Debate Summary: South Carolina
The problem for Obama is getting dragged into the mud when he wants to aim higher.Matthew Yglesias:
Indeed, the moment the campaign gets ugly, he’s at a decided disadvantage — if he returns fire, it’s politics as usual, with politicians bickering and getting personal. If he doesn’t return fire, and aims for a “new kind of politics,” the attacks from Clinton start to stick, and questions about general election “toughness” emerge.
It’s not that Obama couldn’t compete in a street fight — he seemed pretty good at it — it’s that he was fighting on Clinton’s terms.
But still, if voters are considering being persuaded by the merits of Clinton's arguments about Obama and the war, or about the "present" votes or whatever else they ought to be aware that this is all basically bogus. What's more, I think it's worth pointing out that Clinton seems to have gotten herself firmly into "flip-flop" territory on the war at this point; hawk was bad, substantively and politically, but this may be worse.David Sirota:
Later in the debate, when John Edwards gave perhaps the most eloquent answer of all on a question about poverty, Clinton tried to one-up everyone by saying "when I graduated from law school, I didn't go to work for a law firm. I went to work for Marian Wright Edelman at the Children's Defense Fund." Yes, folks - forget about her time at Arkansas most powerful corporate law firm. Forget that she ignored potential conflicts-of-interest to serve at that corporate law firm even as her husband was governor of the state. Forget her role helping build Wal-Mart into the monster it is today. Forget even her sitting by and cheering as her husband's administration - which she now overtly asks voters to re-embrace with her candidacy - rammed NAFTA and welfare reform through Congress, throwing millions of people into poverty. Yes, just remember that for a few moments right out of college, she worked at a non-profit.
This is truly the politics of hopelessness - a politics mastered by a Clinton machine deft in all the dark arts of corruption and demagoguery.