Isaac Chotiner

Congrats, Abc

We are now 45 minutes into the debate and there has not been a single question on the issues. Jon's post below is exactly right. Ugh. --Isaac Chotiner 

Higher Ground

Obama is doing a better job than Clinton of taking "inside baseball" questions and pivoting to the faltering economy. He even got, finally, some scattered applause. But, again, he looks exhausted.  --Isaac Chotiner 

Wright Again

Surely this extended rehash of the Wright affair is not exactly what the Obama campaign had in mind. And the candidate himself seems halting in his speech and anemic in his energy level when answering the moderators' questions on the subject. So, bad for him, right? On the other hand, Obama keeps mentioning that he has answered many of these questions before, and he surely has. And the Democratic electorate this year has shown a tremendous, um, capacity to forgive the candidates. So the whole exchange may strike voters as being unfair. In short, who knows? --Isaac Chotiner 

Getting Formal

It's all "Senator Clinton" and "Senator Obama" from the two candidates tonight. The days of "Hillary" and "Barack" are long gone. --Isaac Chotiner 

Obama is asked a "bittergate" question ten minutes into the debate. He starts out well by pivoting to the economy, and then perplexingly goes back to religion and guns. He also says "frusturated" for the third time. "Frusturated" is the kindler, gentler "bitter," evidently. --Isaac Chotiner 

21!

ABC starts off by reminding viewers that we've already had 20 debates! Who is psyched for #21? Update: A commercial already? Is ABC trying to drive down viewership?  --Isaac Chotiner 

Those Damn Elites

Barack Obama is now in more trouble for making the following elitist comment: "That’s where your good morals and good judgment come from, growing up in big cities.”  Oops, that wasn't Barack Obama; it was Becki Farmer, who, according to The New York Times, "lives in Rochester, Pa., another Ohio River town hit hard by the closed steel mills." What Farmer actually said was this: “It seems he’s kind of ripping on small towns, and I’m a small town girl.

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Tony Judt has an essay in The New York Review of Books on "forgotten lessons" of the 20th century. Judt's argument basically boils down to this:  What, then, is it that we have misplaced in our haste to put the twentieth century behind us? In the US, at least, we have forgotten the meaning of war. There is a reason for this. In much of continental Europe, Asia, and Africa the twentieth century was experienced as a cycle of wars. War in the last century signified invasion, occupation, displacement, deprivation, destruction, and mass murder... The United States avoided almost all of that.

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Yes, yes, we should not get carried away with overnight tracking polls, but today Obama is up 11 points in Gallup (his biggest lead ever) and 9 points in Rasmussen. Since Saturday--which was the first night that included any post-bittergate data--Obama has moved up 10 points in Rasmussen and 4 points in Gallup.  There are two possible conclusions: The first is that polls are meaningless. The second is that the Democratic electorate is completely reactionary. I vote for option 2! Tell Hillary to leave the race...and her polls go up. Attack Barack over Reverend Wright...and his polls go up.

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Amanda Fortini has an interesting piece in New York magazine on the "feminist reawakening" that Senator Hillary Clinton's run for the White House has brought about. Here's the crux of her thesis: The women I interviewed who described a kind of conversion experience brought about by Clinton’s candidacy were professionals in their thirties, forties, and fifties, and a few in their twenties.

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