Thursday, February 21, 2008


Texas Two Step

Consider this an early open thread in which Hillary & Barack debate observations may be made.

UPDATE: Clearly no longer the front-runner, Hillary Clinton had to come up big in this debate. She ended up having two very memorable moments. One bombed, as she became the only person all night who ended up being booed. That was as she went after Obama on the plagiarism question:
CLINTON: Well, I think that if your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. That's, I think, a very simple proposition.
And, you know, lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in, it's change you can Xerox. And I just don't think...
OBAMA: Come on.

The CNN transcript didn't capture the smattering of boos that could be heard in the auditorium. What was rather unfortunate for Clinton at this point was that it was clear that the audience was with her -- obvious applause at the "they should be your own words" part. And then she lost the moment with the Xerox line. If that was Mark Penn's great idea, he should be fired.

The other moment was stunning -- as she became the only candidate in any of the debates to get a standing ovation. After the candidates were asked to discuss crises and challenges they've overcome, Clinton spoke:

CLINTON: Well, I think everybody here knows I've lived through some crises and
some challenging moments in my life. And...
And I am grateful for the support and the prayers of countless Americans.
But people often ask me, "How do you do it?" You know, "How do you keep going?" And I just have to shake my head in wonderment, because with all of the challenges that I've had, they are nothing compared to what I see happening in the lives of Americans every single day. along with Senator McCain, as the only two elected officials, to speak at the opening at the Intrepid Center at Brooke Medical Center in San Antonio, a center designed to take care of and provide rehabilitation for our
brave young men and women who have been injured in war.
And I remember sitting up there and watching them come in. Those who could walk were walking. Those who had lost limbs were trying with great courage to get themselves in without the help of others. Some were in wheelchairs and some were on gurneys. And the speaker representing these wounded warriors had had most of his face disfigured by the results of fire from a roadside bomb.
CLINTON: You know, the hits I've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country.
And I resolved at a very young age that I'd been blessed and that I was called by my faith and by my upbringing to do what I could to give others the same opportunities and blessings that I took for granted.
That's what gets me up in the morning. That's what motivates me in this campaign.
And, you know, no matter what happens in this contest -- and I am honored, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored.
CLINTON: Whatever happens, we're going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people, and that's what this election should be about. (APPLAUSE)

However, it was masterful -- partly wistful (is she sensing the end?), partly inspiring, but also assertive and compelling (a "don't stop believing" moment). I also think that, however subtly, there was also a slight rejoinder to Michelle Obama's "first time in my adult life I'm proud of America" line. Yes, she assiduously avoided using the word, "proud" or "pride," but the sentiment clearly had a service-to-America feel.

Will it be enough to stop the Obama steamroller? Who knows at this point. But, if this was one of candidate Hillary Clinton's final moments, it was also one of her finest.

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