Second Thoughts On The Debate

Who won last night? In the sense that there's an election a-brewin', someone obvious did. But the more I think about it, the harder it is for me to make a call. For the first solid hour of the debate, Barack Obama was kept on the defensive by Hillary Clinton; she demonstrated her mastery of health care policy and immigration policy. For the final third of the debate, Hillary Clinton was forced to review, over and over and over, her 2002 vote on the use of force resolution.

CNN estimates that between 5 and 6 million people watched the debate, many of them new to the presidential race. Probably 40 million other voters will get their debate impressions via television and radio. And one storyline along predominates: two candidates, about whom the party is pretty darn enthusiastic, being nice to each other and challenging the Republicans. The biggest applause line of last night came after Wolf Blitzer seemed to encourage the crowd to cheer for the prospect of an Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama ticket.