Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Four Observations on the First Democratic Primary Debate

The first Democratic party presidential debate was last night.  I watched it and all. 

First observation:  The debaters all acted like adults!  That's refreshing, given that they are competing for the chance to steer the largest bus on earth either straight into the abyss or away from it.  Not all such debates have been between adults.

Second observation:  The way the "judges" rate these debates is very much like looking at a horse's teeth before buying it, to judge its real age. 

Only the way Anderson Cooper managed that was by thinking of the nastiest possible questions and then seeing how the candidate would cope with the situation. 

That those nastiest questions came straight from the Republican playbook may be just a coincidence (and I might be Marie of Rumania), but the fact is that I learned more about Benghazi and Hillary Clinton's e-mail scandal than I ever really wanted to know.  I also learned that Bernie Sanders is a socialist (gasp!), except that he's not the kind of socialist the insinuation meant.  He's more like Norway/Denmark/Sweden type of red-hot commie.

Third observation:  It's pointless to ask anyone the Syria question.  There is nothing that anyone can profitably say about the situation there.  Should we arm a dictator who slaughters his own people?  Or should we arm some "moderate" Islamist group which would act just like ISIS if they were in power?  Or perhaps the guns should be scattered around like candy for the kids? (Or how about the inane proposal of arming the Kurds but in an apolitical way???  Except that the Kurds only want to fight for the Kurds (against Turkey and currently against ISIS), not clean up Syria and Iraq.  That wasn't in the debate but demonstrates the impossibility of doing anything non-sectarian and non-religious and less violent about the situation).

Fourth observation:  If you watched the debate with left-leaning friends or even checked what the Internet is saying you quickly found out that the candidate provoking by far the strongest negative feelings among progressives is Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that she is also the Democratic forerunner.

The reasons for that are complicated and would take a book to analyze, ranging from her long presence in American politics, the fact that she used to be the First Lady, the nepotism question in US politics (the Bushes vs. the Clintons), her past mistakes, the fact that the press never liked the Clintons, and then also the fact that what's inside her underwear looks different from what we are used to assume politicians carry there. 

Rebecca Traister wrote about some of those issues in Elle magazine, and an earlier article by Molly Mirhashem discussed the complicated questions of identity among young feminists and how those made them less eager to support Clinton's campaign.

So it's not just the progressive bros who might have trouble with Hillary Clinton, given that she is white and wealthy and privileged.  But then, of course are all the four men who shared that stage with her last night.

I have much more to say on that fourth observation in the near future.