I missed the event in real time, but I've been catching up with clips and rehashes on TV and online. All I can give is my impression of the various clips I have now seen. Two things stand out to me: the first is that finally, this race is out in the open. It's between three people: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. The Clintons attacked tonight with a vehemence that is usually reserved to candidates who are struggling. The nature of the attacks was also deeply partisan: the assault on Obama's kind words for Reagan's transformational presidency and the scorn for his ability to respect the ideas that have emerged from the right. This was an attempt to anathematize Obama with the core Democratic base. That's now the Clintons' central strategy: to rally their core voters against the pretender to their throne.
The second is that Clinton now automatically uses the first person plural. It's not the Royal "we". It's an empirical "we":
The facts are that he has said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years, and we can give you the exact quote. Now, I personally think they had ideas, but they were bad ideas. They were bad ideas for America. They were ideas like privatizing Social Security, like moving back from a balanced budget and a surplus to deficit and debt. And with respect to putting forth how one would pay for all of the programs that we're proposing in this campaign, I will be more than happy, Barack, to get the information, because we have searched for it.
Yes, this "we" implies a team behind a candidacy. But it also reflects the unitary thinking of the biggest power-couple in America. Obama showed - in a way never before asked of a presidential candidate - that he could take on both a major rival and the last president of his party. To win, he has to take on and defeat them both. That's a tall order.
But yes: he can.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.