Carol Platt Liebau: A Status Quo Debate

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Status Quo Debate

Tonight, Hillary Clinton needed to stop bleeding from her own self- (and husband-) infliected wounds. Barack Obama needed ot maintain the "inspirational," above the fray quality that is becoming his hallmark.

Taken together, it made for a fairly boring, status quo debate. Nothing was lost, and very little was gained for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton tonight, which ultimately benefits Hillary. I'd also give the slight edge to Hillary, because her answers seemed a bit more comprehensive and nuanced than did Barack's, and from time to time he seemed even a bit naive and shallow, especially talking about issues like withdrawal from Iraq.

Both candidates were obviously hoping to scoop up Edwards' people, openly -- at the debate's beginning -- making bids for their favor, whether it was Obama commending him or Hillary denouncing the lobbyists.

The question about whether illegal immigrant take blacks' jobs was interesting; Barack seemed to be trying to pull a bit of a Sister Souljah, saying that job troubles in the black community weren't primarily because of illegal immigrants (no doubt he'd like to gain a bit of the Latino vote that's going for Hillary; will his support for drivers' licenses for illegals be of help to him?). Hillary Clinton took a softer line -- no doubt because she'd like to hang on to as much of the black vote as possible, and because she knows she and her husband need to mend fences.

Hillary does sound more realistic, less pie-in-the-sky when it comes particularly to the foreign policy questions. If there was an edge tonight, it would go to her.

It was interesting that there was a question for Barack about the sex and violence in the mass media. He (correctly) said that censorship isn't the answer, invoked his two young daughters, and then did everything he could not to alarm the entertainment people who were there.

But how funny is it to see the shots of the celebrities in the audience, trying to look all intellectual and serious?


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