Immediate Post-Debate Reactions

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Hillary Clinton went out of her way to reference John Edwards a number of times, but it didn’t seem forced. One of her tasks tonight was apparently to position herself as the candidate carrying Edwards’s torch on economic issues. On that, she did a reasonably good job.
I was also glad to see Hillary discussing her readiness to be Commander-in-Chief without using the “dangerous world” frame.
Clinton’s takeaway line, referencing Obama’s use of a line first used by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, was: “That’s not change you can believe in; that’s change you can Xerox.” It felt like a cheap shot and was received by the audience as such.
Meanwhile, as I write this, CNN reports that the Obama people are circulating a comparison between a line from Clinton during the debate and a very similar line used by John Edwards. That seems contrary to the whole point of Obama’s rebuttal to the “plagiarism” charges, which is that people don’t care about or like this tit for tat stuff. I agree — and the Obama campaign should cut it out too. It doesn’t hurt Clinton at all and it undercuts Obama’s credibility on political change, which is central to his candidacy.
I do wish there were more substance in the foreign policy aspect of the discussion. Unfortunately, it seems the campaign only has room for Iraq, Iran, occasionally Israel/Palestine, and the hot region/country of the day (Cuba today, Pakistan last month). Sadly, there has been very little discussion of international institutions, approaches to failing states, peace operations and other critical topics. I’d like to see more attention paid to these issues — but I won’t hold my breath.
— Scott Paul

Comments

13 comments on “Immediate Post-Debate Reactions

  1. Mr.Murder says:

    Ask him if he can recall ever having worked with “John Israel” at Abu Gharib.

    Reply

  2. nancy says:

    In answer to your question on Hillary using Bill’s words in her speech last night….what the heck is wrong with you all….those are her original words…she was the one that wrote Bill’s speech for him”…we all know she was the brains behind the two for one team.
    Next question!

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  3. David says:

    I think the “tit for tat” was just a little extra nudge toward the Clinton campaign to bury this whole plagiarism nonsense. If the Obama camp follows it up with email, conference calls, stump speech references, etc. that’s something else. But as is, I think it’s the Obama camp’s way of saying, “Be careful of playing with fire.”

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  4. John says:

    Hey Taylor, what responses do you have when Hillary copies Bill? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ7Cs3QvT3U Thoughts?

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  5. Jay says:

    Hey Taylor, what responses do you have when Hillary copies Bill? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ7Cs3QvT3U Thoughts?

    Reply

  6. walkonwater says:

    All hail The Obama Christ!

    Reply

  7. evap says:

    Hillary’s best moment was her closing speech and one of the best parts (about “taking hits”) was stolen from a Bill Clinton speech! People in glass houses and all that.
    I think we were seeing Hillary’s concession speech. She’s probably going to lose Texas — one small sign of this is that early voting in the Dallas area, which should be an Obama stronghold, is 10 times higher than in 2004 — and might even lose Ohio. I think she has finally faced the fact that she can’t win the nomination at this point and has resigned herself to this.

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  8. rich says:

    Scott:
    “Meanwhile .. . Obama people are circulating a comparison between a line from Clinton during the debate and a very similar line used by John Edwards. That seems contrary to the whole point of Obama’s rebuttal … Obama campaign should cut it out too. . . . It doesn’t hurt Clinton at all and it undercuts Obama’s credibility on political change.”
    Not sure I agree.
    1. If Obama doesn’t strike back, he risks being seen as the naive, purist candidate who can’t respond to hardball politics. He’d be a sap and a sucker, and he’d lose in the end.
    (Dems know what those guys look like, & Repubs know how to dispatch ’em: they can be tall and lanky, but none of ’em get to the point.)
    2. Plus, for a reform ‘clean politics’ candidate to win, they have to be willing to play by prevailing rules. First you win, then you install a cleaner mode of governance. Don’t initiate dirty attacks, but respond accurately and firmly when attacked. That only makes sense–and is what happened here.
    3. Speechwriters. Sen. Clinton doesn’t use them? Is that her position?
    Because Sen Clinton said: “Well, I think that if your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. That’s I think a very simple proposition.” One she doesn’t understand.
    4. The rate at which Sen Clinton adopts her rivals’ buzzwords has been both instant and habitual. That hasn’t stopped with piggybacking on the ‘change’ theme literally overnight: the ‘experienced’ policy veteran with a specialty in health care only ‘adopted’ universal coverage after Sen. Edwards made it an issue. That’s conventional politics, in that major/surviving candidates pick up important issues on the way. It is telling.
    But I’ve been amazed at just how jam-packed with heavy-handed buzzwords–false & borrowed– Clinton’s campaign trail speeches really are. The language is shot-through with overt & barely submerged references to ‘pretty words’ ’empty suit’ ‘naive idealist’ etc.–while trying on rhetoric of ‘change’ like a teal pantsuit (sorry, it is well-earned).
    Seriously, though, no policy details, no Clinton Vision. Just false attacks & adopted slogans.
    Obama’s more than justified in pointing this out–and he’s wise to do so.
    “There is no doubt that you are a passionate eloquent speaker. And I applaud you for that.”
    5. After Wisconsin, I was a bit surprised Sen. Clinton used the “Xerox” line. Not really, though–she’s been consistently unable to learn from the electorate or hear what the citizenry (as distinct from her constituency) has been telling her.
    Wisconsin reacted strongly against Clinton when she went negative w/TV attack ads there. My first-hand reports from BOTH progressive campus AND blue-collar rural conservative communties said the same thing. And this is a campaign-long response; see IA & IL; Wisconsin’s personality & timing just make it a turning point in some campaigns.
    6. Clinton: “that’s change you can Xerox.” It’s a nonresponsive, false charge: SHE initiated the ‘pretty words’ attacks. Now the effective reply is just copying the other guy’s homework? For a group assignment?
    If it takes a whole village to point out that ‘words matter’ and they’re backed by actual policy, so be it. Presenting a working relationship as plagiarism isn’t going to play when your speechwriters are so well paid. That’s just not effective campaigning. Adn that’s the issue.

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  9. bruce Hall says:

    this may or may not be the Edwards quote but her line…
    “borrowing money from the Chinese to buy oil from the Saudis” is a standard Al Gore line.
    It’s a great line but it doesn’t go well with the zerox comment…
    Finally… I’m struck, as I believe many are, with the fact that we would be well-served by either of them.

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  10. Greuben says:

    I’m not seeing how the Obama spin of circulating Hillary’s echoing of John Edwards (or Bill in 1992) “undercuts Obama’s credibility.”
    It shows that Hillary’s charge IS the “tit-for-tat” and “silliness” of the old, bickering politics because she does the same thing she accuses him of doing.
    He’s not saying that she’s a plagiarist. He’s saying that charges of political plagiarism are silly.

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  11. Eric the Political Hack says:

    Can I just point out the irony that Clinton’s Xerox comment was most certainly written by a speech writer and, thus, plagiarism.

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  12. Dan Kervick says:

    I agree it would be good to hear more foreign policy, but people are really worried about the economy right now, and there is only so much you can cover in a couple of hours.
    Nevertheless, I did think Obama did a good job tonight connecting the Iraq issue to other issues in very concrete terms. He’s made the point many times that Iraq was a distraction from Afghanistan. But his use of the anecdote about some troops in Afghanistan being under-equipped and undermanned, and his citing concrete numbers, made it more effective. Similarly, he made the points about the economic opportunity costs of Iraq with hard numbers, and then tied it all back in to John McCain whom he effectively portrayed as living in Neverland with his self-confessed ignorance of economics, and his daffy talk about staying in Iraq for 100 years.
    Obama started off subdued and restrained, with Clinton going for it with energy and some crowd-pleasing lines, but Obama grew in strength and command throughout the debate, and was more focussed, incisive, and concrete as Clinton began to ramble a bit I thought. I thought on substantive policy differences, Obama had the better of the arguments all night, especially on foreign policy. But I think his account of the mandate issue, and connecting it with the mess in Massachusetts, was his most convincing presentation yet of the case for his approach.
    But there were two dramatic episodes: Clinton’s cheap shot about “change you can Xerox” bombed badly with the audience, deflated her confidence and put her back on her heels the rest of the night. Given the way things were going for her up to that time, quite well I thought, I was shocked she decided suddenly to go crassly negative. It was a real blunder, and it opened the way for Obama to take a stronger and more dignified position, and make the case the rest of the night for his theory of change based on unification and building coalitions, while Clinton then looked like a representative of the old politics that the audience clearly was not interested in seeing.
    Then the other dramatic, and somewhat weird part: In Clinton’s final comments, she began with the “people ask me how I do it” line, a clear reference back to the famous exchange in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She then started telling a bunch of sad stories about people in wheelchairs and such. Frankly, it looked like a calculated effort to make herself well up.
    On a more uplifting note, I thought the little handshake at the end during Clinton’s final comments was a moment of genuine sincerity and bonding between the two candidates, and may have signaled Clinton’s regret for the earlier cheap shot. And Clinton’s summing up helped create a space for reconciliation and reunification of the two camps. Her comments to the effect that whatever happens to her, Democrats will go on to win really captured the mood of the audience, and they justly applauded her for it. It did sound like a bit of a swan song, though, didn’t it?

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