1. The cynical effort to protect Hillary Clinton by scheduling debates at times when as few people as possible will watch them has officially become ludicrous, and also beyond denial. CNN’s alleged media watchdog Brian Stelter, in one of his occasional non-partisan episodes, grilled Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the strategy Sunday, and got a typical Wasserman Schultz-ish non answer, as she compared the TV rations with past debates and then mocked the Republican debates, which have been more conveniently scheduled and have garnered far more viewers. This time the tactic worked on me: my wife wanted to watch “Downton Abbey” (during the debate, one website wag on a post about the Democrats wrote, “Lady Crawley is losing the debate with Mrs Hughes and with The Hospital Board merger. Sad.”) Showtime was also running “The Godfather Epic,” which I had never seen, re-editing I and II together (but somehow differently from “The Godfather Saga.” I didn’t last to the end, so I assumed it also included III, and so wrote until a commenter put me straight), and then there was the football game. I had to watch the MSNBC re-run late into the night.
2. Several commenters claimed that Bernie was rude to Hillary, making funny faces, shouting. That’s Bernie, though, and here we go again: Hillary’s a feminist, but her supporters want to impose a double standard of how she is treated in the rough-and-tumble world of politics. This has, after all, been very effective from the race perspective insulating Barack Obama. If the Democrats dare to run such a corrupt candidate as Hillary, they will deserve Trump as the opposition, the one candidate who won’t pay any attention to media claims that he should pull his punches.
Nothing Bernie did during last night’s debate was nearly as outrageous as Joe Biden’s snorting, snickering, eye-rolling and constantly interrupting performance in the 2012 Vice-Presidential debate with Paul Ryan, as Martha Raddatz played “boxing referee who has taken a bribe” by ignoring it all. Well, but Ryan’s a guy, and a Republican , so he didn’t deserve common civility.
3. The central dishonesty in this debate and all of the Democratic debates is the inherent hypocrisy of simultaneously saying the economy is a mess and Wall Street is pulling the strings, while extolling the record of Barack Obama. Sanders is the most hypocritical, at one point proclaiming his pro-Obama bona fides as he runs a campaign calling for a revolution. Here’s Sanders in his opening:
“As we look out at our country today, what the American people understand is we have an economy that’s rigged, that ordinary Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, 47 million people living in poverty, and almost all of the new income and wealth going to the top one percent….This campaign is about a political revolution to not only elect the president, but to transform this country….”
4. Once again, all three candidates used cover words and vagueries to advocate “comprehensive immigration reform” without saying what that is. Nor did NBC’s softball-tossing moderators, nor the candidates to each other, demand details and meanings. What “reforms”? Opening the borders? Making all illegal immigrants citizens? How long will illegal immigrant-pandering Democrats be allowed to get away with this? If they really are willing to sacrifice U.S. sovereignty, they have an obligation to say so, and clearly.
5. All three candidates mentioned the minimum wage was as a prime issue. That itself is a testament to dishonesty or economic ignorance. You can’t complain about unemployment and also advocate a huge raise in the minimum wage; when a job is no longer worth paying the minimum wage for, the job goes away. Just last week, Walmart pulled out of an agreement to open two stores in Washington, D.C. specifically because D.C. raised the wage, and not even to Sanders’ 15 dollars an hour. Sanders doesn’t understand basic math or supply and demand, but Clinton and O’Malley know better. They are just pandering to Bernie’s ignorant supporters.
6. More intellectually dishonest talking points: “Equal pay for equal work, ” first raise by Martin O’Malley. At least he didn’t cite the fake “77 cents” statistic.
7. I suppose minor ethics kudos are owed to the Democrats for agreeing on the need for infrastructure repair and expansion, which is far, far more crucial to the nation than phony plans to make college tuition free, expanding entitlements. The problem is that by throwing an essential, non-debatable feature of responsible government in the same rhetorical pot as “health care as a right,” and free college for all, the issue is devalued by association. It also tempts irresponsible Republicans into opposing the massive spending required as just more make-work, Democratic tax-and-spend. Roads, bridges, sewer systems, airports, water mains—the country is falling apart, fixing it will take trillions the country doesn’t have, and we have no choice about whether to do it or not. The question is whether to do it before everything breaks down and people die, or before. The kudos are minor, because it was used as a buzz-word, with no serious debate or discussion, and no wonder. It will be literally impossible to afford infrastructure repair along with all of Sanders’ other free stuff, which he appears to be far more interested in.
8. Classic unethical exchange #1:
Q: How do you convince Americans that the problem of climate change is so urgent that they need to change their behavior?
SANDERS: I think we already are. Younger generation understands it instinctively. I was home in Burlington, Vermont, on Christmas Eve, the temperature was 65 degrees. People in Vermont know what’s going on. People who did ice fishing, where their ice is no longer there on the lake understand what’s going on.
There we have the level of honesty and seriousness of the entire climate change debate, in one answer. The young understand it “instinctive,” which means they have no real understanding at all. People in Vermont understand because this year it’s been warmer than usual. Did any candidate, or a moderator, ask Bernie if he has any idea what climate change even means?
9. O’Malley epitomized the studiedly dishonest exchange among the candidates on gun control with this, in a non-answer to the question of what he would say to a gun-owner who thinks the real objective is to take away private ownership of guns:
“So, after the slaughter of the kids in Connecticut last year, we brought people together. We did pass in our state comprehensive gun safety legislation. It did have a ban on combat assault weapons, universal background checks, and you know what? We did not interrupt a single person’s hunting season.
I’ve never met a self respecting deer hunter that needed an AR-15 to down a deer. And, so…”
1). The Second Amendment is not about hunting, and suggesting otherwise is exactly the kind of rhetoric that does raise suspicions of a plan to ban guns.
2) Did anyone point out to O’Malley that his marvelous gun legislation was firmly in place as Baltimore just had its deadliest year or gun-related murders in four decades? (No.)
10. Classic unethical exchange #2:
Q: Secretary Clinton, this is a community that has suffered a lot of heartache in the last year. Of course, as you mentioned, the church shootings. We won’t forget the video of Walter Scott being shot in the back while running from police. We understand that a jury will decide whether that police officer was justified, but it plays straight to the fears of many African American men that their lives are cheap. Is that perception, or in your view, is it reality?
CLINTON: Well, sadly it’s reality, and it has been heartbreaking, and incredibly outraging to see the constant stories of young men like Walter Scott, as you said, who have been killed by police officers. Their needs to be a concerted effort to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system.
The answer is despicable, divisive, dishonest and irresponsible . It’s reality that black lives are cheap? Prove it. Mrs. Clinton. Prove, first of all, that Walter Scott was shot because he was black. Now prove that any other cherry-picked instances of police shooting deaths (more whites than blacks are shot, after all) were based on racism, other than activist assumptions based on the colors of the parties involved? “Constant stories of young men like Walter Scott, as you said, who have been killed by police officers”—who is being included in that set? Scott was shot in the back while fleeing a valid arrest in Charleston last year. The Chicago shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014 has some of the same execution-style elements; that’s two, in two different years, and two different states. There is no “constant,” nor is it established that even these shootings has anything to do with race, or with black lives being “cheap.”
11. It is gratifying to see Hillary Clinton struggle to juggle all of her lies, hypocrisy, greed and conflicts of interest even under the modest grilling of Bernie Sanders. She really had no answer to his accusation that she could not credibly be a Wall Street reformer while accepting $600,000 in <cough> “speaking fees” from Goldman Sachs. And this might have been especially jarring to me having just watched “The Godfather,” but when Clinton said to O’Malley, “And, you know, Governor, you have raised money on Wall Street. You raised a lot of money on Wall Street when you were the head of the Democratic Governor’s Association…”, all I heard was, “We’re both part of the same hypocrisy, Senator…”
12. Moderator ethics foul: The candidates kept talking about what provisions were in Dodd-Frank, without anyone telling the audience what provisions are in Dodd-Frank! This is incompetent and irresponsible.Here, read this…
13. I will flag this decades old deception every time anyone embraces it.
SANDERS: I’m going to debate Secretary Clinton, Governor O’Malley, on the issues facing the American people, not Bill Clinton’s personal behavior.
2). It was not “personal behavior.” In the alleged case of Juanita Broaddrick, was criminal behavior. And the cover-up, in the Lewinsky case, was official behavior
3). Hillary Clinton made it an issue. Competent, unbiased moderator (none were on hand): “Do you agree with Mrs. Clinton that the victins of sexual assault deserve to be believed or don’t you view this a legitimate issue facing the American people?”
4. This statement got applause. Democrats have been thoroughly corrupted on this issue.
14. The Democratic debate ended seven minutes early, in contrast to the Republican debate that ran overtime. They had covered all the issues, I guess.