Bloggers on the latest Democratic debate.

Bloggers on the latest Democratic debate.

Bloggers on the latest Democratic debate.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Oct. 31 2007 4:34 PM

Hillary Pilloried

Bloggers grieve or cackle over the all-out attack on Hillary at last night's Democratic debate. Also, the Madrid bombers are sentenced to many thousands of years, and Russia bans Halloween in schools and colleges.

Hillary pilloried: All the Democrats ganged up on a single candidate at Tuesday night's MSNBC debate, and she wasn't at all happy about it. In what many are calling Hillary Clinton's worst public performance as a candidate, the Democratic front-runner flubbed an answer about immigrant driver's licenses in New York, defended her vote to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, and otherwise went on a one-woman defensive against her fellow candidates. If only Dennis Kucinch's UFO had flown in to whisk her away from the vast left-wing conspiracy.

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Politico's Roger Simon thinks Hillary bombed: "It was not just that her answer about whether illegal immigrants should be issued driver's licenses was at best incomprehensible and at worst misleading. It was that for two hours she dodged and weaved, parsed and stonewalled." And MSNBC's First Read repeats what one unnamed campaign strategist told it last night, that the "debate could end—at least for now—the inevitability storyline the press has been writing, which the strategist believes has fueled her rise in the polls. The best news for Clinton: Due to the debate's late start, many might not have seen the driver's licenses exchange."

Scarecrow at liberal Firedoglake hates to see Democrats resorting to Republican talking points on Clinton: "[T]he argument that Clinton in unelectable because her 'negatives' are too high—that she's so disliked Americans won't vote for her—has always seemed one of those unproven Republican talking points that I suspect they only wish were true, even while they ignore the margin of her last Senate election victory." Clinton, Scarecrow adds, has had to tolerate "15 years of incessant vilification by a right wing unable to cope with a strong woman candidate, a liberal or anyone who had the temerity to tackle health care reform before its time."

"What should be scary for Clinton," writes Rick Klein and Mike Chesney at the Note on ABCNews.com, "is that the subtle, under-the-radar attacks on her candidacy—up to and including her electability and the baggage of the 1990s—will be hidden no longer."

More boxing metaphors from Craig Crawford at Congressional Quarterly's Trail Mix,who wasn't so down on Hillary: "Clinton seemed energized by getting so much attention, countering the charges leveled at her with specifics or deftly changing the subject when lacking a detailed retort. No matter what, she never seemed rattled. And that is often the danger for challengers who feel the need to go on the attack. Without a knockout, it only makes the front-runner stronger."

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The Moderate Voice's Joe Gandelman also gives props to Hillary, whom he says is becoming increasingly more "likable" on TV: "Republicans who are praying for her to be the candidate may perhaps find they are making the same mistake made by Democrats who prayed that Ronald Reagan, a man they felt was an old fogey has-been, grade-B movie actor and a too-conservative-and-out-of-the-mainstream California governor, would run against the (ever-hapless) President Jimmy Carter."

Read more about the debate.

Madrid bombers sentenced: Twenty-one of the accused Madrid bombers were sentenced Wednesday by a Spanish judge to a cumulative jail time of 120,755 years. Those are "symbolic" years; in fact, Spanish law allows a maximum prison sentence of only 40 years, so there is every chance that some of the jihadists responsible for the bombings that killed 191 people and injured 1,800 more will one day go free. Seven of the accused were acquitted, and the state did not determine the "mastermind" behind the attacks, thus leaving the case technically still open.

Madrid-based Robert Latona of Pajamas Media has an excellent analysis of the trial and its strange-seeming results: "In a stinging rebuff to the prosecution, the judges made it clear that the organizer, instigator, Mr. Big, the figure known in Spanish jurisprudence as the autor intelectual of the crime, could not be established. Why is this such a big deal? Because the law says there has to be one. A case is not closed until the courts have determined the person or persons vested with ultimate responsibility for the crime's commission, as opposed to a mere perpetrator, or autor material."

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Jet Bo-il at Revenge of the Syndicate sees Spain's "symbolic" sentences as insulting against the real jail time the bombers will likely spend: "So ... these guys' victims, hundreds of them, are dead, while they get to count the days until their release. I think we can all confidently predict that some mitigating circumstance will get them out in ... say ... 2027."

Cataspanglish at Slow Spain remembers the grim day three years ago: "Students of the company where I was teaching in Tres Cantos were on some of those trains that were blown up and that day and the days and weeks that followed were completely surreal. I was living in Lavapiés and the world's press and secret service agents were virtually camping outside my door. I had lived the IRA campaigns as a school kid but this was far bigger and on my doorstep and watching the events unravel was one of the strangest times of life. I had to get back on those trains the following week and like many others, I didn't have a happy ride."

Read more about the Madrid bombing verdicts.

This is why Dracula was Romanian: Moscow has banned Halloween from city schools and colleges. The killjoy effort is aimed to placate the Russian Orthodox Church, whose influence over state affairs has grown considerably under the presidency of Vladimir Putin.

"Who could be behind such a dastardly plan opposing the freedom of Moscow college students to express themselves? Religion, of course," complainsAlexander the Atheist: "This time in the form of the Russian Orthodox Church, which views the pagan-inspired quasi-holiday of Halloween as evil and satanic (like most Christian authorities)."

What a bummer, says Jonathon Morgan at ParentDish: "the Russian government thinks the celebrations are based on 'the cult of death, the mockery of death.' Which I guess is true, but technically zombies are undead, as are vampires and witches—oh, and they're fictional."

Read more about the Russian Halloween ban.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.