What happened
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign fired back after a barrage of criticism by accusing her Democratic rivals of ganging up on her in “the politics of pile-on.” Candidates from both parties said Clinton gave evasive answers on several key questions in a Tuesday debate, especially one about whether she supported New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to provide illegal immigrants with driver’s licenses. David Axelrod, top strategist for Democratic candidate Barack Obama, said they are looking for someone “who will be forthright with them and not pass everything through a political calculator.”

What the commentators said
The debate was Tuesday, said the New York Post in an editorial, and Clinton still hasn’t made it clear where she stands on Spitzer’s proposal. She seems to oppose it, but “hard left, immigration activists” and Obama support it. “If you’re Hillary Clinton, that means only one possible course of action: waffle, double-talk—and desperately try to change the subject.”

You can’t blame her for trying, said Mary Katherine Ham in a Townhall.com blog. Her “clumsy dodging” on the Spitzer question left the audience laughing. But it’s shocking that Clinton’s response was to whine that her opponents were being mean to her. She’s the front-runner, after all, so she has to be able to take the occasional hard question. “Is she really gonna play the ‘I'm just a girl’ card so obviously?”

Actually, Hillary’s debate performance showed she’s “one tough woman,” said Gail Collins in The New York Times (free registration). She wasn’t shaken by “being yelled at by six men,” and managed to defend “virtually indefensible” positions—voting for a “bellicose” resolution on Iran, for example. Hillary wants Democrats to give her a pass for her “triple-waffles” to help her avoid being “demagogued” by Republicans in the general election, but this debate demonstrated that voters should give the other Democrats another look. “Hillary might have looked immovable on that stage, but she sure didn’t look inevitable.”