The NPR debate (transcript) was a good one this afternoon. Not that it was a great debate, per se, but it was a lively intelligent discussion. And the NPR moderators could all teach Wolf Blitzer a lesson or two on how to rein in blabbering candidates and steer a discussion.
The debate dealt with just three topics — Iran, China and Immigration — a long-form format that served the Iran topic best.
It's remarkable how badly the new NIE has wrongfooted senator Clinton, who has bet hard that hawkishness toward Tehran would serve her best in the general election should she make it to that promised land.
Signing on the Kyl Lieberman amendment, however, could prove fatal to her campaign.
Senator Biden hit Clinton hard for her tepid commitment only to slow a "rush to war" with Iran:
BIDEN: Terminology matters. I'm a great admirer of Senator Clinton. It's not about not advocating 'a rush to war.' I'm advocating no war. A rush to war means that war, taken slowly, going slowly, is possible. I'm advocating no war, no justification for war.
Clinton also took sharp questions from moderator Steve Inskeep:
INSKEEP: Senator Clinton, as some of your opponents have noted, in September you voted on a resolution involving the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which, among other things, called them proliferators of mass destruction. In view of this latest intelligence estimate, which says Iran's nuclear program was stopped in 2003, do you believe that's still true?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, there were other purposes for that resolution. It does label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, and there is evidence that they do support Hamas and Hezbollah, as Senator Obama just said, and in addition have, until recently, been supplying weapons and technical advisers to various factions within Iraq....
Clinton filibustered on for a bit about the benefits of turning up the heat before Inskeep redirected:
INSKEEP: Forgive me, are the Revolutionary Guards proliferators of mass destruction?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, many of us believe that.
This is jaw-dropping. The nation's intelligence community just issued a consensus report declaring there is no nuclear weapons program in Iran. Yet Clinton still believes Iranian Revolutionary Guards are WMD proliferators?
Talk about faith-based intelligence.