I watched the Democratic debate tonight on and off; I probably didn’t catch more than half of it, but don’t feel like I missed much. For what it’s worth, here are my impressions:
Howard Dean: He seemed to be on Prozac, with the exception of one moment, at the end of an answer, when he suddenly got an expression exactly like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Nothing that happened tonight will stop his slide.
Wesley Clark: He strikes me as oddly inept. The moment when he refused to disavow Michael Moore’s characterization of the President as a “deserter” was telling.
Joe Lieberman: Lieberman gave the debate its moment of truth with a brief but excellent defense of the war in Iraq. To me, anyway, it made all of the others seem very small.
John Edwards: I’ve always feared that Edwards has a lot of potential, but I didn’t think he seemed impressive tonight. He wasn’t any worse than any of the others–maybe a little better–but it wasn’t a breakout performance.
John Kerry: He did fine, I thought. It’s hard to see what will happen between now and Tuesday to knock him out of the top spot. But when he recites his resume, and tries to explain his votes, it’s a reminder of how much baggage he drags around with him.
I also watched Diane Sawyer’s interview with Howard Dean and his wife. He was obviously trying to recover from the Iowa disaster, on the model of Bill and Hillary fending off the Gennifer Flowers problem. But it’s hard to see how it could do him any good. They showed the video of the conclusion of his Iowa speech at least ten times. I thought Judy Steinberg seemed very sweet, however. A high granola quotient, certainly, but I was surprised by how much I liked her.
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