Over at Firedoglake Jane et al see a silver lining to last night's debate--Obama's new campaign issue:
Barack Obama gets it:
The truth is... that was the rollout of the Republican campaign in November.... that is what they will do. They will try to focus on all these issues that don't have anything to do with how you are paying your bills at the end of the month.... And there's no doubt that I will have to respond, sharply and crisply -- and then pivot to, what are we going to do about the economy and what are we going to do on the war in Iraq?
Barack's response actually isn't quite so sharp or crisp in the clip here, but that's why there's a silver lining in this line of attacks coming up in April rather than August or October -- he'll have plenty of time to practice his ripostes.
Greg Sargent at the TPM blog-hydra noted something important in writing about another portion of the same Obama response to last night's debacle on ABC:
One thing Obama has been very adept at doing: When he takes a political hit, he neutralizes it by decrying it as the very sort of negative politicking he's trying to rise above.
In this case, he did this by describing the debate as "precisely why I'm running for president -- to change that kind of politics."
Is that it? He's running to change politics? Pretty weak beer. I'd say he'll have to punch it up quite a bit to make this work. The invaluable and ever depressing Steve M. reached back into the archives and found this gem from second last time (before the last time, I mean) that a democrat got the coveted "pussy" role in the war of manly patriots against weak kneed sissies we call the election cycle. Steve M. actually found a guy who wrote a book saying the things I'd wanted Al Gore to shout during the debates:...Westen urges Democratic candidates to go for the gut, and includes a number of speeches that he wishes Democratic candidates had given. He wishes, for example, Al Gore had hit George Bush harder for being a drunk. He wishes Gore had interrupted a presidential debate and barked at Bush, "If someone is going to restore dignity to the Oval Office, it isn't a man who drank his way through three decades of his life and got investigated by his father's own Securities and Exchange Commission for swindling people out of their retirement savings."
At another point, he imagines Gore exploding: "Why don't you tell us how many times you got behind the wheel of a car with a few drinks under your belt, endangering your neighbors' kids? Where I come from, we call that a drunk." If Democrats would go for people's primitive passions in this way, Westen argues, they'd win elections.
But he didn't do it, and Kerry didn't do it, and somehow I don't see Obama as the guy to do it. Michelle might do it. Frankly, I'd like to see Obama practice every day attacking some old, doddering, military "hero" until a picked audience declares him the zinger winner. Because if he relies on the honesty, decency and overall tiredness-with-stupidity of the american people? Well, no one ever went broke with that play, before.