Some more post-debate thoughts:
–Hillary is all superego, controlled, and calculating. Democrats at some point are going to want some raging id in this race. It’s just that Edwards (inauthentic) and Obama (the above-it-all bi-partisan healer) aren’t the best vessels for it. But if not them, then who?
–John turns out to have been right–the post-debate reaction is bouncing anti-Hillary over the driver’s license answer. And Kathryn made a good point too: it doesn’t matter so much any more that Hillary “wins” these debates or that she’s the best on the stage. The question is by how much she wins and whether she provides any opening for criticism afterwards.
–I’m surprised that Hillary didn’t have some sort of canned line to try to defuse the situation a little, knowing she would probably be under attack all night. She was freezing cold. You almost expected to see those ground-hugging wisps of fog that come from dry ice emanating from around her feet. But, I have to say, I like this Hillary better than the fake-charming Hillary. The forced smiles and laughs don’t do much for me. I like that she’s saying implicitly, “I’m not here to make you feel warm and fuzzy. I’m here to do exactly what I need to do to win an election and implement certain important policy goals. I don’t have time for feelings or pleasantries.” Then, again, I liked and supported Phil Gramm in 1996–so what I considered likeable in a politician is a little off!
–It often happens that a primary opens up an avenue of attack against a candidate that is used in the general elections. Last night it was Democrats that were creating and validating the “Hillary is an inauthentic straddler” charge. That’s why I think, indirectly (and here I disagree with Kathryn), it was a bad night for Romney. If inauthenticity is one of her major vulnerabilities, you wouldn’t naturally throw Romney into a fight with her, given–fairly or unfairly–his own problems on that front. Rudy and McCain match up with her much better on this theme.
–After last night, I was more certain than ever that she’s the strongest Democratic general election candidate. Yes, she has her flaws, but so do Edwards and Obama, who compound their weaknesses with an out-there liberalism that would help Republicans immediately make up a lot of the ground they’ve lost since 2004.