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Wag the Blog: The Obama Conundrum

As we watched Monday night's debate, we kept a close eye on Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Obama has wowed crowds across the country and raised eye-popping amounts of cash, yet he hasn't quite lived up to the hype when it comes to sharing a stage with his rivals. His campaign has acknowledged that the sound-bite speak required in these events isn't their candidate's strong suit, but they say he's improving with each dabate.

We don't disagree. And yet, The Fix seems to find himself less enthusiastic about Obama's debate performances than the various focus groups/dial groups organized by television networks to provide instant reaction.

Take Monday night's debate. As we wrote, Obama dominated the early stages of the debate and closed strongly. But, in the middle he seemed to lose his way.

There's little question that when Obama is talking about putting the national interest over special interests and railing against lobbyists he is as good or better than any candidate. But, he isn't yet as consistent a performer as Hillary Clinton and at times Monday night Obama seemed to disappear a bit.

As we were thinking about Tuesday's winners and losers post, it was that inconsistency that we kept coming back to and which led to Obama being left off the list. And yet, in the post-debate focus groups there seemed little question who won the debate. A focus group on Fox News Channel with pollster Frank Luntz cast Obama as having run away with the debate and a CNN New Hampshire focus group cast Obama as the winner as well.

Today's Wag the Blog question is simple: What gives? Is the mainstream media, which generally split between calling Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) the winner of Monday's debate, just missing the boat on Obama? And, if so, why?

One caveat before we begin: Let's keep the discussion intelligent and civil, avoiding name calling or easy generalizations in our statements about the candidates, their supporters, or the press. Whatever camp we might fall into, we are all on this blog because we are interested in politics. Let's learn from each other by writing thoughtfully.

As always, we'll select a handful of the most insightful or interesting comments for a post of their own down the road.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 26, 2007; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: For Obama, Just How Critical Is a Win in N.H.?


People are missing the point in describing Obama as "the change candidate". Clinton is the first woman with a realistic chance, ever, to be elected. Whether you consider that a good thing, a bad one, or totally neutral, the "change" she embodies is there, ever-present, in your face, not needing discussion, totally implicit in her presence. And it's a "safe" level of change in voters' unconscious minds.

Posted by: Dyinglikeflies | July 31, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"POTUS is not a job for, frankly, a rookie." Tell that to Abraham Lincoln.

Posted by: JGG | July 28, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Ted Sorenson, biographer and former aide to Kennedy, has characterized Obama as the new JFK and he sees Obama's race against Clinton as reminiscent of Kennedy's race against LBJ, it was politics of hope and good judgment vs. politics of insider experience. In this recent foray, I was reminded of Kennedy's inaugural address in which he said, "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but never fear to negotiate." Obama might do well to quote Kennedy.

Posted by: JGG | July 28, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

I think Barack is a smart guy who needs at
least another 10 years in the Senate before
thinking about the ultimate office in the USA. POTUS is not a job for, frankly, a rookie. Community organizing in Chicago is
not good training for the Presidency. We
don't want to blow our chances at reclaiming the WH from the worst president ever. God help the USA if Rudy or Mitt were to sneak in in 2008 !

Posted by: Richie Fitz, Central NJ | July 28, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

What I find ever interesting about the ongoing debate here is the subtle tactics used by I assume Hillary supporters. They might be overlooked if Bush/Rove had not deployed them so effectively in two campaigns. Example:
1) change the phrase "willing to" to Commit or promise to". Subtle change but the words have entirely different meanings. The design is to use them long enough and people will accept them as the right phrase and yes Chris the MSM helps by adopting the turn of phrase.

2) Obama refered to foreign policy as being Bush/Cheney-lite" that he did not want to deploy or implement. He never said Hillary is Bush Cheney lite (many of us have always believe that she was). Everyone JUMPED and said he is talking about her calling her Bush Cheny ( how dare he)by the way that is not a phrase she wants to catch on...without even calling her name. Why is that? was the truth so obivious? It could have been Edwards he said a similair thing how about Romney or McCain (great company Hillary- really makes you look Bush Cheny lite) they agreed with her. No MSM and Hillary wanted a issue to deflect from her "CHEAP SHOT " ON TUESDAY. WHICH OF COURSE NO MSM bothered to condemn her for, when she called him by name.

Why go after him, he Won ,simple they did not want the headline to be what Chuck Todd had headlinned on his blog that would be the lead that night that he slapped her about the "Pentagon Letter" and of course you guys complied.

They want him out of this election before people start to pay attention for real. The great thing about 2008, this time I'm happy to say, the people have a voice and we won't be lead by the media.

Posted by: Doris | July 28, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Hilary's attack on Obama, in my opinion, are lame, typical for DC politicans, and actually do sound too much like a Bush-type smear. She needs to remember that when she points the finger at someone else - take a look at the pointer hand - there are 3 fingers pointing back at YOU.

As a once Republican voter I have been looking closely at just who in the Democrat party will get my vote - HRC is now out of the running (reminds me too much of how Bush campaigned against McCain in 2000) and Obama and Edwards have taken a giant step over her.

Obama is a man before his time. IF, and that's a big if, Barack is not the candidate in 08 - he will be in 2016 or 2020. Sadly, this country is not ready to cast their votes for a black person. We are not color blind yet, even when the person of color running is the best candidate for this country to clean-up the Bush/Cheney mess and bring credibility to the US around the world.

Posted by: Mary Nitkowski | July 28, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure who I support yet. But I know who I don't and never will support, any candidate who voted to go to war with the wrong nation for the wrong reasons. I say the wrong nation because Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. I say wrong reasons because some candidates were too weak to stand up to what they really believed, hiding behind the march of nationalistic madness.
So, to say Hillary is the "head" candidate is ridiculous. Hillary voted for the war and then hid behind the excuse of "I was mislead by the intelligence." That is sophistry. Hillary hid behind cold political calculation. That doesn't make her smart, it makes her a coward. We don't need a coward running this country. In fact, look at what having a coward in charge has done to this country in the last 6 years.

Posted by: William Porter | July 28, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

As long as the media continues to sees itself as a driving force instead of a reporting force, the effectiveness of any debate will be obscured in a froth of words

Posted by: Joan Santomenna | July 28, 2007 7:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm afraid I didn't see what I would consider a personal assault on CNN. Did the media hear the words 'different', 'new approach' and 'we can't continue' along with many others? Sen. Obama said "We need a change." Don't we?
Regarding the response to meeting foreign dignitaries I observed the men giving masculine answers: Sure. The only woman on the stage responded with a feminine reply. She didn't say she wouldn't meet - she said she wouldn't promise.

Posted by: Anne Starritt | July 28, 2007 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Yes DC pundits got it wrong. Not only was the question "would you be willing" but he asked "without preconditions", for instance without mea culpa statements from Iran's president regarding Israel, or without Chavez swearing fealty to capitalism. Clinton basically said no to the question, she has to make up her hair, find the dress, etc. to make any meeting a photo op. Just like Bush has done.
What's wrong with Washington politics is Washington politics, and everyone in Washington doesn't understand or care about us outside of Washington.

Posted by: jason | July 28, 2007 5:43 AM | Report abuse

Yes DC pundits got it wrong. Not only was the question "would you be willing" but he asked "without preconditions", for instance without mea culpa statements from Iran's president regarding Israel, or without Chavez swearing fealty to capitalism. Clinton basically said no to the question, she has to make up her hair, find the dress, etc. to make any meeting a photo op. Just like Bush has done.
What's wrong with Washington politics is Washington politics, and everyone in Washington doesn't understand or care about us outside of Washington.

Posted by: jason | July 28, 2007 5:42 AM | Report abuse

********Thank you for taking the time to review this video of Hillary Clinton. She reveals her past here which may be of importance to you in your judgement of Barack Obama and his statement at the youtube debates.*****

Respectively yours
Danielle Clarke

PS: Hillary confuses me. It's like she's attacking Obama just to get some press, and contradicting herself to do so.

Posted by: Danielle Clarke | July 27, 2007 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for taking the time to review this video of Hillary Clinton. She reveals her past here which may be of importance to you in your judgement of Barack Obama and his statement at the youtube debates.

Respectively yours
Danielle Clarke

PS: Hillary confuses me. It's like she's attacking Obama just to get some press, and contradicting herself to do so.

Posted by: Danielle Clarke | July 27, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

What the heck. Here is the rest of my analysis of Tuesday Democrat debate. Including the already posted OBAMA look:

RICHARDSON keeps looking better. Generous. Thoughful, inventive. Proven. Experience shows. Whiter somehow since the last debate. KUCINICH, my man, answered consistent to his strengths, a genuine populist, people's man. Didn't miss a beat. Answered questions right off, yes or no. No beating around the bush. Refreshing. I don't agree his YES reparations to descendants of SLAVES, why? Like I don't see giving the land back to the INDIANS. Like the illegals are here because we went for CHEAP LABOR so let's be responsible now to them. Like anyway, MONEY isn't the answer for EVERYTHING. Like for cleansing our white man's soul of incalcuable mistake? Regardless all happy smiles on the umbilical recipient citizens. Admission: White, I voted twice, FOOL I am, for Jesse Jackson. Late L.A. Mayor Bradley 4 or was it 5 times. Rep. Barbara Lee, what a VP candidate for KUCINICH eh. Otherwise, go KUCINCH go! Dip into the black vote--hardly.

GRAVEL was delightful as usual. This SYSTEM is altogether corrupt! By inference, and so are they! Pointing down his row at his fellows. Putting his opponents to task. Cutting the field to size far as POLITICS involved behind the candidates issue making. Bottom line, all opponets are politics talking. Again saying they are beholding to the status quo politics. Otherwords, don't expect no changes with these guys!

EDWARDS was on target due his two AMERICAS, though not overdone, genuinely fights for the underdogs. But looks struggling. High pitched. Why doesn't he register strong with me? Good to see his wife ELIZABETH photographed a moment. She is a GREAT woman. DODD always impressive with his rat-a-tat, facts, long experience, his own legislation, vote record, his agenda, genuine within his balanced views. Presidential if you will; he would seat well center stage, dealing with peers and subordinates.

OBAMA off a beat. SEEMS TO BE SEARCHING OUTSIDE HIS GIFTS AT CONCILIATION, mediation for that dynamic LEADERSHIP in there somewhere. Overcome his natural, committee oriented persona. His youth, not that there is anything wrong with that, and inexperience show. A vocal tone, a delivery style not that arresting. Stuck or not smoothly ending dialogue in other than campaign slogan cliches, which sound it. Struggles back for stuff to pull out, worn out tricks from his hat. Redundant. Uncomfortable with the heat. While admonishing Clinton once again about her early war votes stance yet seems to acede, if not directly give compliments to HILLARY. Angling for VP as does EDWARDS look that way.

CLINTON doesn't miss. Cool, hard almost, but charming. Looking beautiful. In charge. When she smiles it is to behold. She gets in the most ending her answers with an apparent spontaneous design, is that possible? Fleshing her out considerably. Paid her dues. Always a woman of course. Yet closes everytime with byte and a PUNCH strikes both side of the gender aisle. Wit. Finds core quick from what went before and succinctly answers. Though not always direct to the point but orchestrates best HRC display, herself Capitalize to a snappy capper. Get most response from audience. Likely most laughs. Ends usually with a neat wrapup, a slogan sometimes almost, a bumper sticker. Finished she looks often especially happy with her moments. Smug, and you know why. Because she has nailed it.

The YouTube format is more physical than phone-ins for sure. Connects viewers, audience and candidates more viscerally eh.

JOE BIDEN? Oh for chrissake.

Posted by: balloonman | July 27, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Why did Clinton go negative in the response on diplomacy? Because she wanted to starve oxygen from an earlier Obama statement -- a big applause line in the debates, and a very elegant attack.

COOPER: Senator Obama, are the soldiers dying in Iraq in vain?
OBAMA: Our soldiers have done everything that's been asked of them. They deposed Saddam Hussein.

They have carried out extraordinarily difficult missions with great courage and great bravery.

But, you know, one thing I have to say about Senator Clinton's comments a couple of moments ago. I think it's terrific that she's asking for plans from the Pentagon, and I think the Pentagon response was ridiculous. But what I also know is that the time for us to ask how we were going to get out of Iraq was before we went in.


And that is something that too many of us failed to do. We failed to do it. And I do think that that is something that both Republicans and Democrats have to take responsibility for.

When I am president of the United States, when I send our troops into battle, I am going to be absolutely sure that it is based on sound intelligence, and I'm going to tell the truth to the American people, as well as the families who are being asked to sacrifice.


Posted by: Carrington Ward | July 27, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Ginny calm down, you have like, 6 months plus before you cast a vote.

Posted by: Ginny calm down | July 27, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Obama and edwars are hopelessly behind in the polls. If you are a Demcrat and care about progressive issues you had better get on board the Hillary boat. Bty I think Rudy Gulianni is going to win the Republican nomination. He will is a very viable candidate and woudl trounce Edwards or Obama right now. So you better get you best platform behind the democratic Party becasue Hillary's nomination is almost inevitable.

Posted by: anonomous | July 27, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Obama and edwars are hopelessly behind in the polls. If you are a Demcrat and care about progressive issues you had better get on board the Hillary boat. Bty I think Rudy Gulianni is going to win the Republican nomination. He will is a very viable candidate and woudl trounce Edwards or Obama right now. So you better get you best platform behind the democratic Party becasue Hilliry's nomination is almost inevitable.

Posted by: anonomous | July 27, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Here in the Central California hinterlands the apparent appeal of Hillary is definitely out of synch with on the ground reality. She is arrogant, manipulative and such an easy mark for the GOP that we are surprised she has even the whiff of following you in the national media give her. I am a 61 year old green/progressive professional woman and I wouldn't consider voting for Hillary even if I had to vote for a green candidate I knew couldn't win. Let's look long and deeply at the new exciting fresh generation and vision of Barack Obama. The polls, the dabtes, the advertsing will go on for months. Hopefully Obama will show the whole nation that he is the only viable candidate - ok maybe Edwards as well - who can bring a modicum of foresight, intelligence and strength to the White House and to all of us.

Posted by: Susan Stuart | July 27, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I've been around for 68 years. I've heard a lot of candidates advocate a "new politics", all I have to do is think of George McGovern, Gary Hart, etc. The idea really appeals to me. I find Obama appeals strongly to my heart. I' really tired of cynicism and manipulation. My head tells me, however, that realpolitic has been here a long, long time and will not be conquered by my wishful thinking. I wish everyone would be nice, but they are not. I want a leader that is fully aware of that fact. I want a leader who isn't willing, in the first year, to devote a chunk of their time to dubious leaders without an objective when there are many practical, oressing problems to dear with. I have not firmly made up my mind between Obama and Clinton, but Mr. Obama's response make me uneasy about him and his ability to handle a ruthless Republican opponent.

Posted by: pdxdennisj | July 27, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

What Polls was the previous poster reading. Hillary is the front runner of both Democrats and Republicans. Obama's constant retort is that he didn;t vote to sends troops to Iraq. Do you think he can come up with something new firstly because we have heard it already. Additionally, the Bush administration told us that they had evidence of weapons of mass destruction which we all beleived at the time. Of course Bush and his administration were bending the truth if not out right lying to us. So should we blame HRC for voting or the Republicans for lying about WMDS. Suppose the Administration wasn't lying and they did have WMDs, would Obama be afriad to pull the trigger? How would that be good? Futher if Obama new that Iraq did not have WMDs why wasn't he on the soap box saying that the Iraq'S Didn't have them. He did not vote for the war but was he just lucky? I think he was lucky.

Posted by: anonomous | July 27, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

The truth, slowly being realized, is this..... Hillary Clinton's candidancy is the 'media creation', not Barack Obama's. Barack came from zero and took on and is overpassing Hillary, and has done so from his own staggeringly outsized abilities, doing this all from the ground up, amazing community organizer that he is. When he speaks, people pause to actually listen and think about what he says. When Hillary speaks, people cheer for the moment as though they were watching a sports game.

Posted by: Donna | July 27, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

The first substantive difference between the two leading Dem. candidates is that Obama thinks it's a good idea to talk to everyone including enemies, and Hillary follows the Bush line of avoiding dialogue.

Posted by: | July 27, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I like Hilary as well as Obama for the positive aspects the public and the media have highlighted. I like that Obama has not been around long. I like the fact that Hilary has been around and knows how to play the game. Maybe they should run together. However, I don't believe I'll vote for either. As a Black female, nothing would make me happier than to see a female or Black person as President. But America is not ready for it. We'd be so consumed with gender and/or race issues of our President.

I did like Mike Gravel. He has spunk, he sheds light on issues we need to make the frontrunners take a look at, like Fair Taxes and truly ending the war on drugs.

Last time I checked, we were not winning the war on drugs or the war in Iraq. We should try peace.

Posted by: JBowen | July 27, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Too use the word 'performe'underlies the essential problem. Clinton is a performer. She is using being a woman (which i am also) as if that makes the difference rathering than pushing for fundamental change. She is more of 'business as usual'. While Obama may be less seasoned it also means he is open, as noted in his response that has stirred so much conversation, to doing things differently. For Clinton to be worried about using a meeting for 'publicity' rather than focusing on life and dealth issues shows how insincere and superfical she is. I voted for Mr. Bill but remember, he brought in NAFTA which is proving to be a disaster and he also spent huge amounts bombing Iraq before Bushy.
Let's vote for change...I will, if given the opportunity, be voting for Obama...though I think Edwards is thoughtful and Kucinich really tells the truth.

Posted by: Michelle B. | July 27, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The worst part of Clinton's popularity in the mainstream media is that they are ultimately pushing a candidate that can't win. When I talk all sorts of people here in Colorado, they can't understand who the pollsters are talking to... I know a lot of different democrats, be hardly anyone that supports Clinton! Here's the really telling poll numbers: more than half of Americans would not consider voting for Hillary under ANY circumstances (McClatchy/NBC). For obvious reasons, those numbers almost never fall, either, but can easily rise. Republicans despise her, and most democrats just plain don't like her. Obama, on the other hand, has huge grassroots and cross-over support. He really does represent a potential unifier for the country - but many in the MSM do not want to have anything to do with the other half of America and therefore stick with the divisive, partisan, and unelectable Hillary.

Posted by: Patrick | July 27, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I think the news media should stop being purchased by Hillary (stop selling your soul to the devil) and start issuing UNBIAS news. Otherwise, the news media should no longer be FREE! Hillary owns them at this point, they sold their soul to the devil herself. How can the public ever believe the media again? They are even pro democrat, anti Republican! Free press? Bull, they need to be censured now to show them where they came from and stop going AGAINST the Constitution!

Posted by: Frank | July 27, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

What I find interesting is somewhat away from the core debate here... The two times Hillary has been given credit as a master debater, she has been the second or third one to answer a question. In the first debate Hillary was credited with such a fantastic answer about retaliation after Obama had failed to play major hawk as the first candidate to respond. Hillary was the third candidate to respond so certainly had a few minutes to craft a response. The past debate question about meeting with enemy leaders again had Obama answering first and then Hillary nuanced his answer. I think she should be credited more with luck than brilliance in both instances. Why is the media missing that in both instances, playing clean up allows you to not only answer the question but hopefully trump your opponent?

With regard to the most recent altercation... Hillary was stupid to give Obama this opening and he is taking it for all he can. If you might remember the media all loved the Clinton team's response to Obama and Geffen. That is until Obama jumped 10 points in the polls in the following weeks.

I am no fan of his, but Pat Buchanan has the best analyis of the situation I have read.

Posted by: Will Gibbs | July 27, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA off a beat. SEEMS TO BE LOOKING OUTSIDE HIS GIFTS AT CONCILIATION, mediation. His youth and inexperience show. A vocal tone, a delivery style not that arresting. Stuck ending dialogue in cliches. Struggles back for stuff to pull out, worn outtricks out of the hat. Redundant. Uncomfortable with the heat. Seems to acede, if not directly give compliments to HILLARY. Angling for VP as does EDWARDS look that way.

Posted by: balloonman | July 27, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats need to Unite early to finally oust the Republicans from the presidency. Obama has no shot at winning either the Primary or the general election. He is a creation of the media and is in fact not electable. His answer to the speaking to other country question does prove his wet back ears. Who ever heard of Obama outside of Chicago before Opra staring saying how great a political leader he was. His answers to questions and leadership abilty are average at best. Put the fork in him and get behind the Democratic leader HRC.

Posted by: anonomous | July 27, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Since the media has so much to do with how a candidate is perceived, having too much media controlled by one person - Rupert Murdock - is chilling. I was concerned when I read a report on the Clintons making some agreement with this self appointed king maker. I only hope that Americans will make up their own minds and ignore the editorials that he will doubtless unleash.

Posted by: Rhod Zimm | July 27, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

please folks wake up!!!Obama does not have any experience!!his answers in debates are not heart felt or spontaneous!!he doesnt answer anything! or say anything!!theres no substance to him at all!! I find Dennis Kucinch to be "new blood" not Barac Obama!!Barac is popular with young people because they are out of touch politically!!Hillary is clearly the best!!her answers are not scripted,its just hard for so many men to admit shes the smartest one up on that stage my advice guys get over it!!!

Posted by: michael | July 27, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

To be honest, I've listened to presidential debates for three decades. For the most part, they have proved useless for assessing candidates. So many times, the candidate who provides the least information but makes an emotional connection is declared the winner, for example Ronald Reagan. An earlier poster said regular people could tell what was genuine and what wasn't. After the debates in 2000 and 2004, I question that premise. Bush came across as kind of an 'aw shucks' sort while Gore was called a policy wonk and boring. In 2004, Kerry generally gave better than he got from Bush. I don't the choices made in 2000 and 2004 produced good results. Maybe its just me, but I would trade boring and competent for what we have now.

I still don't think Obama is the best candidate mostly because his experience is shallow. He is well spoken most of the time, but I don't get why he is so popular. Clinton is certainly well informed, but produces a reaction in conservatives similar to Bush's effect on anyone left of Arlen Specter. Edwards is definitely aware of issues ignored by most Republicans and a helluva lot of Democrats. I kind of like that he sees past the current state of affairs and looks into a time after this.

Posted by: Rob | July 27, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Let's see,both candidates would meet in some fashion with all of our enemies,but they can't go to a Fox news debate?They can "handle" Dictators ,but not American questions on the a cable news program?
What is this spat about anyway?They will give stature to killers,but not millions of Americans who vote?Your whole "issue" is Stupid.Playing games while Rome burns.Of course both will do whatever events and circumstances call for,they are politicians,not leaders.

Posted by: anabasis | July 27, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

To answer the original question. Yes I think MSM does not get Obama. They don't ignore Obama, they just get caught up covering the buzz around him, and don't talk about his policy ideas. The problem with the mainstream media is they are a business, and will cover things that they think people will watch/read/listen to. They don't try and educate people with all significant sides of an issue, or explain what different policy ideas actually mean in practice.

Now that I am done with that little rant. The reason they don't get Obama is because they preconceive him as a candidate who has buzz but no substance (which is an unfair assessment in my opinion). So, they cast him in that light, and will continue to do so. It will probably lead to Clinton winning the primary, and if it weren't for the weak Republican field, I would say that she has zero percent chances on winning.

To respond to an earlier comment about Clinton being a leader who isn't inspiring and Obama being inspirational but not having leadership. I would just like to say:

1.) Senator Clinton Like Bill Clinton, relies heavily on polling to make policy decisions, as can be seen with her changing her (Hillary) opinion on the War in Iraq as the public has or him changing his (Bill) opinion on being involved in Somalia in 1993. That is not leadership.

2.) She waited until just after Obama to cast her no vote on the last Iraq funding Bill (this is just speculation, but I would wager it was to see how he would vote. That is not leadership (if she did indeed wait to see how Obama voted).

3.) She rarely (if ever) takes a position publicly that could be seen as unpopular with whoever she is trying to get votes from.

Obama has been consistent in all of his views, is willing to take positions that need to be taken if reform will happen even if they are unpopular, and in my opinion is a much stronger leader than Senator Clinton.

Posted by: John from Hardy VA | July 27, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Its obvious the media has a vested interest in supporting candidates who will continue to allow private industry to deregulate and dominate all aspects of American life. The media, as well as most of the current corporate community if afraid of a candidate they fear will upset this ongoing and frightening trend in American culture -- that priate profits matter more than the social infrastructure and corporate entities have more rights and privilages than regular citizens. America is going wrong for the most of us, but so long as a select few are getting richer and richer, the trend will just continue on and on towards total loss of the American ideal -- back to work, your bill are getting bigger and bigger... : )

Posted by: Peter Moriarty | July 27, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Joe Biden clearly won the debate, and I'm a Barack Obama supporter. Why do you ignore the other candidates?....

Oh yeah.... you are in the business of selling news, not providing it.

Posted by: Eric | July 27, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Clinton comes off as power hungry, Obama seems like a progressive thinker. Frankly i dont think either should be president.......Richardson who has hispanic roots, and is very very very experienced in foreign affairs , especially in the middle East , should be president, but of course he isnt as handsome as Obama, nor does he have a husband who notoriously got sucked off my a chubby intern.........Once again, this election is nothing but a popularity contest.......and once again American voters will showcase their lack of common sense when Obama or Clinton become President..........VIVA CUBA !!!!!

Posted by: Che Guevara | July 27, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Clinton seems power hungry, Obama seems like a progressive thinker. Frankly i dont think either should be president.......Richardson who has hispanic roots, and is very very very experienced in foreign affairs , especially in the middle East , should be president, but of course he isnt as handsome as Obama, nor does he have a husband who notoriously got sucked off my a chubby intern.........Once again, this election is nothing but a popularity contest.......and once again American voters will showcase their lack of common sense when Obama or Clinton become President..........VIVA CUBA !!

Posted by: Che Guevara | July 27, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Clinton seems power hungry, Obama seems like a progressive thinker. Frankly i dont think either should be president.......Richardson who has hispanic roots, and is very very very experienced in foreign affairs , especially in the middle East , should be president, but of course he isnt as handsome as Obama, nor does he have a husband who notoriously got sucked off by a chubby intern.........Once again, this election is nothing but a popularity contest.......and once again American voters will showcase their lack of common sense when Obama or Clinton become President..........VIVA CUBA !!!!

Posted by: Ernesto "el che" Guevara | July 27, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

First the idea that these events are debates in any sense makes it difficult for me to say who "won." Most decisions about who one are based on how the candidate looked and how they sounded -- i.e. "x candidate sounded better prepare" or "x candidate sounded more polished." If that is the standard then ultimately who won seems utterly pointless.

What intrigues me about Obama is he calls attention to the idea that the problems America faces are complex and one cannot posit solutions to them in sound bites. Two examples were telling. The first was when they were asked would they do the job of the presidency for minimum wage. Out of all of them on the stage (aside from those who said they were not wealthy enough to do it for minimum wage -- Biden comes to mind) he recognized that the majority of the candidates could answer yes to that question because they had lots of money. Thus Obama highlighted that the fact that they answered yes to the question does not address the question as to whether or not one can make a living on minimum wage. To me that was interesting and refreshing as opposed to the others with money who simply answered yes or stated they could not afford to do it.

The second moment came on the discussion of public schools. Asked whether they sent or would send their kids to public school Obama admitted that he sent his kids to private school but also noted that that decision is much different for a senator than it is for most Americans. Here while the other candidates like Clinton and Edwards who said they send their kids to public school ignored the fact that in the U.S. zip code often determines the quality of public education. Sure they sent their kids to public school but I bet their public schools had more resources and higher paid teachers than schools in poor neighborhoods where the property values are low. So again Obama highlighted that the issue was not a simple question of public versus private but where one lives. So yea lets see if Clinton and Edwards would have put their kids into public schools that had poor resources and low income zip codes. But because they had money they did not have to make that choice--they could send their kids to good public schools.

Obama to me was different because he reframed the questions in ways which highlighted the complexity of the issues. Should we feel better because Clinton and Edwards sent their kids to public schools while Obama sends his to private schools? IMO neither decision highlights the problems with public education. They all have the luxury of sending their kids to great public schools, at least Obama's answer highlights that most Americans do not have that luxury. I am intrigued by that kind of answer over someone who looks and sounds polished.

Posted by: Not real debates | July 27, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Rita and Don McCardle,

Let me add that you and every other white person turning against Senator Obama merely because he'd defending himself against Senator Clinton's unprovoked insulting remarks effectively characterizing him as a stupid and irresponsible Black man, the stereotype that plays well to white south carolinians, are no different the same so-call white progressives who loved Dr. King until he started speaking out against the Vietnam War. When he was the congenial, forgiving, peaceful and soft-spoken southern preacher, white folks love him, but the meaning he decried the racial politics that had young black men being assigned front-line duty disproportionate to white men, his approval ratings among whites plummeted below 50%. As long as Senator Obama allows white folks to malign him with a sambo grin on his face, he's your man, but the minute, this US elected Senator, husband and father--the furtherst thing from irresponsible--defends himself, you have no more use for him. The only thing I'm mad at Senator Obama for is allowing myself to believe his message that white people are descent. You are all the same!

Posted by: Dee | July 27, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Rita and Don McCardle,

Let me add that you and every other white person turning against Senator Obama merely because he defended himself against Senator Clinton's insulting remarks effectively characterizing him as a stupid and irresponsible Black man, the stereotype that plays well to white south carolinians are no different the same so-call white progressives who loved Dr. King until he started speaking out against the Vietnam War. When he was the congenial, forgiving, peaceful and soft-spoken souther preacher, white folks love him, but the meaning he decried the racial politics that had young black men being assigned front-line duty disproportionate to white men, his approval ratings among whites plummeted below 50%. As long as Senator Obama allows white folks to malign him with a sambo grin on his face, he's your man, but the minute, this US elected Senator, husband and father--the furtherst thing from irresponsible--defends himself, you have no more use for him. The only think I'm mad at Senator Obama for is allowing myself to believe his message that white people are descent. You are all the same!

Posted by: Dee | July 27, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

If this was the first time hearing Clinton and Obama, one might see Clinton having an advantage over Obama. However, if you have heard positions taken by Clinton over the past year or longer, you see some very conflicting answers. For example, the question on meeting with leaders of countries we consider dangerous enemies of the US. She has been a very strong proponent to meet with them in order for us to understand our differences and work toward solutions. This is just an example of her frequent position changes. There are many and they are well documented and will be clearly presented if she is our nominee for President. Obama, on the other hand, might be refreshing and a free thinker, he must learn to present clear and defensable arguments on the topics important to the people of this country. He hasn't got there yet, but he is closer than others in the race.

Posted by: Bob H | July 27, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Senator Obama has done well in all the debates & did win the debate on Monday night, but MSM keeps telling us that Hillary wins all the debates & that is just not the case. National polls right now don't tell us anything. It's all about the name Clinton. Half of the people probably think it's Bill Clinton. I've noticed that in recent straw polls that have been done, one in Maryland not long ago, Obama won, recently at Planned Parenthood conference, Obama won, Take Back America, Obama won, one I just saw last night on the web, Edwards won, but Obama was 2 points behind him. Hillary has done very badly in all of these straw polls & people are tired of having her jammed down our throats.

Posted by: Carolyn Grace | July 27, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, if I may weigh in here. I am a John Edwards supporter, all the way. For me, he represents the only real change that Democrats AND Republicans can expect in the years ahead.

I am watching this kerfuffle going on between Hillary and Obama and it seems to me that Obama has bitten off more than he can chew, but it's even more than that - he doesn't seem to know what it is he is doing here. If he is so quick to label Hillary as Bush-Cheney lite over her response regarding visiting world dictators in her first year; then why did Obama say, the day after the debate, that he would do exactly the same thing? Goodness, he even quote Madeleine Albright and said, "Of course, I would do the necessary spadework".

This has to backfire on Obama. He needs to be careful going forward now because Hillary has plenty of opportunity, as a result of Obama's confused messages, to hit him hard.

Posted by: Giselle Moran | July 27, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

We are trying to absorb all that has happened between Hillary and Obama over the past week. This is a hard one for me and my significant other because we like both Hillary and Obama. We peel away all the stupid press coverage and what seems to be blind rhetoric and misinterpretation and the best conclusion we can come up with, at least at this point in the game, is that Senator Obama seems very confused.

Hillary manages to remain calm through all of this. We just like her ability to remain in control, even during these heated moments.

Posted by: Sally Gross | July 27, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Rita and Don McCardle,

Of course you find it embarrassing because he's shattered your image of the 'happy go lucky Black men' who will assuage all of your liberal white guilt. I'm just glad to see white democrats truly showing that they are no more racially progressive than the republicans they like to call racist. Check yourself! And black folks who are still dillusional enough to think that your interests are served by either of these plantation parties need to check themselves too.

Posted by: Dee | July 27, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse


So now he's no use to you because he's "threatening"? Oooh, the angry black man. Hillary Clinton called him "naive and irresponsible" and he's supposed to just take it. He's not some lowly staff member. He's her senatorial peer. Would she ever refer to her 98 other white peers in those terms? I guess he was supposed to respond, "I'm sorry Missy Hillary...I didn't mean to overstep my bounds."

Posted by: Dee | July 27, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse




Posted by: Myra Rodriguez | July 27, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Obama's vigorous presentation of his position is now taken by Clinton as contradicting his politics of hope. Hope is founded on strength. Her campaign has been plagiarizing HIS campaign's langauge, including what should be an Obama copy-righted sentence, "Turn the page." For Wolfson to say that Clinton supported the war because more than 80% of the US population believed Bush and she did not think he would actually begin the war proves her lack of leadership and judgement and her placing calculated politics above the good of the nation. She should stop playing the old divisive game of petty name-calling (she began THIS fight by attacking Obama, although she is now whining when he is is vigorously defending his position) before the Democratic Party ends up losing a sizable number of true-blue Democrats like me should she end up as the party's candidate.

Posted by: shirley | July 27, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

We are pretty disappointed in the way Senator Obama has handled himself since the end of the S.C. debate on Monday evening.

It's embarrassing actually.

Posted by: Rita and Don McCardle | July 27, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

It never ceases to amaze me how white folks, particularly white liberals, never seem willing to even consider their perceptions may be shaped by racial biasness. You truly believe you have none, which is astounding! There is no doubt in my mind that Senator Obama, like all Black people, is being held to a hire standard than his peers. I agree that Senator Clinton gives the most crisp and sharp deliveries of any candidate, but what exactly has she said memorable or gound breaking that deserves so much credit? I think many people, particularly the MSM, is so impressed by her smooth delivery that she's providing more substance in her answer than her peers. An example of how her delivery wins points in the absence of substance: At the Howard U. debate it was asked how can we stem the rise of HIV/AIDS in the African American community. Senator Obama spoke, rightly, to the persistant homophobia in our community that lends to youth engaging in risky sexual behavior because they still overwhelmingly believe that HIV/AIDS is a gay disease, and therefore they are not at risk. Senator Clinton essentially indicted white apathy or indifference for the problem, which is absurd and trivialized the epidemic in our community. She didn't answer the question in anyway shape or form, but her delivery was so polished and forceful that both the audience and crowd declared her the winner. The same for John Edwards. What did he say at this last debate that was so memorable--on substance? Yes, he made a heart-felt appeal to Americans to stop ignoring the plight of the poor, but haven't they all? Clearly, Senator Obama is being held to a hire standard. If he doesn't morph into a baptist preacher at each and every debate, the media declares him the loser.

Posted by: Dee | July 27, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I really like Obama, but I can't in all conscience vote for a guy who has difficulty in every primary debate. Now, having just watched the re-run of his speech yesterday where he is standing screaming his head off about Hillary being Bush-Cheney lite, that pretty well did it for me.

I think it's all over for Barack.

Posted by: Ginny C. Richardson | July 27, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Voter | July 27, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

A view from abroad:

Of course Obama, as well as every other candidate in th efield, is capable of speaking about the specifics of politics. He seems, for the time being, to choose not to.

To a greater extent than Clinton Obama still has to introduce himself to all those people who, unlike us, have not followed the race closely for almost a year already. Thus he keeps answering specific questions with more abstract and general ideas - probably in order to make sure nobody misses the core of his candidacy: change, freshness, idealism.

To those of us who have heard him talk about this too many times before, his points are quickly becoming clichés. Also this could easily backfire. If Obama keeps talking about vague abstracts and does not get more detailed, it may emphasize what is already looked upon as his challenge - his lack of experience. He may come across as someone who does not go into particulars because he cannot rather than someone who strategically decides not to.

Barack Obama's candidacy has been exciting to me from the very start and hearing him speak always makes an impression on me, even when his vagueness and grand words annoy me. There is always something thoughtful, bright and genuine about him. Knowing how funny, sharp and to-the-point he can be, I hope he soon arrives at the conclusion that he has spent enough time hammering home his core message and allows himself to really shine.

Posted by: Nete | July 27, 2007 4:10 AM | Report abuse

Senator Clinton's answer regarding meeting with those leaders who are not known to be friends of this country struck me as brilliant. It was an accurate portrayal of her approach based on experience. However, as I thought more about it, it seemed to me to be more like a Bush answer in that she was categorizing them as the "evil ones". That's not a formula for diplomacy and optimism. Today, the 26th, Senator Obama has clarified his position and there has been some suggestion, as a result, that he may be getting too feisty. Isn't that putting him in a no-win situation?

Rather than trying to assess the competencies of a candidate by asking him or her for a 60 second sound bite in response to a hypothetical question, reflecting on styles of problem solving and basic philosophical positions would elucidate the requisite qualifications each
candidate might have. For example, giving each candidate five minutes to respond to questions such as "What would be your diplomatic approach to improving relations with Iran or Russia or Venezuela?" Or "What do you think are three major problems facing the country today and what would be the President's role in solving them?" Not only would this help distinguish one respondent from another but it would give us an opportunity to capitalize on the the intelligence of the people standing on that stage.

Finally,there has been am emphasis on Senator Obama's lack of experience. One new supporter said that she did not want a President who is learning of the job. It seems judicious to pick a person who is a lifelong learner. We already know what it does for the country to have a leaders who appear to have stopped learning and locked their methodologies in place. Senator Obama's scholarly bent should be seen as a virtue rather than a weakness. Isn't that what it means to get away from "politics as usual"?

Posted by: Willad1 | July 27, 2007 3:46 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Nikki | July 27, 2007 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Democratic Note: I disagree on everything you put forward. The only primary/caucus state that Hillary is behind in is Iowa. Edwards now leads in Iowa and is fading, with Hillary gaining. Obama and Edwards are given little chance of winning their home state from what I have seen. Most of us don't give the polls much credit at this early stage, but they have been consistant from the beginning. I think Richardson is looking at State or the UN in a Hillary Admistration.

Posted by: lylepink | July 26, 2007 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm pro-Obama. The media came out for Obama as winner of the latest debate until Hillary's team went on the attack about diplomacy - she did a complete about-face from her own previously stated policy to fabricate an issue and distract from his best sound byte "The best time to plan for an exit from Iraq was before we went in."

I'm a political science nerd, Latina, mother, daughter of immigrants who worked like mules, formerly teacher, paralegal in medical malpractice on both sides (doctors and injured patients) and deportation defense for immigrants - very nice hard-working people, for the most part. I've been a political activist, minor volunteer in national and local elections, now disabled and keyboarding for Obama. I'll phonebank for him when it's time, as I did for MoveOn in 06. I'm not average in that I don't watch debates for substance, but to evaluate candidates' performances and to prepare for how media will respond to my candidate, and it's very predictable.

Everything said by very articulate and/or passionate Obamans is true. I'll only add that the news media underestimates how much influence it's lost. The smartest outsider candidates use viral marketing because they cannot count on the media (for the most part) to impart substance to the people they need to inspire to vote, in an environment where people feel their vote is useless either because of fraud or lack of real choices. The disenchanted electorate looks for radio talk shows to hold their own debates with their peers on the right or left, and/or to the web, and can now chat with others - at the push of a button - who have already decided or are leaning a certain way, to get substantive information.

Journalists are caught between a rock and a hard place. They've lost tons of resources with the consolidation of media, and the few of them left with jobs are in a cut-throat competition that their bosses say requires titillation, not substance. They pay more attention to one another than to the public they're supposed to observe and report to - they've always had to watch for the scoop at least as much as the substance, but it's more tilted to scoop than ever before. We media consumers, however, have more choices than ever before, and access to fact and opinion writers with an audience from one to millions.

The media workers have responsibility for the state of media now, not just the few owners. If journalists can't or won't demand the resources needed for real investigative work, don't expect news consumers to lie around and not use all the sources available from all over the world now, in many languages.

Most of the things people have said here about why they support Obama do not point only to info they/we got from mainstream media, or even liberal media which in large part seems afraid of supporting Obama. We got the info from Obama's very capable campaign, legislative records, watchdog groups, blogs, his own books, and people who've known him, like him and spread the word very easily now (YouTube case in point). Only those with little access to all this other info rely on debates and the media to interpret what they've just seen and heard.

I can't wait 'til Obama wins - we'll all be wired to high speed internet and have access equally. Then you real journalists can go off on your own, put your own resources together, and get back to real reporting, as I imagine some of you would love to do. You'll finally be judged and draw readers/viewers/listeners based on your research and content not found anywhere else, instead of your face, body, voice or distraction abilities.

In a nutshell, people who really want information seek it out everywhere they can. Your opinions, genuine as they might be, are viewed with suspicion and analyzed as much as the actual debate performances by many news consumers.

Posted by: VCubed | July 26, 2007 8:32 PM | Report abuse

I would say that Hillary may have been the most consistent *performer* at each debate, which is what the media is scoring. That doesn't mean she connected better with the audience, who are subconsciously reading between the lines for subtleties of voice tone, body language, etc. to determine what the candidate is really about. Over and over again I see forum posters talk about what a fake Edwards is even as the media is scoring him a "winner". Kerry, if I remember correctly, performed better than Bush in the 2004 debates, not to mention being right about almost everything, and yet still lost because he seemed patrician, weak, etc.

Posted by: Nissl | July 26, 2007 8:01 PM | Report abuse

I hear you BO. I like paul, for a republican :). I agreed with almost everyone of his statements in the debates. Almost everyone. The problem is, HE IS A REPUBLICAN. How are we to trust him. How are we to know if he is pulling a Mike GRavel. Just trying to be the furthest left on the stage and see what sticks? I don't trust him. I do like what he says. He obviously has ZERO support from his party, so what good whould he be. WE need republcians to change. We don't need to keep re-electing differant versions of them :).

I feel you though BO. Thansk for the recommendation.

Posted by: rufus1133 | July 26, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I hear you BO. I like paul, for a republican :). I agreed with almost everyone of his statements in the debates. Almost everyone. The problem is, HE IS A REPUBLICAN. How are we to trust him. How are we to know if he is pulling a Mike GRavel. Just trying to be the furthest left on the stage and see what sticks? I don't trust him. I do like what he says. He obviously has ZERO support from his party, so what good whould he be. WE need republcians to change. We don't need to keep re-electing differant versions of them :).

I feel you though BO. Thansk for the recommendation.

Posted by: rufus1133 | July 26, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Mike B:

Read my post again. I am an Obama supporter. I have no idea how you could put me in the Hillary camp. Granted, I don't share your vehemence at her alleged deeds, but I do hope she does not win the nomination. If so, I might be forced to vote for a third party ticket.

Posted by: Rich Evans | July 26, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

The mainstream media says Clinton wins every debate because she is sharp and concise. But they mainly say she wins because they have projected her as the frontrunner and she asn't had any major slip ups. She also gives answers that are very Washington insider oriented.

Obama wins the focus groups because these people are typically undecided and do not follow the ins and outs as closely. They like the fact that his language is that of a uniter and that he is against special interests. He also looks comfortable when talking about faith, which helps him.

To me the interesting dynamic of these polls is the fact that more and more people use only cell phones and do not use a land line. In the current polls all the calls are made to land-lines. I think this could really distort what the actual numbers are.

In my opinion Clinton will not win any of the caucuses/primaries before Feb. 5 with the exception of possibly Florida. Here's what I see happening:
Iowa- This is a toss between Edwards and Obama. I think the anti-war crowd will not vote for Hillary and will either go to Edwards or Obama. Edwards has worked hard there for several years, but Obama has a ridiculous amount of field offices. My guess is Edwards.
New Hampshire: Obama wins here similar to the way McCain did in 2000, with independent help.
South Carolina: Whatever the current polls may suggest, Hillary will not win here. While it is the birthplace of Edwards, I ultimately see Obama winning because of the large African American vote.
Nevada: I think this will be between Edwards and Richardson. Edwards is strong with unions, but Richardson is well known being governor of nearby New Mexico. I think the hispanic vote will be key here and will give Richardson the upset.
Florida (my home state): Clinton will win here because of the NY transplants all over South Florida. She will do poorly in the rest of the state, but it will not be enough to overcome the strenght in South Florida.

This sets up for an interesting Super Tuesday. Hillary wins NY easily, Obama wins Illinois easily and I think the southern states have mixed results (Clinton: Arkansas; Edwards: North Carolina, Tennessee; Obama: Alabama, Georgia). Out west I see Richardson winning New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, with Hillary winning Utah. In the Midwest I see Hillary losing Ohio because of trade policy and won by Edwards. Obama wins neighboring Wisconsin, Edwards in Michigan. As far as the NE, Clinton wins NJ, RI, ME, while Biden takes his home state of Delaware (this will happen even if he drops out). I'm undecided on OK, KS, and MO.

This means that it will come down to Texas and California. A sweep by one candidate gives them the nomination, a split and it goes on. I don't know who will win, but I think we are in for one of the more entertainng nominations processes we have ever seen.

Posted by: Democratic Nole | July 26, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

The most striking thing about these comments is that practically nobody is saying "Actually, Hillary did win."

Everyone is agreeing with the notion that the focus groups were right and the pundits were wrong. Wow.

Posted by: Golgi | July 26, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

"Finally, he spoke for national unity:

The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.[40]

Posted by: rufus1133 | July 26, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Rufus, check out the candidacy of Ron Paul. He's running as a Repub, but he's really a libertarian. I agree that we have been interfering and imperialistic throughout our country's history. Ron Paul would change that. He believes in free trade, but noninterference in other country's business.

Posted by: Bo | July 26, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I'll help you gopers since you live in a cave and must process all "news" or feelings through your rush prisms. No rush or hannity ( other than their slaves like the old man) here today. Here's your chance to break away:

"After graduating from Punahou, Obama studied at Occidental College for two years, then transferred to Columbia University, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations.[20][21] He received his B.A. degree in 1983, then worked for one year at Business International Corporation.[22] In 1985, Obama moved to Chicago to direct a non-profit project assisting local churches to organize job training programs.[23] He entered Harvard Law School in 1988.[24] In 1990, The New York Times reported his election as the Harvard Law Review's "first black president in its 104-year history."[25] He completed his J.D. degree magna cum laude in 1991.[26] On returning to Chicago, Obama directed a voter registration drive.[26] As an associate attorney with Miner, Barnhill & Galland from 1993 to 1996, he represented community organizers, discrimination claims, and voting rights cases.[27] He was a lecturer of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1993 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004.[28]

Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996 from the state's 13th District in the south-side Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park.[29] In 2000, he made an unsuccessful Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat held by four-term incumbent candidate Bobby Rush.[30] He was overwhelmingly reelected to the Illinois Senate in 1998 and 2002, officially resigning in November 2004, following his election to the U.S. Senate.[31][32] Among his major accomplishments as a state legislator, Obama's U.S. Senate web site lists: "creating programs like the state Earned Income Tax Credit"; "an expansion of early childhood education"; and "legislation requiring the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases."[33] Reviewing Obama's career in the Illinois Senate, a February 2007 article in the Washington Post noted his work with both Democrats and Republicans in drafting bipartisan legislation on ethics and health care reform.[34][35] During his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, Obama won the endorsement of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, whose officials cited his "longtime support of gun control measures and his willingness to negotiate compromises," despite his support for some bills the police union had opposed.[36] He was also criticized by a rival pro-choice candidate in the Democratic primary and by his Republican pro-life opponent in the general election for having voted either "present" or "no" on anti-abortion legislation.[34][37]

Questioning the Bush administration's management of the Iraq War, Obama spoke of an enlisted Marine, Corporal Seamus Ahern from East Moline, Illinois, asking, "Are we serving Seamus as well as he is serving us?" He continued:

When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world."

Shall I continue. Or no?

Posted by: rufus | July 26, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I have been an Obama fan for 3 years now and actually wrote e-mail saying Help us, Barack Obama, you're our only hope." I am not ANTI Hillary at all, in fact, she is a brilliant in debates. But if she and Barack went one on one, I think you would find where intelligece and temperance along with a shared common goal of actually HELPING Americans, Obama will always be the winner. Three simple words explain the answer to your question, CHris. he is The Real Thing.

Posted by: suesher | July 26, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

"I am not an Obama supporter but I think those of you who say he is a media phenomenom are missing the boat"

tHAT'S RIGHT jIM. What about the man's resume. What about his hopes and goals. At lest look at his resume, at the very least. Anyone saying he is a media creation has a brdige to sell you

Posted by: rufus | July 26, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

clawrence: Your mention of Biden brings to mind the way folks think of their favorite in these forums. I really don't think there was a "Winner" in this YouTube thing. Dodd and Biden have been in DC about 30 years, and folks that watch politics know a lot about them, and I know of no one that thinks they are going anywhere. I somewhat agree wth you about Obama, and his race being primarily responsible for the attention along with the media creation.

Posted by: lylepink | July 26, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Part of Obama's appeal is that he doesn't speak in soundbytes and catch-phrases. Clearly, that's counterintuitive in a political culture that has seen good "soundbyters" win the past four presidential election cycles.

But there seems to be a hunger for someone who will take the time to answer questions and speak in smart, measured tones. Political reporters are keeping an ear out for that memorable zinger that, in the past, has (often rightly) signified who won the debate. The totality of Obama's performances are quite impressive, even if he doesn't have the "front-of-the-evening-news" soundbyte. The American people's measuring stick has changed a bit this year, after too long of flash without substance.

Posted by: djlavoie | July 26, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Biden has shown the most consistent and strongest performances in the three debates. If you have missed the boat, it is that you have excluded Biden. Obama hasn't live up to all the hype. Let's be bluntly honest, if Obama were not African-American, he wouldn't be given any consideration. That isn't a platform to run on, regardless of the rhetoric of beating up on the 'special interest'. Obama doesn't have a stellar record of standing up to the corruption in Chicago/IL, and in fact, was given favor through some of the special interest here in IL. There is no reason to believe that is going to change with him in Washington.

Posted by: clawrence | July 26, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I consider Mark Halperin of Tim eto be the MSM, he said Obama won.

John Dickerson of CNN and Slate said Obama was as good as Clinton.

Joe Klein said Obama was every but as good as Hillary, except for the foreign policy issue.

So your question, isn't even true. As for edwards, the only pundit who thought he won the debate was you and roger simon.

Posted by: dag | July 26, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Biden has shown the most consistent and strongest performances in the three debates. If you have missed the boat, it is that you have excluded Biden. Obama hasn't live up to all the hype. Let's be bluntly honest, if Obama were not African-American, he wouldn't be given any consideration. That isn't a platform to run on, regardless of the rhetoric of beating up on the 'special interest'. Obama doesn't have a stellar record of standing up to the corruption in Chicago/IL, and in fact, was given favor through some of the special interest here in IL. There is no reason to believe that is going to change with him in Washington.

Posted by: clawrence | July 26, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

The disconnect is because the media has been beating this "President HRC is inevitable" story since 2004. Political media, especially, has this tendency to pick a story and then, rather than change the story as new facts emerge, see how those new facts fit within the established story. Here, rather than analyze Obama on his own merits, he is analyzed in the framework of the HRC is inevitable context. A good example is this brouhaha over the diplomacy response. I have not seen a single (and I hate to use this term) mainstream political commentator analyze Obama's response to the diplomacy question for its substance. Instead, the analysis has all been on Clinton's response - and, even then, the focus was on her ability to deliver a quick retort rather than the retort's substance.

Also, I agree with above-posters that these "debates" are ridiculous. We are not getting substance from any candidates. Instead, we just get to see who is best at giving pithy 30-60 second sound bites.

Posted by: girlwonder | July 26, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

as I am Obama fan and care deeply about the state of poltics and society in this nation, it upsets me how much merit debates are given, short pre-hashed sound bites do not indicate the effectiveness of a candidates ability to the lead nor do they go in depth enough to really explore the issues and the candidates over all vision. The Lincoln Doglous debate was between two people and was 4 or 6 hours long these debates are with 8 people and an hour long. Orwell

Posted by: goffman | July 26, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I think it comes down to a question of expectations. Both the people that are politically savvy and those that are being newly introduced to Obama have been told what a great orator he is. However, when he's in a debate setting, forced into short and succint answers, he fails to wow. People sometimes leave thinking, "I don't see that he's all THAT great."

To support this, think about the debates for the 04 election. Some of the news pundits said things about Bush such as, "He didn't flub anything, he didn't lose his cool...I think he did well." Essentially, the bar was lower for him because he is not known for being particularly charismatic.

The media is familiar with Clinton and Edwards from previous years. They know just how hard they have worked to overcome habits declared unattractive by focus groups, to not sound to harsh or too patronizing and basically they are giving them a "Most Improved" award. Also, I think human nature prevents most people in the spotlight (such as commentators and writers) from wanting to be the first ones to officially say that Obama is a legitimate contender for the nomination. I guarantee that they will come around as the numbers start to shift and the statement becomes safer to make.

Posted by: Shawna V | July 26, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

There are many reasons Obama is behind in the polls and some of them I attribute to the medias handling of the campaigns.

I'm not interested in bashing the media. I watch a lot of TV news and I read a lot of articles. I respect the hard work the media puts into writing newspaper articles and blogs, and anchoring the news and so forth. It is a skill I wish I had.

What I have noticed, however, is that the overwhelming majority of the media have indirectly joined Clinton's camp. I'm sure the reasons are varied and so I won't try to offer any. I also accept the fact that journalists are human beings and they are Americans. While they may try hard to refrain from overtly taking sides, their position does seep out in their coverage.

The majority of the media refer to Clinton as the democratic frontrunner. I think that's incorrect. While Clinton is leading in the polls (due mainly to name recognition), Obama is leading in fundraising and donors. That means we have two frontrunners.

In every other race the media has said that the person who raises the most money is the frontrunner and destined to win. However, since that person is not Hillary, it seems the media has backed off this idea. Why? Donations and money are a much clearer indication of support than poll numbers and yet the media's primary and consistent focus is on poll numbers (that they themselves say are pretty meaningless at this point).

Moreover, Obama is starkly different from what the media is used to. The media enjoys and is impressed by clever sound bites (that are unfortunately empty in content) that they can re-run in the news. Clinton offers an abundance of these sound bites - Obama doesn't offer any. I've never heard him speak in sound bites. I believe this annoys the media to some extent because it's difficult to print stirring headlines using Obama's words because he speaks in paragraphs (not applause lines) - something the media is not accustomed to.

Senator Clinton didn't sound presidential at the debate (in responding to the question regarding meeting with dictators) when she went through her laundry list of you have to do this, and then you do that, and then you do this -- and you work your way up to that. Senator Clinton sound more like a state department official charged with background research rather than a presidential candidate. The people recognized this but the media couldn't because of a deep bias within them that makes them believe there is no way a 1st term Senator can knockout the powerful Clintons.

The reporting about who is the most "experienced" hasn't been honest. Senator Obama has 10 years of "elected" office experience and Senator Clinton has 6 years of "elected" office experience. The media has not addressed Senator Clinton's time in the White House to determine if that is experience she can honestly claim. Senator Clinton herself acknowledges the only thing she was successful at in her White House years was expanding Head Start - that's it. The media hasn't examined the records of these two candidates to determine who has had what legislative successes.

The media hasn't been able as yet to admit to and absorb the fact that this 1st term Senator has done what the overwhelming majority media types said he couldn't do over, and over, and over again - beat the Clintons in fundraising.

The reason the media is unable to understand what's going on with regard to their perception and the perception of the American people is because they refuse to accept the idea that the powerful Clintons are not wanted by the majority of democrats or the majority of the American people.

I don't hear reporting on the fact that more than 60% of democrats don't want Senator Clinton - more than 60%. The media keeps calling her the frontrunner while the people keep saying that's not what we want -- but our voices are ignored because the media have tunnel vision. They point out the fact that the majority of republicans don't want any of their frontrunners, but they don't address it on the democratic side - they just keep this Senator Clinton is the frontrunner thing going - even though the numbers don't really prove that.

Many in the media have forgotten that their role is to maintain distance from the White House and Capitol Hill in order to report objectively. What happens instead is relationships are formed and it becomes difficult to report on the people you've developed a friendship with.

In addition, if we are to be honest, we know that access is a big thing in the media as well. It's a difficult balance for the media because if they want access - they can't be too honest in their reporting or the door will be closed. Senator Clinton has made that fact quite clear.

The American people find Senator Obama's honesty, integrity, candor, experience and intellectual brilliance refreshing. The media ignores it because they are so used to dealing with dishonest politicians. Well, so are the American people, but the people see an opportunity for change - for something better and we are seizing it.

I really see two camps in this whole election process: CAMP STATUS QUO and CAMP CHANGE

And these two camps have divided among them:

The politicians that run our government,
The media,
The big corporations and their lobbyists,
The special interest groups, and
The American people (mainly the middle class & the poor)

Every person within those groups falls into one of these camps. I see it this way:

CAMP STATUS QUO (the politicians running our government, the media, the big corporations and their lobbyists, and the special interest groups.)

CAMP CHANGE (the American people - mainly the middle class & the poor)

As you can see, CAMP STATUS QUO has a BIG edge on CAMP CHANGE. CAMP CHANGE is the David fighting CAMP STATUS QUO (Goliath).

The media is very powerful. They don't ever admit to the influence they have over the thinking of the people, but many of us recognize it.

Again, I have the greatest respect for our media. I admire the work they do and I wish I could have gone to college to learn how to do it.

But the truth of the matter is the media has changed greatly. I remember a time when the media was dogged in going after politicians, presidents and presidential candidates for the truth. Now they seem to pick sides and hand out free passes.

These are my heartfelt thoughts about what I see going on in this election and our beloved country. I can't say enough that I do not want to leave the impression that I'm beating up on the media. I'm simply stating what I see going on.

Posted by: ItsTimeToTurnThePage | July 26, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Clinton was the one everyone remembers as 'the smartest girl in the class' in the sense of being studious and doing lots of homework to please the teachers so she could become valedictorian and get into Wellesley. Excellent at following rules and doing what she was told. I don't think anyone would seriously disagree that she would be a very competent president.

Obama was equally intelligent, but questioned why things were the way they were, how they could be improved - and how he could contribute. He showed curiosity, vision and imagination, coupled with confidence, faith and the willingness to take necessary risks. Community organizer, civil rights lawyer, Senator, future President - he's focused.

MLK said: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. Barack Obama said: Here's the thing, young people, it doesn't bend on its own, it bends because you put your hand on that arc and you bend it in the direction of justice.

Of course people want a leader who doesn't see red states and blue states, but the United States. Of course people want a leader who will help us all "bridge the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be", and believes that "yes, we can". Don't you?

Posted by: Tom J | July 26, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I am not an Obama supporter but I think those of you who say he is a media phenomenom are missing the boat. He has touched a lot of people and the proof is the unprecedented number of small donors he has attracted. That would not have happened if he were just media hype. As several others have mentioned, he projects a different attitude and he does not talk in Beltway-speak all the time. Most people are thoroughly sick of politics as usual and Obama appears to be breaking with that.

I would also point out that the media loves "man bites dog" stories. A politician who does not talk in focus-group tested sound bites naturally attracts press attention. Obama is a beneficiary of that tendency.
McCain was a beneficiary in the past. Despite all the conservative claims the the media loved McCain because of his departures from conservative orthodoxy, it was simply that McCain was quotable and accessible.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 26, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Because media just gobbles up whatever
these candidates feed to them,
that's why they report whatever Hillary
spins as fact, and it is why
the LIE that Hillary
is more experienced continues.

Maybe regular americans are finally
starting to see through the haze,
and are actually seeing the candidates
as they are.



Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

vwcat & Chris: I can only guess about the crowds Obama draws. Two things stand out, 1. The media promotion of him, and 2. Curious, and by that I mean folks are wondering just what this guy is about, and it goes back to 1, why is the media promoting him so strongly? Is it because he is a creation of this same media and they have to keep the story going when they have nothing else? A thought on the YouTube, would be a lot of younger folks tend to go there for entertainment.

Posted by: lylepink | July 26, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

If the Fix is truly interested in learning what he missed, he needs to stop by the desk of the Post's movie critic. Movie critics have been trying to figure out why the public disagrees with their picks for eighty plus years. Whatever the answer is, it probably applies to politics as well.

Posted by: muD | July 26, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

The candidates need to show they have integrity, vision, and courage, both on the campaign trail and in the debates.

By no means is this an easy task, but it is less technical than the media expects.

Posted by: Carrington Ward | July 26, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Many of the comments here are right. Obama speaks to regular people and instinctively makes them feel valued. Hillary with all of her 'experience' does not have that skill. She is the ultimate Washington insider giving off the impression that although prepared and intelligent, she is only performing an act. In the real world, she is seen as the ultimate politician: conniving, and willing to say/do anything if it means winning.

And you in the media only add to the problem. You continually ignore Obama's substance and never drill Hillary for hers. (Where exactly is her health care plan?) And you spend hours and hours listening to master spinners.

Posted by: G | July 26, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

The MSM is missing the boat on Obama. To me, it is very reminicent of how the MSM and the politicos never really "got" Reagan. In many ways (none policy-wise), Obama reminds me of Reagan. He is a person that speaks optimistically of what we can do better as a society in a big theme sort of way. He might even have the same sort of connection Reagan did with people. Reagan's message was certainly more focused but then he had several decades of practice over Obama. In 1980, even if you didn't agree with him, you knew what Reagan was about. If Obama can narrow his theme down to two or three items and focus and communicate his message on those items, he will be tough to beat. And the MSM will continue to be perplexed.

Posted by: Dave! | July 26, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

That is, how can the GOP give him his speech time at the podium at next year's convention yet somehow make sure no one sees him on TV? The goal will be to make non-26 percenters forget that Bush is from the same party as whatever poor sap is the nominee.

Posted by: What about the Bush conundrum? | July 26, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Rich Evans - What this observers point of view, all of Hillary CLinton's vast exerpience is as a corporate insider, a crook, and a duplicitous stuffed shirt. She's a PLAY ACTOR! No better, nor different, than that pretend cowboy we have as President right now. How on eartyh can you justify her investments in and work for WJC Invesntment Corporation, the Indian company behind outsourcing private records, the company that is used by U.S. comrporations to get around U.S. privacy laws. These guys assemble health records for you and your entire family, correlate this with job reports, newspaper clippings, public records, credit and baning histories, incldsuing purchasing histories, they even add in information on letters you write to the editor of newspapers, blogs like this one that can be attributed to you. *ALL* of that is available to a potential employer, to a life insurance company, to anyone with the means to make a simple long distance telephone call to India. You just might loose your job because your child was just diagnosed with cancer your self insured employer wants to make sure they don't have to pay the medical bill. You might not get a job (actually, since MOST hi tech employers use these WONT get that job!) becasue your wife is sik or you have a genetic disposition for heart disease. THAT is your "experienced" Ms. Clinton.

And, it gets worse. Ms. Clinton is a big proponent of outsourcing, of guest workers. She uis the CHIEF proponent of outsourcing and of the H1-B and L1 visa programs in COngress. Ms. CLinton is almost solely reponsibe for the loss of hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs! At a recent fund raiser, where Indian business interests contributed at least 5 million dollars to her campaign fund, Ms. Clinton was introduced as the "...Senator not only from New York but also Punjab." Ms. Clinton joked that, "I can certainly run for the Senate seat in Punjab
and win easily".

Before you go off blinding supporting a rat like Hillary Clinton, might I suggest you read a bit about her stances on issues that affect YOU and this country. Hillary Clinton is no more liberal nor moderate than was Herman Goring. She is a NeoCon and a nightmare for every working man and women in this country.

Posted by: MikeB | July 26, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

you are me hero greenwald. I often soil myself when i think about you. you complete me. i am able to participate in the adult discusssion and post more than just my usual dumb one liners with your help. you are a god.

kowardly kos klone

PS - thank you rufas for bringing this blog back down to OUR level. all that content yesterday made my head hurt.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

"Blacks, gay. New Orleans deserved what they got."

Right GOP. I am a straight man. I lived in New Orleans in 2000 before the flood. Sad to see MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS get the shaft.

Your party has a year GOP. Political irrelevance, that is your future

Posted by: rufus | July 26, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

"JH: All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that.

The newspaper carried the story in our local area, that was not carried nationally, that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it would was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other gay pride parades.

So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing. I know there are people who demur from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the Day of Judgment, and I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans."

I guess that makes Bush's refusal to act ok then, right GOP

Posted by: Joe Lieberman's BOy | July 26, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I know you are? You a post away to. Or a phone call. I know George Bush's patriot act cronies are all over. Thinking you doing GOOD WORK spying on Americans. The war on terror is not overseas. The war on terror is here, IN AMERICA. It's against us people. It's an attempt to silince the internet. It's an attempt to force conservatism down ALL OUR throuts. A christian man, or a patriot for that matter, would never fear this. I laugh at your threats. You want me George Bush? Come and get me. Fascists.

Posted by: rufus | July 26, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Why is there a disparity between MSM/Washington Beltway folks and the general public? Because so many folks running for President have not had to deal with the general public on a day to day basis for several years.

Hillary has not had to meet or interact with a "normal" human being since the late 1980s, early 1990s. Biden and Dodd fall in the same category. They have been surrounded by media elites, political elites and fundraising fat cats for 2 plus decades due to their positions.

Richardson, because he is a Governor, has had to deal with normal everyday New Mexico residents the last couple years.

Obama probably resonates with voters since he has had to deal with "us" (normal folks) more recently and is probably more attuned to everyday pressures, worries and concerns. It shows in his talks and his rhetoric.

Posted by: rp in NH | July 26, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

rufuses, we're just a phone call away - 1-800-905-4675 (Eastern) and 1-866-496-8838 (Pacific)

Posted by: Elias | July 26, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

One of the favorite tactics of super-sophisticated Beltway media insiders is to band together and point to anyone who expresses views outside of their narrow orthodoxies and laugh at what crazy and unserious "wackos" they are --- in contrast to the very serious-minded, sane and insightful Beltway elite. The current roster of crazy losers includes Mike Gravel and Ron Paul -- the ones opposed to the war in Iraq and to American military domination around the world. They are insane lunatics, total losers, not fit even to be heard in public discourse among the Serious.

Thus, we are treated to an endless stream of snide little insults from the likes of Eve Fairbanks and Joe Klein scoffing at these "lunatics." And, as we all know, in 2004 Howard Dean was completely crazy -- a total wacko -- and Al Gore is vaguely insane, too.

By contrast, the pundits of The New Republic and Time who cheered on George Bush's invasion of Iraq and who work for Marty Peretz and who defend George Bush's lawbreaking and who spent years treating Dick Cheney like royalty and who carefully ponder with Great Angst whether we should start a new war with Iran are the deeply serious, very sane, mainstream thinkers who can banish the nerdy anti-war outcasts to the "lunatic fringes."

Posted by: greenwald | July 26, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

2008 Democratic National Convention Agenda

7:00 pm Opening flag burning

7:15 pm Pledge of Allegiance to the U.N.

7:20 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

7:25 pm Nonreligious prayer and worship with Jesse Jackson and Al

7:45 pm Ceremonial tree hugging

7:55 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

8:00 pm How I Invented the Internet - Al Gore

8:15 pm Gay Wedding - Barney Frank presiding

8:35 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

8:40 pm Our Troops are War Criminals - John Kerry

9.00 pm Memorial service for Saddam and his sons - Cindy Sheehan
and Susan Sarandon

10:00 pm "Answering Machine Etiquette" - Alec Baldwin

11:00 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

11:05 pm Collection for the Osama Bin Laden kidney transplant
fund - Barbra Streisand

11:15 pm Free the Freedom Fighters from Guantanamo Bay - Sean Penn

11:30 pm Oval Office Affairs - William Jefferson Clinton

11:45 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

11:50 pm How George Bush Brought Down the World Trade Towers -
Howard Dean

12:15 am "Truth in Broadcasting Award" - Presented to Dan Rather by
Michael Moore

12:25 am Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

12:30 am Satellite address by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

12:45 am Nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Nancy Pelosi

1:00 am Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

1:05 am Coronation of Hillary Rodham Clinton

1:30 am Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

1:35 am Bill Clinton asks Ted to drive Hillary home

Posted by: we tried, we failed, as usual | July 26, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Sources close to the presumptive campaign tell NBC News that Fred Thompson's fundraising is down "markedly." One claimed it has "slowed down big-time." The pace is described as a consequence of the delayed announcement to enter the race.

"The Friends of Fred, Inc." will report to the IRS its revenue by July 31st. Sources reveal to NBC News that number will be in the range of about $3 million. Five million dollars had been the talked-about June goal. Sources describe an early burst of donations in June and say the summer fundraising has fallen off. While additional fundraisers are planned, sources say the scheduling of fundraisers was "frozen" for a time while the team was going through some internal strains.

looks like ol fred is going back to law and order.

can the repubs still run none of the above as a canidate????

Posted by: fred's done:NEXT!!!!! | July 26, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Goodbye ALl. Good luck. Go obama Gore 08. down with the GOP, for good. You have a year. What will you do when there is no one to protect your avatars (rush/hannity/fox news). You have less than a year of political relevance. Use it wisley.


Posted by: rufus1133 | July 26, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

the african american vote of hillary is a ploy. It's going to obama. gARANTUEED. They just don't want to scare you fascsit gop'ers. If he had more votes the party of racist wouold be so scared they would vote for anybody else. Sorry but it is the truth. I knwo it hurts. I just wish we could all vote as individuals, as opposed to the gop borg vote.

Posted by: rufus | July 26, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Yes Obama was the winner. (and I didn't even watch; something about the "indignity of YouTube" exhibitionist idiots...) If I am to assume that the rest of America is like me (Ha!) in the respect that the MSM has no credibility anymore (why o why does my local 5 o'clock news think that Simpson, Hilton and Bradgelina constitute "News"?) and we are highly suspicious of polish, Obama's rough edges bespeak Honesty, Sincerity, & Authenticity. While I don't necessarily dilike or even disagree with Clinton, she is a Washington Insider, entirely too cagey to be trusted.

While one conservative blogger has stated that he will never vote for any of the Democratic candidates, I submit otherwise. I am personally a left-leaning unregistered moderate, in a RED (as in all of it's history) state. Before the 2004 election, Republicans in my state were abandaning the party in droves because of GWB's betrayal of traditional republican values of small spending, small government, and states rights (NIMBY) while embracing the religious right. And now, the official Republican party is pretty much stuck that way unless they go with McCain, which is unlikely. Additionally, my own perusal of Obama's work record reflects that he is a bi-partisan consensus builder; i.e. HE GETS THINGS DONE. Take heed registerd Democrats, when it comes time to nominate your candidate, pick Obama. The public TRUSTS him, and conservatives respect him. Your concern about lack of political experience should be abandoned; political experience = polish = bad taste in the mouth to us average Americans. If there is concern about political experience, then perhaps Obama's running mate should be someone who can advise him in the matters of manipulating Washington; just so long as he keeps it real with the rest of us. Obama will take the popular vote in sufficient amount to take the electoral vote as well (unlike Kerry and Gore). Clinton or Edwards simply will not. Now the MSM loves that kind of too-close-to-call race; it keeps them on the air. The rest of America however wants it done quick and clean; let us watch our favorite Tuesday night shows for Pete's sake!

Posted by: Leigh | July 26, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I remember I was tremendously frustrated with what the media termed Reagan's teflon coating.

I can only watch with some satisfaction as the media now tries to make sense of a similar material with Obama.

Bottom line, Obama is attractive because he seems comfortable within his own skin. The places where the media and the public converge in the debates are the -- relatively few -- places where Obama lost this persona and revealed his own political gears grinding.

As to the polls, they are a terrible measure: right now, "don't know," "too soon," or "the Mets" are the winners.

I think the fact that African American voters have begun to break for Obama (46-40) is probably a bellwether that some people are beginning to pay attention.

Posted by: Carrington Ward | July 26, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Chris, I haven't been an Obama fan up until now, but he is starting to sound more reasonable every day. There are two reasons for this. One, he does say he is for the national interest and places it above special interests. I like that. Ayone wit an ounce of patriotism would like that. But second, and this is important, he obviouly isn't scripted. Ypu put you finger on it when you said "...he isn't yet as consistent a performer...
". That's just it! Everyone else on the stage, in their public appearances, is a scripted performer. Obama is *REAL*. What you see is what you get. Keep it up Obama, I'm warming up to you. Now, let's talk about globalization and "free traitors".

Posted by: MikeB | July 26, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"who thinks Al-Qaeda is wants to kill you?""

I'm sure there are a lot of people that want to kill. Should we go around the country and kill everyone who looks at us funny? America has the highest murder rate in the world, so I don't know if WE should be the ones preaching. That's what I've been telling your boy O'Reilly mike. "those that live in glass houses."

"Let he who has no sinned cast the first stone."

The GOP loves murder. It's fun to you nra pyschos. Should the same rules apply for you. The GOP wants to "kill" liberals. What should happen to you GOP/Mike/Zouk? Should we ship you all to austrailia. I don't get you hypocrites. Your points are always the opposite of truth.Always. I guess "the end justiifes the means to you."

You are "little eichmans" as Churchhill stated. The GOP is responsible to the hatred across the world of AMerica. They have been doing things behind the scenes for decades. Mostly in central america and asia, now the middle east (predominatly). If we are a SELF_GOVERNMENT who is responsible for the death and destruction our country causes on the world? I blame you GOP. It's time the blame is layed at the feet of those to blame.

The military is to DEFEND this country. Defend the people. Not defend our business interests. That is the problem.

I know I know. I'm the bad guy. Let me ask this. How many years has an american military man not killed or been killed? How many years have we not been at war, therefore?. Zero. I would say we have been at war since our inception. And we're claiming to be a peaceful nation. Change has to come from inside. Who is willing to do that. Who is willing to change themselves for the betterment of the nation/world? Not the gop. YOu people are stuck in the red scare 50's. Wayne wayne and elvis are dead. Don't look for new ones. Join reality. Join the rest of humanity. The obstructionist GOP'ers are THE PROBLEM. After 08 they hold us down no more. Greedy sell-outs

Posted by: rufus | July 26, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

For all the hype, it is still very early in this campaign. The Clinton's are loved by the MSM, both left and right, because they are so colorful and target-rich news generators, and Hillary has capitalized smartly on her husband's popularity. Obama is relatively still unknown, more so to the average voter than the establishment media and opinion elite, who have are out of step with America outside the beltway.

So while the former craves familiarity and the status quo, most of the country is thirsty for change and authenticity in the next President. That is what Obama gives them. Americans are not as stupid as FoxNews and now CNN assume. They can see that the Republicans are morally depleted and rudderless. They also recognize the scripted performance that Hillary Clinton delivers so well, but are reminded that the Clintons give you what you want to hear, even it is not true. Her explanation for how she came to support the war is the most obvious, but not only evidence of that. And every time she tries to say there are no real differences between herself and her Democratic opponents, Americans FEEL that just cannot be true.

Posted by: Mark in Burlington | July 26, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

The uncommitted voters I talk and correspond with think that Biden shined in the debates.

Biden... Hands down the best expertise on Iraq, the best communicator, and hasn't made himself a millionaire.... though opportunity must surely have knocked... during his long and distinguished Senate career.

Hillary... Has assumed the "royal" set of head, speaking without moving her head or my ethusiasm. Where's the real Hillary under all of that scripting?

Edwards... Well... there isn't any there, there. He must have been a great advocate attorney, can persuade on any subject, right now his subject is "make me your president." Nice wife, but....

Obama... He performs like what he is, teacher's pet. We all applaude because he's so smart for his age. Maybe a later campaign.

Richardson... Fail to see what others see in him. He's so uninspiring he seems about to nod off during most of his answers. I would cast him as "Sleepy" in Snow White.

Posted by: Truth Hunter | July 26, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"Obama, Edwards say they would meet with Castro, Chavez."

Republican propoganda and spin. Obama is a lot smarter than you gop'ers let on. The gop is done. They are done for a generation. Rather than continuing down the same patht that got you here the gop should try and fix the damage they have caused the great country.

I know you gop'ers like to think the elections of 06 never happened. That sweep is nothing compared to 08. Both prez and congress. Sweep. The gop is done for a generation. Continue to lie spin and discredit at your own perile. The American people have turned away from you lies. They see you for the sell-outs you are. You have less than a year gop. Then back into the closet and into political irrelevance.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | July 26, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

As others have alluded to, it's hard to determine a "winner" of a Presidential debate that completely ignores the heart of the defining issue of our time: Terrorism.

Perhaps they should just do a show of hands, "who thinks Al-Qaeda is wants to kill you?" I wonder how few of them have a realistic concept of the enemy we face.

Posted by: Mike | July 26, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone notice that when all of the candidates had to say something specific that they liked about the candidate to their left, Clinton completely failed to do so with Obama. (And did you notice that he looked down, looked a little hurt?) She was literally the only one who didn't try in some way to answer the question. I thought she'd be taken to task a bit more on that one...

Posted by: Washington Writer | July 26, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

For the moment, let's leave aside the issue of whether a President should squander the "Coin of the Realm" meeting with Enemies of the State individually and without pre-condition (I disagree with Obama here, FYI). Still, this issue speaks to a larger concern I have with candidate Obama: his tendency to be inattentive to the details.

In every debate, Obama has proven himself to be unable to grasp the parameters and specifics of a question. As a consequence, his answers are often ill-suited and open to exploitation.

With an eye to the general election, why should the Democrats elect someone whose rookie carelessness makes him vulnerable to ruinous accusations and characterizations?

For example, the day after the YouTube debate, the Miami Herald had a headline that read:

Obama, Edwards say they would meet with Castro, Chavez.

( 947.html)

It doesn't take much imagination to envision these same headlines featured ad nauseam within the deluge of GOP campaign ads hitting the Florida airwaves morphing Democratic Presidential nominee Obama with Castro and Ahmadinejad. Tell me again the upside for the Democrats in needlessly angering the Cubans and the Jews?

Why should the Democrats elect a candidate who would so recklessly hand Florida's electoral votes to the GOP, and on a silver-platter, nonetheless?

The GOP will eat Obama alive on this one.

Eat. Obama. Alive.

Posted by: JoeCHI | July 26, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

"Admittedly, I'm an Obama partisan. I'm also a New Yorker. Hillary is my senator. "

Why is it that most people who actualy live in NY are against both RUdy and Hillary? Makes you think right? I think they might no better than these so called "pindits" half way across the country.

The current political landscape is a joke. Rather than speaking the truth they all bring their bais. "I think the 49ers are going to win the superbowl this year." Just because I would like it to happen, doesn't mean that statement I just made is fact.

You know what my problem is with the obstructionist GOP? The AMerican people know what Bush is up to. They know what to do about it. The American people are on STEP 67, in regards to what is happening and what to do. Unfortunatly the dems in congress are only on step 23. Better than the GOP. Your standing pant on step 2. I don't know if you people are really that dumb, or if your fascsits and with the plan. I'm going with the later. Nobody can be that stupid on this grand scale.

Posted by: rufus1133 | July 26, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Obama comes across as being sincere and saying what he really believes. Some of his hesitancy in answering questions comes from his desire to carefully choose his words--not to choose them so that he gives the "right" answer, but rather to make sure he is clear in saying what he believes. After the rhetoric of Bush and the calculated answers of both Clintons (saying whatever is necessary at any specific moment), perhaps the focus group was responding to Obama's sincerity. Yes, Hillary was very smooth and sure of her answers, but so what? Bush has his talking points and slogans down pat, and is absolutely sure of his answers--people are sick and tired of that.

Certainly, it appears that Obama is formulating his beliefs and views on subjects as the campaign progresses. If you want a "finished" product, then go with Hillary (of course that "product" changes to suit her needs). But I think a lot of people believe Obama has the smarts, and they like his philosophical view of hope. At this stage of the campaign, perhaps that is what the focus group chose to focus on.

Finally, the experience factor is way overblown. So what if Hillary is on a first name basis with many of the world leaders? So is W.

Posted by: Ted | July 26, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

you will never gat a straight answer about anything from a clinton. you see it depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

why didn't she send her kid to DC public schools? what a canard and a joke. Even Jimmah didn't fall for that one.

the real answer - we only do social experiments with other parents children. We prefer not to risk our own. and who wouldn't? but have the guts to tell the truth about it.

Posted by: We tried, we failed, We're Libs, situation normal | July 26, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Full Disclousure; I support John Edwards. That said, after raeding the comments I notice it's all about style that readers are addressing. That seems to be the theme that the MSM has championed in the race, this is partially the problem with the approach of selecting a candidate.
The truth of the matter is that, because they look presidential or they seem to be about change, actually has nothing to do with being president. So here is my analysis of each candidate, as a thoughtful citizen who tries to avoid the hype.
The name itself has negative conatations that can't be overcome. Though I think Sen. Clinton has tried to accomplish many things , both as a First Lady and also as a Senator, the history proves that she is not about the kind of changes this country needs after the disasterous regime of this administration. To step away from the word "liberal" is one in a line of many issues that proves she is not willing to fight for the stances she claims. Liberal is not a dirty word, its a very virtuous stance on issues that effect our country.
Although I agree with many things that Sen. Obama claims to support, after reading his book, I came away feeling that this is someone with nice ideas that really doesn't have the ability to implement them. I would add the caveat, yet, to this statement. I do agree that America needs to talk to leaders of other countries, even if we don't like that leader, he gave a 60 second answer which is what the forum called for, and was unable to expand on this statement. As far as his stance that he has been against the war from the beginning. After running as an anti-war candidate he proceeded to vote for funding and every other war measure since arriving in Wash. until he was forced by the Mr. Edwards to vote against. You may think this is a stretch but consider the fact that he and Sen. Clinton did not vote nay, until the votes didn't really count, the issue was settled and he had not taken the hard line of speaking out.
Mr. Edwards represents the type of change that many say is needed inside the beltway. He has been in the fore on every issue from healthcare to the war. Yes he voted for the war, yet people seem to forget that the public were 70 to 80 percent in favor after being fed the lies that we have come to know. He is the outsider who is not tied to the monied class of the others, he has very progressive ideas on all the issues, and the fact that the media would rather focus on haircuts instead of his very doable points of contention should make it very evident that the elites are scared. The argument that he is just a "lawyer" kind of loses it's luster, when we remember that they all are just "lawyers. The difference being that he has fought for the "little people", not when it was politically correct or very politically sound. But when it matters, everyday.

Now these arguments may be disputed, these arguments may upset some. I'm sure that others have a points of contention. I am just a guy that tries to get past the hype and the hyperbole and focus on what matters to me as an American. If there are any questions on the issues that you may be interested in I suggest you visit John's issues page, with an open mind, and compare. See how much change you want.

Posted by: LaEscapee | July 26, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

The discrepancy between the pundits and the polls lies in two factors: the long campaign season and the fact that the debate incorporated Youtube. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I'd be willing to bet that Obama polls the best amoung young Americans who are the most familiar with time-wasting internet phenomenon like Youtube. This drew them to the debate, and they are drawn towards Obama. Second, and not unrelatedly, although this was the first *official* debate, it was the fourth (?) overall. Young Americans newly excited about politics may still be tuning in for these things, but among the rest of the voting public I think a sort of weariness about the campaign may finally be setting in. Traditionally August is a dead political month anyway because of the Congressional recess, and many older folks may be saving up their political attention span for September.

Conversely, the pundits didn't think Obama did that well because, well, he didn't do that well.

Posted by: Chris | July 26, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I disagree with your premise.

There was not a mainstream consensus that either Edwards and Clinton won.

I could point to numerous mainstream media commentators who thought Obama had his strongest debate performance yet. Including Mark Halperin, perhaps the uber-ist of uber inside the beltway bar-setters.

Posted by: Vermonter | July 26, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

My response to the debates is the opposite of of Mr. Cillizza. That is, I can never understand why so many pundits claim Hillary "dominated" the debates. I'm puzzled.

Admittedly, I'm an Obama partisan. I'm also a New Yorker. Hillary is my senator. And her self-description as a sort of "super-candidate" with experience and readiness contradicts her rhetoric and her resume.

Most obviously, this occurs on the war. What I continue to find astonishing is that her statements about her Iraq War resolution vote are not scrutinized. "If I knew then what I knew now" or "The only mistake I made was in trusting Bush" are clearly obfuscations, but what's more important, they are the clearest reasons I've seen for NOT voting for her. Both statements indicate someone who will not break from establishment thinking. And they highlight what I find so maddening about her: If she is what she says she is -- experienced, ready -- then why would she need 20/20 hindsight, or why would she trust Bush? They are the strongest condemnations of her own candidacy.

One more, from the first debate: She said she was shocked that Bush wanted to go after Hussein in 2002. After all, he didn't attack us on 9/11. Yet no one proceeded to ask, Then why did you vote for the resolution? This answer, by the way, followed her celebrated hawkish remarks on the question of an attack. They were lost -- yet my jaw hit the ground when she answered as she did. Later, I found out she was being deemed the winner.

So I get that she's fluent, confident, and nimble. But I don't get that her obvious vulnerabilities are overlooked.

And Obama has a storyteller's knack -- he makes people feel part of a promising national narrative. Hillary has a PowerPoint presentation, Obama has a story to tell.

Posted by: Lawrence Heyward | July 26, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

TO a military professional, the tactical progress made in Iraq over the last few months is impressive. To a member of Congress, it's an annoyance.

The herd animals on Capitol Hill - from both parties - just can't wait to go over the cliff on Iraq. And even when the media mention one or two of the successes achieved by our troops, the reports are grudging.

Yet what's happening on the ground, right now, in Baghdad and in Iraq's most-troubled provinces, contributes directly to your security. In the words of a senior officer known for his careful assessments, al Qaeda's terrorists in Iraq are "on their back foot and we're trying to knock them to their knees."

Do our politicians really want to help al Qaeda regain its balance?

Gen. David Petraeus and his deputies sharply prioritized the threats we face in Iraq: Al Qaeda is No. 1, and Iran's Shia proxies are No. 2. Our troops hunt them relentlessly. And we don't face our enemies alone: Iraq's security forces have begun to pick up their share of the fight.

A trusted source in Baghdad confirmed several key developments that've gone largely unreported. Here's what's been happening while "journalists" focused on John Edwards' haircuts:

* Al Qaeda lost the support of Iraq's Sunni Arabs. The fanatics over-reached: They murdered popular sheiks, kidnapped tribal women for forced marriages, tried to outlaw any form of joy and (perhaps most fatally, given Iraqi habits) banned smoking. In response, the Arab version of the Marlboro Man rose up and started cutting terrorist throats.

* Since the tribes who once were fighting against us turned on al Qaeda, our troops not only captured the senior Iraqi in the organization - which made brief headlines - but also killed the three al Turki brothers, major-league pinch-hitters al Qaeda sent into Iraq to save the game.

Oh, and it emerged that the Iraqi "head" of the terrorists was just a front - in the words of one Army officer, Omar al Baghdadi was "a Wizard of Oz-like creation designed to give an impression that al Qaeda has Iraqis in its senior ranks."

* Al Qaeda has been pushed right across Anbar, from the once Wild West to the province's eastern fringes. The terrorists are still dug in elsewhere, from the Diyala River Valley to a few Baghdad neighborhoods - but, to quote that senior officer again, "our forces have been taking out their leaders faster than they can find qualified replacements."

Even the Democrats yearning to become president admit, when pressed, that al Qaeda's a threat to America. So why didn't even one of them praise the success of our troops during their last debate?

But let's be fair: Congressional Republicans, terrified of losing their power and glory and precious perks, haven't rushed to applaud our progress, either. They'll give up Iraq, as long as they don't have to give up earmarks.

* It isn't only al Qaeda taking serious hits. After briefly showing the flag, Muqtada al-Sadr fled back to Iran again, trailed by his senior deputies. Mookie's No. 2 even moved his family to Iran. Why? Though he's been weak in the past, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now green-lighting Iraqi operations against the Jaish al Mahdi, the Mookster's "Mahdi Army."

With its descent into criminality and terror, the Mahdi Army, too, has been losing support among Iraqis - in this case, among Shias.

And Iraq's security forces increasingly carry the fight to the militia:

* The Iraqi Police Tactical Support Unit in Nasiriyah came under attack by Mahdi Army elements accustomed to intimidating their enemies. Supported by a brave (and tiny) U.S. advisory team, the police commandos fought them off. Instead of a walkover, the militia thugs hit a wall - and got hammered by airstrikes, for good measure. Then the Iraqi police counter-attacked. The Mahdi Army force begged for negotiations.

* In Mosul, Iraqi army and police units stuck to their guns through a series of tough combat engagements, with the result that massive arms caches were seized from the terrorists and insurgents. In Kirkuk, Iraqi police reacted promptly to last week's gruesome car-bombing - in time to stop two other car bombs from reaching their intended targets.

* In Baghdad, the surge isn't only about American successes - Iraqi security and intelligence forces conducted a series of hard-hitting operations against both al Qaeda and Iran-backed Special Group terrorists.

What were you, the American people, told about all this? Well, The New Republic published a pack of out-of-the-ballpark lies concocted by a scammer claiming to be a grunt in Baghdad. Our soldiers, he wrote, spent their time playing games with babies' skulls, running over dogs for fun and mocking disfigured women in their mess hall.

Anyone who knows our troops or has visited Iraq could instantly spot the absurdities in this smear and the soldiers in the unit denied that any of it happened - but The New Republic (which refuses to produce its source) isn't exactly staffed by military veterans.

The editors wanted to believe evil about our men and women in uniform, and ended up doing evil to our troops. (Those editors ought to be sentenced to spend August in Baghdad with the infantrymen they defamed, cleaning out military port-a-johns in the 130-degree heat.)

Is success suddenly guaranteed in Iraq? Of course not. The situation's still a bloody mess. But it's also more encouraging than it's been since the summer of 2003, when the downward slide began.

Gen. Dave Petraeus and his subordinate commanders are by far the best team we've ever had in place in that wretched country. They're doing damned near everything right - with austere resources, despite the surge. And they're being abandoned by your elected leaders.

Maybe the next presidential primary debate should be held in Baghdad.

Ralph Peters

Posted by: good news for US is bad for Libs | July 26, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I didn't see the debate, only a few excerpts on TV and in the press, but here's a SWAG regarding your findings:

If supposedly objective, professional critics say Obama didn't "win," but polls among the hoi polloi say he did, I fear his following may consist of a preponderance of "true believers" who can see no wrong in his positions or performance.

If so, the scary part is that this same syndrome got us two terms of G W Bush.

Posted by: JUDGITO | July 26, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I would like to add something. Your own paper had an article yesterday on Obama's problem in doing retail politics. he has tried to go to small gatherings and answer everyone's questions. When he gets there the crowds are quite large. this is not a problem for hillary. even with bill they could not draw near as many at a rally as Obama.
People are tired of the clintons and the insider speak.
obama speaks to people and touches something inside. they know he is capable, thoughtful and more than able to do the job. He doesn't need to push himself around like clinton does or speak in neocon to be a commander.
You guys totally miss his ability to speak to us about issues and not sound politician and that he cares. He doesn't think or act like an insider.
but, again I think you guys are so into the clinton obsession and so easily impressed as she talks in washington speak with a loud voice.

Posted by: vwcat | July 26, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse


Simple - It shouldn't be a surprise that there is a disconnect between D.C. pundits, who spend all their time talking to each other, and middle America.

If Obama's message and candicacy is to succeed, this disconnect between D.C. and kitchen tables is exactly what will propell him past Hillary, the belief or perception that he is not overly influenced by this place that is so out of touch with everyday Americans.


Posted by: JT | July 26, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I think Obama and Edwards came out as the winners. Hildog is more of the same. I could tell you hold she's going to answer each question asked, before hand. She is a republican puppet. Fox is trying to attack her daily hope it will rally the dems for her. Not going to work once the dems find out she is getting money FROm FOx and the same sources as bush.

Kusinich and gravel came out as the debate losers. Richardson and biden are good vp candidates but, like the rest of them (not counting the big three) have no shot at the president. I;m ready for just the big three in the debates. Play time is over.

Posted by: rufus | July 26, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"Apparently, Americans are supposed to forget these supposedly brilliant strategists' dismal records of dealing with Middle East terrorism, Islamic radicalism and murderous dictators. However, their three decades of bipartisan failure helped bring us to the present post-9/11 world. "

As opposed to bush's great leadership, right? Only in america would the gop get credit as war hawks WHILE DOING NOTHING RIGHT.

What has bush done right? Did he stop 9/11? Did he do his leadership job, in terms of iraq? Is he paying pakistan to HOUSE bin laden rather than bringing him in. At least the dems get something for their effort and money abroud. What has bush done? Oil? He can't even do that, and that's what this war is about.

The saudi's? No attacks don't count, if your working with the enemy. Treasonous sell-out traitors.

"He has given numerous speeches and participated in business ventures with the Carlyle Group, a private equity fund with close ties to the government of Saudi Arabia. Additionally, he held the position of Senior Advisor to the Carlyle Group's Asia Advisory Board from April 1998 to October 2003. In January 2006, Bush wrote a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the People's Republic of China on behalf of the Carlyle Group. In the letter, Bush urged the Chinese government to approve an impending deal in which the Chinese government would sell 85% share ownership of the troubled Guangdong Development Bank to a consortium led by Citibank. In addition to praising Citibank and the other foreign member of the consortium, the Carlyle Group, Bush also intimated that a successful acquisition would be "beneficial to the comprehensive development of Sino-US relations."

Posted by: rufus1133 | July 26, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

you guys are inside the beltway and use the same old line of thinking. Clinton is such an insider and speaks in sound bites so you guys think wow. We don't hear any substance from Clinton. What is she really saying? nothing. Lots of strident talk but, no answers to the questions and no idea how she will address problems. She is just alot of flash and you guys buy it because she has you guys convinced she is so experienced (borrowed from hubby's resume) and so wonky. but, if you just listened to her answers you'd hear alot of nothing.
Obama not only has the substance and the answers he respects us enough to realize we are not children in need of lecturing like Clinton does.
Also, Obama is an out of the box thinker and speaks like a real person without the beltway speak of Clinton.
You are starry eyed with her and automatically give her a pass on everything and never call her for her glaring problems.
She is also a neocon in her foreign policy and you guys are use to it. so when someone talks sense and in reality you guys are confused.
Monday, we all knew that Obama gave us the respect to know he wasn't just going to call people up and ask them over for a chat. But, you expect explicit because you and the insiders think we are that stupid.

Posted by: vwcat | July 26, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Past presidents and statesmen as diverse as Madeleine Albright, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Brent Scowcroft have weighed in with various remedies to our supposed blunders in the Middle East since September 11.

Apparently, Americans are supposed to forget these supposedly brilliant strategists' dismal records of dealing with Middle East terrorism, Islamic radicalism and murderous dictators. However, their three decades of bipartisan failure helped bring us to the present post-9/11 world.

So before the United States abandons its present policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, we should at least recall the past record - which may be best summed up as the ying of Democratic appeasement and the yang of Republican cynicism.

Jimmy Carter now writes books damning our present policies. He should keep quiet. When the Iranians stormed the American embassy in Tehran and inaugurated this era of Islamic terrorism, his U.N. ambassador, Andrew Young, announced that the murderous Ayatollah Khomeini was "a 20th century saint." Moralist Carter himself also tried to send hardcore leftist Ramsey Clark over to Tehran to beg the mullahs to release the hostages - in exchange for arms sales.

Next came Ronald Reagan, who, to put it kindly, was bewildered by Islamic extremism. He pulled out American troops from Lebanon after Hezbollah murdered 241 marines and thereby helped to energize a new terrorist movement that has spread havoc ever since.

The Lebanon retreat was followed by the disgrace of the Iran-Contra affair, when American agents sold the hostage-taking theocracy missiles and then used the receipts illegally to fund the Contras. Few now remember that Oliver North purportedly flew to Iran to seal the deal, bearing gifts for the ayatollah. No need to mention the intelligence the Reagan administration gave to Saddam Hussein during the savage Iran-Iraq war, or the way it continued Carter's policy of arming jihadists in Afghanistan.

There were just as many cynical realists in George Bush Sr.'s foreign policy team. In the debate leading up to the first Gulf War, Secretary of State James Baker justified attacking oil-rich Saddam Hussein for the sake of "jobs, jobs, jobs." And when our coalition partner, the even oil-richer House of Saud, objected to removing the murderous Hussein regime after its retreat from Kuwait, we complied - to the point of watching Saddam butcher thousands of Kurds and Shiites.

Bill Clinton also often weighs in with ideas on the Middle East. But during his two terms he passed up an offer from Sudan to hand over bin Laden. Shortly afterwards, the terrorist openly threatened us: "To kill the Americans and their allies - civilians and military - is an individual duty for every Muslim."

The Clinton administration also didn't do much about eight years of serial terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, American servicemen in Saudi Arabia, the East African embassies or the USS Cole. The $50 billion U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal did not reflect well on Clinton's multilateral model of dealing with Saddam Hussein.

The point of reviewing prior American naivete and cynicism is not to excuse the real mistakes in stabilizing Iraq. Instead, these past blunders remind us that we have had few good choices in dealing with the terrorism, theocracy and authoritarian madness of an oil-rich Middle East. And we have had none after the murder of 3,000 Americans on September 11.

After four years of effort in Iraq, Americans may well tire of that cost and bring Gen. Petraeus and the troops home. We can then go back to the shorter-term remedies of the past. Well and good.

But at least remember what that past policy was: Democratic appeasement of terrorists, interrupted by cynical Republican business with terrorist-sponsoring regimes.

Then came September 11, and we determined to get tougher than the Democrats by taking out the savage Taliban and Saddam Hussein - and more principled than the Republicans by staying on after our victories to foster something better.

The jihadists are now fighting a desperate war against the new stick of American military power and carrot of American-inspired political reform. They want us, in defeat, to go back to turning a blind eye to both terrorism and corrupt dictatorships.

That's the only way they got power in the first place and now desperately count on keeping it

Posted by: VDH | July 26, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"Granted, one major piece of legislation has been signed into law: a troop funding bill that passed only because of Republican support. House Republicans recently released a report, "The Top 100 Broken Promises by Democrats," which chronicles the astounding divide between what Democrats promised and what they've delivered. After some 200 days in office, American families are still waiting for Democrats to deliver on their promises."

And who is fillibuster any attempt to pass legislation. Anyone saying the dems, doesn't know what they are talking about. THe obstructionist gop is shutting the government done. Just like newt did.

Like elementary school children, if you don't get your way. If everything is not EXACTLY how you want it, you refuse to play. Fascsit hypocrites. The gop has a year. Once you are voted out what will you say, gop.

Your party has less than a year. Rather than wasting time lying and spinning you should try and fix the problems you have caused the last fifteen years. You have a year gop. USe it wisely.

Posted by: rufus1133 | July 26, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse


Are you suggesting that politicians should not change their minds? If that's the case we should have Virginia Tech engineers build robots that can run the country. Otherwise, give politicians the capacity to be human and allow them to change their minds from time to time. And yes, it is ok that they are changing their stances based on ever changing situations.
Maybe it's not just that's bringing the heat. Maybe it's most the the American people that want out. Maybe it's the mouting death-toll. But to those still stuck in Neo-Con nirvana, we have to support our troops so they can "win" the war. We'll have over 3,000 American deaths, but at least they were glorious deaths, right? Yeah, if you're a Klingon.

Personally I like it when a candidate can respond to obvious public demand. That's not to say that the Democrats have. But it's good to know that "stay the course" is slowly falling out of the American vernacular.

Posted by: Retrocedent Ricky | July 26, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Obama Gore 08

Posted by: rufus | July 26, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

The dems can't do anymore than the gop allows. It's not like the gop majority from the last decade. Unless you have a veto proof majority, you have to pass what you can and save the rest. the gop did nothing for the middle class except the middle-class evangelicans...

Posted by: Will Thomas | July 26, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Mike W: This is not to disagree about the comparison trying to be made with Bobby Kennedy and Obama, which I think is a stretch, there are those that want to do this in order to give Obama more credabality in the eyes of the public. From second and third hand information passed down from folks that knew the Kennedy family pretty well, thinks Bobby was the "smartest" of the family. The promoting of Obama is in the interest of the media, and I expect them to continue until the results from Iowa are known, then it will decline very fast.

Posted by: lylepink | July 26, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

When you look back at the last several months, it's clear the Democratic majority hasn't gotten much done. They've named some post offices and some roads, protected one of their own from being reprimanded and impeded an investigation of another for violating House rules, plotted to hide billions in spending from public view, spent a whole week on a single nonbinding resolution, and failed to meet their own "Energy Independence Day" deadline for dramatic energy legislation.

Granted, one major piece of legislation has been signed into law: a troop funding bill that passed only because of Republican support. House Republicans recently released a report, "The Top 100 Broken Promises by Democrats," which chronicles the astounding divide between what Democrats promised and what they've delivered. After some 200 days in office, American families are still waiting for Democrats to deliver on their promises.

Posted by: john b | July 26, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Whine whine whine. About the questions candidates. Stop the whining and have REAL political discourse. The Bohner like crying doesn't become you gop

Posted by: rufus | July 26, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Obama/Richardson or Richardson/Obama. We need to shake up Washington and show the politicians that America can and will start fresh if we have to. Give me an outsider or someone who, I believe, can resist the temptation to join the crowd. give me someone who represents an idea that I was taught this country stands for. Make me believe this country can rise above its history of rhetoric with no substance and show the world what the true power of a republic is....a democratically elected republic CAN change its government's mentality and methods.

The next two generations of America are ready to take the helm. No insult to the older people but the world is changing and it is ours now. The old battles and attiudes have to change. We can keep them in the back of our mind but we HAVE to find a new way to get along in the new world. Maybe America won't have as much influence in the world as before. Maybe we won't need to. Maybe we have already planted enough seeds of democracy from all the hard work since WWII that now we can just let things grow. Maybe, just maybe, it is time for us to make some adjustments to OUR country to put us back on track. Imagine America leading by example.....again! Imagine America not being seen as a hypocritical country anymore. Imagine, just imagine, America having credibility and respect in the world again. The world would rally to our side when the radicals attack instead of saying/thinking we deserved it. The world would side with us when we presented our justification for attacking THE RIGHT COUNTRY/GEOGRAPHIC AREA!

Hell, just the fact that our President won't be the butt of so many "bumbling idiot" jokes will help me sleep better at night!

Posted by: Will Thomas | July 26, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

"the Democratic electorate. I called them the "moron vote.""

WOW. After the last ten years. Pretty ballsy statement cow folk. The right has lead this country down the path of destruction. All the while believing YOUR leaders were moral christians, and not treasonous sell-out traitors. The "religous" right? The "religous" right, which has been Bush's base was fooled into thinking their man WAS A CHRISTIAN. The right are morons emmett. The rest of us are trying to fix the damage to this great country you and YOUR leaders have cause us since Newt shut the government down in the early ninties. Treason is what it amounts to. But what new, gop. That's what the gop does. "Breakin the law, Breakin the law."

Posted by: rufus | July 26, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

The problem with televised cattle calls is that the moderator and audience take at face value what politicians tell them. It is as if they are expressing themselves for the first time on every subject and Democrats are rarely asked about contradictory positions they've taken and whether it was conviction, or focus groups, that "converted" them. Republicans are always asked such questions.

Here is one of my follow-up questions: Sen. Clinton, you have repeatedly opposed setting a deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq, saying as recently as 2005, "I don't think we should be setting a deadline. Å  That just gives a green light to the insurgents and the terrorists, that if they wait us out they can basically have the country. It's not in our interests, given the sacrifices we've made." Do you now believe the insurgents and terrorists would not take over the country and use it as a base to come after us here?

Sen. Clinton said she has "worked to bring people together, to find common ground where we can." My follow-up question would have been, "Your husband's former top aide, George Stephanopoulos, wrote in his 1999 book, "All Too Human," "Compromise didn't come naturally to Hillary"; and New York Times columnist David Brooks observed, "Clinton is the only presidential candidate who does not offer a break from the current polarization and bitter partisanship." What do these men see in you that you are trying to hide from everyone else?

Sen. Obama, who likes to remind us he opposed the war before he was a senator, said he wants U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by March 31, 2008. That such a rapid withdrawal is militarily impossible apparently escaped him, just as his earlier statements escaped moderator Anderson Cooper. In a June 21, 2006 Senate speech, Obama said, "Å having visited Iraq, I am acutely aware that a precipitous withdrawal of our troops, driven by congressional edict rather than the realities on the ground, will not undo the mistakes. Å  It could compound them Å  by plunging Iraq into an even deeper and, perhaps, irreparable crisis." Did that crisis evaporate, senator, or are you feeling more heat from left-wing groups like than our brave soldiers are feeling from the enemy? If you can't stand up to the radical left in America, how will you be able to stand up to radical terrorists?

Politicians should not be allowed to escape past statements and positions, especially when they were once billed as strong convictions. They ought to be required in a debate format to confront those statements and tell the public why it shouldn't believe they weren't convictions at all, but responses to polls and the desire to get elected by whatever means necessary.

Don't look for me to be invited to ask any of these questions in future debates. Politicians rely on the public's short attention span and such questions would expose their lack of sincerity and their view of government as the answer to every human need, except winning the war.

Posted by: Cal | July 26, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Today we are living through almost three decades of hardly broken economic boom. The products we buy and often rely on would be considered by earlier Americans luxuries or miracles or both. Our health has never been better. Racism and intolerance are in decline. What was lamented 30 years ago as "the urban crisis" has been replaced by peaceful prosperous cities.

Yet there are still these sullen, angry, self-absorbed citizens carping with their Democratic presidential candidates, as though they were living in 1968. Not one candidate corrected them. Every one attempted to propitiate them. Some, for instance Sen. Hillary Clinton, just riled them up. Who are these misfits?

That brings me to my coinage of a few years back. In 2004, the Democratic presidential candidates were courting the same bellyachers. They seemed to comprise a core component of the Democratic electorate. I called them the "moron vote." For some reason the term did not catch on. Maybe it will this time.

The night of the Democratic "debate" one YouTubist appeared on-screen asking the following question (she was fully dressed): "If I can go out into any state and get the same triple-grande, nonfat, no-foam vanilla latte from Starbucks, why can't I go to any state and vote the same way?" Now this YouTubist obviously is a sophisticate when it comes to ordering coffee. Yet I submit that when she votes, or for that matter when she pronounces on politics, she is a moron.

Another YouTubist appeared on his home video strumming a guitar and singing about the tax code. No hint of alcohol or prohibited substances was detectable. Then he asked the aspiring presidents whether "one of y'all" would arrange a pardon for his recent speeding violation. Another misfit asked whether the candidates would support paying reparations to the heirs of American slaves. All the candidates handled this question gingerly, and one actually agreed that his Treasury Department would pony up. Sen. Clinton was asked about her womanliness, and Sen. Barack Obama was asked whether he is "authentically black."

Recently in a Wall Street Journal symposium on blogging, Tom Wolfe observed that "one by one, Marshall McLuhan's wackiest-seeming predictions come true. Forty years ago, he said that modern communications technology would turn the young into tribal primitives who pay attention not to objective 'news' reports but only to what the drums say."

"And there you have blogs," Wolfe continued. "The universe of blogs is a universe of rumors, and the tribe likes it that way."

With YouTube we have more than a universe of rumors. It is a universe of fears, angers, threats and megalomaniacal fantasies -- and the tribe likes it that way. Or I should say the Democratic candidates like it that way. Not one objected to the indignity of the CNN-YouTube "debate." All hope to lead America in time of war.

Posted by: emmett | July 26, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

It appears that the Clinton media machine and DC "insiders" constantly pitch to the MSM that she is THE candidate. I agree with Rich Evan's post that Clinton has probably peeked in her ability to attract voters.

Obama continues to draw huge crowds in NH. Last week I went to his event in Hampton and the gym was jam packed. Same in Rye a couple weeks ago. And these are fairly small towns (5-10,000) on the seacoast. Plus, Obama's staff is everywhere and connecting with "common folks" on a variety of issues. The rest of the field seems to be targeting the political elite of NH. It will be interesting to see what tactic works.

From this Granite Stater's perspective, Obama projects the future and Bill Richardson (even though he actually has the most diverse expereince of any candidate --despite what Clinton's folks say) is seen as a breath of fresh air.

That is why one of them (Obama or Richarson) will defeat Clinton and the rest of the crew in New Hampshire.

Posted by: rp in NH | July 26, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse


Think about what you actually saw / heard during the "debate." The whole program was comprised of empty platitudes. That was the format of the show. These cadidates need to address each other directly, by name, and on the issues at hand. They can save the formalities for when (if) they get into office.

Posted by: Retrocedent Ricky | July 26, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

All Praise to the One True God.

Posted by: RUFUS1133 | July 26, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I want to recall another time in this country's history -- 1968 -- when the country and its politics were in similar turmoil. While the comparison might not be completely appropriate, I wonder how many of us fading flower childern recall the eletricity of Bobby Kennedy's presidential campaign that year? Bobby had the benefit of a lot of real world experience (including military service) that Sen Obama does not; however, his enthusiasm and personal charisma on the stump seem most closely reflected in the Obama phenomenon. Concur with Steve B's opening statement above about Obama -- Bobby's forte too was to be able to articulate a vison in lofty rhetoric and inspire the better angels of our nature. I know the Clintons would love to think they are the contemporary inheritors of the Kennedy cache (not) but remembering Bobby during the debate, I think Obama's got the juice.

Posted by: Mike W | July 26, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Che is back, with a long cut-and-paste ode to Putin. You may skip it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

These debates (or lack of debate) are the problem. The whole thing seems based more on "gotcha" rather than their ideas. I want to know what they will do to fix our problems, not if Hillary thinks it's a mistake for Obama to say he would talk to Chavez or whoever. If the media would raise their expectations, maybe we would learn, vs be watching children play.

Posted by: Joe | July 26, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I may argue that those chosen by focus groups may be less well educated about the current race than the MSM, which has been following the candidates for months. I was an Obama fan for many of the reasons others have listed, newness, idealism, etc. And yet, after watching the debates, I have yet to see any "real" ideas rather than empty platitudes. Perhaps the focus group members haven't been following the debates as closely and haven't yet had a chance to note the lack of actionable steps.

Posted by: meghan | July 26, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Obama is the future. Clinton is more of the same. For too long politicians have told us what we wanted to hear so they could get elected. They have it down to a science. I want someone to tell me what I need to know so that I understand why their answer is what it is. Don't placate me, humour me or insult my intelligence with geographically based answers. And I do not want anymore politicians that have made millions from varied industries for decades telling me these same industries are causing our problems and vow to "change" them. Its a mind -uck and we know it. Obama is the real deal. Notice how he doesn't get "blacker" because he is speaking to black folks or "whiter" when he is speaking to white folks. He represents all that the civil rights movement was about. I am a product of that movement, also and you would be amazed to see how "disconnected" my blackness is from the supposed black culture the media would have us think exist. Obama flows between the cultures that matter - if you will. The voting people of America. The thinking people of America. The feeling people of America. The beauty is that these people come in all shapes, sizes and colors. We just need someone to tell us what they truly think, feel and believe versus the committee answer based on polls.

Posted by: Will Thomas | July 26, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Did the press miss Bill Clinton's early appeal as a "listener" in '91-2? Yep.

Posted by: 10:33AM | July 26, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

For uncensored news please bookmark:

Kissinger's secret meeting with Putin

By Mike Whitney
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jul 24, 2007, 00:41

"RAF fighter jets were scrambled to intercept two Russian strategic bombers heading for British airspace yesterday, as the spirit of the Cold War returned to the North Atlantic once again. The incident, described as rare by the RAF, served as a telling metaphor for the stand-off between London and Moscow over the murder of Alexander Litvinenko." (Times Online, Richard Beeston; "RAF scrambles to intercept Russian bombers, 7-18-07)

"Men are always wicked at bottom unless they are made good by some compulsion." -- Niccoló Macchiavelli

When a political heavyweight, like Henry Kissinger, jets-off on a secret mission to Moscow; it usually shows up in the news.

Not this time.

This time the media completely ignored -- or should we say censored -- Kissinger's trip to Russia and his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, apart from a few short blurps in the Moscow Times and one measly article in the UK Guardian, no major news organization even covered the story. There hasn't been as much as a peep out of anyone in the American media.

Nothing. That means the meetings were probably arranged by Dick Cheney. The secretive Veep doesn't like anyone knowing what he's up to.

Kissinger was accompanied on his junket by a delegation of high-powered political and corporate bigwigs, including former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, former Special Representative for Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., former Senator Sam Nunn and Chevron Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David O'Reilly.

Wow. Now, there's an impressive line up.

The group was (presumably) sent to carry out official government business as discreetly as possible. The media obviously complied with White House requests and kept their mouths shut.

Isn't the First Amendment great?

The array of talent in Kissinger's delegation suggests that the US and Russia are engaged in sensitive, high-level talks on issues ranging from nonproliferation and missile defense to energy exploration and development, to the Iranian "enrichment" program and partitioning of Serbia (Kosovo) to the falling dollar and the massive US current account deficit. The US and Russia are at loggerheads on many of these issues and relations between the two countries have steadily deteriorated.

No one really knows what took place at the meetings, but judging by Kissinger's parting remarks; things did not go smoothly. He said to one reporter, "We appreciate the time that President Putin gave us and the frank manner in which he explained his point of view."

In diplomatic phraseology, "frank" usually means that there were many areas of strong disagreement. Presumably, the main "bone of contention" is Putin's insistence on a "multi-polar" world in which the sovereign rights of other nations are safeguarded under international law. Putin is ferociously nationalistic and he will not compromise Russia's independence to be integrated into Kissinger & Co.'s wacky the New World Order.

The empire strikes back

Less than 48 hours after the "Russia-USA: A View on the Future" conference had ended, British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband announced that the British government "would expel four diplomats from the Russian Embassy in London in response to Russia's refusal to extradite Andrei K. Lugovoi, whom British prosecutors accused of using radioactive polonium 210 to poison a Kremlin critic and former KGB agent, Alexander Litvinenko, last fall." (New York Times)

The expulsion of the diplomats is a clear indication that Bush ordered his "new poodle," Gordon Brown, to begin a campaign of harassment against Russia.

The British action is unprecedented and outlandish. The Russian Foreign Ministry was evidently thunderstruck by the move. After all, Britain has refused to honor 21 requests from Russia to extradite gangster-oligarch Boris Berezovsky and the Chechen rebel leader Akhmed Zakayev, who currently live in London. As Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander V. Grushko said, "If Russia used the same formula, the British embassy would be short about 80 diplomats now." The hypocrisy is shocking to say the least.

For the rest please go to:

Posted by: che | July 26, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Barack talks in everyday language that the common man or woman can relate to. He talks in a way that emphasizes a shared understanding with people's problems and concerns. It is as simple as that. What you see in Obama in Iowa is what you'd see in Detroit or South Carolina.

Posted by: wheelbarrow | July 26, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

The one reason people in the media are saying Clinton won is the question about meeting with our "enemies." Clinton tried to skewer Obama, but to me she came across looking like George W. Bush. It's the same tone he has taken with these countries that are far from being worthy opponents of the most powerful nation the world has ever seen. A US President meeting with someone could not be used against us. We talked to Hitler in '30s, we talked to Stalin, why can't we talk to Hugo Chavez?
One of Clinton's responses cemented in my mind why I could never vote for her. When asked what it would mean for democracy to have two families in power 28 years, she flat ignored it. She pandered to Democrats frothing over 2000, but did not address the very serious question. Clinton is part of the ruling class of the liberal establishment and establishment figures aren't going to change anything. This election is about change. It's a new world since 9/11 and what George Bush has done hasn't worked. Bill Clinton part II wouldn't be able to fix his mistakes, we need a fresh face.

Posted by: James D | July 26, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I believe that, yes, the mainstream media is missing and will continue to "miss the boat" on Obama. My theory (insightful as it may not be) is that there is only so much airtime and coverage available for the candidates. Groundbreaking as that may not be, the interesting piece of this theory is where this leaves us, the American people trying desperately to find out exactly what each candidate thinks about each issue. The major news outlets must, to stay profitable, give the people what they want. As of right now, the people (being the large majority of their viewers) want Edwards and Clinton as their "top-tier" candidates, but seem to have at least a passing interest in letting Obama dethrone one of those. I believe that after a few more successful tour stops, Obama will earn more widespread public support, and thus play a larger role in election coverage. The challenge then, for Clinton and Edwards is to hold and maintain. Their early successes give them a unique position they will have to continue to use to their advantage.

The voter wishing to be informed must look at the candidates in their daily lives as well. Both Obama and Clinton can be seen in action in the U.S. Senate almost every day. Although since the election season began they have been largely out of action in terms of speaking and authoring bills.** As the candidates grow ever more adept at marketing themselves to us, the voters, we must continually seek our own information and form our own opinions. That will make this election a democratic (little "d") success.


Posted by: Publius | July 26, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

My question is where did Sen Clinton get this experience the media is always talking about? She actually has no more legislative experience than Sen Obama. Did she get this experience from sitting close to power? Obama has a real-person quality, actually answers questions, and does not seem afraid to try something new.
Why not talk to "rogue" nations and their leaders. Not talking to them has done no good what so ever.
I think the media misses the boat because the media wants to have a say in who is leading and that action pumps that person up.
I would like to see more serious coverage of the other candidates and read and hear more about what they have to say and think. Clinton-Edwards-Obama already get enough coverage. It is the other folks than we the public need to know more about - not the gang of three.
And one more thing, who decides the acutal concepts of these dabates? I saw where an upcoming one is supposed to be about Cancer. It may make people feel good, but I don't want my President worrying about Cancer. He/she can set the tone for some health-care reform, but whoever is President should have enough legislative and domestic items on the menu to stay busy.

Posted by: malcohm | July 26, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse


Obama's positions are only different in degree from Edwards', or Clinton's; not in kind. But he seems to be able to synthesize others' positions and reflect them back as part of his own. I suspect he makes people feel listened to, rather than talked at, which is a function both of intelligence and personality. I think it was part of Bill Clinton's appeal, too.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

One thing that the mainstream media always misses: The fact that people can tell a scripted answer from a genuine answer. That's why Barack Obama comes across as the more genuine candidate in these debates. He may not be as polished as say Hillary Clinton, but regular folks can tell what is real and what is scripted. It's a reason why people are drawn to Obama. After so many Bush years, it's refreshing to come across a candidate who speaks with honesty and empathy, and without faking or pandering to select audiences.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media has been so trained to look for pithy sound bites and 'polish' and it's as if they are projecting their own sense of perfection onto the candidates. By doing so, they create a wrong comparison model. On the other hand, the average voter is interested in honesty and a humble attitude among our presidential candidates.

Posted by: Mark Williams | July 26, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Blarg and Golgi: Both excellent points. I am going to try and not refer to the media as mainstream or MSM as most of us do. The reason for this is that after carefully looking at all the media, I don't know what to consider mainstream. These meters show only what the media wants us to see, and it has been my opinion all along that Obama was created by the media and they have an interest/agenda in promoting him. I have seen some recent polls showing Hillary being more acceptable in the so-called far-left of the party, although the media keeps refering to this faction as the ones most opposed to the war in Iraq, the polls continue to show most folks, in the 70% range, are of the same opinion. I can make my own judgement as to how each came across to me personally, as all of us should.

Posted by: lylepink | July 26, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

It's possible he is a good candidate but not a great debater. I am not sure if debating is an essential skill for a President.
He is a pretty sharp guy. His ideas and positions have people excited. So if he can't win the debates, who cares?

Posted by: Matt | July 26, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Obama is a candidate that everyone wants to like so long as they are comfortable with him being able to handle the job. There is a genuine thirst for real, substantive change and it is understandable that the public is a little wary of electing Clinton when a Clinton or Bush will have held the Presidency for a total of 20 years when the next president is sworn in. Obama displayed enough of a command of the issues to start to make the argument that he is very much up for the job and that the American people can find the real change they long for in his candidacy.

Posted by: JMOToole | July 26, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

nteresting commentary today on WTOP by Mark Plotkin on Obama giving absolute minimal time to acknowledge the endorsements from DC Democratic leaders.

More interesting were the scathing comments on Obama's staff and their disdain for local media.

Plotkin may not be at the Chris (Cillizza or Matthews) level but he knows how the game is played locally and nationally. If Plotkin is correct and if a candidate's staff mirrors the candidate, then Mr. Charisma is just another political hack. One we should be keeping a close eye on.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I think the real story of the YouTube debate is going to that Hillary, in reaching for that cute little "gotchya" moment on the foreign leader question....just stepped into a trap of her own making.
Her achilles heel in the Democratic primary has always been Iraq, but up until now she has gotten pretty much a free ride from both the voters and the other candidates (all of whom, except one, have problems of their own with the Iraq question...). Barack has not been confrontational on this, simply pointing out that he was agin' it from the start and suggesting what positive things that might say about his foreign policy judgement without directly confronting Hillary or Edwards. I suspect that will now change, courtesy of Ms Clinton's too cute tactcial overreach. And once Barack starts to define the Iraq question as who was right...when it mattered, before it was too late....and starts to define "naivete'" as actually believing that George Bush was going to use the War authorization to pursue diplomacy, and "irresponsiblity" as asking George Bush if he had any plans for getting out of Iraq five years into the mess rather than before you voted for it....then the tone and dynamics of this race may start to change dramatically.

The mainstream media has fallen into the habit of thinking that because Hillary is winning these things on points that she is advancing a campaign narrative. If her narrative is cool, professional manager of the mess (to borrow from Andrew Sullivan)then maybe she is. But if the party and country wants somebody to "transform" the mess, then the increasingly powerful and thematically consistent performances of Barack may be, ultimately, more persuasive.

Posted by: Rick | July 26, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Obama's appeal is his ability to articulate a vision in lofty rhetoric. Clinton's appeal is that she is able to condense complex issues into sound bites that can be communicated efficiently without the usual sound bite staccato. Senator Obama has the ability to inspire, but it remains to be seen whether he has the ability to lead. Senator Clinton projects leadership, but she lacks the personal charisma to inspire. Former Senator Edwards projects ambition and little else. Of the three, Senators Clinton and Edwards appeal to the traditional political mavens who have stereotyped modern politicians behavior. Senator Obama is a work in progress and if there was any negative that I, personally, would say he projected during the You-Tube debate it would be his youth, which amplified the lack of preamble/qualifiers of his direct answer to a subtly complex question.

Posted by: SteveB | July 26, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I think it all comes down to whether you react emotionally or intellectually to a candidate, and under what circumstance.

So, in a national phone poll, people tend to be responding intellectually to a voice on the phone. And HRC has a strong lead.

With the pundits and MSM, they analyze debates like this in an intellectual fashion. Asking questions like "who sounded more experienced?" And HRC has a strong lead.

HOWEVER, you get 20 people in a room together, watching these people and responding immediately, and it is suddenly an emotional thing. They aren't political experts, or psychologists. They are people, wanting to be inspired. The are asking questions like "Who do I feel connected to?". And they vote emotionally, and Obama gets the vote.

HRC is the head candidate.

Obama is the heart candidate.

The questions is this: how will people vote in the polling booth? With their head, or with their heart?

Posted by: Tony Story | July 26, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Seasoned mainstream journalists may be overthinking here. Remember, journalists, you are debate connoisseurs. "Regular people" aren't.

This isn't very complicated.

If regular people think Obama won the debate, that means regular people got the impression that Obama was telling it straight and Clinton was blowing smoke. To regular people, that's what winning a debate means.

As connoisseurs, seasoned journalists might think Clinton won because they were impressed by the perfection of her dramatic technique. The problem is, to appreciate how perfect her dramatic technique is, you have to be an expert.

Posted by: Golgi | July 26, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

When the public responds to questions like "Who won the debate?", I think one factor in particular is influencing them more than the press and political professionals, and for good reason: the Fresh Face Factor.

For political junkies like ourselves, it seems the campaign has been going on forever, but that makes us myopic to the vast majority of the voting public who still hasn't seen Obama in action. They've heard about him, certainly, and they may know there's a "buzz", but they haven't seen for themselves what the fuss is about. His performance in previous debates have not worked to reinforce this buzz. But I think this one did. When Obama is on, like in his Democratic convention speech, he cuts a winning impression: sincere, smart, and soulful.

In contrast, Clinton and Edwards have yet to make the audience go "wow, that's something new". They are on their second acts this campaign; even if they do as well or better than Obama, at this stage they can't recapture that "new car smell", so to speak.

Of course, by next January Obama-fatigue will likely have set in. We'll have to see how he survives being just another face shaking hands in the snow and interrupting "Medium" to say he approved this message.

Posted by: Brendan Herlihy | July 26, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Though I am generally a conservative and will not vote for any of these candidates, I do agree with the general sentiment from the other thread, which was surprise (and even anger) that Obama was left off the "Winners" list. He is clearly the smartest candidate on this side of the isle, and it's obvious in the debates.

By contrast, Hillary seems so "polished" because she has very good handlers. She has practiced her responses to various questions. It seems to me that at least Obama's answers are more extemporaneous. Because of this, I think he connects better with people.

I would never vote for him because I don't like his ideas, but I concede he's a brilliant man and a great speaker.

Posted by: Mike | July 26, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Mark - I did not spend much time here yesterday and when I did I got into a discussion on healthcare. I wholeheartedly agree with you about the need to establish a bi-partisan foreign policy. Too many of our fellow posters are wedded to an ideological view of the world that would define a bi-partisan approach as the other guys need to come to my viewpoint.

Back to the point - I believe that Obama benefits from the American public's love of newness. The public is responding to him because he does not sound like every other experienced Washington politician and pundit. I doubt if it will be enough to propel him to the nomnation. It reminds me of Gary Hart's "New Ideas" campaign in 1984 (before Monkey Business). Hart's campaign started to deflate when Mondale came up with his famous line "when I hear about your 'new ideas'.... I wonder... 'where's the beef?'" In the end, I think a more experienced candidate will win butSenator Obama is definitely an intriguing figure. This campaing will leave Obama well positioned for 2012 or 2016 depending on who wins in 2008. Gary Hart was the clear front-runner for the 1988 nomination until his extra-marital escapades became public.

Note for younger folks: Wendy's had a classic commercial running at that time where an elderly woman buying a competitor's burger looked at the product and whined 'where's the beef'. Comedians took up the line and it became a real catch phrase. The lady in the ad became something of a celebrity.

I agree with those who find Senator Clinton too programmed - the Stepford Wives candidate, if you will. I do not believe Edwards has the experience or the depth to be president. The only rational adult in the group appears to be Senator Biden. He is certainly the only candidate seriously addressing Iraq beyond sound bites for the base.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 26, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Hillary has experience, competence and name recognition. That has earned her 35% to 40% in the polls. The other 60+% are shared by 7 other candidates not nearly as well known. I would suggest that Hillary is near the ceiling of her support because everyone knows who she is and what she stands for.

As we get closer to the primaries, the field will shrink and one candidate will emerge to challenge Hillary. I suspect that Hillary will get very little additional support from those who previously supported a candidate who withdrew. A consensus alternative will emerge to pick up the lion's share of these voters.

When it becomes a two candidate horserace, I think Hillary's now hidden weakness -- her inability to attract a clear majority -- will become a fact that pundits will jump all over. She'll never reach 50% in any caucus or primary. At that point, the anybody but Hillary candidate voters will have coalesced around -- which I suspect will be Obama -- will have a clear road to the nomination, and, I suspect, the White House.

Beyond those machinations though, I believe the timing is right for what Obama brings to the table. Let us not forget how embarrassing it is to listen to Bush's speeches, how long it has been since we have a leader truly inspire us. I think there is an insatiable hunger in the electorate for eloquence and charisma. We don't want a president as drinking companion any more. We want a leader who will inspire us so that we can work together to solve the problems that face us as a nation. When voters at large start to focus on the candidates in earnest, I think they'll find what they are looking for in Obama.

Posted by: Rich Evans | July 26, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse


I read this column every day & am a huge fan! However, with great respect, I think you're analyzing this race intellectually, rather than emotionally and spiritually. Obama is the leader of a growing movement, not just a candidate. His very presence is tapping into something deep inside many of us (LGBT folks, people of color, women, young people) who have spent our lives on the margins of the mainstream and for whom traditional politicians pay little heed, save for an annual "rock the vote" concert.

Obama gives voice to our stories and he gives us hope that we can be full citizens in this great democracy. I wasn't alive yet for JFK or RFK or MLK, but if people felt the radical exuberance I do with Obama, it must have been an incredibly hopeful time!

When you analyze the debate with traditional political and intellectual criteria, I cannot argue that Clinton was absolutely exquisite in these debates. (And there is a growing movement of us who would like nothing more than an Obama-Clinton ticket. If you're going to shatter one glass ceiling, why not obliterate the whole damn thing at once!)

But Obama taps something deeper, something more primal--dare I say spiritual--in many of us, which is a blessing and curse. If he succeedds and mobilizes us to vote (and I have dozens of young friends in their 20s and 30s who are on the Obama bandwagon who have never voted before let alone gone to a campaign event or given money to a candidate!)I bet he'll win the election with 60% of the popular vote. That is a HUGE if, but one many of us are hoping for and working toward.

Thank you Chris!

Posted by: Michael | July 26, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Members of the mainstream media seem to prefer cautious, polished candidates like Hillary Clinton. However, deep down, I think most voters prefer candidates who speak from the heart and say what they really think about the issues. Those are the candidates voters get excited about.

Unfortunately, the media's influence in this country is far too great and usually carries the day when it comes time to vote, i.e., their favorite candidates generally prevail. That's one thing that really turns people off about politics.

Howard Dean in 2004 is a prime example. In the months leading up the Iowa Caucuses he was generating all the excitement, getting the big crowds, and grabbing the lion's share of the contributions. He's was the people's favorite candidate (among the Democrats).

However, when caucus day finally came around, he finished a disappointing third. What happened? The media never liked him. He was too much of a loose cannon -- a no-no with them. Their preference was the boring, but more "practical" John Kerry. They convinced voters that Dean was too high-risk and could not win in the general election. Iowa voters bought it hook, line, and sinker, and just couldn't pull the trigger for him on caucus day. The rest is history.

Posted by: Terry Mitchell | July 26, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I guess it depends on your perspective. Do you wish to elect an individual to the executive or are you strictly concerned with electing a specific party?

Posted by: Retrocedent Ricky | July 26, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I don't get it either. When I look at Obama, I see a preacher, not a President.

Further, in every debate, Obama has proven himself to be careless with pertinent details both in his questions as well as his answers. Why should the Democrats send into the general election someone who, by making rookie yet avoidable mistakes, hand the state of Florida to the Republicans by angering the Cubans and Jews?

The GOP will eat Obama alive on this one.

Posted by: JoeCHI | July 26, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Cal, what did you think of Biden? Dodd?

All 4 of my adult children [37, 33, 26, 22]
like Obama and say the words you said.

I see Biden as the kind of competent adult we need after a failed presidency when I watch these forums.

I am collecting evidence as to how much our perceptions are age-related :)

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 26, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

What an odd question. A member of the mainstream media who constantly praises Clinton and ignores Obama is asking why the mainstream media constantly praises Clinton and ignores Obama.

Posted by: Blarg | July 26, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

The staged Youtube "debate" indeed allowed one-line riposts by the gaggle of participants with the Media focus seemingly being on the top 3. It's not that Obama clearly outscored the others on the stage. It's that the expectations for him are so high and positive, that everyone (outside of the MSM/beltway pundits) wants him to do well, and focus on him whenever he speaks. By the same token, everyone knows Hillary is scripted, and will do well, but secretly hope for a crack in the script, a "humanizing screwup" so that they can get the real measure of her, and her candidacy. Hasn't happened yet. The party and MSM expects her to deliver. The public and the primaries may have a different opinion. (I still get asked if I think the original NY senatorial election was "fixed" to get her into office. It has crossed my mind and other minds as well). I think the rest of the field, with the exception of Biden who knows he has nothing to lose by being open, candid, sarcastic and refreshingly down to earth, are running in place to get apart from their 2nd tier labels. That includes Edwards who is swiftly becoming "first" among the "2nds", and did not do as well as the MSM is claiming. Winners for the proportionate amount of time that they were showcased and answered questions, from my perspective were: Hillary, Obama, Biden and Richardson. They helped themselves through this format more than the rest of the candidates did. Others had their moments but this is how it looked to me, and to many other viewers.

Posted by: L.Sterling | July 26, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Not that I'm proscribing an average age, background, perceived intellectual gravitas, and lifestyle to the members of the American political media class, but...
I am among those people that live outside of Washington, am under the age of 30, and am sick of hearing about people named Bush or Clinton. I voted for George Bush once and John Kerry once. I don't mind Hillary Clinton's points, but quite frankly, the woman is shrill and grating. John Edwards sounds like he is constantly pandering. When I hear Barack Obama speak, I hear someone who THINKS. Obama sounds to me as if he is constantly analytical and that is the most energizing and refreshing quality in a political candidate after the past 14 years.

Posted by: cal | July 26, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

After posting my remarks I read another article that mentioned Barack makig my same points, that of course he won't be inviting those leaders over for tea tomrrow and would use envoys first. He then turned it on Senator Clinton by saying it was "Irresponsible and naive" of her to vote for Bush's resolution without asking about a pull-out plan. I can see the Clinton campaign reeling and putlling their hair out right now that they weren't able to bully this young upstart around and put him off kilter by inaccurately using his debate statement against him. AND he came back swinging right away with a valid counterpunch. They are sweating over this in the new Clinton Warroom!!!

Posted by: Zonker | July 26, 2007 8:31 AM | Report abuse

No, actually, yeah, what Ricky said. Hearhear.

Posted by: Daisy | July 26, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I personally don't think either Clinton or Obama won the debate, although I do think Clinton got the better of Obama during that exchange about meeting with leaders of rogue nations.

And I definitely would NOT put Edwards in the winners column either.

Look to the so-called second-tier candidates. In terms of substance and the thoroughness of their responses, I believe Bill Richardson and Joe Biden easily won the debate. I am expecting one of them to emerge as the ABH (anybody but Hillary) candidate. Obama and Edwards seem to be on their way down.

I am looking for competence and experience to become sexy again with voters.

Here's my reaction:

Posted by: The 7-10 | July 26, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

The words 'Polished' and 'Prepared' come up a lot when discussing Hillary's debate performance. Based on this she is seen as 'Presidential' and the winner. I think that the focus groups, and many responders to The Fix, see that as calculating and insincere. I especially caught the point, on the Dafur question, when she stumbled a bit because, it seemed to me, she was stuck having to answer a question on the spot instead of spouting a long ago prepared and readied answer. People are looking for somebody that they can connect with and someone who seems real and excited. as for Barack beig called on his statement about talking to the evil leaders I, and probably many in the focus groups, assumed that he would intend to do the ground work before just showig up at their door. You can't get into all of those details in a quick debate response though. The important point is he said he wil be different from what is happening now and he would actively work the issue.

Posted by: Zonker | July 26, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Did I miss something? I don't recall seeing anything this week that even resembles a 'debate.' What I watched was an open forum, which CNN tried to gloss up with a neat online approach to make us think it would be more interesting. Aside from a few outspoken moments, which A.C. quickly controlled, there was no one-on-one debate over the issues. It all seemed like another chance for these candidates to spout one-liners from their media notes and give us the same old indirect answers to serious questions. To analyze this as a 'debate' is a serious mistake. Around the Horn and PTI are the only real debates I've seen this year (wouldn't it be cool if A.C. could mute any candidate and assign points?). Anyone else agree?

Posted by: Restrocedent Ricky | July 26, 2007 7:59 AM | Report abuse

I think the disconnect is that we people who are more tuned in see Obama's attempts to generalize everything into vague attacks on the system (time after time, answers segue quickly into "but I think there's a larger question here ...") as vague, empty platitudes. Of course we want politics to be less acrimonious. Of course we are all against "special interests" (whoever they are). Of course we want to bridge gaps and find common ground. Whatever.

I think what we're underestimating is that people who are not as tuned in as we are don't care about whether Edwards' health plan mandates coverage and Obama's doesn't or the various gradations of opinion on exactly when and how to pull out of Iraq.

They want something that feels different. Clinton felt different in 1992 because he was a Democrat demanding responsibility. George W. Bush felt different in 2000 because he was a Republican who could unite us and not embarrass us with misdeeds (as ironic as those themes might seem in retrospect). Obama feels different for a host of reasons, one of which is this idea that he might "change Washington."

Posted by: inonit | July 26, 2007 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Obama relates more to the little guy, the people, so this is why focus groups understood him better and declared him the winner.

The media declared Hillary the winner because she's very washingtonist/corporate and MSM cant get enough of the Clintons...They all love Bill Clinton and their dream scenario is to see Hillary and Bill back in the white house.

I think Obama will win because the people will not listen to MSM telling them to vote for Hillary.

Posted by: Nix | July 26, 2007 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Well, the answer is simple Chris. MSM seems to see things from the perspective of "this is how it ought to be", while the guys on the street is thinking "Well, I'm comfortable with this".

Dick Morris said while Hillary was consistent with WASHINGTON-STYLE, but Obama was consistent with PEOPLE-WANT.

One Psychologist described Hillary as DIRECTOR and Obama as EXPLORER. Given the two, the common man will always choose the Explorer.

The people chose Bush in 2004 even when MSM thought it was unlikely. I was in Europe then and the media there had a caption "HOW COULD 250 MILLION PEOPLE BE SO DUMB?" when Bush was re-elected.

MSM described Hillary's Foreign Policy response as professional and Obama as naive. I DESCRIBED IT AS INTELLIGENT and COURAGEOUS. That's why I haven't a shadow of a doubt that in 6 months, democrats will vote with their hearts and nominate Obama.

Posted by: Ike | July 26, 2007 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Those of us from foreign parts love Youtube; we've never seen such comprehensive coverage of US debates here in England before. It's marvellous. Obama continues to wander, lost and shivering, through his own sentences while his serious opponents stride firmly forth. It seems odd that a man whose international political reputation was built on the foundations of spectacular public speaking (at the DNC) is making such a booboo of it at the moment. From here Clinton won the debate fair and square; she's a frighteningly canny politician now. The ability to drop cunning, priceless little keywords (family, American values, leadership, high-level) without looking like a clumsy, pandering manipulator - or a Republican - is a skill to be treasured in these kinds of debates. Whether it's a skill to be valued in a leader is another question. In answer to yours: What Gives? It seems to me that Obama couldn't shake off the shiny fairy-dust he covered himself in at the DNC if he rolled in questionable substances from now until next November. Why do people think he won? Because he's a Man of Destiny, ok? A Man of Destiny.

Posted by: Daisy | July 26, 2007 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Those of us from foreign parts love Youtube; we've never seen such comprehensive coverage of US debates here in England before. It's marvellous. Obama continues to wander, lost and shivering, through his own sentences while his serious opponents stride firmly forth. It seems odd that a man whose international political reputation was built on the foundations of spectacular public speaking (at the DNC) is making such a booboo of it at the moment. From here Clinton won the debate fair and square; she's a frighteningly canny politician now. The ability to drop cunning, priceless little keywords (family, American values, leadership, high-level) without looking like a clumsy, pandering manipulator - or a Republican - is a skill to be treasured in these kinds of debates. Whether it's a skill to be valued in a leader is another question. In answer to yours: What Gives? It seems to me that Obama couldn't shake off the shiny fairy-dust he covered himself in at the DNC if he rolled in questionable substances from now until next November. Why do people think he won? Because he's a Man of Destiny, ok? A Man of Destiny.

Posted by: Daisy | July 26, 2007 7:07 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the first writer. I didn't think Obama was so outstanding and he seemed naive. Clinton was polished, prepared and her answers gave the listener the impression that she was smart and experienced. I don't know how those focus groups were chosen and what their biases were so I can't even begin to guess how and why they would think Obama won. I went into this debate without any preconceived ideas about who was the better candidate and came away very impressed with Clinton. Of course, I thought the whole thing was a bit gimmicky and only allowing each candidate 30-60 seconds made it difficult to get beyond "sound bites".

Posted by: undecided democrat | July 26, 2007 7:05 AM | Report abuse

More to the point, why should any citizen care in the slightest what the media pundits have to say about the debates. Debate analysis is a Heathers game, and any citizen is as qualified as a Sunday morning talking head when it comes to figuring out who won a debate.

I would, however, like to see your opinion of CNN's Queen for a Day applause-o-meter approach to focus grouping the last debate. I thought it was shamefully misleading and inappropriate, but then I'm not a pundit.

Posted by: Mark Gisleson | July 26, 2007 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps it was how the participants in the focus group were chosen. The national polls do not agree with the focus groups you mention, showing Sen Clinton to be far ahead. I look forward to more debates.

Posted by: Alice Sulzer | July 26, 2007 7:00 AM | Report abuse

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