I’ve been thinking about the Democratic Debate all week because one of these guys is who I will probably vote for for president, and my first impression is still how subdued it was. There just didn’t seem to be any crazies. Nobody touted a non-existent film and everybody believed in global climate change.
Starting stage right, I liked Lincoln Chafee and when he said “I didn’t leave the Republican Party, it left me” – probably not quoted very accurately – I thought, What a great guy for the Democrats to run for president, they can pick up the Reagan Democrats who are disillusioned with the Republican crazy. But Chafee completely blew the question of why he voted for the reduction of Glass Steagall – and that is a question he should have known was coming and be prepared for – and his “Solid as a block of granite” comment, at least twice, just seemed too contrived. But, when he pitched that his biggest plus was that he had no scandals, I knew he is not going to get this nomination – he couldn’t even get reelected as Senator from Rhode Island – and the fact that he seems clueless to that just reinforces how delusional it is to live in the political bubble.
On the other end of the spectrum, Jim Webb gave a great impression of what a sane Republican would look like. His credentials are solid working white blue-collar, if that makes sense, with a mother from Arkansas who worked in fields picking cotton. When he said he would have no problem with letting undocumented immigrants get on ObamaCare, I was a little surprised, but then he talked about his immigrant – from Vietnam – wife going from not speaking English to graduating from Princeton, I was completely convinced that he meant it. When Webb was asked about his position of being against Affirmative Action – he is against it because it has been expanded to almost everybody but poor white people – I thought This is too nuanced, but I almost completely agreed with his answer and when he talked about African Americans being special because of slavery and then, surprisingly, included Jim Crow, I thought This guy really does understand the problem. But when he was asked “What enemy defines him?” – or something like that – his answer of the Vietnamese soldier who tried to kill him was almost embarrassing. In the end, much of the time, Webb just seemed to come off as pissed.
After Bernie Sanders said something along the lines of being a Democratic Socialist, Anderson Cooper asked if anyone on stage besides Bernie Sanders wasn’t a Capitalist, nobody raised their hand but only Clinton spoke. The question was about Bernie, so he couldn’t speak but that nobody but Hillary seemed to want to speak, was telling. If nothing else, Hillary came across as really, really, wanting the Presidency and she is willing to bust her ass to get it. I thought her answers – like “I can find common ground and know when to stand my ground” or “I want to save Capitalism from itself” or “I’m a progressive who gets things done” (which is, technically not true) – were too canned but I think Clinton did a fine job in doing what she needs to do. Her main tasks were to keep her backers on board and to keep Joe Biden out and she probably did both (maybe, in the end, she won’t be able to keep Biden out, but she did make it harder). I’m still not a Clinton convert, I’ll vote for her if she get’s the nomination, then I won’t have a choice, but there is something about both Clintons that is a little bit above the law and she is too much of a hawk for my taste.
Martin O’Malley was a complete unknown to me so the fact that he is much better known nationally is a big win. I keep thinking that he is running for Vice-president which may not be fair.
I turned on the debate wanting Bernie to win and, in the end, I still wanted him to win and I am still going to vote for him as long as I can. At one point he was asked – what could be called a gotcha question – on not voting for the Brady Bill and he started to explain a couple of details that he didn’t like but, unlike Chafee, his answer seemed to say Why are you asking me such a stupid question, ask me about the important stuff and I don’t think it hurt him. When Hillary was asked a gotcha question about her emails, Bernie had a similar reaction saying something like “Nobody cares about the stupid emails, let’s get to the important stuff like inequality.” His answer helped Hillary but I don’t think that he cared, I don’t think that was the purpose of his answer, I think that he just wanted to get back to his agenda.
At one point, everybody was asked “What is the biggest single threat to the United States?” and the various answers were interesting. Somebody, several, actually, said versions of Terrorism, Webb surprisingly enough said China, Hillary listed three or four things – that above the rule thing again – and Bernie, with a tone of voice that seemed to say duh!, said “Climate Change”.
Of course it’s Climate Change. The long drought in the middle east – is middle east still OK to say? or is it like Oriental? – has been a major fact in the violence, especially in Syria where farmers have been forced to give up their farms and have fled to the cities. In North Africa, the nomads are being driven south to what was traditionally farming country rapeing and killing as they go. The seas are rising which should make living in Seattle and New York interesting (not to mention our dear Bay Area). Bernie saying “Climate Change” and the way in which he said “Climate Change made me very happy.
But I don’t feel about Bernie the way I felt about Obama even though his positions and his priorities line up almost perfectly with my beliefs. I am for Bernie and I have sent him money – not much – but I am concerned that I’m only for him because I don’t think he will win. If he wins, I worry that he won’t be effective, he isn’t known for Playing well others after all. And I worry that I’m not the only one who feels that way. When I heard him on the Bill Mahre show, I started thinking that maybe Bernie feels that way too. I think he wants to energize the country, to push it in the direction it must go to survive, more than he want to be President.