Hillary's Debate: Bladder before Blather

For the unimpressive number of people who watched the last Democratic debate – facetiously scheduled for the Saturday night before Christmas – the most exciting thing to happen was an apology.

Oh, no, it wasn't Hillary who apologized, not even for being late to her own party!  Simply put, Hillary does not do mea culpas.  After all, she never bothered to show the slightest sense of contrition for having falsely blamed Bill's bimbo eruption with Monica Lewinsky on a "vast right-wing conspiracy."  She never apologized for having said that an amateurish video was the impetus behind the slaughter at our diplomatic compound in Benghazi.  No, indeed.  Hillary prefers to take "full responsibility" only for what goes right.

So in the last Democratic debate, the apologist was Bernie Sanders, who had already fired a campaign worker for supposedly breaching a firewall and helping himself to information that Hillary's camp considered its very own.

The wonkish might offer a more complicated electronic explanation for what exactly happened, but it was certainly nowhere on a scale of, say, the spying exploits of Edward Snowden sharing sensitive data with rogue states.  In simplistic terms, the dust-up between the two Democratic presidential candidates might be compared to Bernie's going into the workplace fridge and helping himself to a yogurt from Hillary's shelf.

Certainly, it was nothing more than a tempest in the political teapot, especially in light of the very serious issues raised – and now under investigation – concerning Hillary's own unsecured personal server.  And, in fact, Bernie did manage a few snide digs about how Hillary's team had been guilty of much the same low-level piracy against his campaign in the past.

But that did not stop the CNN post-debate panelists from solemnly praising the senator from Vermont for apologizing to Her Heinous early on in the debate, thus laying the issue to rest, and – in a term beloved of embattled Democrats – moving on.

The gang of eight that served as CNN's post-debate judges left little doubt as to their starry-eyed fealty to the front-runner.  For Axelrod and company, her performance was magnificent, precisely what one would expect from a formidable debater at the very top of her game.

After being delayed in the loo and missing the first few minutes of the debate, Ms. Clinton galumphed across the stage in an outfit that looked like an acorn squash.  Two former rivals – Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee – had vanished since the last debate, melting back into an obscurity from which they had barely managed to escape.

There's little question that Hillary dominated the debate, for the simple reason that she is domineering.  On a dime, her demeanor can veer from vivacious to vicious.  The lack of warmth that Democratic women decry in Carly Fiorina is applauded in Hill, who stiffly saws the air with her hands, drumming home her harsh rhetoric in a manner reminiscent of history's less savory demagogues.

Clinton soon put the inconvenient matter of ISIS on ice, congealing it with the usual platitudes about how it no longer needs to be contained, but destroyed.  How it will be necessary to use the resources at our disposal, and encourage the cooperation of our loyal coalition members.  The former secretary of state assumes that if she hypes the level of shrillness in the delivery of her hackneyed proposals, they will sound less trite and more true.

Thereafter, Hillary segued into what she presumes to be a much safer subject: Donald Trump, whom she immediately branded as a bigot and, what's more, an enabler of ISIS.  Outrageously, she made the unsubstantiated claim that a video of The Donald had been adopted as a recruiting tool for terrorism.  (When asked later to apologize, she tweeted: "Hell, no!")

And then she did something that Obama routinely uses to twist the truth.  She flipped the conflict from one in which jihadists had attacked Americans to one in which Americans, spearheaded by the blasphemy of Donald Trump, are threatening to wage war on Muslims worldwide.  As usual, she was far more concerned about offending Muslims than she was about offending Republicans, her absurd claim being that the Muslim world would get the impression that America is the attacker, intent on doing battle with innocent Islam!

Fourteen colleagues were cut down in San Bernardino, California by a couple of radicalized Islamists – and Hillary's playbook reads that we're the ones waging war!  Incidents of retaliation against the Muslim communities in America have been practically nonexistent, yet Ms. Clinton finds it to her political advantage to whip the flames of angst among the followers of Islam and then blame Donald Trump for whatever ugliness results.

If nothing else, the viewers of last Saturday's debate got a bitter taste of how the Clinton campaign intends to slash, burn, and win.  Realistically, her purpose will be not to wheedle over any Republican voters, but to drive the Democratic base to the polls in a frenzy of fear.  So there is no reticence in calling out all GOP supporters as evil hate-mongers.  The polarizing Hillary of 2008 is back with a vengeance.

But let us not forget the pretensions of her softer side and how, as a woman, she feels unfairly vulnerable to sexist prejudice.  When asked by a moderator what role Bill Clinton – whom she proprietarily calls "my husband" – would play in a Hillary presidency, she coyly remarked that she would most likely be the one deciding the matter of "flowers" and "what China pattern to choose."  Even a few die-hard female fans cringed at this gender power-play, whereby she would presume to handle everything from Bibi at the negotiating table to bubbly at the banquet table.

Hillary's skill at choosing the proper course in dealing with China seems far less certain than her choosing the proper White House china for courses at state dinners.  After all, the Clintons took quite a lot of place settings home with them when they left the White House the last time, though they were forced to return them afterward.  So perhaps for Hillary, it will be sort of like being reunited with old friends.