Mary Katharine Ham

Well, this election season is certainly offering plenty of chances to watch stages full of middle-aged rich men take shots at Hillary for hours on end. And, then there are the Republican debates! Har.

Last night was our most recent chance, in the MSNBC Democratic debate in Philadelphia. Here are the best and worst moments from the two-hour snorefest. I watch so you don't have to!

Most Shameless Brown-Nosing:

This one was a no-brainer given Bill Richardson’s bumbling play for the Hillary VP slot:

“You know what I'm hearing here? I'm hearing this holier than thou attitude towards Senator Clinton that -- it's bothering me because it's pretty close to personal attacks that we don't need. Do we trust her? Do we -- did she take money from special interests? …
 
But I think it's important that we save the ammunition for the Republicans. If we continue, I believe, harping on the past and not focusing on the future But the important thing is that we need to stay positive. We need to have disagreement on the issues, not on whether you can trust -- I trust Senator Clinton, but I don't agree with her on a majority of issues.”
 
Best Trend in Democrat Rhetoric:

The decrease in casualties in Iraq is directly related to the decrease in the mentions of Iraq in Democrat debates. I wonder why they don’t want to talk about it?

Sept. 26 debate: 56
Oct. 30 debate: 44

Best Conspiracy Theory:

Hillary succumbed to the Left’s favorite bogeyman—the stolen election!

“Well, I think we were making progress in the 1990s and I am very proud of the progress were making until, unfortunately, the Supreme Court handed the presidency to George Bush, and we have been living with the consequences ever since.”

John Edwards pulled out every other bogeyman in a separate tirade.

“I actually think we have a system that's broken; it's rigged; it's corrupt. And it does not work for the American people.
 
And it's time we start telling the truth about that -- too much influence from entrenched interests, insurance companies, drug companies, oil companies, too much influence from Washington lobbyists.”

Most Grating Intonation-Control Problem:

Does Hillary Clinton ever know her mike is on or has some clever double-agent infiltrated and convinced her that the American voter equates diaphragm strength with national security credibility, so she must project her way to the presidency with a little Tippecanoe-and-Tyler-Too mike-less nostalgia? We all understand that she can only communicate in one tone, but must it be so loud?

Every time Tim Russert started a question with an “s” sound, I thought he was shushing her.

Best Surprisingly Tough Questions from an MSMer:

Hey, I felt like Big Russ watching Tim Russert tonight. I was a proud papa as Tim hit Hillary hard on a number of issues, and even followed up from time to time. She became noticeably riled at being made to clarify her position on New York Gov. Spitzer’s driver’s license plan. Here are Tim’s greatest hits:

“Senator Clinton, I'd like to follow up, because in terms of your experience as first lady, in order to give the American people an opportunity to make a judgment about your experience, would you allow the National Archives to release the documents about your communications with the president, the advice you gave?
 
Because, as you well know, President Clinton has asked the National Archives not to do anything until 2012.”

Clinton hemmed and hawed about the processes of the archives, and moving at the speed the bureaucracy—Way to show that get-‘er-done spirit, Hill! Can’t wait to see you get to work on the whole federal government!—when she knows full well she could speed the process along and ask Bill to remove his rule. Russert, undeterred, plows on:

“But there was a letter written by President Clinton specifically asking that any communication between you and the president not be made available to the public until 2012. Would you lift that ban?”

Clinton: “That’s not my decision to make.” Uh-huh.

Another great one from Russert: “Senator Clinton, I want to clear something up which goes to the issue of credibility. You were asked at the AARP debate whether or not you would consider taxing, lifting the cap from $97,500, taxing that, raising more money for Social Security. You said, quote, It's a no. I asked you the same question in New Hampshire, and you said no.
 
Then you went to Iowa and you went up to Tod Bowman, a teacher, and had a conversation with him saying, I would consider lifting the cap perhaps above $200,000. You were overheard by an Associated Press reporter saying that.
 
Why do you have one public position and one private position?”

On the Social Security crisis, which Hill claims doesn’t exist anymore, Russert strikes again: “You call it a Republican talking point. Georgetown University, February 9, 1998: We are in a -- heading to a looming fiscal crisis in Social Security. If nothing is done, it will require a huge tax increase in the payroll tax or a 25 percent in Social Security benefits, Bill Clinton, 1998… Is that a Republican talking point?”

Most Refreshingly Undumb Immigration Answer:

Chris Dodd, in response to a question about whether illegals should have driver’s licenses:

“This is a privilege... The idea that we're going to extend this privilege here of a driver's license I think is troublesome, and I think the American people are reacting to it.”
 
Most Egregiously Missed Joke:

John Edwards, on Hillary’s claim to the Change Candidate mantle:

“Will she be the person who brings about the change in this country? You know, I believe in Santa Claus. I believe in the tooth fairy. But I don't think that's going to happen. I really don't.
 
And I think that if people want the status quo, Senator Clinton's your candidate.”

Seriously, not one person on that stage could manage to turn the mention of Santa Claus and the tooth fairy into a knock on Edwards’ inexperience or naivete? Pathetic. As much as we get down on the Republican candidates, there are at least three of them that would have jumped on that opening with something appropriately brutal and funny. He teed it up and handed them a club.

Obama has shown he can move a bit, but we’ve got all the wit in our field, almost exclusively.

On the same note…

Most Tragically Lame Stat for the Totally Hip Party:

Joe Biden earned the first and probably biggest laugh line for his stab at Giuliani, and that was way more than halfway into the debate.

“Rudy Giuliani -- there's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11. I mean, there's nothing else.”

On the whole, the debate was almost devoid of humor aside from Biden and a few lines around the 2-hour mark, which were undoubtedly missed by everyone but me and whoever hadn’t left the stage by that point.

Best Showing By an Absent Republican Candidate:

Rudy Giuliani, who’s been playing presumptive nominee and is now being treated like one.

Best ‘Their Crazy Guy is Crazier Than Ours’ Moment:

Russert: “Did you see  a UFO?”
Kucinich: “I did.”

Best Moment, Period:

When Hillary got visibly angry when her competitors razzed her for her very, err, confusing answer on Spitzer’s license plan. Both Dodd and Obama got the best of her, and Obama had the audience laughing at her rambling, “meaning of is” hair-splitting.

She raised her voice—yes, even more!—and got a flush in her cheeks. Methinks tougher attacks from a Republican candidate will make her crack into full Cruella Deville mode. Let’s get this party started quickly.



Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of HotAir.com, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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