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Obama Shines in Ohio Debate, Clinton Shines and Whines to Moderators

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Obama and Clinton both did well, once again, in their debate in Ohio on MSNBC tonight. As Obama indicated at the end, and has said before, both are far, far better than what the Republicans are offering with John McCain.

What seemed to most distinguish Clinton from Obama tonight was also, once again, Clinton's occasional aggressiveness and one round of outright whining, in contrast to Obama's calm grace. This is something he first showed last week, and I thought then and now that it feels Presidential. He seems to be wearing the potential coat of the highest office very well.

Hillary Clinton's carping came early in the debate, when she complained to moderators Brian Williams and Tim Russert that she's always asked questions first in the debates! This is supposed to be Presidential? What a petty point. I have to admit that I always like speaking first in public events, but, even if I did not, I would hardly complain about it in a national debate. And she topped it off with an awkward reference to Saturday Night Live's skit this past Saturday about the Clinton-Obama debate in Texas, in which the moderators were satirized as obsessively worrying about Obama's every need. Clinton's "joke" about this tonight, if that what it was, might have worked at a campaign rally. But, again, it fell flat in this debate.

Clinton also confronted Obama on several issues - most interestingly, I thought, on his response to the Rev. Louis Farrakhan support of Obama, given that Farrakhan is a raving anti-Semite. Obama said he "denounces" Farrakhan. Clinton pressed him on why doesn't outrightly "reject" Farrakhan's support. Obama's response was very telling: he said he didn't see any real difference between denunciation and rejection, but just so there would be no lack of clarity, he rejected Farrakhan's support.

I think this showed an admirable quality in Obama - a willingness to improve his position under pressure. I also give Clinton credit for pressing Obama on Farakhan. But of the two - Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton - Obama appeared more Presidential.

As I've been saying for for awhile, I think we are fortunate to have two very good candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. But this debate reinforced my feeling, once again, that Obama is the better candidate, and would make the better President.

We'll see what the voters in Texas and Ohio say on Tuesday.


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Paul Levinson's The Silk Code won the 2000 Locus Award for Best First Novel. He has since published Borrowed Tides (2001),The Consciousness Plague (2002), The Pixel Eye (2003), and The Plot To Save Socrates (2006). His science fiction and (more...)
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