Last night's debate in Philly was the most energetic and combative of the gazillion gatherings the 2008 Democratic contenders have participated in thus far. The media buildup (ignited by the Obama camp) warned us there would be fireworks. With national polls showing Hillary running away with the nomination 65 days before the first votes are cast, there was a sense of urgency from the rival campaigns that this may be the last best chance to find that chink in Clinton's armor.
Judging from media reports this morning, it appears the relentless onslaught from her rivals (except for Gov. Richardson, who would best serve the Democratic Party by shifting his focus to winning the open NM Senate seat) eventually took its toll on the frontrunner. The Politico reported the Obama and Edwards campaigns succeeded in producing the message they wanted from the debate:
"Hillary Clinton does not say what she means or mean what she says."
Did her opponents just link Hillary to the failed 2004 John "The Flip-Flopper" Kerry campaign? If so, they've sowed the seed of doubt, stalling the march of the inevitable - and robbing Hillary of one of her most powerful primary election tools.
ABC's The Note reinforces the message Hillary had a tough night as the national and local media deliver a similar verdict:
How's that for sibling rivalry?
Now we've got it straight. Sen. Hillary Clinton is a flip-flopping, record-sealing, war-in-Iran-voting, Social-Security-ducking, politically calculating, lobbyist-loving, polarizing and unelectable Democrat who acts like a Republican -- and a Clinton.