Carol Platt Liebau: The Final Showdown

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Final Showdown

No doubt understanding that it's tonight or never, Hillary Clinton has apparently gotten over the "honor" of debating Barack Obama, and decided instead to rough him up -- with limited success.

Having nothing to lose, she has clearly decided she's got to play tough . . . worrying about her likability hasn't gotten her too far against Obama, so the tough-as-nails version of Hillary Clinton has re-emerged. The problem for her, of course, is that her grievance mentality has, too.

What, after all, was that strange allusion to Saturday Night Live and getting Barack a pillow? Does she understand how profoundly uninterested most people are in whether the press has been asking Hillary the first question in the debates? (Apparently not -- never underestimate the self-absorption of a Clinton).

Most of the debate was just a spicier stew of accusations and counter-accusations -- edging further and further to the left. Things got interesting when Russert started asking Barack some tough questions about his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and Louis Farrakhan. Too bad he didn't bother to press Barack on Wright, and even let him practically rework the question before answering it.

If I were a Democrat primary voter hearing all this for the first time, I'd maybe start to get a leeetle nervous. Makes you wonder what other shoes might drop for Barack Obama if the press ever got aggressive, doesn't it?

But what's remarkable is that -- showing the keen political savvy that's lost her her frontrunner status -- Hillary couldn't let it go. She had to jump in to try to get a cheap advantage, and ended up looking foolish when Barack simply went along and acceded to her request to "reject" as well as "denounce" Farrakhan's support.

In fairness to Hillary, it does seem as though she gets the grilling first. Wouldn't you have liked to know if Barack knew about Putin's successor? And isn't Russert seeming to get just a bit more in her face than Barack's?


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