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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hillary Soars in First Democratic 2016 Presidential Debate

Hillary Clinton was outstanding in the CNN Democratic Presidential Debate (the Democrats' first) - better than she was in any of the 2008 Democratic debates, far better than Bernie Sanders on just about every issue tonight, and easily better than the other three candidates on stage.

On gun control, Hillary was much stronger than Bernie, who needed to renounce his opposition years ago to the Brady Bill, and other gun control legislation, in order to gain any kind of equal ground on this with Hillary.   Bernie was also wrong when he said that going to war in Iraq was America's worst war decision - the Vietnam War, with 50,000+ American soldiers killed, started with no previous attack on America at all, surely was worse.

Bernie's best moment was when he lashed out at the GOP for its obsession about Hillary's emails. He was also excellent in his attacks on Wall Street, and domestic policy in general.   But in foreign affairs, he seemed over his head at times.  He cited "climate change" as the greatest  threat to national security - it's a threat, to be sure, but not involving what is usually meant by national security. Hillary's response to this question - nuclear proliferation - was much more on target.  Bernie was strong on domestic not foreign policy; Hillary was strong on both.  My hope: President Hillary Clinton appoints Bernie Sanders Secretary of Health and Human Services.

I didn't agree with everything Hillary said - complete agreement with any candidate is the stuff of fantasy in politics.  She thinks Edward Snowden should be tried for his crimes.  I think he should be brought home as a hero - for unmasking illegal activities of the American government. Lincoln Chafee was the only candidate with this view - though Bernie was a little better on this than was Hillary.  Bernie was also a little better than Hillary on the legalization of marijuana.

Hillary, Bernie, and Martin O'Malley (who was more impressive than Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, for whatever that's worth) were all excellent on the black lives matter question - they stressed the often deadly injustice that African-Americans are accorded by American police.   Jim Webb's answer that all lives matter missed the point (and Lincoln Chafee wasn't given a chance to answer).

Hillary's very best moment - and there were many - came in her impassioned support of family leave, and her apt denunciation of the GOP for opposing government spending, except for programs and policies they support.    Such attacks on rife hypocrisy are what successful campaigns are made of.

There's still a long way to go, but Hillary was poised, powerful, relaxed, and in charge tonight.   It's hard to see how anyone else could do a better job than she of getting the Democrats into the Oval Office again, even if Joe Biden does enter the race.

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