The line on the right is that the Democratic Party debates are even worse than the Republican debates because they are empty of substance. First of all, I'm not sure how much emptier you can get than the 11th Republican Debate, but at least this part of the criticism is valid:
An example Sunday night was when Anderson Cooper finally brought up the touchy question of Clinton's emails, ever so gently asking Hillary how she would respond to Trump's promised attacks on the scandal that could emerge, after the FBI investigation, as one of the most serious political crimes in American history.He doubtless felt he'd stretched his neck out by mentioning the subject at all.
Rather than answer the question, Clinton quickly changed the subject to how she had more voters, so far, than Trump. The evasion was so obvious you could drive the whole Russian army through it and probably part of the Polish as well. But did Cooper follow up? He didn't even blink....
Two big things came out of the debate from my perspective. The first one is that Bernie Sanders is actually committed to the survival of the American gun industry. He rightly criticized Clinton's argument in favor of making gun manufacturers liable for the abuse of their products as having the consequence that it would destroy the industry. The fact that he raised the criticism shows that, somehow, he has missed the fact that destroying the gun industry is the whole point of the proposal.
Clinton didn't roll her eyes and say "Yes, obviously, Bern," which was a substantial act of self-control on her part. It does show that Sanders' mind on what to do about guns has somehow never drifted to actually destroying the gun industry, whereas Clinton is part of the Democratic Party's faction that never ceases to look for backdoor approaches to doing so. This proposal is of a piece with the proposal to require gun owners to own liability insurance for each firearm they own, or to tax ammunition at a sufficiently massive rate as to make it impractical to buy, or to ban ammunition outright ('the Second Amendment applies to arms, not ammo!'). While I don't doubt that Sanders' SCOTUS appointees would be drawn from a pool that believes the Second should be read out of the Constitution, as Clinton's certainly would be, it's interesting to realize that he thinks his cause is helped by raising the objection he did in front of the Democratic Debate. Raising the objection shows he believes that it will help him to object to destroying the gun industry.
The other thing I find interesting is that the Clinton campaign's #1 thing they want you to take away from the debate is that Sanders tried to get Clinton to stop talking over him. Except that they phrase this, "Sanders tried to shush Clinton."
Clinton has been laying for this moment for months, a fact I know to be true because her allies in the press immediately painted this as a "Rick Lazio moment." I only know who Rick Lazio is because of the frequent references by Clinton supporters to him. They clearly believe that nothing will drive people to support Hillary Clinton more than the idea that she is brusquely treated by a man.
It may be plausible -- AVI was recently describing the kind of voter on whom it will probably work. As a qualification for President, though, "I'm the kind of person who can be pushed around by Bernie Sanders" doesn't strike me as hugely impressive. The Washington Post commentator says, 'Wait until the Trump/Clinton debates.' I say: think about the Putin/Clinton reality you are courting.
That's not to say that Clinton couldn't stand up to Putin, with all the machinery of the Presidency at her beck and call. It is to say that she won't be able to do so via diplomacy. Clinton's political style is like a soccer player gaming the referees:
But there are no more referees when you become President. She will either have to roll over, or she will have to resort to the kind of force that the President can call upon. By way of comparison, I had the strong sense that a Jim Webb presidency would be a peaceful one in part because hostile foreign powers would think twice about messing with that former Marine. His diplomatic efforts would be greatly strengthened by the sense that he was not to be trifled with. Clinton has made a career out of being trifled with -- it's how she got elected to the Senate, and it's how she stood for President the last time, ending up as Secretary of State. The appeal to self-as-victim, in the hope of aligning other self-described victims behind her, is the core of her political stance.
A Clinton Presidency would thus be far more violent than a Webb Presidency would have been. She will have to prove for the first time what Webb proved decades ago at a machine-gun bunker in Vietnam.