Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

As I noted last night, Hillary Clinton turned in a very solid debate performance. She was polished, turned away questions about what would seem to be her greatest vulnerabilities with confident and convincing pivots and more than anything else she had the feel of a candidate on the rebound. As I also wrote last night, the collapse of the 'Benghazi' committee and its associated nonsense came at the perfect moment for her. The debate would have had a very different feel to it had it been held six weeks ago.

We were running Insight polls overnight and this morning, gauging reactions to the debate and re-testing Democratic primary preference questions we've been running for the last four months. Based on those results I would expect you'll see Hillary get a substantial boost in the polls coming out of night's first debate.

Let me give you a basic breakdown.

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From a Facebook commentator in New Zealand in response my debate wrap-up from last night: "I live quite literally half a world away from America and thus have only a passing interest in these debates. My impression is that this latest one is boring in the same way that an America without mass murders would be boring. For years now America has been in the world headlines for all the wrong reasons. I think a more 'tepid' bunch of politicians might be what the country needs."

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That's a bit harsh. It's a reaction to something I've been thinking about during this debate, which is that the debates on both sides, in both parties, seem somehow two dimensional. The 2008 campaign was historic and epic and an outlier in those terms going back a couple generations. Somehow I think it's more than that - a topic I'll return to. But let me share a few a thoughts on this debate.

I think Hillary had a pretty good debate. I don't think she made a terribly clear argument for her candidacy. But she came into this debate with the debilitating email nonsense seemingly abating, or at least with some turning of the tide.

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10:15 PM: Hillary is incredibly fortunate that the tide of thinking on the 'email' story has shifted in recent weeks and that it happened before this debate. It's not necessarily clear watching the debate because it's a matter of what's not happening, a mood that I think is not hanging over the discussion. Very fortuitous for her.

10:28 PM: Okay, I'm feeling like the wingnut-o-sphere is going to be talking about "Revolution" a lot tomorrow.

9:41 PM: This debate is generally intelligent but also tepid - certainly in comparison to the Republican debates. There's little anger or driving divisions between the candidates - or to the extent there are such divisions, they're content to state them in parallel rather than forcing them into a headlong collision. I'm thinking here mainly of Jim Webb, who's coming from his own very distinct and idiosyncratic viewpoint but also content to make his points without really disagreeing, except implicitly, with the others on the stage.

9:48 PM: "Sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails."

9:50 PM: "Do you want to respond?" "No."

9:15 PM: I'm trying to get a handle on what I think of how Anderson Cooper is handling this debate. My immediate take is that he's stylistically being very, very aggressive. But the facts he hits people with, they seem to be able to dispatch pretty quickly - even when the candidates don't have great arguments on the facts. Like he's talking an aggressive game but he doesn't seem that well prepared. Thoughts?

9:25 PM: Lincoln Chafee is so damn earnest and old line New Englandy and appealing. Not vote appealing - for me at least. But really appealing. And Hillary ... wow, that was an inspired response (Obama made her Secretary of State). Without being aggressive at all, in political terms, she just made Chafee's question go up in smoke.

9:29 PM: Asking staff to research whether Rick Perry handed his glasses off to Anderson Cooper after he got out of the race.

9:32 PM: Interesting that Webb signals opposition to Iran Deal.

9:33 PM: I'm not as much of a China hawk as Jim Webb but he's very, very right about our myopia on the Middle East. There is more going in the world than the eastern Mediterranean and the Muslim Middle East.

So here we are, at another CNN debate where the start and end times are kept secret. It's awesome.

8:39 PM: Jeez, releasing the Don Lemon Kraken. Bold, scary move.

8:41 PM: I think the national anthem was a shoot-out to people with non-traditional pitch.

8:52 PM: So there are actually other people running for president on the Democratic side beside Hillary and Bernie.

8:57 PM: Have to say I think O'Malley's opening was weakest so far. Chafee and Webb better and more resonant than I would have thought. Sanders suitably strong and burning.

8:59 PM: Staff here says Fox did better by going straight to questions. Agree it makes better TV. But I think giving each candidate a chance to make their case at first is better on the merits.

9:01 PM: Hillary is benefiting by how stupid Anderson Cooper's are. Good lord. He's like the perfect foil.

9:04 PM: Can think of a lot of highly relevant differences between Denmark and the US other than the fact that Denmark is small. Cooper is perfect foil.

9:07 PM: Cooper: Sure the issues. But what about labels?

Let's face it: it can't match the drama of a Republican debate. But the first Democratic presidential debate is less than three hours away. So join us here for live coverage of all the goings-on.

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