There is a reason the Democratic National Committee (DNC) scheduled only six debates including Saturday night’s affair in Des Moines, Iowa—the DNC is invested in having Hillary Clinton as the clean nominee. Even when pitting last night’s debate against the Iowa – Minnesota college football game, Clinton did not come out looking great. Bernie Sanders again seemed not-ready-for-prime time. Martin O’Malley needed a breakout performance and is likely to get a bump in the polls from his performance.
Clinton tried to dodge trouble all night by not answering the questions, ducking and weaving like Mayweather. The big mistake she made was in trying to explain why Wall Street has plowed millions and millions of dollars into her campaign if it didn’t expect something in return. Clinton, while trying to explain how these donors would come to give so much to her, invoked 9-11, saying she was represented New York then and the attack was in lower Manhattan. Her answer was weak, insulting and offensive to the memories of this killed.
The takeaway from Sanders’ performance is that he isn’t prepared to be president. He maintained what he has said in the past: climate change is the number one national security concern today. He compounded the problem by saying climate change is directly linked to the rise of terrorism and as groups fight for water and land to grow their crops.
Is he for real? Does anyone believe ISIS attacks because it needs more space in Egypt to grow grain to be stored in Ben Carson’s pyramids? It’s absolutely mind-boggling that a serious candidate for president would list climate change as the biggest homeland security challenge we face.
O’Malley was confident and focused. He flew higher than the back-and-forth between the other two while still getting his jabs in. On the issue of gun control, O’Malley said Clinton was on three sides of the issue, at one time acting like “Annie Oakley” opposing new controls. The former Maryland governor also drew big applause when he labeled Donald Trump, “an immigrant-bashing carnival barker.”
Foreign policy and homeland security issues were front and center in the wake of the Paris attacks although Sanders in his opening gave only a quick nod to the situation and then launched into the economy. Clinton would not answer the question as to whether the Clinton administration of which she was a part underestimated ISIS. None of the three would use the term “Islamic extremists.” They favored “jihadists.”
None of the three credibly answered how they would pay for “free” or “debt-free” college tuition. When The Shad pointed this out on Twitter, I was challenged by a Connecticut lawmaker who claimed Clinton and O’Malley would do it by “closing loopholes” and Sander would achieve it with “higher taxes on high earners.” Of course, that’s laughable. If it was that simple, it would have been done long ago.
The real winner of the debate was Debbie Wasserman Shultz, the chair of the DNC. If she set out to rig the debate schedule so Hillary could emerge unscathed, she nearly accomplished it. The amount of people using the hashtag #DemDebate on social media was miniscule compared to the three GOP debates. Also, the time slot (Sat. 9 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.) is traditionally one of the lowest of the week.