|... and then there were two|
It seemed like former Governor Huck had nothing better to do last night than troll the Democratic Debate. This is the juvenile nature we have come to expect from the Republicans. Meanwhile, the Democratic candidates tried to have an honest debate by dismissing the silly e-mail scandal that has dogged the Hillary campaign and tried focusing on the issues. It was Hillary's night, displaying a firm control of events, but then it depends whose side you are on. The others all struggled to get out from under her shadow, and she probably did well enough to keep Joe Biden out of the race.
You really have to wonder about Webb, Chafee and O'Malley at this point. None of them had been registering with potential Democratic voters before the debate and it is doubtful they made any lasting impact on voters after that debate. They all seem like vanity candidates, in this race as an attempt to lift their profiles and be considered for cabinet positions should a Democrat win the White House.
Bernie held his ground, but his irascible style works better in one-on-one situations than in debates. On the issues, there isn't much difference between Bernie and Hilllary. He dredged up the Iraq War vote in a rather feeble attempt to draw contrasts. Obama had tried to use that back in 2008. Surely, Bernie could have found other differences to note.
The real question is how genuine Hillary's new found liberal positions are? She has been pretty much a hawk on foreign policy in the past, but here she is embracing the Obama administration's decisions to negotiate with Iran and open doors with Cuba. Something she had never promoted in the past. She has also staked herself to the left on most domestic issues, despite having large corporate support within the Democratic party. It seems these moves are largely calculated to neutralize Bernie, who has always been to the left of the Democratic spectrum, to the point of regarding himself as an Independent.
Nevertheless, it is pleasant to hear after all the overblown rhetoric in the two Republican debates that has David Brooks asking "where have all the real conservatives gone?" The Republican Party has become a purely reactionary party with very few voices of moderation. Even in 2000, when George W. Bush managed to steal the election from Al Gore, he was promoting a "compassionate conservativism," which we no longer see in the GOP.
The infighting within the Republican Party has undermined their control of Congress, as witnessed in the battle for a new House Speaker. Kevin McCarthy, who had been slated to be the next Speaker, spilled the beans on the Benghazi commission, revealing it to be nothing more than a way to hound Hillary throughout the election. This left Trey Gowdy with virtually no stature, as he has been the one leading the sham inquisition. Criminal charges have been brought against Gowdy ahead of Hillary's next visit before the select committee this month.
The faux scandals force Hillary to have to address them rather than stake out her positions on key issues, which would allow Bernie and other candidates to challenge her. I suppose in that sense, it has given her some cover, as she can portray herself as a victim of overzealous Republicans intent on ruining her. Bernie played right into it by defending Hillary on the debate stage.
At least, the Democrats don't have a Trump grabbing all the attention, leaving the others to scramble for any glimmer of daylight. Of course this didn't stop the Donald from tweeting his puerile thoughts on the Democratic debate, calling it a snoozer, among other things.
For the moment, Hillary has restored confidence in her campaign, which will put her in good stead leading up to the first primaries in January. She could wrap up the nomination before February. However, you get the feeling the Democrats could have done better. It's like we are redressing the 2008 primaries when Hillary was slated to be the next President, only for her coronation to be postponed by Obama. At this point, she is little more than a standard bearer. There are no fresh or bold ideas. We have Bill lurking in the wings. We can expect to see her cabinet stocked with all too familiar faces should she win next November. But, alas, the only alternative at this point appears to be Bernie Sanders. As engaging as he is, it is hard to imagine him as President.