If it weren’t for the fact that Barack Obama’s campaign is reluctant to run any negative ads, they would be blanketing the airwaves with one of the key moments from Saturday night’s debate:

First, you can just feel the frustration coming off Hillary Clinton. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. She was supposed to have the nomination the way Al Gore did in 2000 -- some limited opposition, easily beaten back. But this youngster, four years removed from being a state senator, comes along, raises as much money as her, runs a brilliant campaign, and beats her in Iowa. One almost expects her to look at Obama and say, “Who the hell do you think you are?”

But when she says at the end, “We don’t need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered,” she’s making Obama’s supporters more fervent and driving more people to his cause. To actually say that we shouldn’t have too much hope is about as bleak an argument as one could make. It frames the question as, “Should we be hopeful, or not?” Obama says yes, she says no. Who wants to come down on her side of that question? Think about what Obama can do with Clinton talking about the danger of "false hopes."

I suspect she’d take that back if she could.

-- Paul Waldman

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