The Democratic Debate… And Then There Were Three!

Every Wednesday evening at 10 ET, ABC broadcasts its last prime time show, a one hour country soaper called Nashville. It has a barrel of convoluted scripts, a zigzag story line and actors and actresses who are good at what they do and can sing to boot. And nobody watches. Nashville has rented permanent space in the basement of TV’s overall network ratings and the precious 18-49 demographic. Most weeks, all other network offerings, clean Nashville’s clock.

The political version of Nashville is Martin O’Malley. His script is consistent, intelligent and would be good for America, a country that politically has declined to fourth-world status. If you watched CNN’s somewhat bizarre Tuesday night debate, you know of what I speak.

“Moderator” Anderson Cooper asked virtually all the questions. The “panelists”, highly experienced Dana Bash and Juan Carlos Lopez, might as well have gone out for pizza for all the input they had into the debate. They were rarely called upon. CNN made a big deal of questions from the average Joe and Jill submitted to CNN Facebook…you know, Main Street voters, suddenly thrust into the limelight with inquiries of the candidates. Over a two-hour period, there were 3 or 4 such questions from representatives of the entire population.

It was odd.

Hillary Clinton was defensive and privileged, extending just about all of her answers. On occasion she took what seemed twice the allotted time for responses, over Cooper’s entreaties to stop robbing the other candidates, who basically followed the rules of the time provided to explain and, where appropriate, defend themselves. Though Clinton is one of my final two choices, it was unfair and annoying.

Bernie Sanders was energetic and assertive, and, as much as I hate to say it, looking old. If elected for two full terms, he’ll be well over 80. He was born September 8, 1941. There were signs of the aging process taking hold as he spoke. No question he’s got plenty left in the tank, but sudden catastrophic health events often arise within Bernie’s biological time frame.

I’d have no problem voting for Bernie, I’d just hope his VP choice would be intensely vetted, experienced and at least slightly younger.

There’s really little to say about Virginia’s Jim Webb’s debate appearance. A Naval Academy grad, he’s an oft-decorated retired Marine, still longing for the life. Along with certain family members, he has served his country bravely and well. He still seems to want to suit up for battle, as evidenced in his response to the question of which enemy he was proudest to have. Without hesitation it was the combatant who injured him with a grenade in Viet Nam. He made it clear that the guy wasn’t around to talk to as Webb did what you do in war. There still seemed to be plenty of bloodlust in the old boy yet. Just the guy we need to make decisions on war as opposed to negotiations.

I expected much more from an author of ten books and Emmy winner, among his other non-military accomplishments.

In terms of foreign policy, Webb, also a former U.S. Senator, would be a much better fit in the Republican debates. Many of his bona fides track back to the military as Reagan’s Navy Secretary and as the author of the laudable post-9/11 GI Bill. He rightfully beefed about being left as an ignored island, on the right flank of the debate podium line. Webb then took up much of his time when occasionally called upon, complaining about it. He did affectionately reference his latest wife. Third time’s a charm, I guess.

Lincoln Chafee, another former senator and most recently, governor of Rhode Island, was once a Republican, but clearly liberal enough to decide the Democrats would provide a more comfortable and appropriate home. He’s a pleasant guy with little of the charisma demanded of today’s high-profile candidates for the office of president.

Chafee once challenged credibility of an issue with Clinton. When asked if she wanted to respond, she gave a chilly response of “no.” That seemed just fine with an approving audience. Chafee’s core issue was that over a nearly 30-year public service span, he’s never had a scandal. He means it when he says, “I am not a crook.” Not a president either, I fear, though he assured the audience in his opening statement that he had experience, character and a vision for the future.

You could easily tell the Anderson Cooper pecking order of importance. It was far and away a Hillary-centric debate, followed by Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Chafee and Webb. And that’s probably where they’ll stand in subsequent national polls, though I’d like to give Webb one more chance. That is not to say that I agree with the national pundits, most of them awarding the debate win to Clinton like good little pundits. I give Clinton a statistical tie with O’Malley.

Bernie is a wonderful, feel-good populist who abhors corruption, Wall Street and the “Citizens United” obscenity. He’s convinced that the country is in the midst of an “unprecedented crisis.” He also pointed out that he takes no big PAC money, but already has 650,000 citizen contributors. He prefers $30 in clean money as opposed to the billions of dirty dollars out there. And that sells, especially with young people.

O’Malley pointed out that 70% of workers are earning the same or less than a dozen years ago. O’Malley is big on climate change as well and brought a number of progressive changes to his Maryland governorship. He was also the former mayor of Baltimore.

Barring the discovery of emails to the devil, Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president. Here’s what you’ll get policy-wise: A President Hillary will push investments in infrastructure, clean energy, an increase in the minimum wage and profit-sharing between companies and workers. She’ll make the tax system “fair” meaning tax cuts for the middle-class while the wealthy pay their “fair share.” I would have liked more details of her definition of “fair share.” She’s always wanted equal pay for women and paid family leave will be an important plank in her platform. She closed her opening remarks by visualizing a father saying to a daughter, “You too can grow up to be president.”

Her first question was a challenge to explain why she changed her strong support of the Trans Pacific Partnership to opposition to TPP. She was asked if she made the move simply to get elected. Her response was “I absorb your information and listen to you. I finally negotiated the agreement last week and it didn’t meet my standards.” To imagine, for even a second, Clinton wasn’t privy to every step of the Multi-national corporate rubbish of TPP with its destructive intellectual property, arbitration, medical costs and environmental provisions, among others, is ludicrous. The core of TPP was negotiated while she was Secretary of State. Her pitiful TPP pivot was purely political.

But Hillary Clinton is the only hope for a viable Democratic Party, warts and all.

30 Replies to “The Democratic Debate… And Then There Were Three!”

  1. “Bernie is a wonderful, feel-good populist who abhors corruption, Wall Street and the “Citizens United” obscenity. He’s convinced that the country is in the midst of an “unprecedented crisis.” He also pointed out that he takes no big PAC money, but already has 650,000 citizen contributors. He prefers $30 in clean money as
    opposed to the billions of dirty dollars out there. And that sells, especially with young people.”

    I must be young even though I just turned 50.

    Serious question. Why isn’t populist considered centrist? If the majority of people support something why is that considered “left” or “right”. My biggest complaint about Obama and the democratic party is that they do not use the bully pulpit enough. Why don’t democrats hammer republicans on their obstruction of veteran bills? When democrats get on tv, why don’t they hammer home the things that are considered populist? Isn’t this country about the people?

  2. I honestly think Debbie W. Schulz and a lot of people in the DNC should be fired. For starters, the majority people lean liberal when asked about individual issues. Why do we do such a poor job in messaging? When Bill Clinton got the title “explainer in chief” that fired everybody up at the democratic convention why can’t the rest of the democratic party push these truths and facts?

    Debbie has done poorly. She has poor results (see 2014) and has started this season off poorly. The populist message is the democratic message for the most part, but it seems that the DNC does not think so.

  3. Dennis S. TPP! REALLY! Even after last night I bet most voters have no idea what it means? Hillary “worts and all?”

    What of Bernie’s NRA worts? Crickets?

  4. I watched the debate. Basically there were only two people in the debate,Clinton and sanders. The other three were absolutely flat. Especially Lincoln Chaffee.He should just get out. No wonder his poll numbers are one percent.

  5. …seems to me this is gonna come down to Hillary and Bernie…both had a great debate, O’Malley got a couple o’ digs in, but came off as lowkey…Webb spent his time bitchin’ he wanted more time…

  6. …just pointing out that “Democratic Socialism” ain’t the same as “Communist Socialism”…totally different critters…

  7. The interesting thing about that, from the WaPo site where the math/research was compiled, is Biden. I didn’t think he was that far behind. Although he isn’t running (yet/never) he seemed to be very close in a phantom hypothetical run.

    It may be that he was only in some polls..

  8. Sigh, I tried to point out how obviously inaccurate that focus group was but a few of my comments were deleted and then the entire thread was shut down and comments turned off.

    I guess the inaccurate clip will remain on the thread but the comments pointing to it being bunk are gone.

  9. It’s a shame really, the Professor wasn’t there. As the American people could used his educated opinion. His take on Campaign Finance should be heard more. Since he wasn’t allowed in the polling by the establishment who tends to those decisions…Lessig was truly shafted. By a system that is rigged. I can’t wrap myself around his one referendum candidacy, as it reminds me too much of Republicans who’s only quest is to shut down Planned Parenthood and the ACA. Ha, perhaps he should be running for the Republican Party! At least they allowed all their candidates a podium at their debate(s), kids table or not. Truly a shame Lessig wasn’t there.

  10. My take is this. Unless you are polling at least 4% and have the money to run then you shouldn’t be allowed to run. We are not the clown parade AKA republicans

  11. Raising the minimum wage is a populist message. Gun control (not gun confiscation) is a populist message. Expanding social security is a populist message. The Veteran bills were and are populist messages. Fair Trade, not free trade is a populist message. Taxing the wealthy and corporations more is a populist message. Throwing corrupt bankers and Wall St. CEO’s in jail is a populist message. Getting rid of Citizens United is a populist message. Not giving tax credits to corporations leaving America is a populist message. Raising the Caps on SS is a populist message. We should hammer republicans for being against removing Citizens United. We should hammer republicans for not raising minimum wage. We should hammer republicans for not passing Veteran bills. We should hammer republicans for not stopping tax credits to corporations who leave the U.S. What do we do? We let them talk about Benghazi and Clinton e-mails.

  12. Six podiums would make us a clown car? I thought it was the clowns in the car that made up the “clown car?” That aside, I agree there need to be guidelines that allow candidates into debates. I’m for bringing back the League of Women Voters as debate organizers. Our media needs to take more responsibility in letting the lesser known have a voice as well. So, so many things wrong with our rigged system…

  13. We should hammer them for wanting it to be legal for someone to sell a terrorist or criminal a gun out of the trunk of their car. Quit worrying about getting rid of guns we are nowhere near that point, concentrate on what we can get which is universal background checks. We should hammer them for lowering taxes on the wealthy and raising them on the masses like in Ohio and Michigan. Congress lowered taxes on the wealthy. Watch, in a few years they will want to raise the gasoline tax and what will the Democratic party do?

  14. Great point. All I am saying is this. Jim Webb should be running as a moderate republican and Lincoln Chaffee should go back to running his hardware store. I have read a little of this Lessing and he seems to me as one of those no label people that as the name implies no label so we don’t know WTF he would do

  15. Your absolutely correct there, but I can’t find a way to explain that to my far right acquaintances. I generally want to run a sharp object into each ear to tune them out.

  16. Shadow. “Democratic socialism is a political ideology advocating a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system, involving a combination of political democracy (usually multi-party democracy) with social ownership of the means of production.”

    Blame me or blame the definition.

  17. Randy.

    Democrats invented the Federal Minimum Wage in 1938.

    Nobody is talking about taking anybody’s gun, that is an NRA talking point.

    The first Federal Veterans Benefits started in 1917 and the first GI Bill was in 1944.

    Any Trade is always a horse Trade among the Trading Partners. I would point out that Economically, we did pretty good after NAFTA in 1993.

    Reagan and Bush Jr ran and won on lowering Taxes on the Rich; “trickle down.”

    You cannot “throw” anybody in jail unless they break laws. The Banks, Greenspan, The rating companies and Wall Street were all pushing and selling junk mortgages; legally.

    Ending Citizens United will take a change to the Constitution. Requires 2/3rds House & Senate or 2/3rds of States to Start and 3/4ths to ratify; not easy. Lookup Child Labor, Equal Rights or DC Voting Rights that failed.

    GOPers do not respect hammers, only guns.

  18. #42,
    ….”Randy, because revolution and Socialism are not “populistic or centrist” in America….”

    No one is advocating violent revolution. Revolution generally means sweeping change – and lots of Americans think change is desparately needed – so that is “populist” (a view at the heart of popular culture).

    What Bernie proposes is also centrist, in that we have gotten so far right of center, our government barely serves the majority including the center, so the change brings us back to center.

    GOP-style government and business right now is all about national big box stores, the death of small farms, big money politics, a bloated military, and allowing our infrastucture to crumble. The Right is all about ruling with FEAR. The Democrats are about raising up those with less while not injuring the super wealthy. I know which view I prefer…

  19. Deetoo. Do you honestly believe the GOPers are going to let “Revolution” and “Socialist” alone? Explain it all you want, the American Voters are not that bright.

    Case in point. Lamar and Khloe versus Debate.

  20. He had a tiny little jab and Hillary pounced back:

    Well, Marty, my friend, supported me vociferously in 2008. BOOM!

    Chafee jabbed about needing to improve our image world wide and how Hillary is not as suited to do it as he is! Which was just so freaking obviously stupid – when asked if she wanted to reply won that debate with one word and a smile.

    No. (chit eating grin.)

  21. Go look at the video of the focus group. It is a very short clip – they asked who won and hands went up for each.

    There were 20 people in the room (they could all be republicans for all we know)
    At least 5 of them raised hands for BOTH candidates. They raised it first for Bernie. Then she said “oh Bernie has most of the people in the room” THEN she said how about Hillary who thinks Hillary won and many people also raised their hands for her too. BOTH and they wiggled their hands – to say wishy washy for both.

    They were undecided. But let’s just give it to him and make a column about it.

    I can’t stand how every tiny little thing for him gets blown up to glory here.

    She could walk on water and this bunch would say she was a show off. That is why my “tone” here gets a bit testy at times.

    It is entirely slanted and biased toward their unviable candidate.

  22. As for the tweet comparing Bernie freaking Sanders to Obama – that is entirely laughable and insane and clueless and historically inaccurate as well as ignoring the entire base of the democratic party plus ignoring the entire heirarchy of the party backing HIM in 08.

    As Sabado said rightly:

    “Historically, one has to go back to U.S. Sen. Ed Muskie in 1972 to find a similarly favored Democrat who managed to muff his chances at the party nomination.”

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