Enough With the Emails and All the Other Petty, Ugly, Superfluous Crap
So the Democratic debate nobody was going to watch - because ugh, said the mainstream media, who wants to see grown-ups debating substantive issues - drew a record number of 15 million viewers. As usual, many of the pundits - really, CNN? - saw their own Hillary-centric version, while we and social media thought Bernie clearly hit it out of the oligarchic park. As ever true to himself, he hammered home his core issues of income inequality, corporate power, grassroots change and global warming, topped off with his now-famous, cut-the-crap dismissal of Clinton's so-called scandal with, "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!" Her response - alas, that hee-haw laugh - was her only authentic moment in an otherwise smug and carefully staged performance. What would have made the moment better: If Bernie, after pointedly citing the real economic issues facing us, had likewise called out Clinton on her Wall Street hypocrisy and ceaseless war-mongering, from Iraq to Syria.
Still, compared to the GOP's hateful circus, the evening was civil, respectful, even somewhat informative. Who knew Webb was so scary? That Chaffee really, really liked blocks of granite? That Malley's Baltimore is in such great and racially equitable shape? That Anderson Cooper is such a red-baiter and fact-twister; check out the real story of Sanders' "honeymoon." That all the candidates except Bernie believe their mom's dead relatives and their children and, for Clinton, grandchild render them presidential material; inexplicably, Bernie thought corrupt campaign finance laws were more relevant. Many seemed to agree: In the hours after the debate, his campaign received over 37,600 donations; the average was 30 bucks and change. We also got to see the possibly history-making moment when a self-declared socialist described himself as a conscientious objector to an immoral war, and people cheered. In the end, New Yorker writer Andy Borowitz set an admittedly low but, in these times, relevant bar for the evening. "I didn't agree with everything that was said, but unlike the #GOPDebates, I felt comfortable with these people (ed.'s note: except maybe Webb?) being free to roam among us." So who won? Us, and the hope our now-shredded, bloated, corrupt, right-leaning politics can be budged back toward at least a semblance of participatory democracy.