Friday, February 1, 2008
Too Close To Call
Wow. I just got finished watching the entire Obama-Clinton debate, and what I said yesterday about either one of them destroying McCain come November counts for double now. They're both really great candidates. As always, whenever I see Obama I'm reminded of why I agree with so much of what's written about his strengths. And also as always, whenever I see Clinton I'm reminded of why I disagree with so much of what's written about her weaknesses.
I read a bit of commentary and analysis before watching the debate, and the consensus seemed to be that they both put on strong performances, with Obama having the slight edge due to his advantage during the Iraq portion of the debate. And I have to take issue with the latter half of that assessment. It was clear that Clinton was eager to re-direct the Iraq discussion to the way forward. But I found her very persuasive on the merits of her position on the authorization vote. And I say that as someone who opposed the war from the start, and who has never been sympathetic to the position she was defending.
What's more, while I continue to be impressed by Obama's strategic assessment of the past and strategic vision for the future, I found myself irritated by two of his assertions regarding Clinton's Iraq position. First, that she supported the war and the mindset that led to the war, which is a blatant distortion that I'm surprised he's not called out on. And second, that Clinton will be compromised by her authorization vote when facing off against McCain. There's tons of daylight between Clinton's Iraq stance and McCain's, and if anything, she'll be in the position of using her vote as proof that she's tough enough to wield the threat of force, but sane enough to determine when it actually makes sense to follow through.
I think both candidates did extremely well. Obama because he showed he belongs up there in every sense of the word. It's tautological, but the questions about his toughness and staying power become less and less valid the longer he sticks around. Meanwhile, Clinton's performance demonstrated her savvy in terms of how to modulate the tone of her campaign to suit the tactical needs of the moment.
While I've already made the editorial decision not to endorse either candidate, I thought as recently as last night that I'd finally decided who I was voting for. After watching the debate, I'm not so sure anymore. I've often found that when we have a hard time making a decision for ourselves, the universe sometimes makes it for us. Oddly enough, my absentee ballot still hasn't arrived from the LA County registrar's office, so maybe I'm destined to remain undecided in this one. One thing's certain. Come November, I'll have no problem voting for the candidate with the big "D" after their name.