Roundup: the beginning of the end

Eight days to Iowa, 13 to New Hampshire . . .

Today's New York Times examines Hillary Clinton's role as first lady on foreign policy issues:

Documents about her work remain classified at the National Archives. Mrs. Clinton has declined to divulge the private advice she gave her husband. An interview with Mrs. Clinton, conversations with 35 Clinton administration officials and a review of books about her White House years suggest that she was more of a sounding board than a policy maker, who learned through osmosis rather than decision-making, and who grew gradually more comfortable with the use of military power. . . .

She did not wrestle directly with many of the other challenges the next president will face, including managing a large-scale deployment -- or withdrawal -- of troops abroad, an overhaul of the intelligence agencies or the effort to halt the spread of nuclear weapons technology. Most of her exposure to the military has come since she left the White House through her seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. . . .

Asked to name three major foreign policy decisions where she played a decisive role as first lady, Mrs. Clinton responded in generalities more than specifics, describing her strategic roles on trips to Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, India, Africa and Latin America. Asked to cite a significant foreign policy object lesson from the 1990s, Mrs. Clinton also replied with broad observations. "There are a lot of them," she said. "The whole unfortunate experience we've had with the Bush administration, where they haven't done what we've needed to do to reach out to the rest of the world, reinforces my experience in the 1990s that public diplomacy, showing respect and understanding of people's different perspectives -- it's more likely to at least create the conditions where we can exercise our values and pursue our interests."

Thomas Sowell saved a lump of coal for each of the major candidates for president.

Fred Barnes sees a similarity in the reasons why some voters have taken to Barack Obama and others are drawn to Mike Huckabee.

And here's one explanation for all Ron Paul's money: "Difficult as it may be to believe in an era of resurgent liberalism and compassionate conservatism, for many Americans, being free from the government is more attractive than getting something free from the government. To them, the promise of liberty isn't just worth $6 million; it's priceless."

UPDATE: Reflecting on the lack of attention Joe Biden is getting, Matt Bai reminds voters that they're allowed to decide for themselves who deserves their vote: "Ten years of endless blather about the game of politics on cable TV have trained the most engaged American voters to handicap candidates rather than hear them, to pontificate about who might win rather than deciding whom they actually want to win. Voters seem to approach politics increasingly as pundits, and they look to poll numbers to tell them who isn't, never stopping to realize that they are the ones who get to decide."