COMMENTS: Distortions & Lowballs

The Democrats, meanwhile, are in South Carolina in the run-up to Saturday's primary. CBS' Dean Reynolds covered the exchange of negative radio spots between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. She accused him of being a big fan of Ronald Reagan; he said she "will say anything to get elected." Reynolds reported, according to Obama's operatives, Rodham Clinton's campaign "combines distortions with lowball expectations." ABC had Nightline anchor Terry Moran follow Bill Clinton's efforts in support of his wife. Moran found "big, diverse and enthusiastic crowds" with the former President "spellbinding the room. Even some Democratic voters wonder if this might be just too much Bill Clinton." NBC's contribution, by contrast, was more softhearted than hardball. Lee Cowan showed what an ordeal the campaign trail is. With constant travel, raspy voices, occasional catnaps and a disrupted family life, "the grind takes its toll."

CBS' senior politico Jeff Greenfield speculated about the Rodham Clinton campaign's aggressive tactics. Perhaps its attacks are successfully "pushing Barack Obama off his central message that he can transcend the political arguments of the 1990s." Greenfield should have spelled out, but instead left it unspoken, his implied counterhypothesis, namely that Bill's attacks vindicate Barack's insistence of the necessity of transcending those politics.


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