I may have missed the second GOP Debate, but I caught the first Democratic one. I’d like to talk about it, but instead of just saying how each candidate did, I’m going to say what must have been going through their heads when it ended:
Hillary “My Turn” Clinton
Debate Performance: 9/10
Hillary’s Hippocampus: I prepped the hell out of this debate, but for the few things I wasn’t ready for, I’m glad I stuck to the “In Case of Emergency Play Gender Card” plan. In addition to myself, I’d like to thank Senator Sanders. Wasn’t sure how I was going to handle that email question, but Sanders ending it with, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!” was way better than whatever I had planned. There’s definitely an irony to an unelectable candidate making me more electable – an irony I’ll take every time. All this is really making me wish I hadn’t pushed for less debates this cycle. How was I supposed to know that looking awful in press conferences, speeches, and interviews so I could look awesome in debates would work so well?
Bernie “Rather Be Socialist Than President” Sanders
Debate Performance: 7/10
Bernie’s Brain: Nicely done, self. Excellent debate performance. But, will it be enough to expand my base from very liberal white people to slightly less very liberal white people? Maybe not, if they remember that fumble I had on guns. The one thing I’ve ever been conservative on, and I didn’t see it coming? You’re losin’ it, Bernie. Oh, well. At least I stuck to my guns, even though I can never use that figure of speech again. Might should have rethought bailing Hillary out on that email question, though…
Martin “Crap, I Think I’m Going to Be the John Edwards of 2016” O’Malley
Debate Performance: 7/10
Martin’s O’Mind: That was a damn fine debate performance. I cited facts and figures, laid out some clear views on where I think the nation is and where it needs to go, and spoke forcefully. I even attacked Hillary “The Inevitable Nominee” Clinton and Bernie “The Inevitable Not Nominee” Sanders. So, why does it feel like I didn’t accomplish anything? Should I have tried to differentiate myself from their policies more, maybe appealed to those alienated from Sanders’s left base or Clinton’s center-left base? Why didn’t I think of that before? Oh, well. As long as Biden doesn’t enter the race, I should be a lock for the hanger-on candidate this cycle…
Jim “Trapbore Spider” Webb
Debate Performance: 4/10
Webb’s Wonderful World of Brain Matter: I had some really substantial policy differences with the other candidates. I wonder if anyone could hear them over my boring delivery. At least they heard me complaining about not getting enough time to talk. If there’s one thing I want people to take from this debate, it’s that I complained about not getting called on enough, and continued to complain about it when I was called on.
Lincoln “Why Speak When I Can Stutter?” Chafee
Debate Performance: 2/10
Lincoln’s Lobe: A debate? Is that what that was? Well, don’t blame me for not doing well. I just found out about it, and everyone else was taking part in it, so I figured I had to. At least I stumbled over my answers and didn’t just complain about not getting any time, like Webb did…
To sum up:
Hillary Clinton: All her unconvincing press conferences and interviews made us forget she’s good in debates. Which makes sense, since she did like twenty of them against Obama in the ’08 election…
Bernie Sanders: If his goal was to play to his base, he did very well. If his goal was to expand his base, then his pitch fell into a well and couldn’t get out.
Martin O’Malley: Very good in the debate, but he didn’t do much to show why he’d be different from Clinton or Sanders.
Jim Webb: If he’d sounded less boring when he talked, he might have gained some traction, but the most forceful things he said had to do with not getting enough time to speak. A fair complaint, but not what you want to be remembered for.
Lincoln Chafee: His performance was like Webb’s, only more self-destructive. He didn’t complain about being called on, but he didn’t sound confident when he answered legitimate questions on policy, and he sounded even worse when trying to explain why he took a vote on a bad bill. Then, he sounded even worse when Anderson Cooper re-asked it, to make sure that was the answer he wanted to give. It was.
Joe Biden: Probably wishing he’d thrown his hat in the ring by now. Clinton had a good debate and continued to appeal to the center-to-center-left of the party, while Sanders showed why he has a lock on more liberal Democrats. As O’Malley found out (And Webb might have found out if he’d performed better), it’s going to be hard to find another way in, with all the oxygen Clinton and Sanders are sucking out of the room (Maybe an appeal to plants?).
One last thing: This debate was held at a casino (The Wynn Las Vegas), which none of the candidates really talked about. It may be why Sanders kept referring to out-of-control capitalism as, “casino capitalism,” although he never expressly said so. Whatever the case, there was a debate focusing largely on income inequality that was held at a casino…