Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Question 13

Williams asks the final question, which is more of an attempt to start a brawl than a conclusion: What does your opponent need to do to prove his/her worthiness as the Democratic nominee?

Obama says that there is no doubt she is competent and would be a much better president than McCain, who has "tethered" himself to policies of Bush Administration, but "I bring a unique bias toward openness in government, pushing back against special interests," Obama says.

Clinton says there is no question that both feel strongly about the country and bring energy and commitment to the race, adding her standard line about how it has been an honor to run with Obama in this "campaign that is history making," thrilled to be running to be the first woman president, sea change, challenge to the way things have been done, who gets to do them, what the rules are."

Hillary talked more about herself than Obama and did not acknowledge that Obama would be a satisfactory nominee.

Round 13 to Obama, and why he wins it is another lesson for candidates out there.

When presented with a question about your opponent's capabilities, always view it as a trap. It is a no-win situation, unless there is simply egregiously disqualifying factors to discuss. You end up looking petty and unprofessional.

This is especially true in a primary. Remember, if you lose, you will be expected in our two-party system (which is, by the way, a topic for another day) to endorse the candidacy of your party's nominee. Subsequently, you can count on your words about your primary opponent to be used by the other party against your party's nominee -- and that can be uncomfortable, especially when you go out to make the obligatory endorsement and are confronted by statements you made about how Candidate X is unprepared, ill-suited, ill-equipped, etc., to hold the office for which he or she is running.

Obama took the high road and expressed solidarity with the Democratic Party; Clinton did not. For the third time tonight, Obama was the statesman; Hillary was not.

(As a postscript, I will say that I am glad I am not Paul Begala tonight, having to defend Hillary Clinton's performance. He actually just said that Bill Clinton fought against a media bias when he ran for president.

Talk about drinking the Kool-aid.)