Hillary in a Ditch and Can’t Get Up

Did you watch what everyone is hoping is the last debate of this primary season?

My friends who skipped it thinking there couldn’t be anything new made a fair point. My friends who spent their time calling or canvassing for Obama instead were more productive. I, however, just couldn’t resist watching the latest installment of Hillary’s wild roller coaster ride. There was a record-breaking viewing audience for the debate.

I wonder, were they watching it for the same reason I was?

After a perfectly friendly debate in Austin, Hillary made the news on Saturday with a booming, “SHAME ON YOU, BARACK OBAMA. SHAME ON YOU.” Well, if doting grandmother didn’t work for her in Las Vegas, I couldn’t calculate what vote she wanted to gain with the scolding mother routine. I nearly jumped to my feet to find a safe place out of the way like I did when my little sister once decided to slap my mother back. I didn’t know what would happen next but I didn’t want to be a part of it!

On Sunday, there was yet another Hillary behind the mic. This time she her audience rewarded her with giggles as she mocked Obama saying she could talk about unity and wait for a bright light to shine down or a heavenly choir to sing. She gave up her claim to be top of the charts on substance for a juvenile taunt. Obama had already framed his response during the Austin debate when he told Hillary her comments suggested his one million supporters were delusional. He won the argument before she started the mimicry.

During last night’s debate, Barack Obama built on his retort to Hillary’s claim she is ready on day one by noting that she empowered George W. Bush to drive the bus into the ditch with the war in Iraq. Her criticizing anyone else’s vote after the crucial vote on authorizing the President to use military force is hardly fair since there aren’t many ways to drive the bus out of the ditch once it’s there. I think Hillary’s campaign is now entrenched in that very same ditch!

Then there was this awkward moment in the debate where she made reference to an SNL skit and suggested the moderators ask Obama if he was comfortable or needed a pillow. Maureen Dowd suggests the woman who found her voice in New Hampshire has turned into Sybil…

We’ve had Experienced Hillary, Soft Hillary, Hard Hillary, Misty Hillary, Sarcastic Hillary, Joined-at-the-Hip-to-Bill Hillary, Her-Own-Person-Who-Just-Happens-to-Be-Married-to-a-Former-President Hillary, It’s-My-Turn Hillary, Cuddly Hillary, Let’s-Get-Down-in-the-Dirt-and-Fight-Like-Dogs Hillary.

Frank Rich notes, “the remarkable implosion of the Hillary Clinton campaign…both began and ended in the long dark shadow of Iraq.” He also remarks that she has come undone…

As for countering what she sees as the empty Obama brand of hope, she offers only a chilly void: Abandon hope all ye who enter here. This must be the first presidential candidate in history to devote so much energy to preaching against optimism, against inspiring language and — talk about bizarre — against democracy itself. No sooner does Mrs. Clinton lose a state than her campaign belittles its voters as unrepresentative of the country.

Let’s hope she soon finds the “I’m Smarter than This Hillary.”

Democratic Debate in L.A.: ZOW-BAMA

The tide turned tonight. Two candidates walked into the Kodak Theater with a star-studded audience. One of them walked away looking like the next leader of the land of the free. Check out Wonkosphere to see who catches the buzz but a quick trip across the interwebs suggests this was a big night for Obama:

On the Wall Street Journal’s “Washington Wire,” 75% of the voters declared Obama the winner. My favorite comment posted there:

I was undecided until this debate. Obama sounded more decisive, more intelligent and more interested. Comment by Voter January 31, 2008 at 10:15 pm

One of Obama’s strongest moments occurred during the discussion of Iraq. If he walked on the stage with the objective of emphasizing his strength in a match up against John McCain, he executed that plan brilliantly. He asserted the clear contrast in his position as someone who never supported military action in Iraq against that of a candidate who now comfortably discusses being committed in Iraq for 100 years.

Obama didn’t let the moment pass without addressing his Democratic opponent, however, and Ben Smith does a fair job of catching the transcript at Politico:

His [Obama’s] trump card is his vote against the war, and he’s moved toward a new argument for why it’s relevant.

“I think I will be the Dem who will be most effective in going up a John McCain…because I will offer a clear contrast,” he says. “I don’t want to just end the war, I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.”

Clinton, then, is pressed to revisit her own vote…again….calling it “sincere.”

Marc Ambinder shares his first thoughts on the debate. Ready to declare the evening a draw, he can’t resist the power of Obama’s strong start or his answer on Iraq:

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Did Hope Find Momentum in S.C.???

One fundamental element of the political primary season has been missing…something they used to call MOMENTUM. With early primary results looking like a rather haphazard game of checkers, it’s been all but missing in the pundits’ commentaries. The candidates haven’t given up hope and this morning there’s evidence that a couple of sentiments from this latest round in South Carolina could seep into 2/5 contests.

There’s also a stark contrast between the candidates that’s far removed from issues and policy debates. It’s still threatening to take center stage….

Marking a two-to-one victory, Obama spoke to a theme of unity and possibilities. Hillary moved her campaign efforts to Nashville before S.C. polls closed. She was calculating probabilities of her winning on 2/5. She congratulated Obama and said, “Now the eyes of the country turn to Tennessee and the other states that will be voting Feb.5 and of course the state of Florida that will be voting Tuesday.”

There’s a reason the Clintons want to turn their back on their South Carolina campaign so quickly. They’re afraid the attention they gathered with harsh campaign tactics to drum up their 27% of the vote will find the momentum that’s been so allusive otherwise.

Today’s headlines are full of possiblities…

Bob Herbert’s NYT opinion piece, “Questions for the Clintons“…

Still, it’s legitimate to ask, given the destructive developments of the last few weeks, whether the Clintons are capable of being anything but divisive. The electorate seems more polarized now than it was just a few weeks ago, and the Clintons have seemed positively gleeful in that atmosphere.

A commentary on CNN’s political pages, “Voters not swayed by racial politics“…

But at least last night, in the state where the first shot was fired nearly 150 years to kick off the Civil War, the voters of South Carolina told their fellow southerner, Bill Clinton, and his wife, Sen. Clinton, that the tired political games of the past should remain there. Then, and only then, can we recognize one another as what we truly are: Americans.

A commentary on the tag-team campaign which left South Carolina to the so-called “first black President” while his wife jumped a plane to Nashville, “Two Presidents are Worse than One” (clip after the jump)

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Obama: Change is Coming to America

Obama’s speech in Iowa last night rang with a vision we’ve desperately missed in our political dialogue. It’s tempting to simply jump up and down over last night’s results but I want to try to share the fervor in case you missed it.

Keep one finger on your pulse as you watch this video and let these powerful phrases wash over you….

“On this January night, at this defining moment in history, YOU have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do.”

There’s a theme that celebrates the power of ordinary people throughout the entire speech. I’m a sucker for it, true, but it’s also a refreshing contrast when compared to an administration who can declare “I’m the decider” with a straight face.

“In lines that stretched around schools and churches, in small towns and cities, you came together as Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to say we are one nation, one people, and our time for change has come.”

On CNN, Huckabee’s campaign manager was even willing to ride on Obama’s coat tails of change. He said the results were a reflection of the success of the candidates who best represented change–Obama and Huckabee. Can you imagine? Everyone jumped on the change train but Obama has clearly emerged as the man who owns the mantle.

“We are choosing hope over fear. We’re choosing unity over division and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America.”

Don’t miss Barack’s definition of hope near the end of the speech. Let those who would deride that message as something that is naive e figure out what to do with it afer he has woven it into the very story of the United States!

In the News: Oh the Humanity

**Dennis Kucinich, or, as I like to call him, the Li’l Engine That Couldn’t, has received the endorsement of… wait for it… Larry Flynt. I’m not sure which part of this story deserves the most ridicule: the fact that the Hustler helmer has been friends with Kucinich “for 40 years” (??) or the fact that Flynt hosted a fundraiser with Woody Harrelson, Sean Penn and Melissa Etheridge. That’s either the world’s most fascinating or most frightening dinner table. Possibly both.

**Osama bin Laden is a whiz at manipulating the Interwebs, at least according to an Israeli professor. It seems that terrorist Web sites are becoming adept at targeting niche groups, including children, with comic books and contests, and women, with pink suicide-bombing manuals (Jesus Mary, do I have to fight gender stereotypes with Al Qaeda now too?) No word yet on his messaging for the gay community.

**Have you heard the story yet of Megan Meier, the Missouri teen who killed herself after being cruelly spurned by a boy she liked on MySpace? The “boy” turned out to be the parents of one of Megan’s classmates, with whom she’d had a falling-out the year before. “His” last message to Megan was, “The world would be a better place without you.”

**Julia Roberts parks in handicapped spaces.

**After all that, you need a drink. Gird yourself for the familial onslaught this week with hangover-free vodka. You’re welcome.

Stars! They’re Just Like Us!

The disparity between the super-rich (I had to reschedule my film shoot!) and the rest of us (My home is completely destroyed!) is nowhere more evident right now than in the Southern California wildfires. Amid its horrific color pictures of the devastation, the New York Times had a lovely piece today on how its affecting Hollywood. (FYI, Will Smith is fine, thank god.)

But that isn’t the worst of it. Jezebel uncovered this gem from the Washington Post.

“I heard from neighbors my place was okay,” said Shel Greenhill, who pulled up in a BMW station wagon with a large poodle in the back. “But I’m worried about my koi pond.”

Shel. Honey. I don’t even know where to start.

Global Warming Poised to Wipe Out U.S. History

Have you been watching the global warming debate wondering what it means to you? A recent U.S. Geological Survey has the answer.

Jamestown, the first English settlement in North America founded in 1607, will be under water. The launch pad in Florida where the first American was launched into space will be lost to the Atlantic. Wall Street will look like the lost city of Atlantis and we will have lost land-mass equal in size to the state of West Virginia–22,000 square miles with Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina losing the most.

As students we may have all wondered why we needed U.S. History in the first place but are we ready to sink it?