THE PACK....Ezra Klein watches pack journalism at work, 2008 style, and it's not pretty. Nickel version: If some other reporter says Hillary Clinton melted down because she displayed a flash of emotion in last night's debate, then she melted down. After all, who are you going to believe, the spin room or your own lyin' eyes?
In related news, apparently the flinty-eyed independents of New Hampshire aren't quite as flinty-eyed as they'd like you to believe. After a solid year of town halls, coffee klatsches, and early morning doorbell ringing because, you know, New Hampshirites take their electoral responsibilities so much more seriously than the rest of us all it took was a few thousand Iowans to flip them from one side to the other in less than 24 hours. Feh.
Am I feeling bitter? You bet. Not because Hillary Clinton seems more likely than not to lose I can live with that pretty easily but because of how she's likely to lose. Because the press doesn't like her. Because any time a woman raises her voice half a decibel she instantly becomes shrill. Because we insist on an idiotic nominating system that gives a bunch of Iowa corn farmers 20x the influence of any Democratic voter in any urban area in the country. Because the fever swamp, in the end, is getting the last laugh.
On the other hand, it's not like anyone held a gun to her head and forced Hillary to hire Mark Penn. So overall, let's rule it an assisted suicide. And here's the good news: when the better candidates got taken out in 2004, we ended up with John Kerry, a decent man but a lousy candidate. This year, if Hillary does indeed go on to lose, we'll end up Barack Obama, a decent man and a terrific candidate. So at least we're making progress.