The most enlightening part of last night's Clinton-Obama debate (besides Senator Clinton's awkward dissembling on her war vote suddenly becoming a positive for her after Wolf Blizter's hamhanded followup led to a chorus of boos) happened shortly after it ended, when CNN cut back to Anderson Cooper in... well, we're assuming it was the Situation Room. He asked his panel of pundits for their reactions to what they'd scarcely had time to digest. Gambling-addicted former Drug Czar Bill Bennett began with a lame joke about hippies, then praised Obama's performance. He got halfway through the word "articulate" before catching himself. "Artic—well-spoken" (or something along those slightly less offensive lines) he said, remembering the fate of poor Joe Biden. Which raises the question: can stuffy old white people find ways of complimenting Barack Obama that don't sound condescending and borderline racist? Answer: not really! But not for lack of trying!
Can you imagine anyone ever calling, say, Joe Biden "articulate and bright and clean"? Even if he was articulate? For some reason, though, these bloated old seat-warmers keep mistaking Barack Obama for, perhaps, an inspiring young spelling bee champion. But those misstatements have basically led to over-cautiousness among many of the more responsible talking heads. Surely no one would bat an eye if Wolf Blitzer called John Edwards articulate, especially if he was contrasting him with our current inarticulate commander in chief.
It's similar to the problem pundits have with Clinton, where she appears to frequently receive criticisms (and compliments!) that would never be applied to a man. Which is why our media are secretly praying for a John McCain presidency, as he is a man to whom you can freely apply unambiguous descriptors like "MAVERICK" and "TOUGH" and "GOOK-HATING."