By the time we meet Monday it will have been six days since the first Democratic presidential debate. The instant Media analyses of who won and lost will be old news, new polling will show who got a bump from their debate performance and who didn’t. And, I imagine we’ll be back to obsessing over the fringe candidates leading the Republican field again. Maybe Ben Carson will have declared that Christian martyrs in the Coliseum would have beaten the lions if only they had been packing heat, or something [oops – guess not.] What will be left for us to ponder?
Well, substance, for one thing. Despite moderator Anderson Cooper’s best efforts, the five Democratic candidates – Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb – talked a lot about substantive issues facing the country. These included gun control, banking regulation, criminal justice reform, and foreign policy. They also debated each other’s political philosophy, especially during Hillary and Bernie’s colloquy on the meaning of socialism and progressivism. It’s still very early and no one votes until late January, 2016. Still, I think we got some clues on how Hillary, assuming she wins the nomination, will run a general campaign against a zealous GOP determined to stop her from succeeding Obama.
Below are links to watch the debate, some instant analyses of it, and a few deeper think pieces on the 2016 election. I’ll see you all Monday 7pm.
Discussion Questions –
- SO WHAT? Do presidential debates ever matter? Could they matter more this election than most, because of Trump or some other factor?
- GOALS: What was each of the 5 candidates trying to accomplish in the debate? Which constituencies were they trying to impress?
- SUBSTANCE: What policy issues did they discuss and what did they agree and disagree on? What did we learn that’s new or important?
- SUBSTANCE? Were any really important topics ignored or fudged by the candidates? Why? Are Benghazi and the emails dead issues?
- STYLE: Who failed to impress?
- WHO WON: What constitutes “winning” a debate and who decides? How does the Media define it? How do you think people watching decided?
- BROADER ISSUES: What is Hillary’s basic strategy to become president? What is Sanders’s strategy?
SUGGESTED BACKGROUND READING –
This debate –
- The 2-minute version. The full transcript.
- A decent summary of it. The 11 best quotes from it.
- [NEW must-see TV: Saturday Night Live version of the Dem debate. Larry David as Sanders!]
The Commentary –
- Good example of the conventional wisdom of who won.
- Hillary: She won by solidifying her base. She won by explaining how high the stakes are in the 2016 election. The Hillary Panic is now over. Recommended
- Sanders: Bernie Sanders won. No, he lost bigtime.
- The big, huge different between Hillary and Bernie. Recommended.
- Webb: He lost because he represents the Democratic Party’s more centrist past. Important.
- Conservative POV: The Democrats have moved far to the left [link fixed]. This debate will hurt Hillary in the general election.
What they ignored:
The Bigger Picture –
- Debates seldom change anything. Recommended.
- Hillary’s basic strategy = “Safe Change”
- Dems will label GOP as “Party of the Past.”
Next Week: The Transgendered in America.