9:02 PM … Sigh, Russert.
9:05 PM … Okay, if you’ve been waiting for the fight debate, it’s looking like this is it.
9:07 PM … Oy, they go right into the Somali garb photo issue. But Clinton’s response is much better, more across the board than anything from yesterday. Hopefully that whole issue is behind us now.
9:10 PM … I may lapse into boxing metaphors in through this debate. But you’ve clearly got both of them right on their game tonight. These are both just incredibly accomplished sharp people and both at the top of their game. (As a side light, as I’ve said before, at least at the level of policy fundamentals, I think Clinton has the better part of the argument on the health care question.) What’s more, this is a tough and not-friendly exchange, but it’s on the substance and about a really serious issue.
9:17 PM … I don’t think this first question, SNL, pillows flurry served Hillary well. I don’t think it matters whether you think her underlying point is accurate — just not the right way to do it. Just not good. I think that for you to get a lot of what she was referring to you need to be at least a semi-political junkie and thus have probably already made up your mind.
9:24 PM … Russert: If I don’t get a yes or no answer to my clownish question, you’re toast, woman!
9:27 PM … Button this up?
9:31 PM … Russert: I’m one hardass, Dude. You can’t put anything past me.
9:32 PM … Pretty quick on her feet with that Al Gore comeback.
9:35 PM … TPM Reader SQ: “Here’s a general rule. When you are bitterly and sarcastically whining about debate process, you aren’t ready to answer on Question One, you are Alan Keyes.”
9:38 PM … Curious to see how Obama responds to this litany from Hillary which is I think at best a series of half truths and distortions.
9:41 PM … Very effective response, in part because he didn’t address each detail on the list, hit a couple and the rest was thematic.
9:42 PM … I love it when Tim goes into character as an Iraqi nationalist.
9:44 PM … I’m glad Hillary said this (re: hypotheticals). Russert’s militant simpletonism is getting a bit tiring. What if we partly withdrew and then the Iraqis told us to completely withdraw and then al Qaida was elected president and then they allied with North Korea, do you have a policy ready for that!?!?!?!
9:46 PM … I’ve always thought this Europe subcommittee issue with Obama is a bit weird. Also not sure saying that he was too busy campaigning works that great as a response.
10:03 PM … Big question for Obama. Should have done better to hit at McCain over his FEC shenanigans. I think he did okay on that, but not great.
10:08 PM … Russert spews the Farrakhan story. Russert: Let me take a few moments to read into the record some of Farrakhan’s most rancid quotes.
10:10 PM … I guess it’s good in some way that this sludge gets thrown around now in advance of the general. But Russert is well beyond the normal bounds of disgusting on this front. As a separate matter, the covert campaign to smear Obama with the Jewish community is a topic of great importance that I’ve been meaning to hit on and haven’t done enough on it yet. At least we know now that Russert’s enlisted with the cause.
10:13 PM … I thought for a moment there that Hillary was going to say something classy. Guess I was wrong.
10:22 PM … Having thought over that whole Obama/Russert exchange on Farrakhan, that was really … well, bringing up Farrakhan was one thing, borderline, but maybe fair. But trying to read into the record some of the guy’s most toxic statement, it really takes Russert into a whole new level of awfulness. It was disgusting.
10:33 PM … TPM Reader MF chimes in: “It seems that Russert is asking the questions in the aspect that the candidates are guilty of something. It is really quite odd. And when did it become okay for a moderator to be an antagonist in a Presidential debate. I thought the job of a moderator was to moderate and not antagonize.”