54 things I learned from #DemDebate

I know I’m late. Since the Democrats put this debate on Saturday night (because putting it on Pivot Channel at 2:00am would have been too obvious HRC and DWS didn’t want people to watch it), I DVR’d it and it took me a while to get around to watching it. So here goes.

1. Bernie Sanders is disgusted by what happened in Paris; his aide is disgusted they have to talk foreign policy at all.
2. Hillary Clinton says our prayers are with France, even though that is not enough. We need to weed out violent jihadist terrorist groups.
3. Martin O’Malley seems to have grown in stature by not having Webb and Chafee there to distract people.
4. Moderator John Dickerson reminds Hillary she was once part of the White House that has overseen the growth of ISIS. She said it cannot be an American fight. We will support those who take the fight to ISIS.
5. John follows up, “Was ISIS underestimated? How do we know your prescriptions are good when they’ve been wrong in the past?” Hillary says the bulk of the responsibility on the growth of ISIS is not on the U.S.
6. O’Malley: America is best when standing up to evil in the world, and ISIS is evil. Our biggest failure has been our failure of intelligence on the ground.
7. Sanders: Climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism. (If this is a foreign policy election year, Bernie’s in third place.)
8. Hillary says we need to understand that 9/11 came first. The invasion of Iraq was a mistake, but we need to deal with ISIS as it is now.
9. Sanders is not a great fan of regime change.
10. O’Malley said it’s not just the invasion of Iraq. It was the disbanding of the Iraqi army. It was country after country not investing in intelligence on the ground to figure out who the new leaders were. (Am I imagining things, or is he miles better this time than last time?)
11. Hillary: We and the rest of the world need to ask if we’re going to stand up to radical jihadi terrorism or not.
12. John asks about Libya, asking if we didn’t learn the lesson of toppling Saddam Hussein when we toppled Gaddhafi, and now Libya is a failed state. Hillary says there’s been a lot of turmoil in the arc of instability from Libya to Afghanistan.
13. John to O’Malley: Is the world too dangerous a place to elect a governor with no foreign-policy experience? O’Malley lists off all of the countries that are messes. We’re not good at anticipating threats… Huh, he didn’t really answer the question.
14. O’Malley says he met a military mom who said “Please don’t refer to them as ‘boots on the ground’. My son is not a pair of boots on the ground.” If applause were allowed in this debate, he would have had some there.
15. John points out Hillary keeps saying “radical jihadists” while Rubio called it “radical Islam.” Hillary said we’re not at war against Islam. John asks what about “radical Islam”? Hillary doesn’t want to use the phrase. We’re not at war with Islam, we’re at war with radical extremists.
16. John asks Bernie the same thing. “I don’t think what term we use is important…”
17. O’Malley: Let’s not make the mistake of believing our Muslim allies are our enemies. They’re our first line of defense. We need our Muslim-American neighbors to stand up and be a part of this.
18. John asks why Clinton won’t declare war on ISIS. She says we already have the ability to attack terrorists.
19. Sanders says we’re spending $600 billion a year on the military but less than 10% is fighting international terrorism. We need serious reform. We have the moral responsibility, with Europe, with Gulf countries, to reach out to refugees with nothing but the clothes on their backs fleeing these war-torn regions.
20. O’Malley sticks by his number of 65,000 – how many refugees he believes the US should welcome, with proper screening.
21. These debates just seem much more substantive with fewer people on stage.
22. Hillary: Tax the wealthy more, just not on the middle class. Says it’s outrageous that Medicare can’t negotiate for lower prices. Oh wait, applause is allowed now.
23. O’Malley and Sanders want tuition-free college. O’Malley said they raised their sales tax by a penny to improve their schools. They also raised taxes on the wealthy instead of letting their public universities raise their tuitions. O’Malley wants to raise capital gains tax. (This wouldn’t come close to covering tuition-free college!)
24. Sanders is asked how high he’d raise taxes to create tuition-free colleges. He says the top tenth of 1% have taken trillions from the poor and middle class. There are billions hid on the Cayman Islands and elsewhere.
25. Follow-up for Sanders: Exactly how high will their taxes be raised. Sanders: We haven’t come up with a number yet. *deflated sigh* All those idiot students protesting for free college are Sanders voters; no one knows how to pay for it.
26. O’Malley points out that the highest tax level when Reagan took office was 70%. (Yeah, because Carter kept it there and he was soundly defeated in his re-election because Reagan promised to chop that thing down.) He says the wealthy in America would be willing to have their taxes raised to help the rest of the country.
27. Sanders says health care should be a right, not a privilege.
28. MO’M calls Trump an immigrant-bashing carnival barker. Says net immigration from Mexico last year was zero. “Fact-check me.”
29. Bernie says it’s not a radical idea to move minimum wage to a living wage. Said over a few years, not overnight.
30. Hillary starts talking about her economic advisors, and Martin snarks about taking advice from Wall Street.
31. Bernie says let’s not be naive, says Wall Street is “the” major contributor to Hillary’s campaign. Says the big banks own 56% of the GDP. Says he doesn’t have a Super-PAC.
32. Hillary says she’s cozy with Wall Street because of 9/11. How dare you question her integrity! Helping Wall Street was her way of standing up to the terrorists!
33. Bernie seems a little cowed in his response.
34. MO’M said Robert Rubin and Larry Summers will not be on his economic advisement team. Says he was on the front lines when people lost their homes, lost their jobs.
35. Hillary points out that AIG and Lehmann Brothers weren’t big banks but they almost destroyed us.
36. Bernie: “The business model of Wall Street is fraud.” Apparently Bernie thinks everyone on Wall Street is played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill.
37. Hillary clings to the one thing she’s to the left of Bernie Sanders on: gun control.
38. Hillary plugging Paul Krugman’s endorsement of her reform deal. (Is Paul Krugman still revered on the left? I always found him to be the Harpo Marx of economists.)
39. O’Malley makes a point on how if big banks make good decisions, they pocket the profits, but if they make bad decisions, taxpayers bail them out.
40. Bernie Sanders pointing out all the issues that the American people support him on. Take all the money from billionaires and raise government spending by trillions of dollars. (He didn’t quite phrase it that way.)
41. He doubles down on being sick and tired of Hillary’s damn emails. It earns him applause, and it guarantees he’ll drop in next week’s polls.
42. O’Malley asked about race relations. Says we should all look for things that save and redeem lives. Talks about how he decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.
43. Bernie rattles off a bunch of stats on how bad it is for African Americans in the US under the Obama administration.
44. Hillary gives some platitudes about college protests. (Hey, I was young once!) Transitions to speaking about Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, etc.
45. O’Malley says interest on student loans is too high. “We can have debt-free college in the US!”
46. Hillary wants free community college. Disagrees with free college for everyone. She doesn’t want taxpayers to pay to send Donald Trump’s kids to school.
47. Bernie: “Why are we the only country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee free health care?” Um, fact-check?
48. Hillary’s asked why she’s no longer for the “Sanders-esque” single-payer system. Hillary says we have the ACA, says Sanders’ plan would eliminate Medicare, ACA, and many other programs, puts them all together, then sends them to the states. Democrats should proudly support the ACA and improve it.
49. Bernie: “We don’t eliminate Medicare; we expand it to all people.”
50. Hillary’s example of when she’s faced challenges in leadership is when they decided to execute the raid to take out Bin Laden.
51. O’Malley says as governor of Maryland, he faced many emergencies and threat warnings.
52. Closing statement from O’Malley: We need new thinking and fresh ideas. We won’t solve our problems by returning to polarizing figures from our past. (Who could he mean?) We need a new foreign policy of engagement.
53. Closing statement from Clinton: All these Americans without opportunities. As president, I will work my heart out.
54. Closing statement from Sanders: We have a corrupt campaign finance system dominated by Super-PACs. To bring about the changes we need, we need a political revolution. Turn off the TV and get involved in the political process. Tell the special interests we’re taking our country back.

“Take our country back” is what the Dennis Kuciniches of the Left and Pat Buchanans of the Right are fond of saying.

If the Democrats were having as many debates as the Republicans, I get the feeling O’Malley might have been able to make some hay. Too late now. And he’s actually pretty easy to debate against when you look at how Baltimore actually was while he was mayor and how Maryland actually was when he was governor (though from what I’ve read, his second term was better than his first.)

Hillary’s comeback on her Wall Street cronyism was her worst moment. Wrapping herself in the blanket of 9/11 was shameless. But hey, of the three, when you look at what’s going on in the world, she’s still the most ready to step into the job.

Sanders may be inspiring millenial college students to make like Enjolas, build barricades, and bellow “Do you hear the people sing, it is the song of angry men. It is the music of the people who want free college and safe spaces from differing viewpoints!” But when it comes to world events, Bernie exposed himself as an unserious candidate.

Since the first debate, Clinton has surged ahead of Sanders by at least 20 points in every state and national poll, but I imagine it has to be a little concerning to the party that’s held the White House for 16 of the past 24 years that Hillary loses in many head-to-head match-ups in states that Obama won. Colorado, Florida,  Virginia, and Ohio and their 69 electroal votes are currently leaning GOP, and states like New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Minnesota have recently shown they can be in play. For example, Rubio beats Clinton by 16 points in this week’s Quinnipiac poll in Colorado. Trump, Carson and Cruz all currently beat her by double-digits there.

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