Given that we’re in the middle of July and it’s still early, I don’t think it’s that helpful to really look at these debates in terms of who “won” in the traditional sense. Barring either a big moment, or a major flub, these debates will be long forgotten by the time the first votes are cast. However, what I do find these debates useful for is to pick up on answers and exchanges that provide clues into how the rest of the campaign might shape up-i.e. what this tell us about how they may perform down the road. By this standard, I think Hillary Clinton had a great night, and not just because she didn’t commit any obvious gaffes that could endanger her frontrunner status, but because she handled one of the most difficult challenges facing her campaign (running as a dynasty candidate in a change election year) rather deftly. Barack Obama, meanwhile, who is in the best position to exploit this potential weakness by presenting himself as the candidate who most represents change, responded feebly by leaning on the “cynicism” crutch. If he cannot find a way to say to the Democratic electorate, in some fashion, “Look, Bill Clinton was a great President for the 1990s, but we need a different kind of leadership to face a new set of challenges in the coming decade,” then Obama is toast. Furthermore, the exchange demonstrated one of the biggest obstacles for Obama-how does he go after Clinton without contradicting his pledge to usher in “a new kind of politics”? After four debate performances, it’s pretty clear that Clinton is a machine. Completely fake, completely soulless, but somebody who will always say precisely what she is programmed to say. For Obama, that means that he cannot count on her committing a major flub. He’s going to have to find a way to go after Hillary, and quick (as it seemed he was doing on healthcare), or else risk letting her get a free ride while cementing the impression that he’s nothing but a puffed up featherweight trying to move up a few too many divisions.
Notice to Readers: The American Spectator and Spectator World are marks used by independent publishing companies that are not affiliated in any way. If you are looking for The Spectator World please click on the following link: https://spectatorworld.com/.