Democratic Debate Preview: The Last Stand

If Texas and Ohio are really Hillary Clinton’s last stand in this Democratic primary season, then the real last stand occurs tonight at a debate that will be held in Ohio.  This is the last chance she will have to share a stage with Obama and receive broad and free televised access to the voters and so after everything we went through up to this point, much of the fate of the Clinton campaign rests on tonight.

But before I get into it, the quote of the day coming from Allahpundit over at Hot Air:

She can’t club Bambi now or else she’ll look desperate, but she couldn’t club Bambi last year when she was ahead or else she would have looked mean and … Hillary-ish. This is why I fear Obama so much more than her in the general: There’s never a good time to club Bambi.

The greater points that Allah makes are in general pretty much dead on.  There is little Hillary can do at this point to Barack Obama; attacks that wouldn’t work a year ago still won’t work today, and in fact may mire her even deeper in the defecit she has dug out for herself.

But, as the old sporting phrase goes, this is the last game of the season–you can’t hold anything back.

So what do I expect to see?  Nothing; I in all likelihood will not be able to watch tonight.  But there’s still a question as to what you can expect to see.

From Obama expect essentially a repeat performance of the last debate.  Calm, cool, passionate at times, still a little off rhythm with the debate style format, but also doing the last thing the Clinton camp wants him to do which is show some substance after he’s been greatly mischaracterized as having none.  In fact, I would expect him to have a slightly better evening tonight given that his head cold should have cleared up by now (even with the physical issues of a head cold during Thursday’s debate, he seemed to do plenty fine).

The fact of the matter is, in order for Obama to do himself real harm at this stage, he literally has to turn into a dragon or a vampire half way through and start slaying people en masse.  While his debating skills leave a little to be desired, Obama has proven to be quite disciplined and won’t do that.

From Hillary; I fully expect her to go on the attack–she really has nothing left she can do.  She could try and soften her image and ease off the negativity by turning the entire debate into an extension of her final answer on Thursday, but the best that that will do is possibly stagnate Obama’s minimally.  That’s to say, if tonight turns into a lovefest, it won’t be much to Hillary’s advantage other than to maybe staunch some of the blood flow her campaign has been experiencing as of late.

It simply isn’t in her best interest to play nice at this point–we’ve long since past the time when she could have repaired her chances by doing so.  That would be considered low risk low yeild behavior which could have worked had there been time for it to work, but at this point she has exactly seven days and that’s just not going to get it done.  That means she has to switch up to high risk, high yield, which means she’s got to hit Obama with everything she has.

But as Allah points out, more likely than not, Hillary going on the offensive will backfire.  The man may not necessarily be made out of Teflon and Kevlar, but he sometimes seems like it.  Every single time the Clinton campaign has gone on the attack, they have been punished for doing so.  Now, with the consequences so dire, there is an added incentive not to go negative; desperation.

The only thing that is going to save Hillary tonight is a Hail Mary, and she’s going to be tossing them high and long.  Problem is, she’s facing a particularly impressive defensive squad that will almost assuredly pick the thing off and run it back for six.

That’s what you should see tonight, but one can never be sure.  That, as they say, is why they play the game.

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  1. Presidential election 2008 |Republicans Vs. Democrats » Democratic Debate Preview: The Last Stand - [...] Debate Preview: The Last Stand February 26th, 2008 Doug Mataconis wrote an interesting post today onHere’s…

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