As noted previously, I need to preface my thoughts by noting that I was unable to watch the first thirty of so minutes of the debate. I’ll stipulate, to get it out of the way, that the moderators, mainly Charlie Gibson, but not exclusively, were awful. And apparently I missed the worst of it in the first half hour. And not simply for Obama, who probably got the worst of it, but for Hillary too. In a debate it’s not out of the ordinary to have a couple gotcha type questions. But this seemed to be almost all that.
Setting that aside though, on the questions that touched in some way on policy — taxes for instance — Obama looked weary and had what I can only think to compare to the look of a staggering boxer. The discussion of the capital gains tax was a painful example. Most of what Charlie Gibson said was complete nonsense and there were fairly clear, good responses. But Obama stumbled through them.
On the policy questions, on the other hand, Hillary had what she almost always does in these settings which is a series of well prepared and clear answers which hit on the political points she’s trying to make.
In this sense I don’t think there’s much of any way to say that Clinton wasn’t the winner on points. And this isn’t even taking into account that a lot of the debate was taken up with the moderators teeing up virtually every attack that’s been made during this campaign against Obama.
How this will all play politically I don’t know. The last week of ‘bitter’ seems to have had zero effect on the poll numbers in Pennsylvania. And this debate was basically ‘bitter’ writ large.