TNR Staff

  This latest release from the Clinton camp seems to be trying to tell us something: The Politics Of Pile-On What happens when the “politics of pile-on” replaces the “politics of hope?” Hillary comes out on top. Despite the best efforts of her six fellow candidates to trip her up, Senator Clinton stood strong and made her case on critical issues like Iran, Iraq and Social Security.


My assessment that Hillary had a good (not great) night seems to place me squarely outside the "pundit consensus" as decreed in the Temple of Halperin. Alors. On the other hand, there's something amusing about the Obama and Edwards campaigns, having long thumbed their noses at the pundits, now crowing about how well they're now doing with the pundits. So it goes. (Jonathan Martin recently had a funny riff on this phenomenon.) --Michael Crowley 

So says his spokeswoman to the NYT. At least she didn't say "humanoid."  --Michael Crowley

The big question heading into tonight’s debate was how aggressively would Barack Obama and John Edwards hammer Hillary Clinton’s character, which recent internal-polling suggests is her greatest vulnerability. The answer was: very aggressively. Obama and Edwards spent much of the evening firing away at Clinton’s honesty and trustworthiness. And, yet, in a way, the debate seemed less about Obama and Edwards versus Clinton than Obama versus Edwards, with Clinton as a bystander. That’s not to say all the incoming fire had no effect on Clinton.


The Clinton Glare

Last micro thought: Did anyone else notice the way Hillary would turn and glare at Obama--standing at the podium next to her--every time he started criticizing her? I read it less as true irritation on Hillary's part and more as a calculated attempt to make Obama uncomfortable.


The Hillary Papers

As I said below, I find Hillary's coyness about her exact role in her husband's administration rather strange. That said, I found it pretty silly for Barack Obama to jump in and gravely declare it "a problem" that Hillary won't publicly release her White House papers archived at the Clinton library.


Philadelphia Story

I saw another pretty strong night for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia. On both substantive and stylistic levels we learned nothing virtually nothing new about the candidates tonight. In the media's funhouse of expectations and conventional wisdom, however, I suspect Barack Obama will again be judged to have come up a little flat. It may be a matter of his delivery, but even with sharpened critiques Obama somehow doesn't break through and grab your attention. A couple of things I haven't seen discussed elsewhere jumped out at me. One was Hillary's response to a question about her experience.


More From The Money Men

One more quick dispatch from the inside world of campaign fundraising: It appears that the Obama and Clinton money men already view the Edwards campaign as something of a carcass, with both sides making the argument that Edwards's decline will lead to an unforeseen fundraising boomlet for them. The Obama fundraiser I spoke with earlier argues that Edwards's trial-lawyer supporters will flee en masse to Obama because they're worried about a future Clinton administration tossing them overboard as part of some triangulation exercise.


Howard Fineman has a web item in Newsweek suggesting that, contrary to the buzz surrounding that Times Obama piece this weekend, there really isn't a sense of panic in the Obama camp, and that Obama doesn't feel like he has to make some game-changing move in tonight's debate. For what it's worth, I spoke to a top Obama fundraiser earlier today who basically made the same point. This person told me that Obama's top money men split into two camps when they gathered in Des Moines three weeks ago for a meeting of the campaign's national finance committee.


Now this is what you'd call a good ole fashioned bind. On the one hand, there are obvious reasons--potential conflicts of interest, etc.--that Rudy Giuliani would want to put as much distance between himself and his consulting firm as possible. Which is why you get him saying stuff like this (via today's WaPo): During an interview in June with CNBC's Larry Kudlow, Giuliani said that he was spending no more than 10 percent of his time doing work for the firm while he was campaigning and that he planned to take a leave of absence.