If you watched all or part of last night’s Republican debate, and if you have any connection to reality whatsoever, you know that it was filled with a noxious brew of personal attacks (on each other, and of course on President Obama and Hillary Clinton), outright lies galore, jarring displays of ignorance, extremism, anger, crazziness and bigotry.
That, sad to say, is today’s Republican Party — once the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, etc. — in a NUTshell, emphasis on “nut.” Today, the party of Lincoln/TR/Ike is long gone, replaced with the party of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, and other assorted climate science deniers, puppets of the Koch brothers and the top 0.1%, warmongers, etc. Given all that, you’d think national Democrats would be eager to hold as many debates for their candidates as possible, if for no other reason than using those forums to push back against all the Republican attacks and lies. But nooooo. Instead, as Politico reports, Democrats are busy fighting among themselves when they could be talking to tens of millions of potential 2016 voters:
On one side of the fight is a pair of party vice chairs and 2016 candidate Martin O’Malley, who have complained in recent weeks that the DNC should sponsor more than its six planned debates – only four of which will take place before voting in Iowa — and have protested the committee’s vow to punish candidates who try to participate in unsanctioned events.
On the other side is Wasserman Schultz, who steadfastly insists she won’t budge from the plan, which was carefully negotiated with the campaigns this spring – part of a process that included convincing the Clinton camp to agree to so many debates in the first place.
“There has been discussion between the officers of the DNC and the chairwoman, but she’s made her decision and her position clear,” said DNC vice chair Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii congresswoman who – along with former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak, another vice chair – is calling for more debates.
With the fault lines drawn, many Democrats believe that it would take nothing less than a direct call from Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn – or the White House – to change Wasserman Schultz’s mind.
And that, they say, reflects poorly on Clinton – who now maintains she would be open to more debates, but whose reluctance to press the issue with Wasserman Schultz appears to reflect her true intentions.
Sorry, but this is utterly unacceptable. It’s also counterproductive for Hillary Clinton herself, for several reasons: 1) debates would help shift the focus away from the “Clinton email story that consumed all the oxygen and perhaps is killing her candidacy;” 2) all candidates, including Clinton, can benefit from practice in public debates; 3) again, it would give Democrats a chance to push back against the Republicans’ outrageous attacks on Democratic policies, on President Obama, and on Hillary Clinton herself; and 4) it’s simply un-democratic to have so few debates (not to mention a huge break from the 26 Democratic presidential debates held in 2007/2008, which I’d argue strengthened us for the general election). Instead, right now we’re scheduled for a tiny number of Democratic debates, most AFTER the Iowa caucuses (when they won’t matter as much), two of which are on Saturday night (including one just six days before Christmas, the apparent goal being so that as few people as possible watch).
To put it mildly, I disagree with the DNC and the Clinton campaign on this. But since it doesn’t look like the situation is changing anytime soon, and since there was just a Republican freak show/debate last night, check out the response from Bernie Sanders (who supports holding more debates) in the video above. According to Sanders, the debate was “really painful,”what was really remarkable was the degree to which they avoided the major issues facing the American people and believe that every single problem facing humanity is all attributed to Barack Obama…we seem to have forgotten that when Bush left office, 800,000 people were losing their jobs every single month, the world’s financial system was on the verge of collapse, and our deficit was a record-breaking $1.4 trillion.” Sandeers makes a lot more excellent points, on immigration, income inequality, climate change (“these guys have nothing to say on this issue”), etc. The point is, we could have ALL the Democratic candidates on stage, talking to tens of millions of people, and saying stuff like this. Why on earth woudln’t we?