Sunday, December 20, 2015

What difference does it make, really.

The condescension is strong with this one.  Jonathan Tilove at the Austin Statesman with the best overnight analysis:

The dramatic highlight of last night’s third Democratic presidential debate, held at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H., came right after the mid-debate bathroom break.


... there was a candidate-less podium at center stage, between the podiums occupied by Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Apparently, this was just a mundane, fact-of-life, it-takes-a-woman-a-little-longer-than-a-man-to-duck-in-and-out-of -the-restroom moment and, America, get used to it.

The real puzzle was why ABC, which did not seem to be hewing to some kind of crisp schedule,  could not have simply given the former first lady, New York senator, secretary of state and presently at least even money to be the next president, another 90 seconds to get back in her place as the center square before resuming the debate.

It is not like they shouldn’t have seen this coming.

Here from Slate’s coverage of the Democratic debate in October in Las Vegas:

Hillary Clinton has noted, at Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas, that electing a woman as president of the United States would be a historic first. She also, it seems fair to say, just became the first presidential candidate to make reference during a debate to how long it takes women to pee.

The transcript:

Anderson Cooper: And welcome back to this CNN democratic presidential debate. It has been quite a night so far. We are in the final block of this debate. All the candidates are back, which I’m very happy to see.


It’s a long story. Let’s continue. Secretary Clinton, welcome back.

Clinton: Well, thank you. You know, it does take me a little longer. That’s all I can say.

How endearing.  A bonafide 'what difference does it make' moment.

But, with Clinton’s reappearance, any chance of any real drama emerging from last night’s debate was gone. Not that the Democrats seemed very intent on gaining an audience for last night’s event.
The debate schedule for the Democrats does seem intended to minimize any harm that could be done to  Clinton’s front-runner status.

Saturday night is better known as a date night, not a debate night. And the Saturday before Christmas leans heavily toward family not politics.

Also, (television) viewers had choices. There was the Jets-Cowboys game, which I suppose might serve as a surrogate preview of a Clinton-Cruz general election race. (Sorry Ted.)

#SorryNotSorry.  As Mrs. Clinton said when she finally reappeared.

Apart from its ratings-proof scheduling, the Democratic race simply lacks the drama of the Republican race, which is among the most interesting and uncertain of my lifetime with a bona fide reality TV star center stage.

With the Iowa caucuses barely more than a month way, the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination – Donald Trump – is a larger-than-life figure who has proved doubters wrong, again and again, and yet still seems unlikely to ultimately make it to the White House.

The Republican contest, with its rich ensemble cast, has intricate plots and subplots. It’s gripping and entertaining, if often dumbfounding.

Particularly, coming at this time of year, there is something familiarly festive about the recent Republican debate – another raucous affair, crowded with jostling personalities. And, they even continue to have, in the spirit of the holidays, a kid’s table debate.

The Democratic debate, on the other hand, has a kind of sad, empty-nester air to it. There’s Sanders, 74, and Clinton, 68, and the young upstart, O’Malley, a mere 52 – but still eight years older than the GOP kids – 44-year-olds Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

And it will be very exciting if the Democratic race doesn’t go the way we think it’s going to go. Very exciting, and really, very unlikely.

Tilove seems to sense the same danger signals about a Trump/Cruz/Rubio-Clinton general election showdown that I do.  The debate was held on Sanders' home turf, New Hampshire, where he currently holds a small lead, but focused on the same topic as the GOP debate earlier in the week, on national security and terrorism concerns.  Not exactly in his wheelhouse, but then nobody -- and I mean nobody -- measures up to Clinton's experience in that regard.  The problem is that she still hasn't learned anything from all that experience.  Being shot at on the Bosnian tarmac just isn't that big a deal, I suppose.

One could, of course, argue that, as a former secretary of state, Clinton’s fingerprints are all over the sorry situation the world is in. But, at time of great uncertainty, Clinton at least is no stranger to the world stage.


And from Clinton, the most stinging rebuke of Trump – praising George W. Bush, by contrast, and leveling a new and specific charge that I’m sure will be much talked about beginning on this morning’s Sunday shows.

CLINTON: You know, I was a senator from New York after 9/11, and we spent countless hours trying to figure out how to protect the city and the state from perhaps additional attacks. One of the best things that was done, and George W. Bush did this and I give him credit, was to reach out to Muslim Americans and say, we’re in this together. You are not our adversary, you are our partner.

And we also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. So I want to explain why this is not in America’s interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry.

Perhaps she was making the point that ISIS could use videos of Trump video to recruit jihadists. But, if there is no evidence they actually are, then her statement may prove reminiscent of the elusive video that Trump said he was certain he saw of  “thousands and thousands of people” cheering in Jersey City, N.J., as the World Trade Center collapsed.

There's more of the least obnoxious "inevitability" meme I've read in this cycle at the link.  Clinton, for her part, decided she was going to be debating Trump last night, and she surely won that.  Sanders did nothing I took note of, in contrast to the previous link,  to forcefully present himself as a better alternative, save his retort to Clinton's "everybody should!" like her, not just corporate America, with "Well, they won't like me."  Point awarded to Bern for the burn.

Martin O'Maddy's Ted Cruz interpretation -- feigned outrage, talking over others, disregarding the timing rules; not the lying and demagoguery -- fell a little flat also.

If you still don't understand why Democrats aren't voting, and why 2016 will demonstrate IMHO another record low turnout for Team Blue, then neither Tilove nor I may be able to help you get it.

Apathy is Hillary Clinton's biggest election opponent.  Hers, and ours.

A more extensive analysis of the debate from Raw Story, and a very pointed reminder from Salon that Trump and the deep Republican dysfunction does not equate to a Clinton roll to the White House, SNL's quite funny skits last night notwithstanding.


Gadfly said...

Seven or eight years ago, the Snooze had a story about 1960s-70s Metroplex political activists and "where are they today." Half of them said they no longer voted. I guess they didn't even think Green and were turned off otherwise, largely by what had become of the Democratic Party.

PDiddie said...

I just don't understand why the establishment Democrats in Texas don't understand this. It's still not possible for me to believe that they don't care, but the evidence is so striking that I am coming to that conclusion.

Both parties -- more so the Republicans, to be clear -- want fewer people voting. In this calculus, their votes are more meaningful. I used to believe this myself, I have a somewhere in the archives where I am certain I wrote about it. I moved away from that thinking because it is elitist and exclusionary, something I like to think I am not.

The only way I can think of motivating so many non-voters -- nearly 50% of the populace -- is to persuade them that somebody does give a shit; that voting does matter. I encountered far too many of the people the article you reference mentions when I was involved in the Occupy movement in Houston. They had given up on the system and were reduced to hoping for a straight-up revolt.

And not the ballot-box kind that Bernie Sanders talks about, either.