Hillary's Last Stand
I watched the Democrat debate tonight, which was a significant debate because there is a fairly good chance that this is the last time we will see a Clinton in a national debate. Obama has a pretty clear road to the nomination, and unless he does something unfathomably dumb, he will almost certainly win. Much like Rudy Giuliani, Hillary seemed to have it all going for her, and then suddenly lost all of her momentum.
In tonight’s debate, most pundits agreed that Hillary had to hit Obama really hard. She spent a lot of time accusing Obama of deceitfulness, and defending herself from Obama’s accusations. Unfortunately for her, she sounded more like Captain Queeg than John F. Kennedy. She seemed unable to stop talking, and spent a lot of time arguing points that really weren’t that important. (Does anyone care that her plan mandates health insurance, while Obama’s does not?)
But even more than Hillary’s final curtain, the most noticeable aspect of the debate was Barack Obama’s performance. If this debate is any indication of his debating ability, John McCain should be able to wipe the floor with him in a head-to-head debate. Obama is good at soaring speeches, but when it comes to the rough-and-tumble of a debate, he loses some of his glamour. He has already committed at least one major debate gaffe (his “you’re likeable enough” line to Hillary immediately prior to the New Hampshire primaries), and really hasn’t dominated any of the other debates. He did not do terribly poorly tonight, but it should be noted that Hillary is really scraping the bottom of the barrel for some of her attacks.
John McCain is not a master debater like Mike Huckabee, but one gets the impression that he will always hold his own in a debate. Running against Obama is seen as a near impossible hurdle for the Republican nominee. It will be difficult, but far from impossible. Obama has some limitations as a candidate, and a debate with John McCain would expose some of those weaknesses.