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John Edwards and Barack Obama double-teamed Hillary Clinton at last week’s Democratic debate. Hillary’s resulting stumble could turn the Democratic coronation into a contest.

Edwards, as he has throughout the campaign, was Mister Hot. He focused on Hillary the courtroom aggressiveness that he kept hidden in 2004. He was perfectly comfortable going after her.

Obama was Mister Cool. Just like he always is. He was perfectly uncomfortable challenging Clinton.

Hillary’s halting and contradictory handling of the drivers license-immigration issue hurt. She is now in the same position as Ronald Reagan after his first debate in 1984. The Great Communicator looked old and out of touch then. The stakes were high the next time. But Reagan rose to the occasion with his famous joke about not exploiting Walter Mondale’s youth and inexperience. The election was effectively over then.

Another poor performance, and Hillary could be in real trouble.

But if she comes back strong, she could look like Ms. Just Right.

Edwards has made the strategic decision to be the top attack dog against Clinton. The question: Will it make him the leading alternative to her? Or will the strategy hurt both him and Clinton, giving Obama a big hole to run through?

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