Live-Tweeting the Democratic debate

dem debate

Missed most of the first half-hour because I lost BOTH TV signal and my wi-fi. Up and running now, though.

48 thoughts on “Live-Tweeting the Democratic debate

  1. Harry Harris

    “They should have scrapped the original plan entirely. At this point, security should be the only topic…”
    Nonsense. The future of our country hinges on much more than any single issue. Two hours of tough talk about terrorists doesn’t fix anything. There’s also a diverse country to run.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Being commander-in-chief is a constitutional responsibility of POTUS. “Running a diverse country” is not. Running ANY kind of country is not. The president doesn’t “run the country. But the president IS supposed to be in charge of security matters…

      1. Harry Harris

        Aye, but it’s not the only responsibility. I’m guessing that a host of new measures will emerge from the aftermath of the Paris bombings. I suspect France will be aggressive in moving against inside threats as well as increasing military support against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Intelligence efforts as well as threat-level related surveillance and protection means will likely increase here. Hopefully, middle eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait will more actively join efforts at defeating ISIS. As Clinton implied, Turkey should get off the fence despite their problems with Kurdish ambitions in their area.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          As I said in one of my last Tweets during the debate, Hillary has SUCH a head start on whomever the GOP nominates. She can go ahead and sound presidential in these debates while the viable candidates on the Republican side are still struggling to be heard.

          That was if anything more evident in this debate than previously, partly BECAUSE of the (somewhat greater) emphasis on international affairs…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      And who said “talking tough?” I’ll settle for talking smart.

      I really liked Hillary’s comment praising Bush for drawing the distinction between Islam and our enemies after 9/11. That’s statesmanship. When’s the last time a Democrat acknowledged that?

      This woman’s running to be PRESIDENT, not just the Democratic nominee. Good for her…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    On this one…

    … that was supposed to be “touch,” not “tough”…

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    I’m flashing back 35 years. In 1980, I was in Des Moines to cover the Register’s GOP debate, which was just a week or two before the caucuses.

    It was when I was a reporter for The Jackson Sun back in Tennessee. I was mainly there to cover Howard Baker…

    As soon as it was over, my photographer and I ran over to the Register’s newsroom where I borrowed an empty desk and started hammering away on an IBM Selectric typewriter. Mark, the photographer, took each page as I finished it and dictated it over the phone to the desk back in Jackson, right up against the deadline for Sunday’s paper.

    He’d finish dictating, and I’d have another page for him. It was about a 5 or 6-take (page) story, as I recall.

    It was my first taste of covering national politics.

    The story that night was that everybody was on the stage but Reagan, who had decided to skip. My lede was something like, “It was tough to pick a winner in the GOP debate Saturday night, but the loser was obviously Ronald Reagan.” As a novice, I was a bit nervous saying that. After my story was gone, Mark and I took a tour of the Register, and were in the press room when their paper started rolling. I was very relieved when I picked up a paper and saw the Register’s veteran, Pulitzer-winning national political reporter had written almost the exact same lede.

    We were prophetic in the short term. Bush won the Iowa caucuses. But that didn’t last long…

  4. Lynn Teague

    Hillary Clinton is not a fool, and she was just grilled for many hours in the House of Reps in large part because her early comments on Benghazi reflected shifting and conflicting intelligence reports in the early hours after the attack. (Yes, I know that the opposition position is that there was an intentional coverup, but regardless of partisan considerations it is documented that she was getting shifting information from intelligence sources.)

    Further, she is more aware than most candidates that it is not very helpful for candidates for president to say distracting things early in a confused international situation. Her comments, or those from other candidates, would affect international perceptions of potential future American leadership on the issue. There is the old tradition, now too often ignored, that the country unites behind the president in times of international crisis to avoid weakening our position. I hope, against all recent evidence, that all candidates will have some respect for that tradition.

    So, I think it was wise not to have more focus on Paris in this debate. There will be plenty of time for that, for Americans to evaluate the candidate’s responses, before we have to elect a new president. These candidates are not the ones who have to devise a response to Paris right now, the President is. In the meantime, it makes sense to make sure that they have good information and aren’t damaging the situation before they go into the issues in depth.

    1. Karen Pearson

      Thank you, Lynn. I don’t believe anything could have been gained by deeper discussion of what happened in Paris or projections of what we should/will do in response when the situation is still so fluid. Mrs. Clinton has enough good sense, much of it learned the hard way, to know that she should not make statements when all the facts are not yet clear. She also has the sense not to, or lacks the patience to blather on with a bunch of generalized nothingness. We have enough of that going around.

      1. Barry

        Hillary blathered on about 9/11 and her Wall Street buddies. Her statements along those lines were beyond pathetic – and rightfully ripped to pieces by plenty of talking heads over the weekend.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      I wasn’t looking for more talk about PARIS. I was looking for more discussion about the rest of the world and this country’s relationship to it. As I said here:

      There is ALWAYS far too little of international affairs in presidential candidate debates, even though that’s the most critical part of the president’s job.

      I just thought that, given what had just happened, we could have a serious discussion of the world for a change…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And in case I wasn’t clear enough about our narcissism…

        Our nation is astoundingly insular. Even if we weren’t the most powerful nation in the world, even if we didn’t have the challenges and responsibilities that come with that, we would stand out for our lack of interest in the rest of the world.

        I learned long ago that if I wanted to keep up with the rest of the world — even here in our own hemisphere, our own backyard — I had to read British newspapers. THEY pay attention to Latin America and the rest of the world. Our publications do not.

        And you know why they don’t? Because the editors know that their readers aren’t interested. Because we the people are just so wrapped up in ourselves…

        1. Doug Ross

          Or maybe we’re just tired of watching the U.S. fail to actually do anything productive overseas in lands that don’t want our “help”. Meanwhile we’ve lost focus on taking care of our own business at home.

          A decade plus of the war on terror has only served to make things worse. We can’t defeat terrorism, especially when our actions create even more hatred for the U.S. It’s fools like Lindsey Graham who make ridiculous statements about eradicating terrorism that are the biggest problem. Luckily Americans who have heard his war mongering stump speeches have rejected him completely.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            “A decade plus of the war on terror has only served to make things worse. We can’t defeat terrorism, especially when our actions create even more hatred for the U.S.”

            Terrorism is a tactic. It’s not the enemy. For instance, after Pearl Harbor, FDR didn’t declare war on “sneaky naval attacks”. You don’t defeat tactics. You defeat the enemy.

          2. Bryan Caskey

            “Or maybe we’re just tired of watching the U.S. fail to actually do anything productive overseas in lands that don’t want our ‘help’.”

            Help? I don’t want to “help” them.

            No, not this time consigliere, no more discussions, no more meetings, no more tricks. You give ’em one message: We kill them all, destroy their buildings, salt the earth, then leave.

            1. Doug Ross

              Unless you can wipe every single one of them from the face of the Earth (including their sons and daughters), you will fail.

              How many American lives and lives of innocent people are you willing to sacrifice to kill a small percentage of the terrorists?

              1. Bryan Caskey

                “Unless you can wipe every single one of them from the face of the Earth (including their sons and daughters), you will fail.”

                It can be arranged.

                “How many American lives and lives of innocent people are you willing to sacrifice to kill a small percentage of the terrorists?”

                Well, we have 129 dead people in Paris. How many more people does ISIS have to kill for you to decide that we might want to fight back at some point?

                If ISIS attacks a mall in the US and kills 129 people, will that change your point of view? How a sporting event where they kill 1,029? What’s your number? Do you have a number?

                1. Doug Ross

                  “If ISIS attacks a mall in the US and kills 129 people, will that change your point of view? How a sporting event where they kill 1,029? What’s your number? Do you have a number?”

                  There is no number for me because I don’t view terrorism like others do. I don’t see it as some organized enemy that we can defeat. I see it the same way I see poverty, crime, pollution, etc. There is no “solution” that doesn’t create other problems.

                  Fighting terrorism is like fighting crime. You can address it after the fact but you can’t stop it. Evil exists and will always exist.

                  If I were addressing this issue I would start with one simple question: “Why are they doing it?” We don’t spend any time trying to fix the why question.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  What did in his chances, for me (I can’t speak for the rest of you), was his campaign slogan: “I won’t address terrorism, poverty, crime or pollution, because it’s all just hopeless.”


                3. Doug Ross

                  Hey, you’d rather vote for people who talk about doing things versus actually doing them. I prefer results over words. I also prefer peace over war. I’m funny like that. You get amped up at the thought of any military action or opportunity to control people’s lives. I don’t.

                  Name your favorite politician and then tell me what he has done to actually fix something… something that worked permanently.

                4. Doug Ross

                  And you misquoted me. I did not use the word hopeless. I said there was no solution that didn’t create other problems.

                  Take for example all the efforts in the “drug war”. Has that worked? Doubtful at best. And what else has it done? Created a generation of non-violent offenders filling prisons and created a police force that uses excessive force over and over again to go after people using drugs.

                  What have all the “solutions” to poverty accomplished? Nothing. Now we have people who go from cradle to grave dependent on the government and lacking the desire to make the effort to improve themselves.

                  But you keep voting for your typical politicians who are great at crafting a message. I’m sure it will work out any day now.

                5. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I didn’t misquote you. I wasn’t trying to quote you; I was satirizing. Didn’t you see the smiley face?

                  But what I wrote was more accurate than what I started to write. I originally thought of, “I won’t address terrorism, poverty, crime or pollution, because they’re all just too hard.” I thought that stated the case, and was funnier.

                  But I anticipated you coming back with, “It’s not that they’re too hard; it’s that they are impossible.” So I switched to “hopeless.”

                  Speaking of misrepresenting people: At no time have I EVER indicated a preference for people who TALK rather than ACT. And yet you keep saying that about me…

                6. Doug Ross

                  What did Joe Riley do? Solve poverty? Solve crime? I’ve been to Charleston over the past 25 years. It’s the same as it ever was.

                7. Doug Ross

                  Take your holy trinity: McCain, Lieberman, and Graham. Name one thing any of them has done that measurably improved society.

                8. Brad Warthen Post author

                  What did Joe Riley do? I’m going to chalk that up to your only having been to Charleston over the last 25 years, while Joe has been mayor for 40.

                  You didn’t see Charleston before, which is why you don’t understand that when I say “Joe Riley” in reply to your question, it’s a slam dunk. Game over…

                9. Doug Ross

                  So you can’t name anything? Poverty and crime don’t exist because he solved both. Because they are both solvable, right? Just like terrorism.

      2. Karen Pearson

        Yes, we need to talk about the world, but I don’t see any point in blindsiding the candidates with questions in that area when they’ve been told the focus is on something else entirely. No one has all the facts at his or her fingertips (unless you’ve got an ipad and can google rapidly–and you can’t google and listen to what the other person is saying). As for talking about the “world,” which part of the world do you want to talk about, and have you got all the info on that part immediately accessible to you? I’d rather have reasoned answers in the area of the economy than have the candidates trying to wing answers they aren’t prepared for.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          They shouldn’t have to be told. A person who doesn’t know that international affairs are always, always, ALWAYS on the test should not be running for president of the United States.

          That comes first.

          1. Doug Ross

            “That comes first.”

            For you and Lindsey Graham. Not for most of the rest of Americans. Because we’ve seen how well your approach has worked for the past 50 years. One failure after another. More money thrown down the toilet.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              If that’s true of only Lindsey Graham and me, then we are the only two people who have a clue what the job of POTUS is like. And that’s not the case, fortunately.

              One bit of realism from “The West Wing”… in the early seasons, Sorkin’s liberal Democrats in the West Wing seemed taken aback that the world kept intruding on what they wanted their jobs to be about. Eventually, they seemed to adjust.

              That said, Sorkin spared his fictional White House the problem of reacting to 9/11. In that fictional world, in which presidential elections occurred in the OTHER even years (1998. 2002, 2006), that just didn’t happen…

              Of course, Leo always understood what the job was…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Critics may have called “The West Wing” a fantasy world for liberal Democrats, but even in that universe, the rest of the planet did not go away. There was no opportunity to scrap the military and close our embassies abroad, so that we could spend every federal penny on domestic programs…

                1. Doug Ross

                  I don’t want the rest of the planet to go away. I just don’t want the U.S. to be responsible for policing it. We have had little success in doing it since 1960 so maybe we should try doing something else. We spent so much money that could have better been spent on our own education, healthcare, and infrastructure needs.

                2. Doug Ross

                  We didn’t win. They quit. And if we did win, why do we still care what Putin does? The end of Cold War was just an intermission. Because our government NEEDS a boogeyman to justify military spending.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Yeah, we just made up that stuff about what he’s doing in Ukraine.

                    In war, when one side quits, the other side wins. See “Saigon, 1975.” Except that you’ll be redirected to “Ho Chi Minh City”…

          2. Karen Pearson

            Brad, a candidate should be able to make a reasonable response to such questions, but no one can know everything; that’s why presidents have advisors and other staff. If I were a candidate I’d be very leery of being too specific, in case further study or further developments made another response more appropriate. If that happens then the opposition has an opportunity to call you on it, and claim that you’re contradicting yourself. In any case, I’m not in favor of broadcasting our (possible) plans. I think we do far too much of that already.

  5. Mark Stewart

    Who thought a Saturday evening debate was a good time to hold a party debate for the Presidency?

    I assume the goal was to hog the airtime to follow on Sunday and Monday – but that might not happen this weekend.

    To Lynn’s point, I agree, it is not helpful to see candidates making off the cuff remarks about current foreign affairs fires. It is bad enough when legislators do that.

    1. Bob Amundson

      At some point the idea of “Going Dark” must be discussed. FBI Director James B. Comey, at the Brookings Institution on October 16, 2014 stated, “Unfortunately, the law hasn’t kept pace with technology, and this disconnect has created a significant public safety problem. We call it “Going Dark,” and what it means is this: Those charged with protecting our people aren’t always able to access the evidence we need to prosecute crime and prevent terrorism even with lawful authority. We have the legal authority to intercept and access communications and information pursuant to court order, but we often lack the technical ability to do so.”

      Addressing terrorism is a “wicked problem” that has all the elements of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity; the term was originally introduced by the U.S. Army War College to describe the multilateral world that emerged at the end of the Cold War). Leadership agility and adaptability are now required skills to succeed in our VUCA world.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah… I miss the Cold War… The Sovs were such a dependable, reliable enemy that didn’t want to go to real war with us anymore than we wanted to fight them…

  6. John

    Was I the only one who found the constantly moving screen background in this debate horribly distracting? I am struggling enough with new bifocals that I really didn’t need what looked like pulsating word or sentence fragments growing and shrinking behind the candidates while they were speaking. I ended up listening to the debate while working crossword puzzles because the screen background was so annoying.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I missed that, because I was busy Tweeting. I was mostly just listening. I was writing on my laptop, and had my iPad beside that with the feed going. Then, when I suffered a couple of wifi hiccups, I closed that and turned on the TV in the room — which was behind me.

      I’m that way with most televised events. Before social media, I was taking notes for something I’d write later. So over the years, I’ve missed a lot of visuals…

  7. Barry

    I am thankful I have something to do with my children and wife on Saturdays and don’t have to watch a presidential debate.

  8. Bryan Caskey

    “Fighting terrorism is like fighting crime. You can address it after the fact but you can’t stop it. Evil exists and will always exist.” -Doug

    “If I were addressing this issue I would start with one simple question: “Why are they doing it?” We don’t spend any time trying to fix the why question.” -Doug

    The thing is, I sort of agree with you that evil exists and that it will always exist. Accordingly, you’ve already answered your question of “why are they doing it?” They’re evil. There’s your answer, Ringo.

    The question is: What are you prepared to do about it? Trying to figure out their motivation is not hard. They’re evil jihadists who hate everything that the West and modernity stand for. They’re an evil, barbaric death cult.

    Their tactics used by ISIS (beheading, rape, enslavement, mass killings) are no different than they’ve been the last 2000 years or so. The only difference is that in past times the West pushed back and killed these fanatics in larger numbers, crushed them as viable threat, and pushed the survivors into the hinterlands to recover for a few generations before they tried again.

    Rinse, lather, repeat….Do it now and worry about these barbarians again in a couple hundred years.

    1. Doug Ross

      Except now they are spread across the globe and aren’t using swords. And every innocent person we kill yields ten new people who hate us. Part of the reason they direct their evil at us and others is because we try to impose our values on them. As you said, they’ve got two thousand years of history that hasn’t changed them. They will exist long after our children’s children are gone. We aren’t going to change cultures with bombs.

    2. Doug Ross

      “They’re evil jihadists who hate everything that the West and modernity stand for.”

      Do you think that is the sole motivating factor? Why weren’t they such an issue for America 50 years ago? America was modern then, wasn’t it? What flipped the script for them to target the U.S.? I don’t think you can simply channel the Church Lady and say “Could it be… Satan?!?!”

      If the Middle East was exporting lima beans instead of oil, we’d have a much different situation there.

      1. Doug Ross

        According to Wikipedia (yes, I know it is not gospel):

        “The April 18, 1983 United States embassy bombing was a suicide bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed 63 people, mostly embassy and CIA staff members, several soldiers and one Marine. 17 of the dead were Americans. It was the deadliest attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission up to that time, and is thought of as marking the beginning of anti-U.S. attacks by Islamist groups.

        The attack came in the wake of the intervention of a Multinational Force, made up of Western countries, including the U.S., in the Lebanese Civil War, to try to restore order and central government authority.”

        Cause and effect. Action and response. 32 years later, we keep increasing the action and expect a different response.

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