The local ABC affiliate delays the transmission of the ABC debate tonight - to start at 7.00 PM Mountain time, after Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. I mean, who watches these shows?!
Anyway - I thought the debate was average. The 90-second answer/60-second response format was a little stifling. Both Senators Clinton and Obama often danced around instead of giving direct answers, so Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos often had to ask the question again! There was an extended discussion on taxes - not raising taxes for those with incomes less than $200,000 and for Senator Obama, on raising the upper income limit for the payroll tax.
Senator Obama got a couple good shots. One, when recalling that Senator Clinton's comment in 1992 about staying home and baking cookies (link via TJR) was also attacked as elitist. Senator Obama said that he thought those 1992 attacks were unfounded, but Senator Clinton took the wrong lesson from that, in making similar attacks now over the "bitter" comments.
The second point came when Senator Clinton and the moderators questioned Senator Obama over never-convicted Weather Underground member William Ayers (WaPo Fact Checker). Senator Obama pointed out that while he was barely associated with Ayers, President Clinton had actually pardoned two convicted members of the Weather Underground!
Senator Obama went on to say that making him complicit with Ayers is the same as making him apologize for his friend Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), who once said abortion providers should be given the death penalty. Slate.com's John Dickerson says this goes to show Senator Obama's "penchant for troubling moral equivalencies." I disagree - I think Senator Obama was pointing out the ludicrousness of the entire situation. Does Dickerson really think Senator Obama has to answer for Ayers' actions? [See my earlier post on Dickerson here.]
Both Dickerson and MSNBC's Chuck Todd say Senator Clinton won (Todd says she will benefit for a short time only), though both agree that when she goes on the attack, she pays a bigger price than Senator Obama. I don't know - I thought Senator Obama came off reasonably well, fending off attacks and questions on his negatives (bittergate, Wright-gate) as "old politics." His final answer - his pitch to superdelegates - that he attracts voters who have never before participated in elections to form a new coalition that will be able to tackle the enormous challenges ahead, was also better than Senator Clinton's response (experience, great programs, blah blah blah).
I would say the debate was a draw - Senator Clinton always comes off as competent in a debate, but Senator Obama did well too. We will find out next Tuesday what the good people of Pennsylvania think.
In other news, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Harrisburg Patriot-News endorsed Senator Obama (via CNN's Political Ticker), as did Bruce Springsteen and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney. Mr Rooney joins Franco "Immaculate Reception" Harris and Jerome "The Bus" Bettis. Yay!
[Dan Rooney; Franco Harris; Jerome Bettis.]
Finally, another great video from The Jed Report: