Democratic Debate Has Experts Falling in Love All Over Again

Democratic debate
The candidates, pictured seconds before Obama pulled the "high, low, you're too slow" maneuver. Photo: Getty Images

Last night’s Democratic debate at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles couldn’t have contrasted more highly with Wednesday's Republican debate. Where the Republicans sniped at each other, the Democrats focused on the Republicans (Obama and Clinton referred to John McCain eight times). Obama never accused Clinton of harboring secret right-wing positions, and Clinton never suggested that FDR wouldn’t vote for Obama. For many Democrats, this debate reassured them that either candidate would just be swell. The punditry, however, was duty-bound to dig a little deeper.

• Josh Marshall writes that Obama raised his stature to Hillary’s level, and that Hillary helped herself by taking the focus off Bill and directing it back to her. [Talking Points Memo]

• Andrew Sullivan thinks this was Obama’s best debate, and actually predicts that he wrapped up the nomination with his performance. [The Atlantic]

• Mark Ambinder calls it a draw, saying both candidates are winners when they’re given the chance to truly explain their positions instead of being forced into sound bites. [The Atlantic]

• Jonah Goldberg thinks Obama was too cautious, given that he’s still down in the polls. [The Corner/National Review Online]

• Noam Schieber gives a slight edge to Obama for improving his answer on health care and winning the immigration and Iraq debates. [The Stump/New Republic]

• Michael Goldfarb was bored out of his mind but came away thinking Clinton would be a better president. [The Weekly Standard]

• Joe Klein says both Democrats should be proud of their debate performances, and, like most people, believes they split points on health care and Iraq. [Swampland/Time]

• Roger Simon writes that Obama expertly exploited the Iraq issue. And to make it clear he wasn’t snubbing Clinton, he pulled her chair out for her at the end. [Politico]

• John Nichols loves Hillary’s answer to the “president as America’s CEO” question: American government is “much more than a business.” [The Nation] —Dan Amira

For a complete guide to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.