Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hillary Clinton Bests Barack Obama In First Debate

At the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City on Monday night, there was a public discussion of Iraq, the Presidential campaign and other issues by four eminent women in political journalism -- Gwen Ifill, Cokie Roberts, Helen Thomas and Judith Miller.

Although the participants often disagreed, they all seemed contemptuous of the presidential campaign of former New York city mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and all seemed rather upbeat on the prospects of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

It seemed to me they were right about Clinton, but wrong about Giuliani, Despite Giuliani's record of three marriages and issues stands which contradict mainstream Republican positions, I think it is far too early to dismiss Giuliani's presidential chances. It reminds me of those liberal French journalists who said Charles de Gaulle, another great man of the moment, would never return to power. He did return to power, and Giuliani could be elected president in my view, because people remember his calm, able handling of 9-11.

As to Hillary Clinton, I agree with the tenor of the discussion -- that she could well win the Democratic nomination and could be elected the nation's first woman president.

My view was only fortified Friday night with the first debate of the Democratic candidates, in South Carolina.

There was one key question in this debate, and Clinton handled it much better than Obama. Asked what they were do if there was a new terrorist attack in the U.S., Clinton immediately said she would respond forcefully, while Obama said he would check emergency efforts.

Clinton's answer was much stronger, and reminded me when Mike Dukakis was asked during a debate that took place in his campaign what his reaction would be if his daughter was assaulted. Dukakis did not say he would be outraged and react forcefully, and this ultimately turned out to be one of the false steps on the way to his defeat.

After Friday night's debate, there was at first comment from media analysts that no one had scored many points. On reflection, however, several said they felt Clinton had shown her mettle, while Obama had shown his comparative lack of debate experience.

At last night's discussion among the four political journalists, I believe it was Roberts who pointed out how successful Clinton had been both in campaigning for the Senate and then serving as U.S. Senator from the state of New York.

Although Obama, an inspirational speaker normally, has been rising in the polls and in the latest one almost came even with Clinton, I don't think he did himself any good the other night. Certainly, the American people want a forceful president, regardless which party might prevail in the 2008 elections, and on key national security concerns, Obama is simply not as forceful as Clinton. (and for that matter, neither Clinton nor Obama are as forceful as Giuliani).

There are many opportunities for missteps and political changes along the way, just until we get to next year's primaries, but Clinton at the moment appears more substantive than Obama and this, plus name identification, may carry her through.



Blogger merben said...

Obama did have a shaky start during the debate. He seemed to be hesitant and very unlike the fiery speaker that is normally seen in his speeches. Hillary on the other hand did not make any mistakes during the debate. I think it will be interesting to see if this debate has any impact on the recent election 2008 polls. Let's see who has gained the most from this debate,

5/01/2007 1:01 PM  
Blogger Politicus Denovo said...

I agree with most of what is said here, but it is far too early to create an aura of weakness surrounding Obama. His foreign policy statement can be described as positively hawkish, and he has many months to try and hone his response to such obviously trapping questions. My opinion is that the debate terrorism 'misstep' may in fact translate to a positive for Obama. Most of the Democratic party is tired of knee-jerk foreign policy. Does anyone think that they want to choose a 'Bush-Lite' candidate that talks butch but is a little smarter? No. I think they want someone that will build alliances as fast as they fix port security.


5/01/2007 10:45 PM  

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