The group blog of The New Republic

September 26, 2007

James Fallows touched off an interesting discussion last week when he noted that just about everybody who's been associated with the Bush administration has seen their reputation suffer as a result.


If you're hanging out waiting for tonight's Democratic debate to start, and you haven't already watched Obama's speech before the SEIU last week, you might want to treat yourself now. (It's been uploaded to YouTube in five parts, beginning here.) It's probably the best performance I've seen him turn in on the campaign trail so far.


My reasons for thinking this aren't any better-formed than Matt's, but, like him, I have a gut feeling that the inevitability of Clinton's nomination has been overstated. She's clearly a huge favorite. But, if you pressed me, I'd say she has something like a 55-60 percent chance of winning, to Obama's 20-25 percent and Edwards's 15-20.* A 40-45 percent chance of someone other than Hillary is, by definition, hardly a lock. But it's not nothing either.


While we're disparaging Hillary's inevitability, check out this piece by Drew Cline, editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. He argues that Obama has a strength in his state and nationally that's being honestly reflected in fundraising but not in the polls:


While I'm on the subject of monologues by candidates that made my neck-hair stand up, it's only fair that I cite John Edwards's riff during the CNN/YouTube debate, about a man who wasn't able to get a severe cleft palate corrected until he was 50 because he didn't have health insurance. I haven't found the YouTube clip yet, so I'll just go ahead and post the text for the moment:


Just checking in on tonight's Democratic debate in time for Tim Russert's question, "Would Israel be justified in striking nuclear targets in Iran?" Why is it that, when giving essentially the same answer -- be prudent, Israel is an ally, look at the intel, blah blah -- Hillary sounds so much better than Obama?


Wince-worthy line by Bill Richardson: "I've made mistakes in the past, and I'm going to keep making them." Well, no better time to start than now!

--Eve Fairbanks

I was jotting something down just now and was only half-listening, but it sounded like Biden took Clinton to task for refusing to "negotiate with herself" on Social Security reform. If so, I second Biden's complaint. I think it's a little bizarre to say something like that--as Bush did--even when you're president. But to suggest you don't have an obligation to lay out what you'd do on a major issue as a candidate verges on outright arrogance.

--Noam Scheiber

Yesterday, Rick Perlstein wrote a post in which he contrasted the way America greeted Ahmadinejad this week with the way we greeted Nikita Khrushchev in 1959.


Hillary had another strong debate performance tonight--I think clearly in the world of political-media CW this will be seen as another step forward for her. However I thought she let her guard down when, in an light moment at the end of the debate, she said that in the event of a Cubs-Yankees world series "I would probably have to alternate sides" of fandom. Yes, it's utterly silly. But it's "Clintonian" moments like that which have mass-media legs, not Social Security policy.