Ended about an hour and a half ago.
While I always wish that Obama was better in debates (he's never quite as smooth or on point as Edwards and Clinton in a debate setting) I think he showed some backbone. He does look green at times, out there, and Edwards had a good showing.
What bothers me is this... why should he have to defend himself against this sort of mudslinging from the Clintons? Is this their version of tough love? To say: "Hey, if you can't take it, good luck in November?"
What drives me insane about Hillary Clinton (and Bill Clinton in this moment) is that if they wanted to go out and have a 'policy and experience' versus' unity and inspiration' debate, they could probably swing tons of voters. The Clintons are more than capable of winning the election. Instead, they continuously drive the rhetoric south, trying to bloody Obama in order to beat him, as opposed to simply running a campaign on the merits and letting Democrats decide who they'd prefer.
That would be too risky for career politicians, I'm sure. I know it's almost naive to say...but wouldn't it be nice if Clinton didn't imply that Obama is weak on SEX OFFENDERS? Or muddy the idea of a vote of "present" in the Illinois State Legislature? Or practically call him a Reaganite? It's ironic for the Clinton's to be even going after someone who speaks as a centrist, as they're the poster children for governing to the center. (DOMA anyone?)
The fact of the matter is... I actually agree with Edwards and Clinton on the health care mandate issue. I actually think Clinton is gangbusters on that issue. (I think, of course, that without more Democrats in the House and Senate, nothing is going to get passed either way, and an Obama Presidency is the best way to get more Democrats elected to Congress.) Regardless, there's a whole lot of debate that can happen about Nuclear Energy, Global Warming, Health Care, Tax Policy, Economic Stimulus, Partisanship and the War in Iraq.
So when Clinton and Clinton go on the attack, they do the entire process a disservice. They force Obama to defend himself. If he doesn't, he's considered weak and the press will execute him. If he does (which he did) then Edwards gets to look like the hero of the day, rising above the bickering. Make no mistake: it all starts with Hillary and Bill Clinton misrepresenting Obama to the voters.
The question, in the end, will the voters validate these tactics by rewarding them? Or will it backfire and make Clinton get (as she did tonight) boos from the voters for being too brutal?
Time will tell. I hope, in the end, citizens are enabled by the candidates and the media to vote with confidence in a positive vision; as opposed to vote against a candidate that's been effectively smeared.
For the record (quoted from the New York Times:)
Obama on Reagan:
“Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not, and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. He tapped into what people were already feeling, which is, we want clarity, we want optimism, we want, you know, a return to that sense of dynamism and, you know, entrepreneurship that had been missing.”
Hillary Clinton on Reagan:
“When he had those big tax cuts and they went too far, he oversaw the largest tax increase. He could call the Soviet Union the Evil Empire and then negotiate arms-control agreements. He played the balance and the music beautifully.”
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.