The expected yawn turned out to be more like a mixed martial arts iron cage free-for-all as the five presidential wannabes took to the stage for the first Democratic presidential debate.
Right from the start Lincoln Chafee came out swinging with a sly insinuation about front runner Hillary Clinton noting that he had been around in politics for over 30 years without any hint or accusation of scandal.
From there the fists and the kicks kept coming.
Most of the punches thrown were at Clinton, who kept trying to deflect by swinging at her long-time foil, the Republican Party.
All five, Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Webb and Lincoln Chafee all acquitted themselves well.
The weakest of the lot, to me, was Chafee. He also, I believe, had the least amount of speaking time. But when he spoke, he did not inspire any desire to follow him down the yellow brick road.
Clinton time and again seemed to base her right to be the next president because she is a woman. In fact that was what she noted would make sure if she won it would not be a third term for President Barack Obama.
Sanders was Sanders, He came across knowledgeable of the issues and attempted to lessen people’s concern about him being a democratic socialist. Sanders even came to the aid of Clinton saying that the American people are tired of hearing about the email server which has the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigating her and the use of the private server.
O’Malley tried, but failed in my opinion, to jump the questions raised about his term as mayor of Baltimore. He did his best to justify his policy of no-tolerance on criminals and jailing 100,000 people in one year. O’Malley denied his policies were to blame for the riots and unrest that erupted following the death of Freddie Gray.
To me, Webb was the most centrist and moderate of those on the stage. He seemed to have a better grip on foreign policy and the dangers America is facing around the world. However, Webb seemed out of step with the Democrats in the hall and the other candidates on the stage.
Except for Webb, there seemed to be a jockeying going on to see who could be the most liberal and the farthest to the left.
Personally, I was more enamored with Webb’s responses.
But for the room, I would say a toss-up between Sanders and O’Malley. Yet for the pundits and media, Hillary is still the darling.
The clear loser was Chafee. Do not expect him to be around for the next debate November 4 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Due to his more moderate positions, Webb may not be there as well. He is not where the Democratic Party is at now.
The differences between the candidates, except Webb, were paper thin.
Except that both Sanders and especially O’Malley are very much for a return to the Glass-Steagall Act which would separate commercial banks from the more free-willing, more risky investment banking. Clinton, on the other hand, is not for a return to the bill that was rescinded and allowed to expire in 1999.
The biggest refrain at the debate was on income inequality. Over and over the wannabes talked of taxing the rich more and spreading the wealth around through profit sharing, higher wages with a minimum of $15 per hour, free college, lower student loan debt.
Neither Sanders nor O’Malley wanted to repeat the mistakes on the campaign trail when asked if black lives matter or do all lives matter. Both focused on the lives of blacks and ignored the last part of the question. If you recall O’Malley had to apologize for saying all lives matter earlier this year.
But don’t think because Sanders was nice enough to say no one wanted to hear any more about Clinton’s email scandal, the gloves were off. Several times punches landed on Clinton, who smiled, ignored and shook it off as if saying, “You can’t touch this.”
From the Cornfield, while I did not hear much I can agree with on the way the Democratic candidates want to take the country, the discussion was lively and informative.
Of the five, I could vote for Webb, but he will never make it to the convention and maybe not even to Iowa or New Hampshire.
Clinton in her responses actually answered the question posed by moderator Anderson Cooper, which she deftly batted away, on whether she changed her responses and stands on issues for political expediency.
The revelation – yes, she does.
What I will say about Sanders is you know what you are getting and where you stand with him. That is a plus.