COMMENTS: Contact Sport

After Sharyl Attkisson's two days of fun for CBS on Monday and Tuesday at Hillary Rodham Clinton's expense about the former First Lady's fibs about sniper fire in Bosnia, the baton was passed to NBC's Andrea Mitchell. Mitchell too, like Attkisson, had been on that 1996 tour. She replayed a clip of Rodham Clinton's account then demurred: "Those of us on the trip know that did not happen." Then Mitchell played the candidate's explanation for her misrepresentation: "That is what I said when I was sleep deprived. You can read my book and I said something very differently."

"Sleep deprived" is not a fortunate excuse for someone who prides herself on being clearheaded and decisive when the telephone rings at three o'clock in the morning.

As Obama returned to the campaign trail after a brief Virgin Islands vacation, ABC's Jake Tapper heard "real concern among top Democrats" that the acerbic tone of the primary campaign could hurt its eventual candidate in November. NBC's Tim Russert quoted a new opinion poll by his network that found a current statistical dead heat between Republican John McCain and either Democrat. Of course, when Tapper said "top Democrats" he was not referring to the former President. Calling politics "a contact sport" Bill Clinton offered this soundbite: "Let us just saddle up and have an argument. What is the matter with that?"

On CBS, Dean Reynolds observed that debate about a looming recession has been "drowned out" by miscellanea such as that Bosnia trip…and Barack Obama's preacher…and McCain's "Who's a Shiite? gaffe." Doing his civic duty to return to the issues, Reynolds summarized the candidates' contrasting plans to cut taxes. He then offered their key soundbites on the crisis in residential real estate. McCain insists: "It is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly." Obama sees McCain "just sit back and watch it happen" as millions of Americans get evicted. Rodham Clinton reacts: "Well, it sounds remarkably like Herbert Hoover."


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