A Post “Debate” WTF Moment

I put the word debate in quotes in the title because I am an avid adherent of the Ratherian principle that these are joint press conferences/appearances. If they were classic debates, it *might* be possible to declare a winner with some certainty. With this format that’s impossible but people gotta do what they gotta do and declare a winner. It’s a totally subjective process.

That brings me to my WTF moment. I am not supporting Senator Sanders for the Democratic nomination but I have very few problems with him. Some of his supporters, however, are driving me nuts. My social media feeds are full of people-most but not all male-fulminating about a “corporate establishment media” conspiracy to declare Hillary the winner. You mean the same “corporate establishment media” that’s tried to kill her candidacy all year? The same “corporate establishment media” that’s obsessed with a Biden candidacy and the so-called email scandal?

It’s actually kind of funny when focus groups, online polls, and Twitter hashtags are cited as “objective evidence” that Sanders “won” the “debate.” A piece at Raw Story has been cited as “proof” that there’s a “corporate establishment media” conspiracy against Sanders. Me, I see the usual suspects who *always* treat elections as a horse race doing what they do. Most of them dislike HRC and play by the Clinton Rules. That’s pretty frail support for a “corporate establishment media” conspiracy theory, especially when most pundits have declared that HRC, Sanders, and O’Malley all did well while Webb and Chaffee came off as oddballs.

There’s an interesting exercise at the Guardian about Tuesday’s “debate.” They asked students who were selected for the USA Debate Team to grade/score the joint press appearance. All three of them graded Hillary the highest with two As and one A-. Sanders  got an A-, a B+ and a C+ from the debate kids. Is that dispositive proof that HRC “won” the “debate?” Hell no, but it’s just as valid as focus groups, online polls, and Twitter hashtags. One thing is for sure: the debate kids aren’t part of a “corporate establishment media” conspiracy against Sanders.

I’ve said very little about the early stages of the Democratic race because I’m not crazy about taking shots at people with whom I mostly disagree with at the margins. I supported Obama in the 2008 primary season but didn’t take any shots at HRC. I save my ammunition for the real enemy: the flying monkeys of the Republican Right. I also like to retain some objectivity as a minor league pundit. In 2008, I knew that Obama’s inexperience was a problem but supported him nonetheless. I was with the cool kids that time. This time, I’m not. In short, I never view campaigns as religious crusades because in the immortal words of Billy Wilder and Izzy Diamond:

Unfortunately, some of the low information Sanders supporters (there are very few of those among First Draft readers) think he’s a messiah from Vermont by way of Brooklyn who can change water to wine. If he could change it to whiskey, I’d be there, dude.

Other than gun control, my issues with Sanders are largely presentational in nature. He has a tendency to shout even in more intimate settings, which may work when addressing a large crowd but comes off badly on the teeevee machine. I suspect that I’m not the only whose mother taught me to have an outside voice and an inside voice. Sanders needs to work on the latter, shouters don’t wear very well. Btw, as a Greek-American, I’m used to loud talkers, there was plenty of shouting in my house hence the inside voice rule imposed by my Midwestern Norwegian mom.

Another thing that bothers me about Sanders was captured by Megan Carpentier in a column she wrote for the Guardian after the “debate.” It’s a fairly long quote because it needs to be put in context:

Clinton’s gender was finally taken as a matter of course in the campaign, after months and months of mentioning what a proud grandmother she is. But a strange thing happened all the way inside the Wynn hotel: gender issues hardly came up at all, unless Clinton brought them up herself.

Though she gave the last of the debate’s opening statements, Clinton’s was the first mention of women that wasn’t a reference to a candidate’s wife or daughters (“I believe in equal pay for equal work for women, but I also believe it’s about time we had paid family leave for American families and join the rest of the world”) as well as the second (“and, yes, finally, fathers will be able to say to their daughters, you, too, can grow up to be president”).

After that, Bernie Sanders brought up but flubbed his reference to paid family leave, identifying it only as something that ought to be offered to mothers:

“You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we’re not going to separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have – we are going to have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth.”

That’s one reason that I think it’s way past time for us to have a woman President. There’s a lot of talk about party bases nowadays and women are a core Democratic constituency. I want our candidates to focus like a laser beam on female voters, especially if the GOP nominates one of the hardcore misogynists in their field. They’re actually running a sexist buffet with a token wingnut woman on the menu. The MSM may not believe it, but there are still swing voters out there and most of them are women.

I could be wrong about the Sanders candidacy. I’ll support the Democratic nominee whoever it may be and, despite some of his annoying acolytes, I’m glad that Sanders ran since his candidacy has nudged HRC to the left on certain issues. As to who “won” the “debate,” I don’t give a flying fuck, it’s a joint press conference held three months before the first votes are cast. It’s still the political silly season.  These events are ephemeral and the most memorable moments in general election “debates” are usually the bad ones: Nixon sweating in 1960, Ford liberating Poland in 1976, Dukakis’ blank stare when asked the infamous Kitty Dukakis question in 1988, Poppy Bush looking at his watch in 1992, and Gore’s close-talking W in 2000.

As I said before, I could be wrong about some of this. I think Billy Wilder’s tombstone sums it up nicely so I will give the last word to his last word:


7 thoughts on “A Post “Debate” WTF Moment

  1. Totally agree. And just one aside, Saunders has a hearing issue which caused him to cup his ear a few times during the debate and may have something to do with his shouting. Not sure if vanity or some issue stops him from hearing aid use. I’ve always been a Hillary person and much of the hater hooplah coming from Berniebots was of the same ilk as the Obamabots. I feel much of it relates to misogyny but there has been and will always be CDS. I’m just ignoring it ATM.

  2. I didn’t know about his hearing, could partially explain it but I find him too hot in the McLuhan sense of the term. Mostly annoying because some of the obnoxious people on my feed are IRL friends. The others I don’t give a shit about. They should try and be more like their candidate in regards to Hillary.

  3. Interestingly, I started as a Bernie sorta guy and do support him, but not quite as virulently as some. I’m sceptical of HRC for a number of reasons but agree with you that it’s time that we had a woman president. I’ve always thought Hillary was smarter than Bill, and Bill is no slouch, but I think for the first time in my life that a woman is well positioned and more than qualified to be president. That makes me happy, because, 31 years ago in San Antonio Texas, a baby girl was born. I realized that she wouldn’t have all the opportunities she could because she wasn’t a boy and I became the worlds biggest feminist from that day forward. It’s time.

  4. I have to disagree that the “corporate establishment media’s” declaration of an HRC debate ‘win’ and them attacking her for absolutely everything are two concepts that don’t go together. In fact, I would say that one follows from the other.

    As large media companies are among those wealthy enough to see enormous benefit from Republican policies, it stands to reason that the ideal setup would be to batter a potential nominee while coincidentally portraying them as the top contender. A “this is the best they’ve got, and look how awful she is” play, if you will.

    Which is again no evidence of the conspiracy which nuttier members of the Sanders fan club claim to exist. If anything, that would be just another wrinkle in the attacks on Hillary.

    Also have to disagree with referencing Rather on the joint press conference when, clearly, President Bartlet said it better.

  5. Have to agree with jalmos. The corporate media wants Hillary to be the Democratic candidate, because they know they can destroy her easily. Sanders would be a tougher nut to crack.

  6. Don’t leave the VP candidates out of the greatest-hits countdown!

    1988, Bentsen: “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    1992, Stockdale: “Who am I? Why am I here?”

    Maybe Stockdale was just a big Talking Heads fan.

    Same as it ever was
    Same as it ever was
    Same as it…ever…was

  7. I know right now, a year before the votes are cast, that either of the top two Democrats would make a far better president than the best the Republicans can come up with. So, for me, it’s already all over but the shouting.

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