10.13.15 Democratic Debate In Review

I try to stay abreast of politics, even if it is often a source of rage. I think last-year’s me would be upset that I’m so invested so early into the 2016 presidential election hype, but that’s how it is. Here are my thoughts on last night’s debate.

I tuned into some “pre-game” on CNN. Is there any argument that major media outlets are treating Hillary Clinton like the home team on a local network channel’s sports coverage? I don’t think so. This theme remains any time someone from CNN gives their “take” on the debate, or the race as a whole. It is plain that they want Bernie Sanders to go away. And can you blame them? He abhors corporate media, and he says so early and often. He won’t play their games; he just wants to talk about the issues. Not to mention that he’s not being financially supported by giant corporations – who in turn advertise with these corporate media outlets thereby having some semblance of power in their coverage perspective.

Anyway, on to the debate. I will say the Democrats as a whole had a strong showing, and it was an issues-focused discussion that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Anderson Cooper was the moderator. He has some credibility with me. However, it was clear he was playing sides. I didn’t know much about Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley or Jim Webb before. They’re the “other guys” to me and millions of others. But I looked forward to finding out more about them. I got that opportunity, though to say they received anything approaching equal time would be an outright lie. It could be said Cooper had to give time to someone who was outright mentioned as to give them rebuttal time, but I think we all know he was looking out for ratings. Additionally, when one of your first questions is shit-talking the candidates – “Here’s what the Republicans would use against you; defend yourself” – it doesn’t set a particularly positive tone.

sanders

Bernie Sanders is my guy. He doesn’t play games, because he feels things are too serious to do so. He wants revolution, and he acknowledges it will take millions of Americans supporting him for that to happen. But he sides with those million of regular folk over special-interests and corporations – hence why he vows to not have a Super PAC.
He also doesn’t like talking about himself. He sticks to the issues. Some people think that keeps voters from connecting with him. To me, if a candidate talks about issues that I care about, and he or she is passionate about addressing them, then I will care about that candidate.
Bernie knows how to speak passionately. At times, he may stagger over a word or a figure, but that’s because he doesn’t deal in generalities. He was taken to task for being perhaps the most pro-gun candidate for the Democrats. The NRA only graded him a D-. That’s like having the lowest math score of the group at a MENSA meeting. I think he did what he set out to accomplish – setting himself apart because of finances (both not being a billionaire and relying on non-billionaires) and bringing up issues. The whole “socialist” label gets thrown around a lot, and Sanders doesn’t dodge it. He talks about how every other civilized nation has these “socialist” things – universal health care, free college education, paid leave for families – so it’s not really that extreme. It’s just that the 1% want to keep those things from happening because it would cost them a little.

clinton

Hillary Clinton had a good showing. My view has been that she’s not very likeable or relatable, but after last night that view has improved a bit. I like that she often rallied the Democratic party as a whole, or took on the Republicans as a whole. It was part of her “hosting the party” narrative that CNN tried to spin from the outset, and as shown by her assignment at the center podium. She is definitely well-spoken and well-versed in this process.
I feel Clinton played the “first female president” care way too often. We get it. Don’t say you want to be qualified based on your experience then bring up “prez w/boobs lol” a bunch of times. Hillary also has changed her stance on issues a lot over the years. I think we all have, but I’m a bit concerned that she may be influenced by lobbying groups. Some of the other candidates have stood by their progressive beliefs for much longer.

omalley

Martin O’Malley definitely deserves the most-improved-player award. He always appeared composed, and was definitely the most attractive of the group – which matters to some. I was constantly finding his talking points rational and smart.
O’Malley constantly hit on things he did in his home state of Maryland. It almost became comical at one point. Bernie and Hillary are talking about something they want to do for the nation, and Martin would say, “Oh, yeah. We did that in Maryland already. Worked great.” It’s as if that state is fully wind-powered, everyone is making $25/hour, and they crap gold bars.
O’Malley had some spiriting interactions with Clinton – whom he endorsed in 2008. He didn’t shy away from her, but always kept level-headed and respectful. I liked his eye contact, even if his looks to camera seemed contrived. I guess the bottom line is: At this point, I would feel fine casting a vote for him for president.

chafee

Lincoln Chafee, bless his heart. It feels like dude was chatting in the sauna at the YMCA one day, and two other old guys said he should run for president. He probably took Anderson Cooper’s “devil’s advocate” tactics the hardest, as if to say, “Wait. People don’t know me yet and you’re gonna make them hate me?!” He went largely silent the bulk of the debate, but then gave every excuse in the book when questioned about a 20-year-old vote he cast. “My dad had just died; it was my first vote; everyone was voting that way; my dog ate my copy the bill!”
I honestly felt bad for Chafee much of the time. He seems like a good dude with his heart in the right place. He literally looked like he was going to cry, though. In his closing statements, I half-expected he’d announce his immediate withdrawal.

webb

If Chafee represented sadness, then Jim Webb was anger, brow furrowed and furious. I don’t know how many times he said it, but “10 minutes” became his new unofficial catchphrase. He’d been waiting to reply for 10 minutes, he growled; the others got to talk for 10 minutes, he’d bitch.
Webb was definitely the least liberal of the bunch – which in and of itself is not a bad thing. He felt he had a few aces up his sleeve, but when played they didn’t win him the hand. He’s got a military background, which he feels gives him a leg-up. His wife is an immigrant, which he feels gives him perspective on immigration. He testified on behalf of a black guy 30 years ago for war-crimes, which he feels…I dunno, but it came off a little racist, like “I had this one black friend,” especially when you add his past denouncement of Affirmative Action.
I enjoyed how Webb and Sanders would bro down a couple times throughout, even if it did cause Webb to be unprepared for the one time Anderson called on him to rebut something another candidate said. Maybe if we had more than two political parties, there’d be room for a Jim Webb. But even then, probably not. He’s definitely qualified for some things; president just isn’t one of them.

Of course, Joe Biden was not in the house much less on stage. Before the show, I saw an ad that looked like a Biden for President spot. It turned out to be a “Please run, Joe” spot. Really odd. I like Joe Biden a whole lot; however, I won’t be downtrodden if he doesn’t run.

The real stars of the show were issues, in that they were actually talked about. There wasn’t much disagreement – Bernie was more left, Webb more right – so it was definitely preaching to the choir. But I’m very glad they were brought up and took center-stage so much.
Anderson asked why they wouldn’t be seen as Obama’s third term, which was a really weird and hard to answer question. Some Americans think Obama has done amazingly against overwhelming adversity, others feel he didn’t live up to his campaign promises, and then there are those who view him as a coal-covered-yet-anti-coal Antichrist.

Some things that weren’t brought up that I wish would have been:
– With all the talks about guns, a fact that is outrageous which I think every non-gun-nut can get behind is: The NRA and its gun lobby have thrown enough money at lawmakers that it’s illegal to study the effects of gun violence in America. How fucked up is that? Let the people know.
– Raising the minimum wage is an important step to getting Americans out of poverty. What I think would help the middle class most, though, is preventing overseas outsourcing of good jobs. When corporations can move their operations to China or India or Indonesia with no penalty and only more profit, we Americans have less quality jobs to choose from. Please talk about that.

The post-game was much of the same as the pre-game. If you really look, it’s appalling how pro-Hillary not only CNN is, but MSNBC and the newspapers (remember them?). But people my age and younger don’t go to them for news anymore anyhow. We go outside our country’s bias to places like The Guardian, who published a good write-up. We go to our social media to get a filtered view of coverage.
In CNN’s lead story on the debate today, the first 11 paragraphs are solely about Hillary Clinton. No one else is mentioned until paragraph 12, where the writer almost begrudgingly states Sanders had a strong showing as well. Could it be any more biased? And I as a former journalist hate that word unless it’s used properly. I feel I’m using it properly.

I don’t hold all that against Hillary; I really don’t. She is choosing her path, which is fairly traditional. When you go as revolutionary as Bernie, you have to expect the establishment to shake their heads at you. But it’s just that type of action that has earned him my support, and I don’t think I’m alone.

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