A Great Night . . . For John McCain

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Apr 17, 2008 12:51 AM
Tonight's Democratic debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton benefited no one so much as their Republican opponent.

I actually didn't expect much from Charles Gibson or George Stephanopoulos; if there was any balance, it seemed likely it would be between a putative Clinton supporter (Bill Clinton's former communication director Stephanopoulos, of course - can you imagine the liberal outrage were Tony Snow offered the opportunity to host a debate were Laura Bush running for President?) and perhaps an Obama supporter (this item about Gibson's wife suggested to me that he was, at least, probably hearing lots of pro-Barack stuff at home).

I was wrong.  The questions were killer -- especially in the first half of the debate.  Neither candidate did a particularly good job at answering them, but Hillary came off as at least marginally more polished than Barack, who seemed off his stride, defensive and altogether unconvincing in his responses about his "small town" comments, his relationship with Rev. Wright (so are you disowning him, or just his comments?) and his attitude toward the American flag.  Let's put it this way -- there wasn't much "hope" or inspiration there.

Hillary wasn't on her best game tonight, but she did successfully manage to stick the shiv in Barack's back (figuratively speaking) several times -- without seeming as nasty or aggressive as she might have.  Not that it will matter, probably  . . . she did less to win herself any votes than she did to see that Barack loses them.

If I were part of John McCain's team, I'd be clinking a champagne glass with somebody tonight.