A Review Of Thursday Night’s Democratic Debate

With five days to go before the New Hampshire primary, some thoughts of the debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at the University of New Hampshire:

— Congratulations to MSNBC for adding this debate to the schedule. It was a real debate, with real differences between the candidates. It never got personal or circus-like. It was substantive and valuable, and it showed their competing visions for the party.

— An amazingly minimal and solid job by moderators Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow. They let the candidates do their thing without becoming the story. Perhaps it being one-on-one helped. But no showboating at all by the moderators. They were excellent.

— I thought Hillary Clinton started off tight, tense, defensive, somewhat petulant, sometimes playing the victim; as in, how DARE you question my motives? There was, in my view, some playing the martyr, which never serves her well. But then, somewhere midway, that all changed. Maybe it was around the time the conversation switched to foreign policy, where she is always more confident and on top of her game. But somewhere around that time she became more human and relaxed. There were two Clintons tonight.

— I thought Bernie Sanders went after Clinton’s positions more reluctantly than she with him. He’s angrier with the system than he is with her. As it is, he’s not an angry candidate, even though he’s certainly pissed at everything that he sees happening around him. I’m not sure if he gave a more polished performance, but it was certainly less about Clinton than she made it about him. A winner/loser? I didn’t see one.

— All that early conventional wisdom that more debates are not good for Clinton is silly; she is a solid debater and always has been. Both were at the top of their game. New Hampshire Democrats got what they needed tonight.

— Now it’s time for Chris Matthews, who will tell us every thought he’s ever had in his life, and who will save his guests the problem of answering his questions because he will answer them for them.

3 thoughts on “A Review Of Thursday Night’s Democratic Debate”

  1. I was watching from Australia, having not seen much of Sanders before. I didn’t disagree with many of his positions, but I was surprised at how much he came across as ‘cranky old uncle’. He just didn’t look presidential to me. It felt like his role was as a foil to Clinton, rather than a serious candidate. Obviously lots of voters disagree with me.

  2. I disagree Barry. Yes, Bernie Sanders is older than Hilliary. However, he is very specific to point out his ideas for reform while Hilliary chose to attack him rather than the GOP positions. This is the same avenue she traveled when she ran against Obama that ended with her scathing remarks with people in the audience ‘booing her’. Senator Sanders remained on debate with he positions and ignored her. He is much more progressive than she has ever been. More important, people see him as trustworthy but not her.

  3. I actually liked the Hillary Clinton in the first portion of the debate. It seemed to me that she came prepared and seemed to be taking this seriously. She often slouches and comes off a little cocky to me — this has surprised me. I did not watch debates and such 8 years ago as I was in college and was not terribly politically involved. Later in the debate she just comes across as desperate. I am not at all impressed with Clinton. She often says she’s going to follow in Obama’s footsteps, then “vigorously agrees” with Bernie Sanders. Who is Hillary and what is SHE going to do? It seems as though she is fighting for the title of First Female President instead of actually wanting her policies to create change and believing in them.

    I thought while both candidates seemed about even throughout the debate, Bernie Sanders had highlights such as the Henry Kissinger moment, and the comment where he said he doesn’t think big money donors just give money to campaigns (hers included) because they have nothing better to do. Because Sanders is focused and takes away Clinton’s ability to criticize him too much (because he doesn’t criticize her personally very often (and he could)) and the money thing is an issue for her.

    I am SO impressed that Sanders is running a campaign free of negative ads. One reason I haven’t been drawn to politics before is because I feel like all they say is, “That guy smoked pot 30 years ago! Vote for me instead.” It’s annoying. I feel like they are all lying. Sanders comes across as more trustworthy because he has no personal interest in running for President — he says to make the country a better place for his grandchildren. I’ve pulled up some videos on youtube of him in the Senate and he sounds the same as he does in debates. He is focusing on the power of people when they use their voice and unite. THAT is what is appealing. I don’t feel like Clinton wants to unite this country in a way that beyond her presidency there will be a better system of government. I don’t agree with all of the points Sanders makes, but he is respectable. As far as I can tell, he wholeheartedly believes in his policies. I think that is remarkable in politics. No matter the outcome, I hope his level of respect and ability to run a campaign with no big money super pacs and no negative ads has a lasting impact on the political scene.


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