John Edwards also had, I thought, a very strong debate, particularly in the latter half of the debate. He talks a lot about feeling this fight in his blood and being a fighter. And it's important when you say things like that that it really resonates in what you say, how you act, who you seem to be. And I think it did on every count. Unfortunately for Hillary, most of the eloquence and fire was directed at her tonight.
The exchange I noted earlier from around 9:30 PM was the emotional, dramatic crux of the evening. After that a lot of the energy seemed to be released from the discussion. Not in a bad way necessarily. I thought each of them had very good moments in the second half. But that was the crux of the debate, where the key points were enunciated, and each candidate defined.
In general, I think Obama's the winner tonight. I think Hillary made her case well. I think Edwards had the best debate. But the debate can only be understood in the context of the moment. Right now, Obama's on fire. The first post-Iowa polls show him picking up a big post-caucus bump. He needed to come off well. Not make any mistakes. And not let Hillary open up any strong line of attack against him.
Forgive me for noticing the fact that Edwards took the second spot in Iowa, and even you said he had the best debate showing, so I don't buy the media spin about the Obama/Hillary fight and neither should TPM. It seems to me that Obama had to worry more about not opening up any line of attacks from Edwards. But that line doesn't follow the media's pre-written script about pre-ordained candidates, which is nothing more than a trap that I will not fall into.
We expect more, and certainly better, from you than this at TPM.