Ring of Fire

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

Hillary in a knock out. She fought back. She took the gloves off. Others have teflon; she has asbestos. The boxing metaphors were irresistible at last night’s debate of the Democratic contenders — after all it was Las Vegas, they were introduced as if heading into the ring and the audience cheered, jeered, hooted and hollared. John Edwards got booed at one point when he went on the attack and Clinton groused about “mudslinging.” Barack Obama tried to capitalize on momentum from last week’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner — then tripped up over the immigrant’s driver’s license issue, which is fast becoming quicksand for Democrats (Gray Davis, Eliot Spitzer, etc.). Time’s Mark Halperin writes that he lost 60% of the gains he had made. (Why not 65%?). But it was Clinton’s night. Writes Roger Simon on The Politico, “She gave as good as she got. And those who tried to kick her stubbed their toes.” But does it matter? What was missing was clarity — I doubt that many people came out of the debate knowing much more about the candidates and where they stand than when they went in. This was the quote that stood out, from Joe Biden, who finally got the floor about 15 minutes into the exchange: “Hey look, let’s get to it folks, the American people don’t give a darn about anything that’s going on up here.”

Plame Speaks: Valerie Plame talks to the Politico’s Jeffrey Ressner about the upcoming movie of her memoir, “Fair Game.” She suggests that it will be more in the vein of “All the President’s Men” than James Bond. She says she has little say in who directs, but “George Clooney has shown a deft hand behind the camera as well as in front of it. I thought “Good Night and Good Luck” was so well done; it took a brief period of our country’s history and showed how analogous it is to what’s going on today with the government using fear as a weapon.”

Clark as VP?: Tina Daunt notices that Wesley Clark has been in Southern California quite a bit recently. Could he be in the running as Hillary Clinton’s VP pick?

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