Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle noticed (the Chronicle endorsed Obama last weekend):
Usually, I pretty much decide about candidates, and having decided move on. But the adulation and excitement surrounding Barack Obama has been such that I keep looking at him anew. And while I'm all the more impressed by his temperament and unclouded essence, I continue to be unimpressed with what he has to say.
First of all, I'm puzzled by Edwards voters who see Obama as the natural repository of their would-be Edwards vote. Actually, if you pay attention to the policy differences (albeit minor) between Obama and Hillary, Hillary comes out closer to Edwards than Obama does, particularly on the issue of health care.
In any case, it was a night in which both candidates did well, but Hillary showed such authority and command of the issues that I didn't think there was any question that she "won" the debate. The room of "undecided voters" also thought so, by a 60/40 vote. Yet almost unanimously the media analysts either said Obama won or called it a tie. At this point, if they call it a tie, it's safe to say that Clinton won.
The one place they pointed to as deciding it for Obama was on the discussion of Iraq. They're both going to end the war. That's a given. Neither is going to play Richard Nixon to Bush's Lyndon Johnson. But Hillary is more vague about the speed of the withdrawal, and of course she has that 2003 vote to defend.
But the thing to realize is this. Hillary is thinking about the general election. Imagine what it's going to look like come October, if it's Obama vs. McCain, and McCain, with all his military and foreign policy experience, is intoning ominously that if we don't "win" in Iraq, our national security will be permanently compromised. And Obama, who five minutes ago was in the Illinois state legislature, is saying we have to get out next Tuesday, no matter what?
Hillary is giving herself some nuance, some illusion of moderation, some wiggle room to seem something vaguely like a hawk, so as to win over voters in the nervous middle. She's basically gambling that Democrats are so familiar with her Iraq positions that they won't hold them against her any more than they are already are doing so -- and she's doing that so as to make herself more viable in November. She's trying to win the nomination in a way that will make it more possible for her to win the presidency.
Obama is desperate to nail the Democratic nomination, and doesn't seem to be able to focus on the bigger picture in many instances, such as this. This isn't the first time that his inexperience and poor political instincts have surfaced, and its most obvious when he's seated next to a pro like Hillary.
No question that Obama is favored by the mainstream media, who've given him a free ride for months now, and while Obama is ratcheting up the angry young man act off the shared stage, seated next to Clinton at the debate in Los Angeles he was definitely more cordial and polite, acting on his best behavior I suppose. You don't win debates that way, but finding an Obama supporter who will admit that is not easy.
I guess it comes down to the whole "hope" movement. When your candidate doesn't do as well as you "hoped" you "hope" no one notices, and you dare not mention it in public.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!