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Who Had The Better Election Eve Interview?

I agree with Cohn--Hillary was very solid on Olbermann last night (video here). Her answers on the policy questions were pretty lucid and authoritative--particularly on the Middle East "nuclear umbrella" idea, which sounds a little crazy when you first hear about it, but which she convinced me was an anti-proliferation proposal. I also thought she made lemonade out of the recent Richard Mellon Scaife meeting/endorsement ("Anyone who doubts my ability to bridge the most incredible chasms can point to those recent remarks") and smoothed out what appeared to be the contradiction in attacking Obama for saying McCain isn't as bad as Bush after saying herself she thought McCain was more qualified than Obama to be commander-in-chief. I didn't entirely buy the spin there--"you can have a license to practice law, but that doesn't necessarily mean that somebody should hire you to ... take on certain cases"--but it was as effective at squaring that circle as it could have been. (I didn't buy it because, presumably, she'd have revoked Bush's license to practice law by now, which makes him worse than McCain by this measure.)

As for Obama's closing-night appearance on "The Daily Show" (video here, transcript here), I found it pretty disappointing. Maybe the brutally long, brutally, uh, brutal campaign has beaten all the spontaneity out of him (boiled all the hope out of him?)--I don't know. But he hewed as closely to his talking points as I've heard him in one of these formats, and he seemed bored by them to boot. The only thing that salvaged the appearance was a clever Jon Stewart stunt, in which he'd read a totally banal statement ("I’m calling to ask if you’re happy with your cell phone service") and ask Obama to "hope" it up. That and the fact that Obama managed to laugh and smile a lot, which never hurts.

Say what you will about Hillary, she's been closing very well. Obama, on the other hand, seemed to stumble toward the finish line on March 4, and didn't entirely figure out it this time either. (Though drawing 35,000 people in downtown Phildelphia has to count for something.)

--Noam Scheiber