The truce between Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY) and Sen. Barack Obama (IL) lasted just about as long your average truce between Hamas and Fatah. The two repeatedly lobbed bombs at each other during the first half of the Democrat debate in SC on Monday. For his part, Fmr. Sen. John Edwards (NC) chose to provide both sides with additional ammunition rather than play the role of peacemaker, as Gov. Bill Richardson (NV) used to.

Obama struck first, accusing Hillary and hubby of making assertions about him that “are not factually accurate” and several times during the debate complained that he felt he was running against both Clintons. During a skirmish over Ronald Reagan’s legacy, Obama hit her with: “while I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart” (apparently dems fightin’ words amongst Dems). A few minutes later, Hillary hit back with: “I was fighting against those ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, [indicted real estate developer Antoin Rezko], in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.”

In previous debates Edwards teamed up with Obama to weaken Hillary – no doubt convinced that of the two men, he would be the one doing battle with her for the nomination – but this time he alternated between assisting one, then the other, of his rivals in their campaign of mutually assured destruction. First, he attacked Hillary for being too vague on how she would pay to keep Social Security viable (“[S]he has proposed nothing about how we’re going to create revenue to keep Social Security alive and talked about fiscal responsibility”) and a few minutes later he took up Hillary’s attack on Obama for his voting record as an IL state legislator (“I do think it’s important whether you are willing to take hard positions. … What I didn’t hear was an explanation for why over 100 times you voted present instead of yes or no when you had a choice to vote up or down”).

This shift in debate tactics was followed by a private meeting between Edwards and Hillary backstage, leading to wild speculation that the two initiated a dialogue about his being her running mate.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog.

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