It was too soon to give up on Hillary Clinton before the debate last Tuesday, and it's too soon to go in with her now. Yes, she is an able and fluent debater. On the Republican side, she would have been in the mid-upper tier, beating Jeb Bush, but not Carly Fiorina or Marco Rubio. And her superiority looked like a matter of contrast, like a zircon tossed in beside glass. Never has such a sorry lot presented itself as the cream of a national party. Not the Republicans in 2000, when only George W. Bush and John McCain presented themselves as plausible presidents. And not in 2012, a more recent example, when Mitt Romney loomed as a beacon of sanity amid a fairly odd lot of loons.

This is the result of what Obama has done to his party in two mid-term elections due to complications incurred by his healthcare fiasco, which wiped out a generation or so of potential contenders. The health of his health plan still hangs in the balance, but the health of his party is shot.

Hillary re-proved herself as an able debater (as she was in 2008, when she lost to Obama), but her skills in much else remain poor. She isn't much good as a retail campaigner. The cackle is back, along with the spells of manic forced laughter. She is a bad strategist, fixated on meeting the need of the moment. There's a new edge of arrogance, which will likely come on fairly hard at the Benghazi hearings, and may not redound to her aid.

What was read into Kevin McCarthy's classic misstatement — that her numbers went down because of the hearings — isn't entirely true. That the numbers went down after the hearings doesn't prove that the hearings were held for this purpose. The big thing they did was uncover the server, which has been the real cause of her woes.

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