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Daily Blog Buzz: Democrats Debate and Obama Falls

5:13 PM, Apr 17, 2008 • By SAMANTHA SAULT
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In the wake of last night's debate, bloggers disagree about the performance of the moderators, but as to who won, well, nobody thinks it was Barack.

The debate certainly defined the differences between the candidates, says the Fix's Chris Cillizza: "Clinton billed herself as a known commodity and a pragmatist, Obama cast himself as a transformational figure and an unapologetic idealist." Or, as Michelle Malkin put it, "Hillary Clinton's message: I am not a pathological liar! Barack Obama's message: I am not a pathological snob!"

On Hillary's win by default, Real Clear Politics's Tom Bevan explains: "He got absolutely grilled during the first 40 minutes (when most people were watching) and with every mediocre answer Hillary Clinton was there to hang the issues back around his neck one by one like so many Hawaiian leis." Townhall's Matt Lewis says, "Obama--the most likely nominee--was battered most. Aside from being beaten up, you can now add 'wimp' to his list of qualities." And Hot Air's Ed Morrissey adds, "Barack Obama got exposed over and over again as an empty suit, while Hillary cleaned his clock."

Not only did Hillary look better than Obama, but Obama also completely lost his message. Townhall's Carol Platt Liebau sums it up: "Hillary came off as at least marginally more polished than Barack, who seemed off his stride, defensive and altogether unconvincing in his responses about his 'small town' comments, his relationship with Rev. Wright...and his attitude toward the American flag. Let's put it this way--there wasn't much 'hope' or inspiration there." Power Line's Scott Johnson says that the "most striking" aspect of the debate "was Obama's dour attitude. The man is not a happy warrior." Macsmind's Macranger simply called it "Obama's meltdown."

And even Obama supporters admitted defeat. Andrew Sullivan mourned his candidate's fall from grace: "It was a lifeless, exhausted, drained and dreary Obama we saw tonight. I've seen it before when he is tired, but this was his worst performance yet on national television. He seemed crushed and unable to react."

Still, many on the left continue to complain about ABC's questions. But as Jennifer Rubin explains at Contentions, "the louder Obama's fans whine, the more obvious it is that their candidate bombed and that tough questions are Obama's kryptonite."

Other bloggers say that although Obama lost, Hillary didn't necessarily win. Marc Ambinder explains: "Hillary Clinton has a Reverse-Teflon problem: her negatives are up, and when she's perceived as the attacker, the attacks never seem to settle on Obama and always seem to boomerang back on her. So it would be unwise to declare that Hillary 'won' the debate in the dynamic sense just yet." And Real Clear Politics's Blake Dvorak thinks that both were bad: "I thought Obama handled Clinton's assaults fairly well, although his answer on the 'bitter cling' stuff still sounded forced and not quite convincing. As did, I should add, Clinton's answer on her Bosnia tale. There are simply some gaffes that can't be explained away very well."

Just as in this week's ad wars, the real winner of the debate was John McCain, says the Jawa Report. And at the Corner, Mark Hemingway says it was simply "a good night to be Republican."