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RUSH: I mentioned at the top of the program, folks, that some of our colleagues at National Review Online were actually praising Mrs. Clinton’s performance last night, and I have to tell you, when I read those posts this morning on their blog at The Corner, I was just shocked. I really was shocked by it. I had just the exact opposite take, and I’m not the only one. Roger Simon today at The Politico, the headline of his story: ‘Obama, Edwards Attack; Clinton Bombs Debate.’ It went on to say that when Hillary Clinton gets it wrong and gets it bad, she really gets it bad. But what’s the exact quote?

‘When Hillary has a bad night, she really has a bad night. It was that for two hours. She dodged and weaved, parsed, and stonewalled.’ Mark Halperin of TIME magazine: ‘The failure of her performance was cumulative… More defensive than usual, and at times too political and too hot tempered. Borderline disastrous moment at the end when she gave an equivocal answer about driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants in New York …’ George Stephanopoulos: ‘I do believe Hillary lost last night.’ Chris Matthews: ‘Hillary Clinton would not answer the question straight.’ Howard Fineman: ‘At the very end of the debate, she just came off like a politician who didn’t want to answer the question.’ Chris Cillizza, the Washington Post: ‘[S]he did struggle toward the end of the debate in a question about her support (or lack thereof) for Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s (D) plan to offer driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.’ ABC’s The Note: ‘It was almost certainly Clinton’s weakest performance of the cycle…’ NBC’s First Read: ‘[Hillary] got weaker as the night went on. The exchange over driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants allowed her opponents to drive home a narrative that has begun to develop for Clinton at these debates: that she never actually answers the tough questions.’ David Yepsen, Des Moines Register: ‘Hillary Clinton … did not have a good night. … She turned in an uneven, sometimes waffling performance.’

These are comments about Mrs. Clinton from the Drive-By Media, both print and broadcast, and it wasn’t a good night. She was torched in these reviews. She was more torched in these reviews… These reviews are ‘withering,’ and they are ‘blistering,’ far more than the attacks that she got from her opponents up on stage. However, one thing I want to remind you, folks, about this driver’s license question. I just have to tell you, yesterday we had this AP story from this guy who said, ‘Yeah, the issue is radioactive for her,’ implying, she’s never asked about it. She’s a senator from New York and has never been asked about the question. I just railed against this guy. I said, ‘How in the world can you let her pass? Ask her a question about it if it’s radioactive! I get asked stuff that’s radioactive about me. Everybody else does.’ I said, ‘It’s amazing that she gets a pass, when she doesn’t want to talk about something, they give her a pass and they don’t ask her to talk about it.’ So last night it came up. It was Tim Russert who rose to the occasion. Now, here is a sad fact. Even though many in the Drive-Bys are categorizing the debate last night as a series of ‘withering attacks’ on Mrs. Clinton by her opponents, and they ganged up on her, and they engaged in blistering attacks, the bottom line is that even when she loses, she wins.

Because in the midst of this admittedly pathetic and weak performance, who in the hell rose up? Who saw the opening? Who seized it and ran in there and said, ‘I’m the alternative’? Which Democrat stood out in the midst of Mrs. Clinton’s bumbling and fumbling around? Who was the decisive candidate? None of ’em! They are all a bunch of weak, waffling liberals who have no intention of opening up and being who they are and telling us what they really think, even when the front-runner stumbles head over heels a number of times right on the same stage they are sharing with her. It’s amazing. Just amazing. Not one of them. These people are not even competitors. You would think that there would be some competitive fire. You’re running for president! I know Mrs. Clinton is the de facto nominee but the votes haven’t been cast yet, there’s still time here and fundraising is still an important thing, and the competitive fire just didn’t seem to be there in any of these people who are her opponents, because she was stumbling all over the place, and while they made mention of the fact that she was waffling and saying two different things in two minutes and so forth, it was like they were still afraid to move in. Now, we have to understand: This is a woman who dispatches people to go steal FBI files, so who knows what she’s got on these guys.

(Arkansas broad-beam cackle)

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