Why’s This Debate in Hollywood Debate Blogging

January 31, 2008 7:03 p.m.

Obama kicks it off.

8:08 PM … What GOP operative masterminded holding this debate at the Kodak theatre with a bunch of movie stars in the audience?

8:12 PM … The forces of niceness begin in the ascendent.

8:13 PM … Excellent. Close up of the lame dude from The Office.

8:14 PM … By the way, I’ll be on TV talking with Olbermann after the debate, starting at about 10 PM on MSNBC. Actually I am here blogging at the moment at the palatial MSNBC studios manse as I speak.

8:21 PM … Thus far the debate is eerily substantive. I expect Wolf to pounce.

8:26 PM … It’s a cutting irony for Edwards that he dropped out of the race just before being universally acclaimed a saint of the Democratic party.

8:47 PM … Obama resists being tarred with the ‘humane’ hot-button codeword.

8:48 PM … How big is the fine? And are we sure all these illegals are going to be able to pay it? Just curious.

8:53 PM … Apparently while I stepped out for one minute I missed Wolf finally goading the candidates on to a fight.

8:55 PM … It’s always interesting to try to infer the strategic decisions from the candidates attitudes and statements at the debate. In this case it seems like both sides feel like they want to keep with the trajectory and plan they’re on and don’t want to rile things up to risk some shuffling of the cards that could change things. That clearly seems the case with Obama, though this is pretty much always his debating style. I wonder if Hillary feels boxed in by the perceived negative reaction to the more aggressive approach she and Bill were using between Nevada and South Carolina, and thus not in a position to take a more aggressive stance.

9:03 PM … Obligatory Politico ad.

9:04 PM … Hillary’s on a tear here. It makes me think how much better she is making her case than Bill is making it for her. Not that she matches him in inherent retail political skills. But the president has to be the president. She has to make her own case. Be her own person.

9:08 PM … I’m struck again by the political genius of having this debate before an audience of movie stars.

9:10 PM … Well delivered answer from Obama on the change/bring new voters issue.

9:11 PM … Clinton gets the dynasty question.

9:11 – 9:34 PM … Miscellaneous Iraq and Iran stuff that happened while I was offline.

9:35 PM … I give Hillary several points for the multiple Wolf smackdowns.

9:40 PM … I’m marvelling at Wolf’s skill at what I guess you’d call the attempted smackdown assist. Hillary, didn’t Barack just hit you over the head with a bat and smack you around like … well, like? Aren’t you saying that you were a damned fool for supporting President Bush? Is that your position?

9:43 PM … What’s the deal with CNN running commercials over the debate? Aren’t they involved in the scheduling on this thing?

9:46 PM … Watching Chelsea, I now get it that Bill has been taken to an undisclosed location.

9:49 PM … “I have to agree with everything Barack just said.”

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