Tonight’s CBS News debate between the Democratic candidates for president was calm, mature and focused on the issues. In other words, it was a complete contrast to the circus that often accompanies GOP presidential debates. (To be fair, it’s much easier to conduct a debate with three candidates as opposed to 8-11.)
If I came away from tonight with one overall feeling, it’s that I’m proud of my party. I’m proud that I can watch a debate with three candidates who conduct themselves with dignity and maturity. Granted there were heated moments throughout the debate, but it wasn’t the peacock show you see with Republicans desperately trying to “out macho” one another. It’s refreshing to see Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley talk about terrorism like adults trying to find real solutions, not clowns “talking tough” to pander to simpletons.
The moments of the night clearly came when Clinton boasted about her support from women; Sanders called Republican Eisenhower a socialist; and O’Malley called Donald Trump a “carnival barker” because of his hateful rhetoric on immigration (among other things).
This wasn’t “must-see” television from an entertainment perspective (sorry, it wasn’t the sideshow Republicans put on), but it was extremely refreshing if you’re someone who cares about hearing candidates talk about real issues and discuss real solutions.
I would say a moment that stuck out was when O’Malley tried to paint Clinton as a Wall Street shill by suggesting an economist she mentioned, Alan Krueger, was nothing but a Wall Street hack. That’s simply not true; in fact, he’s a professor at Princeton and was nominated (and unanimously confirmed by the Senate) by President Obama to be chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
Sanders floundered slightly when he was pressed on the level at which he wants to raise taxes. Clearly it’s an issue he’s trying to stay somewhat vague about, but I think it’s something he’s going to have to address soon otherwise the questions are going to continue to grow. Especially after he’s already admitted his plan for the payroll tax would likely “hit everyone.”
Clearly, Hillary Clinton’s biggest weakness right now is the perception that she’s a sellout for Wall Street, and I’m not sure if anything she said tonight is going to change the mind of anyone who believes that. Sanders clearly got to her when he questioned her honesty about being tough on Wall Street, though he did struggle to cite anything specific aside from campaign contributions that would support his suggestion that she wouldn’t be tough on the financial sector. Seeing as she has an actual plan laid out for doing so, I don’t know what more she can say or do to change that perception at this point.
Overall, I would say both Clinton and Sanders did great, with maybe a slight edge to Clinton. She just seems much more knowledgable about international affairs than either Sanders or O’Malley. Either way, I would be proud to vote for either candidate as our next president.
Martin O’Malley’s performance was fine in general, but I just don’t see him making up ground in this race. Either way, I appreciate him bringing a counterbalance of points and ideas to Sanders and Clinton, and I think he could be a Democratic power player in the coming years – possibly even a Vice Presidential candidate next year.
Bottom line is, this is what a debate is supposed to be about. It was to the point, discussed real solutions, and any sort of “attacks” between the candidates (if you want to call them that) were professional, respectful and handled amongst each other with class.
As with the first Democratic presidential debate, I come away from this one proud of the fact I’m a Democrat being represented by three adults instead of a Republican being represented by an unfunny political circus.
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