Well, the big debate's over and the
analysis spin has begun (or really started before the debate)...
Dick Morris' column  is out today and, in his opinion, Obama came out ahead in that he didn't screw up, (and thus feed the "inexperience" charge).
Senator Barack Obama emerged as the big winner at Thursday's first Democratic presidential debate. It's not so much that he scored a knockout punch, or that he was head and shoulders above any of the other candidates. In fact, it's the opposite.
Obama held his own with the others, particularly vis-Ã -vis his chief rival, Hillary Clinton. He clearly showed that he belonged on the stage with his longer serving rivals. In doing so, he helped vanquish his leading negative: inexperience.
The polls indicate that experience is Hillary Clinton's leading virtue in the eyes of her supporters; her experience is clearly derivative of her husband's and has been, at times, a decidedly mixed bag. It looks good in contrast with the Illinois State Senator, who, with a smattering of time in the U.S. Senate, is running for president. Once Obama overcomes his inexperienced perception, he'll gain quickly in the polls, and continue the surge that has animated his candidacy ever since 2007 began. The debate also helped to clear some of the obstacles in his path.
Hillary's advantage over Obama is rooted in the experience issue. But, as Nixon found out in his debate with John F. Kennedy in 1960, experience is a quickly vanishing asset in a presidential race. Having capitalized on his eight-year tenure as Eisenhower's vice president, Nixon's slogan was "experience counts." By the time his debate with Kennedy was over, it didn't. The young senator had shown himself to be just as adept, equally well informed and even more articulate than his more experienced rival.
I'll admit it, I didn't watch all of the debate...probably saw a third. To me, it's kind of like submitting yourself to some form of Chinese water torture, (with the constant "drip, drip" of the "fair share" this and the "Bush lied" that). But I caught some of it, and saw enough of the endless recaps to figure that I probably agree w/Morris' take here. I would even go a little further and say that our culture has become so superficial and fickle (thanks to television) that I sometimes wonder if experience ever will matter.