If you bypassed the first two Republican presidential debates and last night’s first one for the Democrats, here’s what you missed: a stark contrast. The insults, snarks, bravado and outright lying that marked the former were nowhere to be seen or heard. Instead, the Democrats treated viewers to an enlightening discussion of such critical topics as climate change, the economy, income inequality, immigration, gun control, social security and tax policy. Simply put, it was a two-hour exchange between grown-ups.
Among the five Democrats, it is unlikely that candidates Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb gained much traction off their respective performances. In contrast, it’s just as likely that Martin O’Malley did. Upcoming polls may well reveal that he got a “bump” in his numbers though that won’t put him on the same level as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The supporters of the two front-runners will have an animated back-and-forth over who bested whom. What may well be more important is what those aforementioned polls show vis a vis HRC’s numbers; i.e. did she improve her status and make any inroads in laying to rest conservatives’ fixation over the e-mails that went out and were received over her private server? Her performance last night could go hand-in-hand with the growing evidence that the GOP-dominated Select Committee on Benghazi has become preoccupied with doing the woman political damage to the exclusion of seeking a fuller understanding of what happened in Libya that led to the deaths of four Americans. There is no question that revelations over the last 10-days have the committee’s chair, Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and the conservative media, on the defensive.
As a sidebar to the immediate foregoing, the prediction here is that HRC did herself a sufficient amount of good that she effectively foreclosed on VP Joe Biden being a late entry into the Democrats’ presidential sweepstakes. Whatever the case, he can be expected to announce his intentions by the end of this week.
Finally, any uncommitted voters who watched all the debates (both R and D), now should have a stronger impression of which party has the more serious-minded candidates who are willing to address important issues with honesty and plans to tackle them. It will be interesting to see if last night’s performance by the Democrats prompts the GOP candidates to change their own public and debate demeanor and finally start acting like adults. But, so long as Primadonald Trump holds center-stage, that’s unlikely to happen.