Democrats Tangle on Iraq

Eight Democrats met onstage for the second time at St. Anselm College and, thanks largely to John Edwards, they put on quite a show.

Overall, what an impressive gaggle of candidates. In terms of experience, intelligence, gravitas, grasp of the issues and vision for the future, they completely overshadow the 10 Republicans — or 11, if you count Fred Thompson — who are busily preoccupied trying to compare themselves to Ronald Reagan. Back to the future!

Who won in New Hampshire? I don’t think there was one clear winner, but John Edwards certainly dominated the evening. He needed to breathe some new life into a stalled campaign, and he did, challenging Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for voting against the Iraq funding bill but doing so too quietly. Sure, it may not be fair — they vote the right way, and still get slammed — but it was good politics, and good theater. And so was Obama’s retort: “John, you’re four and half years late showing any leadership on this issue.”

Hillary was definitely on her game: forceful, clear, unapologetic, yet relaxed. Obama showed some real fire, and great command of the issues. Joe Biden was as good as I’ve ever seen him, especially when speaking “truth to power” about Democrats not having enough votes to stop the war themselves. Bill Richardson showed he’s the man with the most experience and some of the best ideas. And Dennis Kucinich remains the strongest voice of the Democratic left. Too bad Chris Dodd and Mike Gravel didn’t get more time.

All in all, for Democrats a good night — and a slate to be proud of.

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