Last night, doing commentary on the debate for MSNBC, Chris Matthews looked as if he was sitting on something very sharp and uncomfortable.
Arriana Huffington, doing her Gabor sisters impressions on Larry King, looked like she had indigestion.
The Nutroots and Big Media were in meltdown.
The cause for all this discomfort and upset was the very evident and indisputable triumph of Hillary in the first Democratic debate of the 2008 election cycle.
The New York Post assembled a group of voters to analyze the debate. They declared Hillary “presidential” and Obama “timid”. Here are some excerpts of what else they had to say:
“She knows the issues, she looked presidential, and she held her own,” Jackie Rowe-Adams, a vice president with District Council 37, Local 299, said of Clinton. “And she kept a smile, if you noticed.”
Obama, meanwhile, was “really timid . . . like he was searching [for answers],” she said.
“[Obama] had the highest expectations coming into this,” she said, “so I was expecting to hear this great speaker.”
Roseann Darche, 62, a city government worker from Queens, described Obama as “the opposite of charismatic.”
“He was on message,” she noted, “and he wasn’t spontaneous.”
Some eyes rolled during some of Obama’s answers, particularly when he discussed the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the ban on partial-birth abortions, and called the decision one best left between a woman “and her clergy.”
The Guardian boomed: “Hillary Clinton emerged as the clear winner from the first debate between the Democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential race – ahead of her main rival Barack Obama – according to those present in the audience.”
Obama stumbled repeatedly said Politico, especially on Israel and terrorism. Rolling Stone labeled Obama a big loser: “He filibustered his way through this debate. He’s set the bar high for himself as a fresh voice for change. And he disappointed by coming off as the most programmed member of the field, answering the questions he’d prepared for, not the ones he was asked: How would he pay for his health care plan, to cite just one example. He was playing not to lose.”
Newsday praised Hillary and scorched Obama: “Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a cool, confident performance Thursday night in the first primary debate of the 2008 presidential season, while her fast-gaining opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, seemed to sweat a bit in the national spotlight.”
On television, particularly MSNBC, which started its debate coverage at 9:00 in the morning the Hillary Triumph was even more evident.
Bob Shrum declared Hillary “Superb”, and said the debate helped her considerably and that now Obama must do “something” to regain momentum. Shrum added that Hillary was “natural, at ease, she did an effective job”.
Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews said Hillary was “solid”. Chris Matthews added to his reputation for flacid analysis by talking up Hillary’s pearl necklace which he deemed “very Grace Kelly, demure”. Scarborough added that “Hillary Clinton did exceedingly well.” About Hillary he said “there was so much there, there”.
Keith Olberman stated the obvious when he said that Obama, responding to a question about his “dicey doners” did not answer well.
Howard Fineman who usually delights in mocking Hillary was forced to concede that “Hillary did superbly well” that “Obama was off his game”, “she was in command”.
Craig Crawford of National Journal said that “Hillary exceeded, Obama fumbled”, “Hillary was presidential” and that “Obama could not even handle Kucinich”.
But it was erstwhile Republican Patrick Buchanan who summarized the debate the best. Here are excerpts of what he said: “Hillary was at the top of her game, Obama was disappointing” and “Hillary really won it, Obama went into his old formula of anecdotes.” “My question is: Is there any there there? Is this just a suit?” He said Obama was “gauzy and abstract”, “almost in Dukakis league” that Hillary is a “strong front runner”. Buchanan also issued a warning to his fellow Republicans. He said that “her performance tells me that if next fall she is standing next to Rudy, McCain or Romney — she will win, she was superior to all candidates tonight. He rated her “A or A+” and that Hillary “sounded responsible, she sounded centrist and appealing to independents.”