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NH debates thread.

What did you see? What did you like? Dislike? Who succeeded? Who didn't? Who wants to adopt Bill Richardson?

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Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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It seems to me that Richardson has the best resume of the whole bunch, Unfortunately, he is a middle-aged man who is more than a bit chubby, and large numbers of Americans consider that immoral. Better to be married 3 times than fat.

What I saw last night (both debates) is not what I read this morning in the NYTimes. I thought everyone did reasonably well (excepting Fred Thompson, who doesn't seem to have much passion for this, that, or a low thyroid condition). The Times hates Hillary, who I thought managed the parries and thrusts pretty well. Patrick Healey Times reporter and Hillary-hater referred to matters "escalating to a showdown." No Patrick, skilled and humorous back and forth between the candidates. Alessandra Stanley found Charles Gibson, moderating not as pressing and nasty as Tim Russert's. Great. It was actually enjoyable watching. Gibson was a bit self-deprecating, humorous, and spontaneous (or seeming so). Much better this than the moderators hogging the dramatic center by being belligerent and pushy (And I like Tim!). Richardson would once again be a great Secretary of Energy. And though I like Obama a lot, I thought Hillary had it hands down. Actions and not just words are what's going to count in the next presidency. She said so and she's right. Obama's Iowa "victory" speech had the cadences of a Baptist preacher, it was too long, and too grandiose (for the event). I'm not sure I want a preacher in the WH bully pulpit. Edwards was not impressive. All his talk about personal and passionate is another version of George Ws gut policy making. Please, never again.That's how I see it on Sunday morning at 10 AM.

I am with you on this one, Peggy. Obama and Edwards are still acting like Hillary is the frontrunner which is saying something. She definitely came across stronger. I am continually amazed by how many women do not like Hillary. As with men the vote is more anti-Hillary than pro. Maybe she should go on Rachel Ray and bake cookies and goo and ga.Obama and Edwards might have lost something last night. I mean c'mon. Hillary is not W.

I've always been in Richardson's corner, and it will be even harder to leave it after last night's debate, though I hope he will continue to stay in the debates as a foil to the other three.I thought his answer about the moment he most regretted (saying his favorite Supreme Court justice was White) was hilarious--and wouldn't it be nice to have a president who could admit he'd made a mistake for once instead of saying he "did not have sex with that woman" or "Saddam Hussein has nuclear weapons." Hillary and Obama did the old "make the question the one you want to answer" switch several times, a la, "Well there are lots of things I regret, but you know the really great thing about these debates is that we look better than the GOP candidates ..." I think one of the ground rules of these debates should be that if you pull that schtick, the hook comes out, the gong sounds, or your mike gets turned off and you lose your turn. Richardson's answers were also short, direct, and matter-of-fact. The pundits (all young) said he didn't show as much "vitality." Why? because he wasn't yelling? A telling moment: He made a joke about having been in hostage situations that were more cordial. I noticed that that seemed to serve as a warning to Edwards and Obama who were tag teaming on the Hillary baiting at first, and they stopped it. There's effective leadership in action!I try not to pay attention to tone and style, but Obama struck me as arrogant, Hillary as angry, Edwards as pandering to the middle class. Richardson was the only one who just said what he thought and kept his cool.

This is interesting. I saw something different: Hillary widened her eyes and showed signs of frustration (perhaps even anger) over Edwards's and Obama's successes in Iowa. I read arrogant presumption in that moment. So did the NH independents I saw interviewed. (Bill Clinton's victim pose isn't helping either.) But others obviously didn't--another Rorschach moment? Once that exchange passed, her performance improved. "That hurts my feelings" was pitch perfect, and I wish Obama would have held his tongue: "You're likable enough Hillary" came off as bullying. And I agree with Jean about his avoidance of Gibson's final question. (Gibson was great--I'd love to see him moderate the rest of the debates.) My grades: Obama B+, Edwards B, Clinton C+, Richardson E for effort.

I only saw the Democratic debate.Frankly I'm more intereted in Tuesday and the results and demographics - how much the young of New Hampshire are involved will be most interesting.I thought all the candidates looked and acted tired(though my beloved Governor, Bill, had less to lose so he could be more relaxed.)The afterpoll expressing the disappoinmenmt that the economy was not discused more was on target. Maybe we needed an Edwards/Reich debate.It strikes me that, at least til now, the "debate" is not about "change vs. experience," but rather who can best unify the country in making the surely coming change a reality.On the Republican side, I must say that McCain's jab at Romney aboiut sopending all his money on untrue attack adds was a sharp blow to the solar plexus

Bill M., I'm a woman, and I don't hate Hillary, but I can't support her much as I wish I couldHer messages lack substance. For instance, she says she has 35 years as a change agent, and then jumps directly to how being the first woman president would be a big change for everyone. That got a nice round of applause, but she still needs to credibly what she's actually changed for anybody in those 35 years she claims.She also says she's learned a lot since she failed to reform health care (a job she botched so badly that nobody's wanted to touch it since, and one that has made even liberal Democrats like me wonder if this is one area the government really can't do anything about). In other words, she's a "new Hillary," and that reminds me creepily of the "new Nixon" of 1968.I think there are a lot of parallels between Hillary and Nixon:They both see winning the presidency as a way to make up for past humiliations--Nixon in his loss to Kennedy and Hillary for the dreck she had to walk through as screwer-up of health care and Bill's wronged wife.They are both humorless. Nixon's handlers put him on "Laugh In" to try to humanize him, which was absolutely embarassing. And Hillary's handler's told her to smile more, which merely makes her look manic and about to bite someone.They both show a troubling tendency to want to demonize their enemies. Nixon had his "list." Hillary wanted so badly to prove that Obama has ALWAYS wanted to be president, contrary to his own statements, that she published a statement on her Web site by his kindergarten teacher, who said Obama wanted to be prez. I don't want to see another intelligent but deeply flawed president fly off in a helicopter to San Clemency. And I sure as hell don't want that president to be a woman.

Here's my take:Richardson- charming, talks about himself too much, most relaxed because he knows he can't win;Edwards - passionate; also somewhat desperate since he senses his campaign is coming to an end;Clinton - earnest, repititious, and more than a bit irritated that she may not be inevitable;Obama - tired, a bit too cerebral, and relentlessly "on message."But apart from their performances, what about their messages?Edwards is telling the truth about our corporate-dominated culture, and also makes valid points about Hillary's acceptance of corporate donations. Hillary does have a longer resume than her two chief opponents, but it includes both laudable accomplishments and sorry ones - initial support for the Iraq War, and a more recent vote for the Iran-baiting resolution that declared the Revolutionary Guard Corps a "terrorist organization."Obama wasn't at his best last night. It will be interesting to see if his appeal to independents (and even Republicans) that propelled his win in Iowa will continue in New Hampshire.As Andrew Sullivan wrote in The Atlantic, Obama's most attractive feature may not be his policies or his skill as a conciliator. His most valuable assest may be his person. On the domestic front, unlike McCain or Clinton, he does not carry the unresolved residue of the Viet Nam War, which still divides segments of our society. Internationally, he presents a new face of America to the world - a brown skinned man whose middle name is Hussein.

Ann Olivier, you took the words right out of my mouth. I thought Richardson was best qualified, but I also worried about the fatness. I know we have had some big presidents, but that was in the time when it was a sign of prosperity. Now it shows lack of discipline.I have been undecided between Obama and Edwards. Now I might vote for Richardson, even if it is throwing my vote away. Obama was wispy, and Edwards' indignation came through as a bit false, perhaps practiced too often. Unfortunately, Clinton reminds me too much of things I would rather forget, although I know she didn't cause them. While I admire her courage, I think a lot of people feel queasy about the Clintons in the White House again. It's unfair, but life is like that sometimes.

Jean, The first myth we all have to get over is the absurd criticism of Hillary's venture into health care. At the time, William Kristol sounded the alarm to Republicans that if the Democrats succeeded in health care it would be a devastating blow to the Republican party. All of us who bought that myth should ponder Kristol's prescient words. Second, remember Hillary introduced the idea and she was opposed not because her ideas were terrrible (certainly they could be improved) but because the insurance companies would lose a fortune. After that this guy (forget his name) starts US Health Care and makes a fortune. As far as women are concerned the press and special interests did a hatchet job on Geraldine Ferrara because she was a woman. And don't tell me it was because she had flaws because all the candidates since have had as many if not more.The myth of Hillary's "health care debacle" is prime matter for politics 101. A great idea was made to look bad because so many people said it was bad. This is a trick done all the time in politics. It is being done to Edwards now. Edwards is considered a fringe candidate because too many people with money have a lot to lose by his principles. These are people who are able to control public opinion behind the scenes through others who will do their bidding. A case in point is Ed Koch who was an extremely popular mayor. When special interests decided that he was neglecting them the word went out how this man would never be nominated for mayor again. David Dinkins, a true crony, was inserted in place of Koch. Everybody knows universal health care is necessary in the US and too many will not give credit to Hillary for laying herself on the line to do it. The attack was so well done on her that many just repeat it like she made some tremendous blunder when she performed a great service. Many women have subliminally bought into Hillary as an ogre. What the hell did she do that was so bad? Said that she was not going to stay home and bake cookies. Barbara Bush had all these positives. But what did she ever accomplish? That she knew her place at the cookie counter? That she was for universal literacy? Wow!!The anti-Hillary is first and foremost anti-woman. Secondly, we bought into making someone a ogre which is a media creation. We don't have to go to the NT to understand myth. It is going on all the time and most of us buy it.

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