On the front page of the Seattle Times ran an astonishingly partisan account of the first Democratic debate of this presidential campaign by the New York Times, that had no sense of journalistic integrity or even pretended to offer an objective account of the proceedings. From first to last it was an entirely uncritical Hillary Clinton grovel-fest, who allegedly shredded Bernie Sanders on every issue. The other hopefuls on stage were virtually ignored. The Clinton News Network “moderator” repeatedly attacked Sanders, while lobbing Clinton softballs that brought cheers from her partisans present. Oh yes, that inch-thick face powder made her look “presidential” while Sanders just looked like an old white man with many years in the political and social trenches, not like the virile (yet unthreatening) young black man back in 2008.
Naturally, CNN’s own choice of the “winner” of the debate was foreordained, given its gender politics. No doubt the Seattle Times chose this blatantly one-sided version for the same reason. In a Thursday follow-up story on Joe Biden’s potential run, Clinton’s performance was deemed “commanding” by the NYT—which is like saying Ronald Reagan, already on the fringes of dementia, “passed” his re-electability test during the first 1984 presidential debate by putting together a coherent sentence. As for Clinton, Ringo Starr once said of Paul McCartney that he was “pleasantly insincere”; Hillary is just insincere, feeding off her husband’s continued personal touch with common people that she lacks in droves. It is the media elites who keep insisting to us that she is something more than what she is: Completely conceited and self-obsessed.
Still, I am a life-long Democrat and intend to vote for whoever is eventually nominated, even a Democrat I think is phony but is better than the Republican alternative; Republicans just do bad, and at worst, a Democrat will not make a bad situation worse (just compare how Herbert Hoover and FDR handled the Great Depression). If Clinton is eventually nominated, I will likely devote my opinions to her opponent rather than speak well of her with any “enthusiasm.” But to insure that outcome, the pro-Clinton camp is being forced to deceive, because for those who actually watched the debate, the reality was quite different than what some are desperate for us to believe.
For those who are not fanatical partisans of Clinton, sarcasm isn’t “presidential” or “commanding,” it is off-putting and a poor substitute for reasoned arguments, and trying to bully the moderator merely brings to mind questions of her true personality and character, on display most egregiously in her infamously racist and bizarre comments made under pressure when she found her chances slipping away in 2008. And the pompous clichés are tiresome as they are tedious and retread no matter how “forceful” they are enunciated, merely offering voters a sense of déjà vu.
On the other hand, what Clinton gutlessly derided as “illogical” in today’s political program is an entirely different paradigm that demands a proactive approach to meeting the needs of ordinary people before corporations, Wall Street, the social and political “elites,” and boldly confronting right-wing divisiveness and media hypocrisy. One must applaud Sanders’ courage to offer an alternative world view that seeks to halt this country’s slide into feudalism. In fact, almost every other news outlet that wasn’t a slobbering Hillary sycophant declared Sanders the easy winner of the debate, and clearly that is the reason why the Clinton media outlets are in desperation mode hoping to convince those who did not watch the debate that Clinton had actually “won.”
The truth of the matter is that reports indicate that Sanders ignited interest in his candidacy by his performance. Internet watchers reported that Google searches for Sanders policy positions (long a staple on Thom Hartmann’s progressive radio program) were off the charts during the debate, as was largely positive twitter activity. Focus groups sponsored by various media outlets, including CNN and Fox News, reported that a large majority believed that Sanders had won the debate; obviously CNN’s arrogant gender-obsessed “analysts” are out-of-touch with the views of ordinary voters.
While it is true that some of these voters questioned whether Sanders was “electable”—something feminists like Bonnie Erbe were concerned enough about in 2008 to call for Barack Obama to step aside after winning the delegate count because “white people won’t vote for you”—simply saying that Clinton acted “presidential,” and thus “electable,” is little more than a Potemkin façade, with little substance behind it. Can anyone name a single notable accomplishment of Clinton in her four years as Secretary of State, other than logging in a record number of frequent flyer miles on the taxpayer dime? To say that Sanders has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected is stretching the improbabilities; his promise of people before the rich and powerful may be something that a majority of voters find refreshing enough to take a stab at, even if Clinton derides the notion as “childish.”
On the social media website Fusion, it was reported that its focus group also supported Sanders, particularly younger voters. One young Democrat said that Sanders was “on fire the whole night.” What the hell was the New York Times, CNN and the Huffington Post smoking during the debate? “Strong, straightforward, powerful” were used to describe Sanders by Florida Democrats. For someone like Clinton, a lack of straightforwardness easily cancels out a supposedly “presidential” and “commanding” delivery, because it only makes her phoniness and hypocrisy more irritating.
Now, the NYT obviously backed Clinton because she is a former senator of the state and domiciles there, thus a bit of “homerism” is expected. But if the Seattle Times really wanted to print a more balanced story on the debate, that wasn’t from first to last a pro-Clinton opinion piece, it could have chosen reports from the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, both respectable newspaper in their own right. But the Seattle paper has a gender politics obsession, and since both the Post and the Tribune posited Sanders as the winner of the debate (the latter also lauded Sanders’ refusal to compromise on his beliefs for votes, like Clinton does), their view was politically "incorrect."
While the NYT version of events mentioned wild applause by Clinton partisans during the debate, it failed to mention that Sanders received similar applause more often with declarations that “Congress doesn’t regulate Wall Street, Wall Street regulates Congress,” Of Clinton’s mocking of Sanders’ vision of economic fairness, documentarian Michael Moore said “Well, any of you with a good sniffer knows what I know from what we all just heard: The banks are going to love President H. Clinton.” Moore also suggested that Sanders entry into the race brought the opportunity for real, substantive debate on the issues, something that could only hurt Clinton, if the national media has the gonads to expose it.
Meanwhile, Atlantic Monthly Online claimed that Clinton looked the “polished, experienced debater, and she profited from standing on stage with the four men in the field. Chafee and Webb seemed nervous and uncomfortable, while Sanders was—as always—Sanders: fervent, grumpy, unfiltered, and righteously angry. The factors that have made him an idol to many Democratic voters and eroded Clinton’s polling numbers also make her look more presidential when they’re standing next to each other.” The Monthly also talked about Clinton’s alleged “experience,” beginning with her own (unmentioned) failure to convince Congress to pass health care reform—and because of the harm she caused she was essentially political and policy persona non grata for the rest of her husband’s term in office; it is interesting to note that Bill Clinton lost his first re-election bid for governor of Arkansas in part because of his wife’s unpopularity with voters, and he was eventually re-elected when Hillary was forced to keep a low profile.
The magazine also ignored the fact that Sanders has been pursuing progressive ideas and policies since the 1960s. Clinton has nothing to show save taking up space; at least Obama had the courage and vision to pursue and have passed the most important social program since Social Security, and willingly paid the political price for it. All Clinton is offering is, according to the Monthly, is “a reminder that she’d be the first woman president.” No doubt that is enough for some people.
Sanders does have his weaknesses, principally upholding at least the spirit of the populist shibboleth that immigrants from Mexico are “stealing” jobs from “real” Americans and depressing wages, ignoring the centuries old reality of the “underground” economy between the U.S. and Mexico, whereas the latter provides transient labor that “real” Americans either will not do or no longer have that “migratory” instinct to travel to where the work is. Sanders has a real chance of alienating the three-quarters of Hispanics in this country who are “real Americans” and who find Clinton’s opportunistic rhetoric more appealing despite the record of broken promises by the Obama administration. Old world New Englanders like Sanders have a serious blind spot in failing to acknowledge that this is a country of immigrants; perhaps his own ancestors were among the first to arrive unwelcome and stole the land they reside on from Native Americans, after all.
Sanders also has a problem with articulating coherent foreign policy positions, clearly something he has spent less time thinking about than domestic issues; his belief that Putin is less a threat to U.S. interests than what most people think is on the naïve side. On the other hand, despite Clinton having four years of “experience” as Secretary of State, it hasn’t seemed to make her any more competent in formulating a coherent strategy to deal with current issues now as then, although to be fair to say that rolling stone began during the Bush administration, including that unholy trinity of lies (Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld) that Sanders pointed out were Clinton’s sources of “facts” for voting for the Iraq War.
Sanders does shine most brightly on his genuine concern for the problems of ordinary people. There is no doubt he is sincere in his belief that advancing economic inequality and the solutions for it (a $15 minimum wage, tuition-free higher education opportunities for all, and a New Deal type of jobs program). He is obviously well within the idealistic notions of younger voters and the concerns of labor. Sanders was also on fertile ground attacking the media’s lack of interest in economic inequality in this country, preferring to talk about his opinion on Clinton’s hairdo.
Despite what Clintonphiles in the media believe, Clinton utterly failed to stop Standers and his vision from harming her own position, which during this debate many viewers heard Sanders for the first time, thanks to major media outlets like CNN trying their best to silence Sanders. Will Sanders be the next person to block the “entitlement” of the media favorite, its “chosen one” whose only real “qualification” is the support of similarly “entitled” people? We shall see.