For about thirty-five or forty minutes, Barack Obama had to suffer a pale echo of the kind of "gotcha" personal questions that Hillary Clinton has had to suffer for the past sixteen years. And his response was twofold: "Stop picking on me!" and, of course, the old standby, "It's all Clinton's fault!" (which I have taken to referring to as IACF for brevity's sake). It was, to be charitable, not impressive.
What's amazing to me, is as awful as those questions were, they were about things that Senator Obama has brought upon himself - and he still couldn't handle them. Who put a gun to his head and made him say those idiotic words about Americans being bitter and clinging to their guns and religion because of economic hardship - and that's why they like Hillary better? Who forced him to stay with that hateful and controversial church for 20 years? Who makes him associate with people like William Ayers from the Weather Underground? If a Democrat wants to run for president, as Senator Clinton has known since her husband went through it, IT'S ALL FAIR GAME.
And believe it or not, this game was fairer than what Clinton's had to go through. For example, they didn't ask him about Reszko and Auchi, two very, very controversial Middle Eastern figures who may be more deeply associated with Barack Obama than he has previously admitted. They didn't make him answer for things that his wife has said or done - though Hillary has always had to answer for Bill. Finally, they didn't just pretend he's done things and expect him to justify doing them. (An extreme case of this type of "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" question is the monstrous accusation that Hillary murdered Vince Foster.)
Now, in my ideal world, just being a Democrat running for President would not entitle the corporate media to plot your destruction. But that's what they do, and anyone who is foolish enough not to realize that - like, say, someone who's been tongue-bathed by the media from Day One - deserves what he gets.
The rest of the debate, which was focused on questions about Iraq, the economy, gas prices, taxes and gun regulation, went a bit better for Senator Obama. Unfortunately, he was debating Hillary Clinton, who is, quite frankly, the best I've ever seen in this format. If a question was framed as a "gotcha," she changed it around and addressed the real issue behind it, often getting in some good swipes at Bush and Dick "Fourth Branch" Cheney in the process. If a question was not framed as a gotcha (those were few and far between), she answered it with a point-by-point plan in simple, but eloquent, language. Senator Obama was vague, repetitive and stuttering in most of his responses, and I actually found it very difficult to follow what he was saying. Were he up against a less gifted politician, his performance would have been better, but he was in Hillary's Kitchen. She doesn't let anyone in when she's baking cookies, Senator Obama.
Finally, I was very glad to see that Hillary was able to speak several times about the peace and prosperity that happened in the 1990's, because Barack Obama appears to have been abducted by aliens during that period of time.
How else to explain his repetition of this obviously false talking point:
"For decades, people have seen their government fail to keep its promises to them."
No, Barack, during the 1990's, most people were actually pretty happy with their government. How else to explain the 70-plus percent approval rating that Bill Clinton had DURING HIS IMPEACHMENT?
I never realized before how out of touch Obama's rhetoric is with the basic reality of America, and how utterly damaging his continuous lying about the 1990's is to the Democratic brand. I would like to know how he justifies his lack of praise for even one former Democratic President. Certainly he seems to feel that praising Bill Clinton would damage his credibility. I don't blame him, since so far, his only distinguishing characteristics seem to be a talent for speechmaking, charisma and the "I'M NOT HITLERY!!!1111!!!!" factor. Yesterday, he slammed Jimmy Carter for doing what he won a Nobel Peace Prize for: attempting to broker peace in the Middle East. How about FDR? JFK? LBJ? Any kind words?
Perhaps at some point he has spoken them, but praising successful Democratic presidents of the past is certainly not a cornerstone of his campaign, and it should be. It's the working class, stupid, and every recent Democratic administration, starting with FDR, has been better for the working class than every recent Republic administration. Why can't you just admit it? It may be "partisan," but it's TRUE.
As my husband said last night after watching only the issues-oriented part of the debate, "He'd make a great Vice President." And who knows - that may be where he ends up. But as far as the top of the ticket goes, he should have stayed out of Hillary's Kitchen.
The heat will kill him.