Hillary Clinton, though still appearing to me as a pol who’ll parse anything to gain a vote (like another Clinton we all know) gave a strong performance and did nothing to diminish her position as the front-runner. Bernie Sanders was a bit of his curmudgeonly self, had the strong moment when he defended Mrs. Clinton by dismissing her emails as not relevant, and found himself on the defensive on guns and foreign policy, two of his week spots along with that “socialist” democratic thing that people still have trouble disassociating from socialism. But he also did nothing to diminish his standing as a strong second to Mrs. Clinton. He does need to learn that he has a microphone and need not shout.
The other three, including two former Republicans, did just enough to officially make them inconsequential. And, to make my first and final mention of one of them – Jim Webb – he was whiny for a guy who is barely running a campaign but found himself shoulder-to-shoulder with two who are running hard. Exactly what did he do to do get on the stage in the first place? Same for Lincoln Chaffee. Seems like a nice enough guy…but a president? And Martin O’Malley, well, he seemed like a serious enough guy but with no strong presence.
Enough of them. The elephant who wasn’t in the room, Joe Biden, that other ¼ of a person in the race, probably lost his moment to run for president. Clearly, it seems Democrats are happy with the two top choices they have now. Hillary is on the offensive, kinda, about her emails and she’s playing more to the constituencies Biden was well positioned with, African Americans and the LGBT community. Joe’s moment has passed.
The Democratic debate seemed more civil than the Republicans…but that may be because there were just five of them on the stage instead of the cattle call that is the GOP race now and no one on the Democratic side has Donald Trump’s bombastic personality.
A word about Anderson Cooper, who I like. I thought he did a poor job as moderator last night but a strong job as a questioner. The two front-runners consistently ran over their time but he only criticized Webb (OK, one more mention) for complaining about time and telling him “you agreed to the rules.” True, so did the others.
And it was about 45 minutes before he brought Dana Bash, one of the best reporters working these days, into the questioning. And it was nearly two hours into the debate before Anderson offered Juan Carlos Lopez a chance to ask a question. Don Lemon, who was to introduce questions from Facebook members, botched his first chance and had technical difficulties which, for me is fine, because I think he’s a horrible news guy and I don’t understand why we needed a multi-hundred thousand dollar newsman introducing video clips that multi-million-dollar Anderson could have handled.
But Cooper (no relation) obviously had a set of excellent notes that kept him on point and on the records of what each candidate has said on the stump. He didn’t seem to miss an opportunity to call them on any of their say-one-thing- now-and-another-later moments. That was impressive.
So bottom line: Hillary wins. Bernie didn’t lose. The others should be exiting the race soon.