The Democratic presidential candidates met in Philadelphia for a final face off before next week’s Pennsylvania primary. You know things have not been going well for Barack Obama when his most enthusiastic MSM cheerleader (well, after Chris Matthews and his “tingling leg”) Maureen Dowd writes this on the morning before the debate:
Behind closed doors in San Francisco, elitism’s epicenter, Barack Obama showed his elitism, attributing the emotional, spiritual and cultural values of working-class, “lunch pail” Pennsylvanians to economic woes. The last few weeks have not been kind to Hillary, but the endless endgame has not been kind to the Wonder Boy either. Obama comes across less like a candidate in Pennsylvania than an anthropologist in Borneo.
The debate did not help matters — if Hillary’s unfavorables were not sky high it might have thrown a number of voters her way.
Barack Obama began by relating that he saw “frustration” throughout the state. (Yes, that sounded better than “bitter,” didn’t it?) Remarkably he had no better answer for the obvious “cling” question than his words were “mangled.” But he is the speaker of great words, the eloquent Agent of Change — how could this be? Worse still, he essentially reiterated his Marxist view of the world: economics drives people’s values, religion and recreational pursuit. On this go around Hillary Clinton, the new defender of the common man, came out ahead.
The evening got worse for Obama. He bobbed and weaved but could never explain what exactly he heard in Reverend Wright’s church. Hillary beat him about the ears, saying she could not have tolerated Wright’s 9-11 sermon which blamed the U.S. for the attacks on our citizens.
Then it got worse. Like a torrent, the questions came at Obama: his relationship with unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers, his refusal to wear the flag pin and his electability. He stumbled and bumbled while Hillary swooped in with surgical accuracy, pointing out the extent of his relationship with Ayers. As to the latter he actually offered that he was, after all, friendly with Senator Tom Coburn. (So a terrorist and conservative U.S. Senator are on a similar moral plane?) For a frontrunner he looked ruffled, unprepared and evasive.
On foreign policy he tripped and fumbled, seemingly unsure if he could offer Israel nuclear deterrence. Of course, both he and Hillary swore they would withdraw troops from Iraq come hell or high water.
On taxes, Hillary pledged to raise taxes even if the economy is weak. After all, she explained, she doesn’t believe it would have a detrimental effect on the economy. And she said that with a straight face. No middle class tax increases? Hillary said yes. Obama said sure, but let it slip out that he would be raising the payroll tax cap. Once caught, he hedged and hemmed and hawed, but the cat was out of the bag.
Throughout Hillary was calm, cool and collected. She even objected to raising the payroll tax and said the capital gains tax cut would have to be evaluated in light of the “revenue situation.” (Could she possibly be courting some independent voters?)
On guns, Obama refused to say that the absolute D.C. handgun ban was unconstitutional. Hillary hemmed and hawed but couldn’t find a handgun regulation she opposed. On this issue, John McCain can rest easy.
So the winners were clear: Hillary and ABC. As for the latter, they laced into Obama again and again, forcing him to answer uncomfortable questions and revealing that he had very little to say that might put to rest the concerns of many Democrats, let alone any independents and Republicans. By questioning the premise of a key portion of the Democrats’ tax plan (i.e. raising the capital gains tax decreases revenue) they did a public service. So if this was an effort to correct the generally fawnish treatment by the MSM of Obama they succeeded.
And now, Maureen Dowd really has something to complain about.