Wednesday, October 14, 2015
The Dem Debate: Bernie Sanders Wins 'Hands Down'
Bernie Sanders was confrontational when he had to be and showed he had the better grasp of issues and solutions than Hillary
One thing that quickly distinguished the CNN Democratic debate from its Reepo predecessors is that it was emphatically not a clown cavalcade. There was no bombastic carnival barking a la "The Donna" Trump, or wicked mud slinging or insulting female questioners with nasty, personal references to intimate body processes. Nor did we behold knuckle dragger aversion to real and serious issues like climate change. One instantly could see, indeed, the average I.Q. of those on stage was at least 30, maybe 40 points higher than the Reepos demonstrated.
Of course, the Reepo clown followers wouldn't see that, why would they? Give their I.Q.s are at or near the level of their clownish heroes.
Interestingly, the moron Neolib media punditocracy in general yucked it up and most thought Hillary "dominated" as she did in 2008 against Barack Obama (and we saw how that turned out!). But I had to wonder if those morons, as on 'Morning Joe', saw the same debate that I did.
Taking the whole debate in context, I was happy to concur with MSNBC's Chris Matthews (in his post-debate show) that Bernie Sanders won, if it can be likened to a contest (which I believe it can) or perhaps better a boxing match in which points are awarded for each hit. In this case Sanders scored more hits in the time than his main competition - Hillary - while the other three (O'Malley, Chafee, Webb) ended up largely as bystanders. Lincoln Chafee, in fact, basically disqualified himself with the lamest response when he tried to defend one vote (to abolish Glass-Steagall) using "he only just arrived in the Senate". Sorry, doesn't wash, doesn't work.
Sen. Sanders, meanwhile, at once showed he was of presidential caliber especially by not falling into Anderson Cooper's "go to war" trap in the Middle East. Bernie wisely stipulated any American response in the Middle East would not be based on a "Pax Americana" - following JFK's ideals- and would have to be done cooperatively (with emphasis on the Arab states involved to defend their own region, e.g. against ISIS). Further, he would not have any "no fly zones" in Syria (as Hillary has advocated but which risks accidental altercation with the Russians) nor send in ground troops. "War must be a last resort!" He insisted. And he's right, given too many neocons, especially still ensconced at State, have too quickly adopted the mode of conflict (like in the Ukraine).
Sanders also scored points against "Hill" on capitalism though - granted - seeing it required viewers to not only know their recent history but recognize pretentious BS when presented. Thus, when Hillary responded to Bernie's stout representation of Democratic Socialism, e.g. in reference to models in Denmark, Norway and Sweden by saying:
"It's our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn't run amuck and cause the kind of excesses we're seeing in our economic system".
At that juncture one had to be able to pause and ask: "And what, pray tell, might that 'job' be?" She didn't say - she merely launched vacuous words into the media ether and hoped enough dummies would swallow cheap rhetoric and nod heads. Bernie meanwhile was clear that such a control of capitalist excesses would require nothing short of a political revolution. By which he meant - not military revolution (as dumbo Jim Webb seemed to think) but rather along the lines of consciousness raising as first proposed by Charles Reich in his classic, The Greening of America, nearly 44 years ago.
Hillary then played upon Americans' general ignorance of economic history by actually saying:
"But we would be making a grave mistake by turning our backs on a system that built the greatest middle class in the history of the world."
Seriously? In fact, the American Middle class was built after WW II by a series of programs, including the G.I. bill which empowered affordable home ownership (enabling my dad to help buy his first place) as well as paid for college education. THAT built the Middle Class along wikth the earlier New Deal of FDR - by which oldsters could finally attain a measure of financial independence and didn't have to move in with the "kids". But Hillary, as she often does, played 'Muricans for dunces - betting on their weak historical memories.
Sanders was also spot on with his consistent emphasis and application of the inequality argument, and especially the need to break up the three biggest banks which, let us recall, received their bailout money 7 years ago by claiming they were "too big to fail". When Hillary suggested a congressional route to solve the problem, including reference to Dodd-Frank (which Maul Street is already plotting to blow up) Sanders retorted with one of the quotes of the night:
"Congress does not regulate Wall Street, Wall Street regulates congress."
Hillary lost primarily on several counts, not the least of which were accentuated by her almost shouting and strident monotone - which more resembled a droning harpy than a hard core, no nonsense candidate. Her attempts to knock Bernie's record on guns were also misplaced, especially for any Sanders' supporters aware of the basis for his gun record in Vermont - and that if he had not voted against certain gun restrictions (as in the Brady Bill) in that rural state - he'd never have become Mayor of Burlington, VT, far less a congressman then U.S. Senator and now Presidential candidate.
By those cheap shots alone, Hillary likely lost 60 percent of potential Sanders' supporters, i.e. moving to her side if he fails to win the nomination. (Btw, Sanders' take that rural and urban citizens need to come together to effect significant gun law changes was spot on, all Martin O'Malley's inept blathering to the contrary. And O'Malley seemingly forgot how the eastern shore of MD was actually up in arms against his anti-gun actions as MD governor.)
Other Hillary misfires, not necessarily in the order they transpired:
- Trying to defend her changed TPP vote by resorting to the trope that she "had time to rethink it"
- Trying to defend her (then) vote for the Patriot Act - expecting somehow the Bushies wouldn't skew it toward loss of civil liberties as they did with Sec. 215.
- Clinton falsely claimed that Snowden could have returned and sought whistleblower protection when she ought to know damn well (as former Secretary of State) that such protection is only for government employees, not a contractor as Snowden was.
- Asserting she'd teach Putin a lesson, without really saying how she'd manage that trick.
Sanders, by contrast, delivered sober answers such as that (if he returned to the U.S. for trial) Edward Snowden deserved to have taken into consideration the fact that he did expose illegal wiretapping by the NSA. (A subsequent Obama commission as well as a federal judge actually reached this conclusion). Also, he exposed the clear violation of the 1978 FISA law by the Bush bunch, which required actual signed warrants for EACH violation. Then negated under Sec. 215.
But the biggest laugher was when Hillary claimed she was a "progressive" when she is and always has been a Neoliberal centrist. It's easy, of course, to be a progressive when it suits your fancy or convenience - and is done for political expediency. Say anything to rip off some of Bernie's left base.
However, the real badge of courage is wearing that label via your actual convictions and actions - even when the Reepos are snarling non-stop and hurling all manner of epithets at you and the clueless corporate media treats you like a pariah (as it mostly does Sanders).
The clear sign that Sanders was the winner "grown up" and Hillary the "child" that needed his protection? When Cooper fired a question at him about Hillary's email troubles and Sanders immediately referred to the 27 million in poverty, the immense inequity of wealth distribution and then thundering in Hillary's direction: "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damned emails!"
He received a standing ovation for that, and to me, that won him the night. Hillary immediately came over to his lectern and shook his hand as if to say "Dear God! Thanks Bernie, for saving my bacon!"
The idiot 'Monday morning' quarterbacks in the media, of course, considered it a "gift" from Sanders, but it shows how stupid they are. Peeling away the superficial appearance and going to the subtext it revealed a gentleman with tons more magnanimity than his opponent and also a ferocious sense for what our political discussions should really center on: the issues that matter most to ordinary Americans - as opposed to the asshole elites, and the rich donor class of the Repuke party.
That instant of Sanders' focal outburst, beyond any others, also encapsulated Sanders' graciousness toward his primary competitor while projecting him as superior to that competitor. The whole audience knew it, even the moderator, although they may not have said it. But that was the winning moment.
The last element that showed me that Sanders conquered the night was giving the only correct response to the question on the most serious security threat facing us: climate change. (see e.g. http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/climate/climate-change-security-risk-pentagon-0563675/ . The others mentioned ISIS, Middle East war etc. - and while serious, none come close to climate change in posing the risk to extinction (other than nuclear war with the Russians, of course).
Also catapulting Bernie's stock was the post - debate news that Google searches on "Bernie Sanders" trumped all the others by a two to one ratio. People who may not have heard of him before, have now seen him on a national media stage. In that glaring venue they have also seen he can not only hold his own with the Dem front runner, but display such noblesse oblige toward her that one can only picture him in that Oval Office - with perhaps her as his Veep.
It would be the generous thing to do. We will see. But to many of us, Bernie felt the "Bern" and won tonight.