Not Live-Blogging the NH Dem Debate

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Note: I wrote this yesterday, but idiotically didn’t hit “publish.” Perhaps a thought still worth reflecting on…

Just to judge by the chatter in the mediasphere about last night’s debate, it sounds like Hillary “won” (insofar as these things are winnable): she got off a few good lines (mostly having to do with Bill), she made some news (backing off torture, again with a Bill counterpoint), and left the rest of the pack vying for second place. More important, all of the wrap-ups seem like they’re written as though her nomination was a foregone conclusion.

• These are presidential answers; they’re not campaign answers. Clinton was solid; she was not commanding, in part because she was forced on the defensive more tonight than in previous debates. She was thorough and careful, came off as intelligent and prudent, and really didn’t take a nick tonight. She did unleash the night’s best jab, and she displayed a genuine sense of humor, one that the audience seemed to appreciate and acknowledge. [Ambinder]

• She had to know that the others would pounce on her refusal to commit to withdrawing either all combat troops or every last U.S. soldier by Tim Russert’s deadline. She’s not just playing for the general election, she sees herself in the Oval Office. [NRO]

Even criticism comes with the implication that the whole primary process is simply a formality: “While the evening couldn’t have been pleasant for Clinton, it opened a necessary discussion Democrats must have: If they don’t probe her weaknesses, the Republicans will.”

Maybe it is all locked up for HRC, but right now, her campaign — and the way it’s talked about — reminds very much of a big, Hollywood blockbuster production, with an all-star cast and enormous budget. The advance buzz is mixed, but there’s deafening buzz. High expectations are just part of the problem. There’s also a lot of moving pieces, and a lot riding on it. These kinds of movies show up at the box office as either “Titantic” or “Ishtar.” And, as both Edwards and Obama keep trying to remind people, the “inevitability narrative” is a burden of its own.