The Democrats Cross Epees

Well, this was the week of the late but heavily hyped Democratic debate in which a bunch of old white people mostly touting long-failed 1930s policies were asked softball questions designed to make Hillary look good and the panel civil. Her challengers are complicit in the game, making sure to cover her considerable weaknesses as best they can -- dueling with bladeless, blunted weapons. The media’s role in this charade is to pretend that if she could speak in complete sentences without falling off the stage, she won.

Sultan Knish parodied the volleying.

Here’s a sample: 

Anderson Cooper: Can anyone find Syria on a map?

Hillary Clinton: Well Anderson, as a woman...

Anderson Cooper: Can you find Syria on a map?

Hillary Clinton: As a woman...

Anderson Cooper: Syria on a map. Can you find it?

Hillary Clinton: As a woman...

Anderson Cooper: Never mind. Senator Sanders, do you agree with the Secretary?

Bernie Sanders: SYRIA? Why are we talking about Syria when 41 PERCENT OF 99 PERCENT of all the money is going to the 1 PERCENT.

Anderson Cooper: Can you just answer the question.

Bernie Sanders: Syria is CONFUSING. Lots of PEOPLE fighting. Economics is SIMPLE. You just take away all the money from all the people who have the MONEY.

Anderson Cooper: The question is about Syria.

I prefer reading transcripts of the debates to watching them so my views are often formed by what the candidates said, not the visuals, and I thought Jim Webb was the only substantive, sentient person at the charade. Most of the corporate media, which cheered off camera when Sanders said he didn’t want to hear any more about Hillary’s email problems, immediately pronounced her the winner. Polls of debate watchers by outfits as disparate as Salon and Fox had Sanders taking the lead. Only the NY Sun, to my knowledge, agreed with my assessment.

By our lights, the Marine officer (there is no such thing as a former Marine) won this debate on substance. It reminds of what an impressive figure he is and what rich experience he brings to public life. It reminds that the Vietnam War, in which Mr. Webb appeared in arms, handed up its own giants. Mr. Webb was more than gracious when asked about Senator Sanders’s attempt during the Vietnam War to represent himself as a conscientious objector. Everybody makes his decisions in conscription, Mr. Webb noted, saying that if they go through the legal process, he respects them.

What really came through is the connection between character and policy. Mr. Webb is one of those figures who, like Reagan, believes deeply in a few clear principles. Mr. Webb served as Navy Secretary under Reagan. He is the only figure left in the entire Democratic party who has an appreciation of Vietnam and of military strategy. He was the only candidate on the stage who opposes the Iran appeasement. He brilliantly marked the signal it sent for the Russian strongman, President Putin, to enter the Syrian theater.

Still, the debate was not without some utility. For one thing, we know now that unless Vice-President Biden enters the race, and it’s looking like he might, the Democrat field consists of a weird old socialist who wants to give away your money and beat our swords into college tuitions and a woman who’s increasingly being exposed as indifferent to both truth and protecting national security.

The debates and the participants’ performance in them has winnowed down the Republican field as well. Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, and Rick Santorum are out of dough and don’t seem to be able to attract enough to stay in the game much longer. Chris Christie is also on the ropes. Don Surber writes:

Polls are overrated, still the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll results embarrass Republican Chris Christie who after seven years as governor is in sixth place in the presidential sweepstakes in his home state of New Jersey.

From the poll:

“Despite some recent gains on the 2016 campaign trail, Gov. Chris Christie has plummeted among his own party’s 2016 preferences back home, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Similar to national polls, 32 percent of New Jersey Republican and GOP-leaning registered voters choose businessman Donald Trump for their party’s nomination. Trump tops the list for the second straight Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Meanwhile Christie’s New Jersey GOP support has been cut in half since August, when he was in second place at 12 percent. With just 5 percent of Republican voters naming him, Christie now trails Dr. Ben Carson and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, both at 13 percent, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 6 percent. While tied when results are rounded, he comes in sixth in mentions between former CEO Carly Fiorina and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, each also at 5 percent.”

I do not see a scenario where Christie -- once the toast of conservatives -- is anything but toast in this race. 

Donald Trump, whom the press is always predicting is about to flame out, twittered the Democratic debate but it was so devoid of substance even he had little to say. But whatever you think of him, he is a master negotiator, and managed this week to defeat CNBC. He refused to allow the network to continue to use the debates to hurt him and his party while racking up ad revenue. Joining with Dr. Carson -- the runner-up in the polls -- he threatened to boycott the next one unless CNBC reverted to the originally determined length and gave Republicans the same opportunity to give opening and closing statements which it had given the Democrats. CNBC quickly folded. CNBC’s opportunities to continue to blatantly sabotage the Republican debates was somewhat nipped.

Trump does understand how new technology and media have changed the playing field. Hillary still doesn’t.

Jeb Bush doesn’t either. It wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that, like Hillary, he thought he’d build up a huge war chest and just so blanket the field with “top men,” staged events, and paid advertising that he’d walk to a coronation. At an 86% burn rate, these two are tied  but his incoherence and a platform unappealing to the base means that his coffers are emptying rapidly without refills in sight. 

Conceived as a fundraising juggernaut that would “shock and awe” opponents into oblivion, Bush's campaign is suddenly struggling to raise hard dollars and increasingly economizing -- not because he’s out of money, but to convince nervous donors, who are about to get their first look at his campaign's burn rate, that he's not wasting it.

“At a certain point, we want to see a bang for the buck. We’re spending the bucks -- and we’re seeing no bang,” a longtime Bush Republican said.

Bush is stuck at 7 percent in an average of national polls. He’s at close to 9 percent in New Hampshire, putting him in sixth place in the early state he most needs to win. Although his poll standing isn’t much better, Marco Rubio is starting to catch the eye of deep-pocketed establishment donors impressed by his leaner operation and unique appeal as a candidate.

Meanwhile Trump, who hasn’t been soliciting for funds, is getting donations anyway.

Mr. Trump revealed in a filing Thursday to the Federal Election Commission that the vast majority of the money he raised and spent this summer as he rose to the top of national polls came not from his own coffers, as it had in the spring, but from about $3.7 million in what he called “unsolicited contributions.” Some 74,000 donors pitched in an average of about $50 to help his campaign, he reported.

Mr. Trump himself contributed only about $100,000 in in-kind contributions, including rent space that he donated and payroll expenses that he covered. That represented a huge drop from the spring, when Mr. Trump donated about $1.9 million to his campaign, financing the bulk of it himself.

Like Carly Fiorina and Dr. Carson, he’s not relying on big donors to pull him to the finish line. Large numbers of small donations reflect voter enthusiasm, as opposed to just the cash contributions by handfuls of high roller buddies -- and Trump’s using his own marketing skills instead of big spending to draw support.

On November 7 he’s hosting Saturday Night Live. I don’t think that will hurt him. Do you?

Really though, it’s Hillary who wins in one category. Her brazen lying and lack of self-awareness make her a comedic wizard, the Amy Schumer of politics.

We have myriad examples. Here are but a few:

On Sexual Assault:

She said women who claim they were sexually assaulted “deserve to be believed.”  To which my online buddy Alex Bensky responds:

"Women deserve to be believed?" Ask Juanita Broaddrick or Paula Jones that. Of course, Jones and Gennifer Flowers were dismissed by Hillary's entourage as "trailer trash" without as far as I know any rebuke from Hillary.

This is just one example of the fact that the left, which claims to support and champion people of lower social classes, suffers from acute class bigotry itself. Some leftists might think about this but very few have either the ability or interest to engage in self-audit.”

On Revealing State Secrets:

She said of Snowden, who hacked U.S. security information and made it public:

“He broke the laws of the United States,” [snip]

"...He stole very important information that has fallen into the wrong hands so I think he should not be brought home without facing the music.”

And yet she and her aides (Huma Abedin  testified in closed session before the Benghazi Committee  just afterwards) are under investigation for violating the Espionage Act:

Fox reports the FBI and Department of Justice investigation into Clinton’s emails now focuses on a single provision in the Espionage Act. Did Clinton allow an unauthorized person access to the national defense information in her email inbox? The investigation is focusing on the provision pertaining to “gross negligence.”

The law (18 U.S. Code & 793 subsection f) is very clear.

The law applies to “Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense,” which obviously includes Clinton. Classified information appeared throughout her emails recovered by investigators.

The law is broken if that person “through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed.”

The law could also be broken if the person “having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer”

On the Rich:

Hillary announced in April:

“There’s something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the typical worker.

“However, as Sean Davis noted Tuesday at, ‘she did not elaborate on whether there’s something wrong when non-CEOs who run tax-exempt organizations make 380 times more than the typical worker.’”

On her Political Bent:

Just for the record, asked the moderator Anderson Cooper, are you a progressive, or are you a moderate?” Clinton disavowed the moderate label and replied, “I’m a progressive. But I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.” Just weeks earlier  Hillary Clinton confessed to something liberals have long suspected: being a moderate Democrat.

"You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center," Clinton told the audience at a Women for Hillary event in Ohio. "I plead guilty."

The line is new for Clinton, who spent a large portion of her early campaign casting herself as a liberal fighter who has been progressive for her entire life. To many on the left, those lines never really rang true.

One wonders how she’ll get along with a Republican Congress to “get things done” after she indicated during the debate that Republicans were included in her list of enemies.

Her theme song seems to be “I’ll be anything you want” -- at least until she takes office.                

It wasn’t a total waste of time though. We know now there is no longer a moderate wing of that party. Webb, the last moderate Democrat standing, has no chance. The party of Hillary and Sanders stands for economic retribution against executives (except for allies like Andrew Cuomo, former head of HUD, Citigroup’s Robert Rubin or Senator Jon Corzine, of course) a public-sector economy paid for by you which will further strangle the economy and isolationism, which brings the wolves already invited to the front porch by Obama ever closer to our door.