Wednesday, October 14, 2015
by Reed Galen
Days Until Iowa Caucus: 110
Quote by A Smart Person: "The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as escaping from old ones." - John Maynard Keynes
Welcome to the American Singularity.
Why the Singularity?
• The presidential nominating process is one in which everything, large and small, is sucked into its gravitational maw, allowing nothing to escape its grasp as events pass through the campaign cycle’s event horizon.
• There is no more singular political experience on the planet than electing the President of the United States.
• The United States is still the most free, most prosperous and brightest beacon of hope to billions around the world.
Every action and reaction feeds into this black hole of press coverage, donor reactions, voter sentiment and activist opinions. Nothing goes unnoticed and nothing is forgotten. Legions of reporters, bloggers, opposition researchers, trackers, social media monitoring services, vacuum up every last syllable.
Every week we’ll take a look at the campaign as it unfolds, and how events reflect the campaigns, the issues of the day and the country at large. Have a tip, piece of advice or something to add? Email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
The American Singularity - Week 30: Democratic Debate Recap
Tonight the five Democratic candidates for President faced off in Las Vegas. In a debate dominated by policy – in many cases heavy and detailed policy, the contestants concentrated on defending or touting their past achievements. The two things that ran through the course of the debate were 1) that the field largely ignored the last seven years of American history, likely to their peril in a General Election and 2) The strange spectrum on which the outsider candidates of both parties find themselves in agreement (Wall Street or Washington) while simultaneously how far apart the two parties now are. Finding any sort of consensus come next fall will be difficult for either side if neither party's candidates are even speaking the same language.
Watching the Republican and Democratic debates, one could be forgiven for believing the candidates of the respective parties live on different planets. The 8-10% of Americans that classify themselves as "persuadable" must be scratching their heads.
Lastly, after tonight, Vice President Joe Biden is likely less inclined to jump in the race. Hillary is ready to do this again. He's playing catch up.
I didn't know what to expect from Cooper when the night began. He's not a classic political journalist with the requisite campaign and scars under his belt. But he came prepared to ask substantive questions and knew his stuff. He was able to engender actual debate between the candidates by challenging their past positions and comparing those stances to the others on stage. He even knew, off the top of his head, that Denmark only has 5.6 million people. Future moderators should take their cues from him.
This was Clinton's 684th presidential debate since 2007 and it shows. She was poised, generally prepared and didn't fall into common traps. Her performance tonight will likely ease the anxiety of many of her staffers and donors that she's not ready for prime time again. And while she had the most solid night among the Democrats, many of her answers were unintelligible, referred to a 'plan' no one has read or regurgitated liberal pabulum. Sanders saved her bacon by pulling a fast one complaining about all the attention her email troubles have generated and refusing to engage. Her set-piece gambit against Sanders was unexpected but worked. She deflected and deflated Martin O'Malley with a reminder of his 2008 endorsement of her previous White House bid.
If Bernie Sanders learned one thing tonight, I hope, it's that preparation matters. This is not standing in the well of the US Senate. This is the big leagues and it took him the better part of an hour to warm up. It took him several cycles of back of forth to unwind himself from the gun control issue - something he should have known was coming. His hand gestures were legendary. His indignation something to behold. For a candidate, though, who has built so much of his campaign on big vision for the government and the future, he was too easily bogged down in committee assignments and legislation.
He's a good looking guy without much to say, or the ability to say it well. Maryland is a small state that is dominated politically by liberal Democrats. The legacy of his time as mayor of Baltimore has little, if anything, to show for it. He started very slowly tonight but found his footing and refused to really take on Hillary, which he needed to do tonight to move any numbers. He had a solid and uplifting close, and may well get some sort of bump because people haven't seen him, but he'll only get to Iowa on a wing and prayer.
This guy...I don't know about this guy. Webb has always gone his own way and he should likely be on the Reform Party ticket. The highlight of his evening appeared to the fact that he killed a Vietnamese soldier who threw a grenade at him. On the rare occasions he got a question to answer, he was often incoherent. He needs to exit stage left.
What can I say? Tonight Chaffee gave what may go down as the worst answer to a question in the history of presidential debates. He's not even tilting at windmills. He's a bad Sancho Panza. Chaffee's bid for the presidency never had a chance and now lacks any remote credibility. He should go back to Rhode Island and leave the rest of us to figure out the next president. The next debate host should refuse to include him.