I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive who likes to get things done. I know how to find common ground, but I know how to stand my ground.
— Hillary Clinton, October 13, 2015
The Democratic Party had its first presidential debate on Tuesday night. If you have to ask who won, you didn’t watch it. In my opinion, there was no contest. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won, hands down. She was poised under fire and smart in her answers. Obviously, the most prepared candidate– which comes with having more experience than anyone else on stage– Clinton took a bashing from CNN moderator Anderson Cooper and pot shots from a few others, but she came out on top.
Yesterday, the “who won?” buzz was all over social media. Senator Bernie Sanders raised a pile of money overnight after the debate, and a few focus groups and unscientific online polls said Sanders won the debate. In my opinion, Sanders stuck to his talking points (which I agree with), but the debate was a good chance to go bold. The only time he went bold, in my opinion, was when he said he would “vote for” legalization of marijuana if it were on the ballot. On legalization, Clinton said, let’s watch the states that have legalized marijuana, like Colorado, and learn from them. (I’m for legalization, but I’m OK with her statement. Thomas Jefferson said the states would be the incubators for democracy– trying out new ideas. I don’t want federal interference in state marijuana laws– as Governor Chris Christie has vowed to do if elected.) Clinton did go bold on gun control and said, it’s time we stood up to the NRA. Hallelujah! I have never heard such a strong gun control statement from any politician. (Unfortunately none of the mainstream media picked up on these other debate tidbits, since they are still focused on “your damn emails”.)
Issues the Mainstream Media Is Not Reporting
The mainstream media also has not covered the discussion about paid family leave— a topic on which Sanders and Clinton agree and on which she had led. Clinton got a little riled up and said basically been there, done that. She point out how hard it was juggling law school, a job and a baby; obviously she can relate to what’s going on. It’s time we joined the rest of the developed world and offered paid medical leave for three months after childbirth; it’s scandalous and unhealthy for employers to require women to return to work right after childbirth. It’s also worthwhile to note– except for Clinton’s multiple comments about women’s issues– CNN’s Cooper ignored 51% of the population with his questions– preferring instead to focus on side issues like Clinton’s email “scandal” (which has been discredited multiple times but the media loves it), Benghazi! (give me a break– another discredited fake scandal that has wasted millions of dollars in taxpayer funds), and Edward Snowden. (Snowden, really? Sure, let’s talk about widespread surveillance of Americans, but asking if Snowden is a hero is lame, and it produced predictable answers.)
From The Hill…
Still, she was scoring points even late in the debate, bringing loud cheers when she assailed the Republican Party’s often-stated opposition to “big government.”
“They don’t mind having big government to interfere with a woman’s right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood,” an impassioned Clinton said. “They’re fine with big government when it comes to that. I’m sick of it.” [Can I get an “Amen”?]
The exchange about capitalism vs socialism was also interesting. Sanders has come under fire for being a socialist. His policies– free tuition, wealth redistribution, taxing Wall Street, making the rich and the big corporations pay their fair share, breaking up the big banks, fostering unions and cooperatives– all have a socialist bent, and the corporatists have been emphasizing that. Cooper asked Sanders and Clinton if they were capitalists. Clinton talked about building small businesses and talked about regulating Wall Street. She pointed out that as a New York Senator, she represented Wall Street in Congress but added that she still believes they need more regulation and that sometimes “capitalism has to be saved from itself”. Sanders said, “Congress doesn’t control Wall Street. Wall Street controls Congress.” (Totally true, in my opinion.) The discussion got down in the weeds about bringing back Glass-Steagall and protecting Dodd-Frank-– two Wall Street reform laws– but Cooper got everyone back on track and changed the subject– lest he lose his 15 million TV viewers. (Definitely, they should bring back Glass-Steagall; repealing it led to the 2008 crash because deregulation allowed risky gambling on Wall Street.)
Other topics that were touched on but not in great detail were Black Lives Matter, immigration reform, and inequality (although Fight for $15 was mentioned).
Back to Who Won…
Sanders won the CNN focus group, the Fusion focus group, and the Fox News focus group; in the latter, he even converted several Hillary supporters. He won the Slate online poll, CNN/Time online poll, 9News Colorado, The Street online poll, Fox5 poll, the conservative Drudge online poll and the liberal Daily Kos online poll. There wasn’t, to this writer’s knowledge, a poll he didn’t win by at least an 18-point margin. But you wouldn’t know this from reading the establishment press. The New York Times, the New Yorker, CNN, Politico, Slate, New York Magazine, and Vox all unanimously say Hillary Clinton cleaned house. [Also, add The Hill, Slate, columnist Charles M. Blow, and Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore.] What gives?
Firstly, it’s important to point out that online polls, and to a lesser extent focus groups, are obviously not scientific. [Emphasis added.]
Alternet is emphasizing that mainstream media are touting a Clinton victory but ignoring that the New York Times has not been a friend of the Clinton campaign, as Larry Wilmore pointed out last night on his show. In fact, the NYT printed a lengthy hit piece about email-gate based on anonymous sources. The story was riddled with inaccuracies, and it resulted in multiple retractions. Yes, the Times said she won the debate, but even the title was a back-handed compliment: Democratic Debate Turns Hillary Clinton’s Way After Months of Difficulties.
The Huffington Post debate coverage was a slap in the face to all of the candidates on stage. For the entire day yesterday, the Huff Post’s giant banner headline and photo featured Vice President Joe Biden. Seriously? Today, the debate is pretty much gone from the front page of the Huff Post— except for positive stories about Sanders. This article stating that Sanders was unprepared for the debate (which was down the Huff Post ‘s front page yesterday) is absent from both the front page and the Politics tab and buried in the bowels of the online news outlet today. Rachel Maddow last night talked about how the Democratic Party really won the debate. Come on. Yes, compared to the Republican Party debates, the Democrats were intelligent, well-behaved, civil adults, but, really, this as the “all lives matter” analysis of the debate. (I am continuously disappointed by the news media.)
A few people have contended that Martin O’Malley won the debate. Really? O’Malley was polished and polite but uninspiring. Where’s the “fire in his belly”? New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow said that O’Malley “seemed to be asleep during the first hour of the debate”. Also– there are obviously two sides to his “I cleaned up Baltimore’s drug problem” story. (Remember the Black Lives Matter protest at Netroots Nation?) Regarding Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb– they were obviously out of their league.
Lastly, the idea that CNN’s Cooper was a stellar moderator…. puleeeze. Leaving out women’s issues, immigration reform, and many other important issues to focus on email-gate, Benghazi, Snowden, and gotcha questions on socialism? Pfft. He’s an entertainer, not a journalist.
The Ginger Rogers Candidate
I agree with Clinton’s statement about being a progressive who wants to get things done. I’m sick of having a do-nothing Congress that clings tightly to ideology while ignoring the needs of the American public. What good is it to have a laundry list of great ideas if you can’t get Congress to go along with any of it? The Presidency is only one part of our government’s three-legged stool (AKA, the executive, legislative, and judicial branches). Like it or not, we need a president who can make deals.
In conclusion, I offer this quote that reflects how hard it is for women to succeed and be taken seriously in a country with systemic sexism. No one really knows who said it first, but former Texas Governor and feisty fighter Ann Richards made it famous: “Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.'”
Hillary Clinton is the Ginger Rogers presidential candidate. Everyone knows she’s the most qualified candidate, but still she has to fight to break through the toughest glass ceiling in the world– the US presidency.
Clinton’s opening remarks.