Friday, November 02, 2007


According to conventional wisdom, the pile-on during and after this week's Democratic debate was aimed at Hillary Clinton. In fact, the entire Democratic Party -- or at least its presidential field -- is under that pile. And I'm guessing the pile-on is going to continue for the next year.

Look at today's columns by Peggy Noonan and David Brooks. Just prior to the debate, both Brooks and Noonan were expression disillusionment with the current state of the GOP. Noonan fretted over her party's narrow sectarianism. Brooks even offered one or two cheers for Hillary Clinton.

But the debate and its aftermath have unleashed Noonan's and Brooks's inner Maureen Dowd -- both Brooks and Noonan dispense with their usual posture of high-mindedness and unload the snark with both barrels. And the message of their columns is: Yes, Hillary Clinton is a monster, but all the Democratic presidential candidates are ridiculous freaks who mustn't be allowed within a mile of the White House.

Brooks (in Dowdian parody mode):

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Welcome to Drexel University, the site of tonight's Democratic presidential debate. Let's get started with Senator Barack Obama. Senator, you've vowed to spend this entire debate standing on Senator Clinton's windpipe while reducing her to a quivering mass of jelly. How do you plan on doing that?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Well, Brian, as you know the goal of my campaign is to make this country as noble as I am. But without casting aspersion or criticism in any direction, I have noticed that Senator Clinton, probably without meaning to, has not fully contextualized her discourse, which has had the effect of diffusing the national conversation we must have about the tremendous challenges we face.

WILLIAMS: Senator Clinton, I'm going to give you a few seconds to recover from that mauling.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON (quietly weeping): Thank you, Brian.

TIM RUSSERT: Senator Edwards, let's turn to you. Four years ago, you vowed to run an entirely positive campaign. Now you're running a negative one. What changed?

JOHN EDWARDS: My convictions, Tim. The American people want a president they can trust. Four years ago I went from being a centrist New Democrat to a left-wing populist because I wanted voters to be able to trust that I would stand up against the forces of opportunism in this country. Now I stand up to the megarich lawyers. I stand up to the hedge fund managers, the big spenders and the McMansion owners. Basically, I've been standing up to myself....

And on and on and on.

Now Noonan, also writing about the debate:

...Barack Obama, with his elegance and verbal fluency really did seem like that great and famous political figure from his home state of Illinois--Adlai Sevenson, who was not at all hungry, not at all mean, and operated at a step removed from the grubby game. Mr. Obama is like someone who would write in his diaries, "I shall point out Estes Kefauver's manifold inconsistencies, then to luncheon with Arthur and Marietta."

The odd thing is it's easier to be a killer when you know exactly what you stand for, when you have a real philosophy. The philosophy becomes a platform from which you can strike without ambivalence. Mr. Obama seems born to be mild. But still, that's not the story.

Nor is it that John Edwards seems like a furry animal on a wheel, trying so hard, to the point he's getting a facial tic, and getting nowhere, failing to get his little furry paws on his prey, not knowing you have to get off the wheel to get to the prey....

Bush-bashing time is over. The press's tone changed this week; the debate made Beltway journalists and pundits feel that they now have license to concentrate again what they're most comfortable doing -- expressing contempt for the alternately pathetic and dangerous creatures known as Democrats.

When Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney is taking the oath of office in January '09, we'll know precisely when the GOP won the election: October 30, 2007.

No comments: