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Of course the debate was definitely stupid and petty and a ridiculous indictment of the media abdicating its traditional role for its new role as part of the entertainment industry, but I really don't agree with the conventional wisdom analysis that says this was bad for Obama. Clinton’s real strength in the debates so far has been how she performs confidently in policy discussions, but it was Obama who was right in his element in the much-maligned first half.

While stupid question after stupid question came up - including the Bosnia question for Clinton - Obama rose above it every time, which was the perfect opportunity to stand out by pushing the very thesis of his campaign, that this country needs a new kind of politics that puts substance over political distraction in order to actually get things done.

So time and again Clinton tried to pile on with obviously manufactured outrage, while Obama never took the bait. And while the media (and Clinton campaign) parrots the spin that he looked flustered and unsure of himself under the withering questioning, the viewing public watched as he pointed out how the questions were stupid distractions and said to themselves, "he's right!"

I think, like this debate, any time from now till November that Obama gets an opportunity to point out the distracting political games - from Clinton, the media, or the republicans - it plays right into his strong suit. Each time, for every voter the distractions lose him, three independent voters will come to his side. So as republican strategists salivate about being able to brand him as "elitist", I say, "By all means, bring it on."

Originally posted to Where Ideas Go to Die on Sat Apr 19, 2008 at 08:55 AM PDT.

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