No wonder CBS and the Democratic Central Committee scheduled the second Democratic presidential debate on a Saturday night where viewership would be low. The night was more a snore fest than the lively, unpredictable spectacle we have seen with Republican wannabes.
Now there were some snores that were loud enough to rouse one from slumber, but those were few and far between.
It is not that there was not substance during the face off between Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, there was. But most of the time the hopefuls were in agreement or their arguments were made without much gusto.
I use the word argument loosely.
After opening with a moment of silence for the victims of the terror attacks in Paris, France, the first segment dealt with what the US response to the horror and with dealing with the Islamic State in general. All three believe the US should have a role, but the degree of role was slightly in dispute.
This set up one exchange which both Sanders and O’Malley took issue with Clinton. Clinton said the US had no role to which both rivals looked shocked and emphatically disagreed, saying the US must lead. However, the two contenders agreed with Clinton that others should be the ones most involved in the actual ground work.
In a move to distance herself from President Barack Obama, Clinton said that the caliphate could not be contained, but must be destroyed. The President on Friday, the same day as the Paris attacks, claimed that ISIS was contained. The White House later said the President was only talking about stunting territorial gains in Syria and Iraq.Not that the moderator,
John Dickinson, let her have a pass as the former Secretary of State for Obama. Dickinson questioned her judgment and that of the President when he said that ISIS was contained and referring back to, while she was still SoS, that the Islamic State was junior varsity.
Clinton, however, did not cut the umbilical cord completely from the current Administration. She once more stressed as she did in the last debate that as Democrats, the Affordable Care Act, which is the President’s signature domestic legacy, must be embraced.
Sanders, however, said that the ACA should be repealed and replaced with a single-payer system nationwide by expanding Medicare to cover all Americans. In one exchange last night,
Clinton took umbrage saying Sanders had “impugned my integrity”. This came after Sanders insinuated that Clinton’s support from Wall Street was because of what the financial district expected to be able to get should Clinton become President.
In what came across as awkward, Clinton said her Wall Street support was because of her aid in helping Wall Street rebuild following 9/11 when she was a New York Senator.
Many were left scratching their heads about her reference to 9/11 including former architect of Obama’s successful race for the White House, David Axelrod.
Axelrod tweeted his disbelief on Twitter: “@HillaryClinton vehemently offers support for Wall Street as post-911 recovery effort. Does that fly?”
While O’Malley got the best and only laugh lines, the former Governor of Maryland and Mayor of Baltimore was out of his league. He did refer to Republican front runner Donald Trump as “that immigrant-bashing carnival-barker”.
Another line, which will probably not be remembered, is when O’Malley stated, “The symbol of America is the Statue of Liberty not a barbed-wire fence.”
There a few other skirmishes, but all in all, the candidates were pretty much in agreement on the issues. Clinton, however, was wanting greater control of guns than Sanders, but not by much.
As to who won the debate, I must agree with the pundits and talking heads.
Clinton won only because she did not have a major screw up.
Sanders and O’Malley both had a chance to lower the boom, but backed off when they could have won a point. It almost seemed, especially with Sanders, the secondary contenders were afraid that closing the deal might cost them the women’s vote – whether they were right and Clinton was wrong.
Sanders had Clinton on the ropes on campaign finance, but could not bring himself to throw the telling punch. This became more weird to watch as Clinton rejoined, to loud applause, that 60% of all her donations came from women.
What did we learn?
Hillary is on her way to being the Democratic nominee for President.
There is that small caveat that the FBI does not turn up something in her emails that could lead to an indictment.
Should that happen, what will the Democrats do?
From the Cornfield, rest easy there will not be another debate until December 15 on the Republican side and December 19 on the Democratic wannabes.