The Last Words

A campaign blog.
Feb. 21 2008 9:53 PM

The Last Words

Neither candidate exactly answers the last question, "What moment tested you?"

Obama takes the opportunity to recite his entire biography.

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Hillary, however, pivots in a way that evokes, of all things, her Diner Sob . Only this time, she sets herself up: "People often ask me, 'How do you do it? How do you keep going?’ " That’s the exact same question asked by Marianne Pernold Young at the Cafe Espresso in Portsmouth, N.H., on the eve of the primary. Clinton then goes into a colorful anecdote about a medical center filled with people injured in Iraq. She doesn’t exactly tear up, but it’s a deliberately emotional moment. (We see Chelsea looking teary afterward.)

At the very end, she borrows a line that John Edwards used toward the end of his campaign. "We're going to be fine," she said, referring to herself and Obama. (Edwards always said it about himself and Elizabeth.) "I just hope we can say the same thing about the American people."

On CNN, David Gergen just called this her best television moment since New Hampshire. I know he’s supposed to be CW incarnate, but please, please don't let this be the narrative coming out of this debate. The moment was strong and no doubt genuinely emotional. Howard Wolfson just sent out an e-mail calling it "the moment she retook the reins of this race." But my interpretation was the opposite. She seemed oddly resigned. As some have already speculated, maybe she wants to go out classy. Hers was a very high-road tone. No doubt she's still in this race, but she could well have one eye on the general, in which any harsh words she utters now could be used to undermine Obama.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

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