Thoughts about last night's Clinton-Obama debate

To me, it basically seemed a draw, which benfits Obama.

Halperin rates Obama's performance a bit better. Here are excerpts from his analysis.

B+ for Obama:

Avoided lofty rhetoric and focused on presenting himself as cool, deliberative and substantive. Well prepared and focused, he was also clearly bolstered by well-stoked confidence and what he sees as his looming, shiny victory. More than survived — even thrived at times — in what could be his final debate with Hillary Clinton.

Substance: Drilled down with simple, calm authority on Clinton's proposed requirement that people buy health insurance. Recited his limited Senate accomplishments in a crisper manner than he has in previous debates. And held his own on the economy — the signature issue in Ohio. Still, not specific about what he would do as president on many issues.
Grade: B

Style: Showed pique with his rival early and often. Surprisingly un-sunny and subdued — almost dour at times. But never ventured into rudeness, even when the cameras caught him in unguarded reaction shots. Didn't talk much about hope, Bush, McCain, or even Cousin Cheney.
Grade: B

Offense: Delivered rehearsed opposition research on Clinton's "votes and quotes" with astonishing smoothness. Per usual, never let Clinton forget her war vote or her health care failure.
Grade: A-

Defense: Was careful to deny Clinton the upper hand in each exchange and had a ready response for everything she threw his way. Deftly changed the subject the few times he was asked hard-hitting questions by moderators Russert and Williams, who behaved as if Clinton is still the front-runner and directed most of the tough topics to her.
Grade: A-

B- for Clinton:

A performance that would have been adequate were she not struggling to stay in the game. Her conviction that the media is biased against her seemed to throw her off throughout, and she was too distracted by her frustration with Obama and the press to truly shine. Occasionally got caught up in jargon and Washington-speak but still delivered some detailed and decisive moments. Overall, veered between strong and effective, shrill and affronted.

Substance: Was unable to demonstrate substantive superiority on the issues — something she did regularly in the earliest debates. Still, unfurled some solid, comprehensive answers — for instance on health care — when given an opportunity.
Grade: B

Style: Gracefully handled the inexplicable decision of the moderators to begin the debate with two questions challenging her on matters of political process. Then bristled when confronted on NAFTA. Awkwardly referenced last weekend's Saturday Night Live sketch which mocked the apparent overt media favoritism toward Obama — cute on the stump, but it was inappropriate in this forum. Was too hot on trade and health care, evincing further irritation. Still, undaunted 'til the last minute.
Grade: C+

Offense: Launched flabby, vague attacks that neither pinned down nor ruffled Obama.
Grade: C+

Defense: Did not present a clean response when challenged on health care or trade. Acted defensive, and at times off-kilter, when challenged by the moderators and Obama.
Grade: C

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