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Debates

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CBS Gives Katie Couric Another Thing Not to Smile About

Katie Couric
If Katie Couric had a real Facebook page, one that just her friends could see, for the past couple of years you could just imagine that it would have this constant status update: "Katie Couric is disappointed." After her ratings at CBS News slumped and the network became less supportive of her, you might imagine that she's sort of just generally a little disillusioned all the time. So you almost forget that there might be specific things that she's disappointed about. Like presidential primary debates, for example. Today, we learn from the Observer that she wanted to host one (as anchors tend to do — Anderson Cooper alone moderated, like, fifteen), but for various reasons a CBS debate never materialized.

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Some Claiming Hussein- and Race-Baiting Strengthen Obama

Obama church
The last few days have brought back discussion of Barack Obama's race and heritage in a way not seen since South Carolina. On Monday, of course, a photo of Obama trying on traditional Somali clothing circulated. Then, in the Cleveland debate two days ago, Tim Russert grilled Obama over the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan and the praise lavished on Farrakhan by Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr. Finally, John McCain has been trying to disassociate himself from the fearmongering tactic of dropping Obama’s Muslim-sounding middle name, Hussein, carried out separately by talk-radio host Bill Cunningham and, in a press release yesterday, the Tennessee Republican Party. Into this burgeoning mess wade our pundits.

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Who Took the Democratic Debate? It’s a Matter for … Debate

Democratic debate
Watching the twentieth Democratic debate last night was kind of like watching a rerun of Seinfeld for the twentieth time: There were some entertaining moments, but for the most part, you knew exactly what to expect. Moderator Tim Russert gave us a couple of fresh angles asking about Louis Farrakhan’s endorsement of Barack Obama and the candidates’ familiarity with Russia’s “successor” to Vladimir Putin. Clinton and Obama are supposedly all about “change,” but in terms of the dynamics of the race, little of it seems to have come about in Cleveland last night. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: It made for another one of those close contests the experts make so much hay out of.

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Clinton Might Have the Edge in Tonight’s Super-Important Debate

Clinton and Obama
“Meet me in Ohio” was Hillary Clinton’s challenge to Barack Obama over the weekend. Never mind that the two were already scheduled to debate there tonight (“See you Tuesday!” would have been less dramatic). Their last debate before the mini–Super Tuesday primaries on March 4 — and, perhaps, their last ever — promises an airing of issues connected to health care and NAFTA, both of which Clinton and Obama have been recently feuding over. In mailers and speeches, Obama has claimed that Clinton supports NAFTA and sending working families into poverty with her health-care mandates. Clinton disagrees. And the popular opinion actually seems to favor her position — take that, SNL!

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And the Winner of the Democratic Debate Is …

Obama and Clinton debate

The pundits seemingly had Hillary Clinton’s plan all mapped out before last night’s debate. She has to go for the jugular, they said. This is one of her last chances to knock Barack Obama down off his pedestal, they claimed. Well, besides her half-hearted, manufactured zinger on Obama’s alleged “plagiarism” (“It’s not change you can believe in, it’s change you can Xerox”), which the audience booed, Clinton took the high road, and even earned a standing ovation for her conciliatory final answer. The pundits, far from feeling upset at having their advice shunned, have largely applauded Clinton — though without, for the most part, granting her the win.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Also Loves Anderson's Biceps!

Anderson on Conan
Readers! You are the worst! Why didn't anybody tell us about this? Last night, we were in bed before Conan O'Brien went on, so we missed Anderson Cooper's appearance. But apparently an incredibly, stupendously amazing thing happened. HE TALKED ABOUT HIS BICEPS. And not even just in a chitchat-y "Sometimes I use these things for lifting and gesticulating" way. He told an anecdote about how big they are. He's totally ripping off our best work! It was after Conan asked him whether anyone had ever thrown him off his game before he had to moderate a debate (as if anyone could ruffle our Manderson). Cooper then told a story about how, once, before a Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan library, he spotted Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the audience. Click above to view the clip. The important stuff comes about 3:11 in.
Anderson: What was weird is, and I've never met the man, and we didn't talk then or anything but moments before the debate started, he looked at me and motioned to his bicep, and he was like, "You've been working out." And I was completely thrown. Pleased that Arnold Schwarzenegger had noticed that I'd been working out, I guess.
Conan: What if he was telling you, "I will crush you with my bicep"?
Anderson: It could have been that. I could have misinterpreted it. For the first five minutes, I was flustered by that.
OMG. Our campaign to get everyone to recognize the glory of Anderson Cooper's arms has just taken a great leap forward! Do you think he gets flustered when we talk about his biceps? Click here to read the rest of our loving, caressing coverage of Anderson Cooper's twin torso turtles.

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Democratic Debate Has Experts Falling in Love All Over Again

Democratic debate
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.

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The Rivalry in the Library: Romney and McCain Fight the Dirty Fight

Romney and McCain
Karl Rove writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today that “The Republican race…is a serious debate about serious ideas.” That obviously went to press before last night's Republican debate. And while the event happened in the Reagan Library, in the shadow of the actual Air Force One plane that Reagan once flew on, the shared claims to the Gipper's legacy that have marked the primary campaign thus far gave way to some bruising back-and-forth, particularly, of course, between front-runners John McCain and Mitt Romney. (Mike Huckabee took his place as the new Ron Paul; Ron Paul, well, he was the same old overexcited, barely coherent Ron Paul.) McCain continued to contend that Romney had supported timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. Romney accused McCain of “dirty tricks” and “Washington-style old politics.” McCain hammered Romney for his attack ads and offered him some friendly financial advice: “A lot of it's your own money, you're free to do with what you want to. You can spend it all.” It was great theater (far, far more entertaining than the last debate), but the question remains: Who won?

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