Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
I saw the Democrats debate Saturday night, and my first reaction was: I want John Edwards to be my lawyer.
Because he did such a stellar job at being Obama’s lawyer.
When Clinton made the disastrous choice to go after Obama, it was Edwards who pounced.
“Any time you speak out powerfully for change,” he said, “the forces of the status quo attack. . . . Every time he speaks out for change, every time I fight for change, the forces of the status quo are going to attack: every single time. . . . I didn’t hear these kind of attacks from Senator Clinton when she was ahead. Now that she’s not, we hear them.”
Clinton flipped out at that, and took the low road, attacking—of all things--Obama’s eloquence.
“Making change is not about what you believe,” she said. “It’s not about a speech you make. It is about working hard.”
Then she reverted to bragging about her record: “I’m running on 35 years of change.” And after that, she criticized Obama for the sin of raising people’s expectations.
“We don’t need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered,” she said.
Obama played it cool throughout and projected calmness to Clinton’s desperation.
And after she derided his eloquence one more time, he finally dispatched with her petulant point by saying:
“The truth is, actually, words do inspire, words do help people get involved, words do help members of Congress get into power so that they can be part of a coalition to deliver health care reform, to deliver a bold energy policy. Don’t discount that power, because when the American people are determined that something is going to happen, then it happens. And if they are disaffected and cynical and fearful and told that it can’t be done, then it doesn’t.”
Hillary is in deep trouble. Her options are limited. She can attack and look awful, as she did Saturday night. Or she can revert to her experience theme, which went nowhere fast in Iowa.
She’s stuck between Barack and a hard place.