It was Clinton, then Sanders, O’Malley, Webb and Chaffee

I think maybe, just maybe, this was on CNN.

I think maybe, just maybe, this was on CNN.

As I said last night:

To elaborate a bit:

  1. Everyone seems to agree that HIllary Clinton towered over the others. That was certainly my impression, although I don’t think her performance was as flawless as some say: She started out hesitantly, just for a second or two, on more than one occasion — but then quickly recovered. Her best moments were when she demonstrated the self-assurance and courage to stand to the right of her opponents — defending capitalism (staking out the moderate position that capitalism is a glorious thing, although we should stand ready to address its worst excesses), and then being the one total grownup on the stage on the subject of Edward Snowden.
  2. Sanders showed why he’s wowing the disaffected left out there at his rallies, although I’m not sure whether the chicken or egg came first — is his delivery so practiced and effective because of all those successful rallies, or are the rallies successful because his delivery is that good. Anderson Cooper was of course completely right that in the extremely unlikely event that Sanders were nominated, the Republican attack ad writes itself (I hadn’t even known about the “honeymoon in the Soviet Union” part). But he remains a far more attractive candidate, based on the debate performance, than the other three guys on the stage.
  3. Next, we take a big step down to No. 3, Martin O’Malley. I honestly don’t remember much that he said now, but I do remember the sort of supercilious, holier-than-thou tone he had when he said a lot of it. All I remember right now was his mantra about Glass-Steagall, which I suppose he kept mentioning in order to run down Chaffee, who really needed no help on that score; he was scuttling his chances just fine on his own. Anderson Cooper dramatically underlined O’Malley’s weakness as a debater by doing what O’Malley so glaringly failed to do: taking a few words to explain what Glass-Steagall was.
  4. I had really expected more from Jim Webb. Maybe because he was a military guy and once served in a Republican administration, I guess I thought he’d be more UnParty than the others or something. But man, was he lame. He comes in as far behind O’Malley as O’Malley does behind Sanders. Was anyone looking at a stopwatch? If so, just how much time did he spend whining about not being allowed enough time? Oh, sure, you call time on ME, but you just let all the other kids go on all day, yadda-yadda… Cooper lectured him about it (another instance of the host presuming to correct the candidates, which was presumptuous as all get-out, but in the two cases I mention here, they really deserved it). Then there was that weird smile when he said that the Vietnamese who threw the grenade that wounded him wasn’t around to comment. What was that? And was that anecdote in any way relevant to the question?
  5. Then, in a category all on his own, there was Chaffee. Is he always like this? If so, how has he ever been elected to anything? His answer to almost every question was something like, “Hey, I was always against going into Iraq,” as though he couldn’t think of anything to say about this decade. And on the Glass-Steagall thing… Wow. Aw, come on, guys, cut me a break on that! I was new in town, my Dad had just died, I was this dumb kid, and it was my very first vote! Don’t you get a mulligan on your first vote?… Really? That’s your answer? You have your big moment on the national stage, you’ve had all these years to think about it, and that’s your answer? As someone I read this morning said, at least “Oops” was short.

That’s enough to get a discussion started. Your thoughts?

"Secretary Clinton, do you want to respond?" "No."

“Secretary Clinton, do you want to respond?” “No.”

24 thoughts on “It was Clinton, then Sanders, O’Malley, Webb and Chaffee

  1. Bryan Caskey

    A couple of thoughts:

    Hillary! appeared to be a good debater compared to Chafee, who came across as a complete idiot. (Side note: The fact that Chafee convinced any group of people to elect him to anything worries me.)

    But Hillary’s! answers were all barely responsive. For example, she basically said she would be different than Obama because she’s a woman. I mean, come on. Really? That’s your answer, your anatomy?

    For ol’ Bernie: I disagree with just about everything he says, but I definitely get why he’s been drawing big crowds. He’s the opposite of Hillary! in that he actually really believes everything he says, whereas Hillary! is the consummate politician who will say anything and change any position to get elected. Bernie is a true believer, whereas Hillary! isn’t. Bernie actually kind of listens to questions and then attempts to give his best answer, even if it’s completely crazy. Hillary’s! main goal is to dodge the question or leave wiggle room in her answer to allow her to change a/k/a “clarify” later.

    O’Malley was fairly forgettable. I guess I have to give him some points for memorizing some answers, but he felt totally canned the whole night.

    Webb was in the wrong debate. If he was in the GOP debate, he’d be polling better than Kasich, Graham, Paul, and all the rest of the less than 1% candidates. My favorite part was when Webb talked about killing the Viet Cong guy in ‘Nam. Maybe that could be his slogan: “I’m the only candidate this cycle who’s personally killed a guy. Webb 2016”. I bet if Webb had started with that anecdote, Anderson Cooper wouldn’t have been so quick to cut him off.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, and regarding her anatomy…

      I was praising Alexandra Petri yesterday (and very disappointed that more of you didn’t want to talk about Hamilton and Jackson). Well, she wrote another good piece from the debate last night, all about how, apparently, Hillary Clinton is a woman, a mother, a wife, a female person, a dame, who, if elected, would be the first female POTUS ever (would we then call her POTA, my fellow Latin students?), a fact which she KEEPS MENTIONING.

      You should read it. It’s a hoot.

      I heard on the radio (if she said this on the air, I missed it) that Hillary went to the bathroom during one of the commercial breaks, and when she returned mentioned that it takes her longer than the guys to do that. Just in case you hadn’t noticed that she’s a woman, a chick, a dame, a lady, a female, etc….

      1. Bryan Caskey

        “and very disappointed that more of you didn’t want to talk about Hamilton and Jackson”

        Didn’t we have that exact debate here like a month or so ago or something? Or maybe I’m remembering from somewhere else. I agree, it’s not complicated. Jackson wouldn’t want to be on the currency. He hated the central bank. It’s almost like someone at the Fed put Jackson on the $20 simply because they knew Jackson wouldn’t like it. Oh, and it appears that we used to have a woman on the $20, but we got rid of her. Check out this $20 from 1863. I would be cool with this. Who’s down with some Throwback Currency?

  2. Bryan Caskey

    One other thought: Bernie Sanders mentioned he was a “conscientious objector” during the Vietnam War, but then he also said “I’m no pacifist.”

    I don’t know what it took to get deemed a “conscientious objector” back then, but I would assume that saying “I’m no pacifist.” isn’t something that you want to say to the draft board.

    1. Doug Ross

      Can’t you object to a SPECIFIC war (or non-war in the case of Vietnam)? A lot of people, like my father, served in WWII and Korea but thought Vietnam was completely wrong. He would have sent my older brother to Canada before he would have allowed him to be drafted if the war lasted a couple more years.

      Everybody should be conscientious objectors to war. Part of our problem is we have too many people who are gung ho about war.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I don’t think you can (object to a particular war). I THINK you have to be personally committed to nonviolence, usually for religious reasons. That is, I think you HAD to be, past tense, when we had a draft. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

        Today, the two main criteria for classification as a conscientious objector are that the objector must be opposed to war in any form, and the objection must be sincere. A 1971 United States Supreme Court decision, Gillette v. United States, broadened U.S. rules beyond religious belief but denied the inclusion of objections to specific wars as grounds for conscientious objection.[95]

        The issue has nothing to do with your personal political opinions. Raw recruits and draftees — buck privates — don’t decide when the nation will engage militarily and when it won’t. Nor should they. It’s miles above their place in the chain of command. For that matter, commanding generals don’t, either. It’s a decision made like all others in a republic, by the civilian officials we elect.

        It’s got to be something much deeper than your personal opinions about a certain geopolitical situation. At least, that’s the way I understand it…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I wonder whether he actually WAS a CO, or was he using the words generically, as in, “I conscientiously objected to the war.”

            We tend to think of Sgt. York as a CO, but he wasn’t — he was denied, which is why he ended up becoming Sgt. York.

            I don’t think it was all that easy to obtain that status…

            1. Bryan Caskey

              My guess is that when he was young (during the Vietnam war) and subject to the draft, he was a complete pacifist. Now that he’s 173 years old, and no longer in danger of being drafted, he’s kinda…you know…changed his mind about the whole pacifist thing.

              Not for nothing, but I’m all good with that. It would be kinda awkward if we elected a pacifist to be the commander-in-chief.

              JOINT CHIEF: Sir, Russian tanks are coming through the Fulda Gap by the hundreds! This is a first strike against NATO! We need to go to DEFCON 1!
              POTUS: Stand easy, soldier. We ain’t gonna be fighting with the Russians, or anyone else for that matter. I’m a pacifist.

    2. Mark Stewart

      Bern! sounds like a Hillary! clone on that one: A conscientious objector is by definition a pacifist. Splitting hairs over that is half the distortion of Clinton-speak.

      What the debate showed is there is plenty of room for Biden – which may have been why Hillary stretched toward the center; just to cover the territory.

  3. Karen Pearson

    I liked Mr. Sanders response about gun control. He said that he comes from a rural state, and that while he’s willing to vote “yes” about background checks, he voted “no” because he’s a pragmatist. Yea!!! Unlike some of the person’s we have running for president he understands what compromise is. Comparing the GOP debates to this one, it sounds as if the leading GOP candidates are from Bedlam while the leading Democratic candidates are from a Taize community.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    I think I’m the only person out there to have raised this objection to something Bernie said:

  5. Barry

    I am excited, and deeply (truly) honored to say – I didn’t watch even one second of this mess.
    I didn’t even watch the news coverage of it.

    No applause required. Thank you.

  6. bud

    It was soooo refreshing to watch a presidential debate where the candidates actually talked about real issues. No talk of repealing the ACA. No annoying references to Ronald Reagan. No ridiculous threats of bombing Iran or sending soldiers into Syria. No nonsensical claim like “I know this, my brother kept us safe”. Arrgh!!!!! And, best of all no babbling about people’s looks or other personal attacks. Geez the Republicans should watch how adults conduct themselves when running for the highest office in the land.

    So who won? First, the Democrats as a party won big. See above.

    Second, Hillary did a terrific job of ensuring nervous Democrats that she’s the real deal. She had some great moments and came across as a sound, reasonable choice. She got a welcome boost when Bernie called the media and GOP out for their damn e-mail nonsense.

    Third, according to focus groups Bernie won the war of words. I didn’t see it that way but if you’ve never seen Bernie’s stump speech then all the sensible proposals to take on the gilded class seemed refreshing and sensible. For those like me who have seen this a gazillion times it seemed repetitive and old. But for those voters who are not following so closely Bernie was a breath of fresh air.

    Losers: The other 3 guys on the stage, Joe Biden and the GOP.

  7. Norm Ivey

    I like Webb, but he was a disappointment, especially because of his position on climate change. O’Malley did nothing to differentiate himself from anyone leading him. Clinton was strong, and if Joe was thinking about getting in, he probably isn’t any longer.

    I like Sanders, but he can’t get elected. (Of course, I felt the same way about Obama at this point in 2007.) More importantly, he won’t be able to get many of his policies through with a Congress that’s likely to still be controlled by Republicans. He dominated Google Trends throughout the debate. People are curious about him. I suspect the polls will show an uptick in his favor,

  8. DougT

    Several on-line polls, including Time, had Bernie winning and Webb 2nd. (Full disclosure: I like Webb and am tired of Hillary). Clinton was a distant 3rd. She is just too shrill. I won’t vote Republican in 2016. Hope Hillary is indicted and Joe jumps in. Otherwise I stay home.


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