Ethics Observations On The Second Democratic Candidates Debate, Part I


[The transcript is here]

1. Before the debate even started, Mediaite posted an article (here)  about how the Democratic National Committee appears to be intentionally scheduling what few debates it is allowing to guarantee as low a viewership as possible. The logic. of course, is to minimize the opportunities for Hillary Clinton to make a gaffe or have to answer an uncomfortable question with too many people watching.

It is impossible to prove this short of an intercepted e-mail with the smoking gun words, but it’s a compelling theory. Why else, Joe Concha asks, would the DNC schedule all debates on weekends, especially when Saturday is the least watched TV night—by far—of the week? Why would last night’s debate, the last before the Iowa Caucus, be scheduled against the TV broadcast of the undefeated University of Iowa football team as they take on Big-10 rival Minnesota? (For those few Democrats in Iowa who don’t root for the local college, there’s the Oklahoma-Baylor game on ABC, one of the premier games of the college football season.)

[Personally, I don’t watch young college men in the process of giving themselves concussions and brain damage, or cheer for schools that warp their budgets by spending and making obscene amount of money on sports played by  students in name only while positioning them to extort administrators when campus activist pull their strings, like in the University of Missouri. But that’s just me.]

The next debate takes place on Sunday, January 17th on PBS in Charleston, S.C. Aside from the fact that choosing the little-watched PBS already guarantees a reduced audience, that debate will compete with the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

2. John Dickerson, the new host of Face The Nation and the moderator last night, was also criticized in advance of the debate for being a hand-picked Democratic partisan. Of course, the odds are that any broadcast journalist would be ( a study released last week showed that 93% of journalists are Democrat/progressive, leaving Independents and Republicans to split the remaining 7%) but only Dickerson authored a red-meat anti-Republican screed for Slate earlier in the Obama Administration  with the memorable lines,

Go for the Throat! [I] f he wants to transform American politics, Obama must declare war on the Republican Party…

Fears that Dickerson would lob nothing but softballs at his fellow Democrats proved to be unfounded, however, to his credit.  In fact, a high percentage of his questions were CNBC-style accusations or “when did you stop beating your wife?” queries  (NOT to his credit) like this one to Martin O’Malley:

“Is the world too dangerous a place for a Governor who has no foreign policy experience?”

What’s the answer? “No, it’s not too dangerous a place…” or “Yes, it’s too dangerous for an amateur like me…”? That’s an unprofessional, unfair question, and everything Ethics Alarms said about the CNBC moderators applies to Dickerson. O’Malley just ducked the question and talked about something else, which is the only alternative to a Ted Cruz, “You know, you guys are shameless hacks” response. I much prefer the latter.

3.  Coming back at Dickerson would have at least given O’Malley some visibility, or make it appear that he really wants to win. Both O’Malley and Sanders again showed that they either  have been intimidated into offering token resistance, or have decided not to compete for the nomination. Sanders just wants a platform for his anti-capitalism, pro-European socialism “revolution,” and that’s all he’s willing to fight for. Like O’Malley, even his criticism of Clinton was prefaced by a bowed head and a pleading of “with all due respect”—there was no pretense of equality among the candidates. This Democratic debate, like the first one, was a sham. The Democrats don’t want a contested nomination, and Hillary’s “opponents”  aren’t willing to fight for one. There appears to be no love or respect for democracy among the current Democratic Party, or ideological diversity either.

Most depressing of all, Democratic voters don’t appear to care—they seem to like the choice being made by decree rather than combat. They don’t care about having a choice. (Ironically.)

4. Donald Trump is right about Sanders (as was I): he talks tough, but he’s an embarrassing weenie. In the last debate, he decided to emphatically endorse his “opponent’s” lies and incompetence regarding Clinton’s breach of security and common sense with her use of a private e-mail server. The boxing equivalent would be “taking a dive”. Last week, talking to the Wall Street Journal, Sanders was suddenly a critic again, saying that if the Hillary skirted public-records requests or compromised classified information (IF?????), concerns about the issue are “valid questions.” He did not, as Sanders was universally believed to mean when he shouted that everyone was “sick of hearing” about “the damn e-mails,” mean to suggest that Hillary’s conduct in the matter was unimportant. and told the Journal that the investigation should “proceed unimpeded.”“You get 12 seconds to say these things,” Bernie protested. “There’s an investigation going on right now. I did not say, ‘End the investigation.’ That’s silly.”

Weasel. When a candidate’s opponent calls the subject of an investigation “the damn e-mails,” damn is heard by everyone to mean “stupid,” “pointless,” “contrived,” and ” typical partisan attacks from Republicans and Faux News.”  Sanders knew it then, and knew when he appeared to backtrack. And it was all a set-up! Here’s what happened when a questioner took the bait:

OBRADOVICH: Yes, Senator Sanders, you famously said in the last debate that you were sick and tired of hearing about your damn e- mails. But then you told the Wall Street Journal that the question about whether or not Secretary Clinton’s e-mails compromised classified information were valid questions. So which is it? Is it an issue or is it not?

SANDERS: No. That’s just media stuff.

I was sick and tired of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail. I am still sick and tired of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.


And the issue is, the problem is, the front pages every day were dealing with it. I didn’t know I had so much power. But after I said that, we’re not hearing so much about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails….What I would like for the media now is for us to be talking about why the middle class is disappearing, why we have more people in jail than any other country, why we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality, and we’re the only major country on Earth without paid family and medical leave. We’ve gotten off the Hillary’s e-mails, good. Let’s go to the major issues facing America.

The exchange is vomit-worthy in so many ways. The character, honesty and competence of a presidential candidate is not “a major issue facing America?” Sanders doesn’t think that repeatedly lying to the public about this fiasco is worth discussing, in contrast to the DOA pie-in-the-sky nonsense he is pushing, like increasing Social Security benefits? Sanders thinks the FBI should be involved in investigations into matters that aren’t worth talking about? Sanders believes that the job of a leader is to follow the public’s half-baked, ignorant views of what’s important, rather than show them what really is?

 He attributed his previous remarks to having only “12 seconds” to respond to the previous e-mail question. Then Bernie had months to know what he was going to say in the next debate, and endorsed the frontrunner’s lies and manipulations again.

Sanders is contemptible. At least Hillary Clinton has a spine.

5.  Some of the responses from Clinton (I’m through with Sanders) were so obviously tap-dancing, double talk or nonsense that I tried to imagine a Hillary partisan watching and saying, “You tell ’em, Hillary!” What is the matter with these people? For example, there was this, in response to a question of admitting Syrian refugees in the aftermath of migrant Muslims slaughtering Parisians on Friday:

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, let me ask you a question from twitter which has come in and this is a question on this issue of refugees. The question is, with the U.S. preparing to absorb Syrian refugees, how do you propose we screen those coming in to keep citizens safe?

CLINTON: I think that is the number one requirement. I also said that we should take increased numbers of refugees. The administration originally said 10. I said we should go to 65, but only if we have as careful a screening and vetting process as we can imagine, whatever resources it takes because I do not want us to, in any way, inadvertently allow people who wish us harm to come into our country.

“Inadvertently allow people who wish us harm to come into our country,” as in, say, allowing illegal immigrants to cross into the U.S. over the Mexican border without sanctions or penalty? Do the criminals who get here and stay here qualify as “people who wish us harm,” or are they just people with a dream, like her grandparents and yours, seeking a better life? But never mind the incomprehensible, dishonest Democratic position on open borders (for now): how do you screen and vet 65,000 Syrian refugees? You can’t.  Remember the human rights uproar over the Haitian refugee camps? (Clinton is counting on you not remembering.) Is she naive, dumb, or being deceitful (aka lying) to suggest that taking in so many unvettable Syrians can be managed?

Guess which.

[Part 2 will be coming right along.]


3 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Second Democratic Candidates Debate, Part I

  1. I remember the camps in GITMO; I was there. We had individuals that were in those pens for YEARS. We felt so bad for those people (well, the ones who weren’t criminals that we were snatching out of there to put in Delta) that we used to take some of them out to go running with us. They were grateful to the point of tears. Trying to “vet” them was funny to watch; absolutely impossible.

  2. Since one of my e-mail addresses is with aol, I catch a headline every now and again. The latest: Clinton Attacked in Debate For Mistake In The Past. Didn’t bother to actually read the article, as the first sentence was about the self-identified ‘mistake’ of voting for the Iraq invasion. But really…’attacked’? Unlikely, that.

  3. The Democrat debates are such a farce and in so many ways that it’s a wonder that any but political commentators (who endure this sort of thing for a living) would bother to tune in. What are you going to get for your trouble? A failed governor, a washed-up, watered down Bolshevik and a pathological lying, emotionally unstable criminal. In any century but this, no top tier political party would have dared to place such a roster of candidates up for public approval. They would have disbanded before admitting to the nation that this was the best they could come up with. That only proves that the problem is not just with those three cretins on stage. The problem extends to the entire party leadership and those who support them; blindly or not.

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