Alton, NH -- Lucky me, I drove through some nasty New Hampshire snow (past five car accidents and a road closure) to the one Obama event today that didn't produce any news. In Manchester this morning, Obama repeated what everyone in political-media already knew: That as a young man he did some drugs and goofed off. I heard some theorizing today that this was an effort by Obama to defuse potential under-the-radar attacks late in the primaries ("scandalous information"?), but that makes even less sense when you watch the video and see that he was responding to a question. Right-wing talk radio was nevertheless in a tizzy about this, as though it's some new revelation. (And when one caller to Fox radio's John Gibson argued that Obama is being more honest on the subject than George Bush was, he was subjected to a lecture about "Bush Derangement Syndrome" and then hung up on. Also: I could hardly believe the level of gloating from Gibson and company about today's New York Times story on improved conditions in Baghdad. You would think the war had been a cakewalk after all.)

It wasn't news, per se, but I did have an interesting experience talking to voters at Obama's event here. Of the half-dozen people I spoke with, three were independents, including two people who voted for George W. Bush in 2000. "I'm not where he is as far as abortion and homosexuality," Carolyn Clarke, a Baptist pastor from Strafford who backed Bush in '04, told me. "But it's more important to me to--we're being run by what my husband calls a corporatocracy." In Obama, she continued, "I see real hope. He's the most refreshing candidate that I've seen in my years of voting. The other candidates are sold out to the money." Another woman, who looked to be in her late sixties, told me Obama had converted her today--whereas after seeing Hillary Clinton in person she found her too "strident," which I found interesting because it's the kind of thing one more typically hears from men.

Today's back-and-forth on experience abroad, meanwhile, makes me think back to Alex Massie's stinging assessment of Hillary's book.

P.S. It didn't seem to me that the Alton kids were snoozing, even if they weren't totally riveted either:

 


--Michael Crowley