Attack of the Seven Dwarves
Bloggers dissect the latest Democratic debate, marvel over a leaked transcript of President Bush's prewar conversation with the Spanish prime minister, and discuss Bill O'Reilly's dinner in Harlem.
Attack of the Seven Dwarves: The eight Democratic presidential hopefuls duked it out Wednesday at yet another debate. With Hillary Clinton way up in just about every poll, the seven other candidates finally tried going on the offensive. How'd everyone do?
At the National Review's water-cooler blog, the Corner, Amy Holmes says Clinton "flashed … two of her major weaknesses that she has, up to now, kept under wraps: her tendency to be shrill; and her tendency to be smug." Conservative Paul Mirengoff from Power Line analyzes Clinton's answers and finds her evasive. "This is the Clinton debate strategy in a nutshell -- give non-answers or cagey answers when necessary and use her new-found sense of humor and/or attacks on President Bush in the hope that people won't notice," he writes. "It should get her through the primaries and it may get back to the White House."
But at Campaign Matters,The Nation's John Nichols calls Barack Obama's performance "listless" and argues that the front-runner came out unscathed: "When all was said and done, Clinton made it through another debate without tripping on her own, and without being tripped up by a challenger. By any reasonable measure, her lead is likely to remain secure for so long as neither Obama nor Edwards chooses to run as a genuine anti-war candidate."
At Talking Points Memo's Election Central, Greg Sargent notes that Clinton "declared her opposition to legalized torture even in extreme 'ticking bomb' situations, asserting that she believes we need to adhere to an anti-torture policy under all circumstances." He concludes that "she's solid on the issue."
Noam Scheiber, writing for the New Republic's Plank, thinks John Edwards was last night's real winner: "[Edwards] came out of the gate taking issue with what he described as Clinton's willingness to leave combat troops in Iraq for the indefinite future. And, in perhaps his best moment of the debate, he warned that Clinton's vote on a Joe Lieberman-sponsored Senate resolution targeting Iran's Revolutionary Guard represented a serious lapse in judgment." Joe Sudbay from the lefty America Blog also highlights Edwards' performance: "John Edwards went after Hillary Clinton hard for supporting Lieberman's Iraq resolution. Very hard. Equated her vote for that resolution with her vote for the Iraq war."
Pointing out that the candiates wouldn't commit to withdrawing from Iraq, conservative Ed Morrissey from Captain's Quarters sees Gen. Petraeus' influence: "Leading Democrats realize now that running as the party of defeat when we continue to gain ground may sound good in the primaries, but will be disastrous in the general election." Responding to Morrissey, James Joyner from Outside the Beltway maintains Petraeus' testimony is not at issue. Primary voters are very anti-war, he says, but "there's a vast difference in running for president and running for Congress. Those with a plausible chance of being elected Commander in Chief have much less luxury to be glib and reactionary in their foreign policy pronouncements. ..."
Read more about last night's debate.
Revealing conversation: El Pais, a major Spanish newspaper, has published a transcript of a private conversation between Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and President Bush. During the February 2003 discussion, Bush said that "if there was a United Nations Security Council resolution or not … [w]e have to get rid of Saddam." Bloggers dig in.
David Swanson at the impeachment-focused After Downing Street calls the transcript yet another smoking gun. Anti-war blogger Juan Cole agrees: "The transcript shows that Bush consciously intended to go to war without a United Nations Security Council resolution. The United Nations Charter, to which the United States is a treaty signatory (so that it has the force of American law), forbids any nation to launch an aggressive war on another country. … The transcript shows Bush actively plotting to sidestep the UNSC if he could not, gangster-like, threaten its members into compliance."
Juliet Lapidos is a former Slate associate editor.