FOX. Shame on the moderators - tabloid trash that is not going to put gas in my car, pay for my child's college education and a host of issues that benefits the people. Shame, shame, shame. This was all Billary and the Republican's story book. God Bless Obama.

Posted by: OB08 | April 17, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The writer of this piece must be on the same crack as Gibson and Stephanopolis were on last night. That wasn't a debate that was the questions that paparazzi would ask if they were there. Even if someone ever cared about the answer to the questions about Wright or bitter or bosnian snipers, those questions have been beaten beyond the grave. We need to get some real answers to real questions and ABC let us down beyond my wildest dreams.

If this had been Fox news asking the questions I think even they would have been embarrased to be rehashing the same old news, but ABC used to be a real news network. Perhaps I am not a typical debate viewer, I am well educated, a veteran, and an independent, but I expected more, much more. The whole thing left me feeling hopeless for the future of journalism, and this writers comments shows that he to is out of touch with what the American people expect from their news.

Posted by: captbilly | April 17, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

You guys missed it when Obama's win in Iowa put the"front runner" in third place. You play the "he said, she said, his friend said" game inside the Washington press corps and ignore what's happening out there.

The culture wars are over. The Country is screwed up and the back and forth about that stuff is a distraction. It may sell news papers and get people to watch TV but it ain't solving problems.

Finally a candidate is talking to America like they're grown-ups. Obama has run a brilliant campaign and you guys have missed it. Who are you talking to? Who are you listening to? You should get out more!

Posted by: thebob.bob | April 17, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse


Who won the ABC Democratic Debate in Philadelphia Pennsylvania?

http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=2137

.

Posted by: Frank, Austin | April 17, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

the nonsense, signifying nothing that was the debate last night continues on here, I see.

People in this county want solutions to problems, not ad hom attacks Mr. Balz.

We are going to show you at the polling places, once and for all what we mean.

Time to step out of the bubble you infest, and get from fresh air. Talk to people about WHAT MATTERS IN THEIR LIVES rather than your sick little BUBBLEWORLD you live in.


Posted by: shpilk | April 17, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Dan, you should answer your phone. I think ABC is calling to offer you a job. No? Oh, it's Clinton. Congrats!

Posted by: DoTheMath | April 17, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

>>> "Do you honestly think that flag lapel pins, a tenuous link (at best) to Weather Underground, 5 second clips of Rev. Wright and bittergate, are all issues that actually address his character?"

Agree wholeheartedly with you, with the one exception of "Bittergate". Obama, by his own admission, mis-spoke. He deserves the grilling he's been getting for this. Every candidate shoots himself (or herself) in the foot at least once in a campaign. This was Obama's time, and he's rightfully getting an earful for it. A candidate whose words are so powerful and inspirational should have known better.

To err is human...

Posted by: P Diddy | April 17, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Balz' "take" is an arrogant, self-congratulatory commentary--seventeen paragraphs by someone so close to the contestants in the race that the beads of sweat on their faces and the wrinkles in their suits seem worth mentioning. Mr. Balz is so close that he is unable to capture a story any bigger than those small, meaningless details. "He has been running now for almost 15 months." I guess Mr. Balz has as well, and it's time for him to take a rest.

Posted by: wesfromGA | April 17, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

One thing is for sure idiots in the media all think alike. Excuse me half of them think one way and the other half think a different way. Was last night's debate supposed to be a joke or did it just turn out that way because of the incompetent moderators ? Charlie Gibson and George ( can't get enough of those good years that I worked for the Clintons ) Stephanoupolis. How can McCain possibly lose this election. He has such a commanding grasp of economical issues . His way to fix the problem of soaring gas prices is " Let's give the people a tax holiday." I am afraid that it is John McCain who needs a holiday to recover from his dementia.

Posted by: RON | April 17, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I strongly second jtk's comment. Balz's post is pure nonsense, and the "debate" was tabloid infotainment. The absurd question about William Ayers made it obvious that the questioners had tossed aside their journalistic integrity in a race to pure sensationalism.

Posted by: uh_huhh | April 17, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

It's no wonder Obama must play a defensive game when he has to fight a multi-front war with the two ABC interrogators, Hillary, and McCain, then face a barrage from opinion pieces like that of MSM sources including your own take. From a distance it looks like piling on.

Perhaps he must indeed yet cross some mystical threshold to comfortable acceptance, as you suggest, not to be confused with uncritical acceptance. My own take is that this crossing of the threshold awaits Obama's clear, accepted nomination leading to his enfranchisement for leading the good political struggle -- and substantive debate on genuine policy differences -- that we await.

In my view this development needs to come sooner rather than later for the good of the country.

Posted by: FirstMouse | April 17, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolus should be deeply ashamed.

Posted by: TT | April 17, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"But after 20 previous debates, Obama and Clinton had plowed through much, though not all, of the policy ground"

Great, so when we run out of the tabloid stuff to debate about what will we do then, discuss butterflies?

Oh, and you really can't think of a more important question than flag pins?

How about?
*Global Warming
*Wall Street reform
*NAFTA
*CAFTA
*Financial stimulus
*Government corruption
*Finance reform
*Oil subsidies
*Afghanistan's decline
*Rise of China
*Medicare going bankrupt
*Medicaid going bankrupt
*Social Security going bankrupt
*National dept
*Reliance on China's funding
*Lead paint in toys, lack of regulation
*Transportation infrastructure
*Port security

So really. Nothing left to talk about. My opinion of the nation press is dropping faster than housing prices.

Posted by: KenM1 | April 17, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

The fact that ABC kept going to commercials and didn't broadcast a "news event" live on the West coast tells you everything you need to know about how they approached this debate. It was an embarrassment to journalism, period.

As for the line of questioning for Obama: if he can't stand the heat, he shouldn't be the nominee. I am all-in for Obama in this election, but I have no qualms about "silly season" being directed at him. I'm confident he can comport himself with dignity in the face of such inane questioning. And if he can't? So be it.

Besides, in the end last night, it was Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous who looked like they were out of their league.

Posted by: P Diddy | April 17, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

ABC, what a joke, George should change his name to George Clintonopolus.

Posted by: Miss Peri | April 17, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Dan you do appear on Washington Week right? Wow. 1) Your title is wrong, all wrong. If this is about Obama and his character issues or just background info, then why is it a general "Debate About he Future?"

2) Do you honestly think that flag lapel pins, a tenuous link (at best) to Weather Underground, 5 second clips of Rev. Wright and bittergate, are all issues that actually address his character? Maybe they address his able to wade in bs but not his basic character. Did you blush when you typed that?

3)Is there a better way to achieve this stated goal of vetting?

4) Finally, is there some pundit to pundit self congratulatory league?

Posted by: Drew | April 17, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

This article is worse than the debate - if you want to know who Obama is and what he believes in, JUST ASK HIM A QUESTION!!! Questions like "are you or have you ever been a member of a random anarchist group a member of which once had a bite of your sandwich when you weren't looking" will tell you nothing about iran, iraq, gas prices, mortgage foreclosures, job losses, torture, presidential powers, basically: everything that really matters!!! Sure the Republicans are going to parade out the same old BS to ensure their corporate benefactors enjoy the same benefits they have come to enjoy over the years, and sure the media will carry water for them so they can share in the spoils. BUT, hopefully American now knows what happens when they elect the candidate that they would rather have a beer with.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Quote: "Do we really want a rock star for president?"

We've already had one, Bill Clinton.

Posted by: annonymouse | April 17, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

As long as we're going to be silly, how about having the debate moderated by Jon Stewart and the Colbert guy from Comedy Central? At least it would be some fun. And maybe get to the heart of something.

Posted by: Gaias Child | April 17, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Quote: "I have no idea who "won" this..."

Thanks to the media, John McCain won this.

Posted by: annonymouse | April 17, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

This was NOT a debate. It was a firing line. Senator Obama handled it reasonably well and ABC should be ashamed. Let's see...high rate of foreclosures, two wars, health-care crisis, economy in recession, education system in shambles, gas prices at record highs......and the debate focuses an hour on people from one's past of 40 years ago and lapel pins?!?! Give me a break! Sen. Obama will receive a bump in the polls from this because Americans are sick and tired of the media "elite" and their "father knows best" approach to journalism and news coverage.

Posted by: sjc1 | April 17, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Thank God'dess it's the last debate. What a bleak, tedious, disappointing treatment. Having read the praise of David Brooks for it, I would agree that journalists are "supposed" to ask uncomfortable questions but I would disagree that these uncomfortable questions were worthy of the presidency.

Where's the sense of history, balance, the issues facing us and the planet? O yes, those were introduced by Obama. Sheesh.

Posted by: Gaias Child | April 17, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Who is the RADICAL Hard Left Liberal? That is the label that pins the tail on the Donkey. It won't be hard for Republican's to make that claim STICK.

Will that win our presidency?

Not likely anytime soon. And for good reason it is slanted toward one side of the fence.

When we talk about change as a gray area then it is ambiguous. No one knows what that means so it is easy to say yes. Once it begins to take shape and form as taxes, sharp cuts or painful realizations then a different kind of reality fills that gray space. That is when disappointment sets in.

Change is overrated. Anyone who says we need a lot or sweeping changes is obviously one of the media beneficiaries of all the obama campaign FLUSH money.

Look at the man behind the curtain. Where is all the new money really coming from? Just some odd Internet artifact or is there something - someone driving cash into the trough?

I've never seen money cluster in this size and shape without an artificial stimulant. In the dotcom boom no one wanted to see that the lines of cash did not connect with any substance or reality. When it came crashing down then the disappointments of that LACK set in.

A smart leader can make small corrections to the big machine that will have a net positive benefit. They don't need to throw out everything and make wild claims that never really pan out.

We are still the worlds greatest super power. If people insist on BIG CHANGE then the radical change they employ will alter that forever.

At least Hilary can't get caught with her pants down while someone is giving her something. But ALL men do at some point in time or another when they are idolized by hordes of groupies.

No insult to Cindy but she certainly looks like a trophy wife. Not someone who would know how women work to support their families come hell or high water... Only one candidate knows how to work that kind of magic, Hilary.

Obama's wife recently claimed that "we don't know her" yeah, and so when we do what will we know? This is not a secure image of our first lady.

How will Obama's wife shake out against Cindy?

Hilary is such an easy target. It is absurd for obama to say that his attacking a female opponent is going to be the same as coming up against the Republican's.

Republican's like the idea of torture, they stay up for it. It is part of their recreational activities. Obama has no substance, grit or wisdom. He is untested and un-vetted. He really is a question mark.

He only has superlative qualities to his adoring fan base. Do we really want a rock star for president? He doesn't even play an instrument.

Posted by: rose | April 17, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Obama served on a board with Mr. Ayers in the 1990's, the Woods Foundation, which was a paid, underlined PAID directorship position. They worked together, attended fundraisers together, Ayers held fundraisers and was a contributor to Obama's Chicago's campaign, plus they are neighbors and visited each other quite often. Enough said. This relationship deserves being vetted. What's the fear? If Obama has nothing to fear then his associations with Farrahkan, Wright, Ayers , Auchi, and Refko should be fully vetted

Posted by: Leanza | April 17, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Despicable. Name one debate that truly dwelt on issues that mean anything. Occasionally, the candidates get to talk about positions of real meaning, but none have been a real debate.
BTW, name one debate where McCain had to answer in full for his ugly divorce. He gets in bed (literally and figuratively) with lobbyists and doesn't get hammered. His comments about "gooks" never get mentioned. He is a foreign policy "expert", having sat on the armed services committee forever, yet cant tell you the factions and their relationships to Iran. The list goes on and on.

Posted by: greg | April 17, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

There are simply to many things that don't fly with Obama. A persistent possibility that Obama either shared in some measure the radical views of his associates and if he doesn't then he simply played along with them in his way to political power which is fine. But then we need to really know what his true values and motives are. If we are going to trust the world to Mr. Obama we need to make sure what he truly thinks and feels. So far it looks very shady, very shady in deed.

Posted by: Roy | April 17, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Where were all of you scandalized bloggers when HC was getting grilled at the last debate. Me thinks that you protest too much.

Posted by: Robert | April 17, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

2008 Presidential Election Weekly Poll

http://www.votenic.com

Check Out The Results!

Posted by: votenic | April 17, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

"ABC's Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos threw one question after another at Obama that all shared the same underlying themes: what are your values and what do you believe?"

Really? That's not what the line of questioning seemed like to me. It seemed like a grand ol' game of "Gotcha Senator!"

But I guess I can really tell what Obama believes by his very tenuous connection to a radical from almost 40 years ago.

Cos that will really affect my job, gas price, Iraq War, healthcare, etc.

Posted by: David P | April 17, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Obama served on a board with Mr. Ayers in the 1990's, the Woods Foundation, which was a paid, underlined PAID directorship position. They worked together, attended fundraisers together, Ayers held fundraisers and was a contributor to Obama's Chicago's campaign, plus they are neighbors and visited each other quite often. Enough said. This relationship deserves being vetted. What's the fear? If Obama has nothing to fear then his associations with Farrahkan, Wright, Ayers , Auchi, and Refko should be fully vetted.

Posted by: Leanza | April 17, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

The latest two gen. election polls have good news for McCain who crushes Dems in Colorado and is competitive in California: http://www.campaigndiaries.com/2008/04/thursday-polls-are-democrats-at-risk-in.html

Posted by: Dan | April 17, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama is God send Senator to address our ills within us and around us [World].

Posted by: COl.[A.M.Khajawall | April 17, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

This "debate" was obviously biased in favor of HRC. I especially love the way the camera kept showing Chelsea in the audience. But in the long run, this probably hurts Hillary because she looked rather nasty. She really needs to soften her image, and this did not help her. Obama did not make any major mistakes, but he didn't handle it real well either. I have no idea who "won" this.

Posted by: lizard3 | April 17, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Dan

I'm totally floored that you think the public is tired if hearing a debate about the issues. Do you really think we care about lapel pins when the price of oil is at $115 a barrel and we're now at greater risk of losing our homes than a year ago? Oh, I'm so tired of you beltway people saying we're not interested in the issues of our time!

Posted by: squas | April 17, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Dan, the horserace isn't the story here. Both of the candidates got hit with questions that violated what were once common ethical standards of mainstream American journalism. Stephanopoulos cornered Hillary with an anonymous report of her conversation with Richardson passed as an established fact. He also cribbed a patently misleading formulation of the question on Ayers from Hannity. It's a sad testament to the state of our political discourse that the appearance of such slime in a presidential debate aired on ABC doesn't strike every self-respecting journalist as worthy of note.

Posted by: Michael | April 17, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

My opinion of Dan Balz has just dropped through the floor. The performance of the debate moderators, Gibson and Stephanopoulos was abysmal. All they did was rehash every right wing talking point.
Not only was there not even a pretense at fairness, the whole sorry spectacle was tabloid journalism.
Shame on them. Shame on Balz.

Posted by: jorge999 | April 17, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

This is a poorly written piece. All it does is make excuses for ABC's tabloid debate. Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos should be ashamed of themselves for the absurd questions they asked.

I'm sure ratings went up a couple points, so ABC is probably patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

Posted by: Shawn | April 17, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

This kind of analysis can only be written from deep inside the political media bubble. because you have heard the candidates' policies debated many times, you assume voters have too. But many primary voters don't tune in to the campaign at any level of detail until it's in their state.

Why don't/won't political reporters take ANY responsibility for their role as agenda-setters, perpetuating the almost-exclusive focus on so-called character issues?

Posted by: jssmad | April 17, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Are you seriously telling us that Obama hasn't answered the questions about Wright before?

Go ahead and circle the wagons, contrary to y'alls opinion, the American people aren't stupid. We know a hatchet job when we see one and we know why: money, money, money. Gotta keep the "goose that laid the golden egg" alive. God forbid we should have an early end to this primary season what would y'all do with yourselves?

Posted by: NF | April 17, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

the debate was on wednesday NOT tuesday

Posted by: dg | April 17, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

As far as the people on Internet are concerned, Obama is beating both Clinton and McCain, handily;

http://newsusa.myfeedportal.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=83

Does that say something about Obama, or something about the other two?

Posted by: Dave | April 17, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"But winning the presidency requires meeting other tests and Tuesday's debate offered a preview of what is to come if Obama wins the Democratic nomination."

Why in the name of all that is holy should those requests require wearing a damn lapel pin, or doing a shot and a beer.

No wonder our country is screwed up. The media is focused on idiotic "issues."

Posted by: Choska | April 17, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

From an objective viewpoint, he handled himself quite well mannered considering the inane questions thrown at him by childish moderators. Please try not to mistake elitism with intelligence, there is a difference. I realize the Bush administration has dumbed the media, but with the 8 figure salaries they receive, they could try to at least distinguish between the two. By the way, how will your articles read when the new polls come out showing Obama gaining as a result of this debate?

Posted by: MikeMcNally | April 17, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

nonsense. it was tabloid tv disguised as "news" or "journalism." it was an embarrassment to ABC and an insult to viewers. and no amount of "the republicans will do it to him later" rationalization will change that.

Posted by: jtk | April 17, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

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