Top 10 take-aways from the first Democratic debate

by Russell's Rants

Originally published October 14, 2015


The Democratic contenders for president met last night in Las Vegas for their first debate. It was sponsored by CNN and hosted by Anderson Cooper. There was a nice contrast with the Republicans right at start with all participants holding their hands over their hearts as Sheryl Crow sang the “Star Spangled Banner.” In contrast, at the first Republican debate, Donald Trump refused even to pledge allegiance to support the eventual Republican nominee, unless it is he himself – epitomizing a party in decline and at war with itself.

Here are my top 10 take-aways from the evening:

  1. The age of Reagan is over, and liberalism is no longer a dirty word.

    Hillary Clinton is a self-professed progressive. Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist. He wants to lead a revolution against big corporations, big banks and Wall Street. Clinton only went as far as endorsing Dodd-Frank, not Glass–Steagall. But both support small business and entrepreneurship. Sanders wants us to be like Denmark; Clinton wants to reform American capitalism and keep it from running amok.

  2. There were no personal attacks.

    To the contrary, Sanders came to Clinton’s defense early on, saying to loud applause, “the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.” Hillary shook his hand and put “Email-gate” behind her. After Lincoln Chafee made another comment on the email controversy, Clinton declined the opportunity to respond. Nothing more need be said.

  3. It was a big night for women.

    At the Republican debate, Trump had to explain his demeaning treatment of women. At the Democratic debate, Hillary repeatedly referred to herself as a daughter, granddaughter, a grandmother and, well, a woman – in fact, the only woman running who may become the first female President of the United States. (It certainly won’t be Carly Fiorina, who couldn’t run H.P. and couldn’t beat Barbara Boxer in a wave-Republican year.)

  4. Martin O’Malley is running for president. . . in 2020.

    He’s young, polished, accomplished and just needs more national exposure. I can see him in the next Democratic cabinet. Jim Webb seemed to be running for Secretary of Defense. Not sure what Lincoln Chaffee was running for.

  5. There were two former Republicans on the debate stage in Vegas (Webb and Chaffee).

    They claimed that the Republican party deserted them, so they switched parties. That used to be said of the Democratic party. No more. It feels like “Big Mo” and demographics are with the Democrats this election cycle.

  6. Clinton attacked Sanders from the left one very hot issue: guns.

    Bernie voted against the Brady Bill. And he supported exempting gun manufacturers from liability, while Hillary did not. Bernie may have gotten a D- rating from the NRA, but Hillary got an F. A race to the bottom won by the lady! (They both beat Webb’s A rating, making him look like a fish out of water.)

  7. The Iraq War vote is losing its saliency as an issue in the Democratic primary.

    Yes, Hillary voted to authorize war, but Obama, who famously opposed the war, validated her overall judgment by selecting her to serve as his Secretary of State.

  8. Everyone wants to run for Obama’s third term.

    Hillary also wants to run for a Clinton third term, updating Bill’s winning campaign slogan about “working hard and playing by the rules,” calling for a “new New Deal” and saying, “My mission as president will be to raise incomes for hard-working middle-class families and to make sure that we get back to the basic bargain I was raised with: If you work hard and you do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead.” That had a nice and familiar ring to it.

  9. The Democrats were split on Edward Snowden.

    Clinton, O’Malley and Sanders said he would have to serve jail time if he comes home. Oddly, the former Republicans, Chaffee and Webb, would cut him more slack, pointing to Fourth Amendment concerns with mass collection of metadata that he brought to light.

  10. Finally, there was no dumb-talk.

    No one on stage came out against evolution or doubted the science behind climate change. All strongly support clean energy, except again for Webb, the former Senator from Big Coal. It looked like a bright and energetic group of candidates last night.