Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hillary News & Views 1.19: Another Debate Win, Flint, MLK, and More Krugman Kudos

Greetings y'all! Lysis is on the road this week and asked me to cover HNV for a couple of days…and who am I to say no? We’re now less than two weeks from the Iowa caucuses and just had a great debate. This is a damn exciting time for political junkies.

As for who won the last face-off, obviously it depends on who you ask. However, Slate’s headline says it as plainly as possible and I agree completely... Hillary Clinton Won Sunday Night’s Debate:
Clinton was once again in superior form Sunday night in South Carolina, besting Sen. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley in the last Democratic debate before the Iowa caucus.
Clinton’s debating performance is formidable because it combines her intelligence with a sincerity and level of conviction that often seem absent in other forums. When she opened the debate speaking of Martin Luther King Jr.’s role fighting for increased wages, she used his career as a subtle metaphor for what she is pitching: principled leadership with a strong practical bent. That mixture, along with her strength in close-quarter combat and an ability to wrap herself in President Obama’s record—something that played well to the Charleston crowd in the auditorium—was what won her this debate.
This was not a solitary opinion. Politico’s large panel of Democratic insiders in the early states also thought it wasn’t close:
Bernie Sanders is riding a wave of momentum in Iowa and New Hampshire, but his performance in Sunday night’s debate failed to dislodge Hillary Clinton from her perch as national front-runner for the Democratic nomination. 
That’s according to Democratic members of The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of leading strategists, operatives and activists in Iowa, New Hampshire and the two states that will follow with nominating contests next month: Nevada and South Carolina, where Sunday’s debate was held. 
Most Democratic insiders felt Clinton effectively dinged Sanders with her aggressive approach to Sanders’ opposition to some stricter gun laws and his statements supporting a single-payer health care system. 
“She gave as good as she got,” said an Iowa Democrat. “Sanders at times seemed unable to control his emotions." 
“The conjuring up of Bernie Sanders' voting record on several issues took a nick out of his vaunted, saintly consistency,” added a Nevada Democrat.
Here’s how it looks in graph form:

It should be noted that Republican insiders on the panel disagreed, believing that Bernie came out on top. However, this seems more like wishful thinking from the same right-wing losers who were openly supporting him during the debate.

Then there was everyone on CNN:
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo was far more equivocal, giving kudos to both Sanders and Clinton, while still giving the edge to Hillary:
So who won? Who helped themselves more? On that front, candidly, I'm not sure. There's clearly something organic taking shape in Iowa and New Hampshire which is very pro-Sanders. Folks in those states are already saturated by the campaign. I don't know how much this debate will affect them. I'm just not sure. For those just watching this debate somewhat in isolation, for the national audience, I think Clinton helped herself more than Sanders, but only in relative terms (i.e., I don't think he did badly at all. I just think she helped herself somewhat more than he did.) And that's not terribly surprising because she seems to have helped herself in each of the debates so far. 
For her, too bad there aren't more debates or ones scheduled when there are people around to watch.
No candidate was asked about the ongoing water crisis/scandal in Flint, Michigan in the debate, but Hillary brought it up anyway to wrap up the night. It is a must-see and must-share clip, because she just changed the national dialogue on this outrage:
Her words were widely praised as a clear highlight of the debate, but it drew some particularly noteworthy all-caps/runaway exclamation point applause from one key Flint native:
As many of you have heard by now (likely from Hillary herself, repeatedly) Paul Krugman has already indicated his preference for Clinton’s plan to reign in Wall Street over the one put forth by Sanders. And now he’s backing her up on health care as well, with some logic that is hard to dismiss:
Health reform is the signature achievement of the Obama presidency. It was the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare was established in the 1960s. It more or less achieves a goal — access to health insurance for all Americans — that progressives have been trying to reach for three generations. And it is already producing dramatic results, with the percentage of uninsured Americans falling to record lows. 
Obamacare is, however, what engineers would call a kludge: a somewhat awkward, clumsy device with lots of moving parts. This makes it more expensive than it should be, and will probably always cause a significant number of people to fall through the cracks. 
The question for progressives — a question that is now central to the Democratic primary — is whether these failings mean that they should re-litigate their own biggest political success in almost half a century, and try for something better. 
My answer, as you might guess, is that they shouldn’t, that they should seek incremental change on health care (Bring back the public option!) and focus their main efforts on other issues — that is, that Bernie Sanders is wrong about this and Hillary Clinton is right.
...and wrapping it up with some more of that dreaded progressive pragmatism:
So progressives must set some priorities. And it’s really hard to see, given this picture, why it makes any sense to spend political capital on a quixotic attempt at a do-over, not of a political failure, but of health reform — their biggest victory in many years.
Post-debate in Charleston, Clinton and her Democratic rivals celebrated the life of Martin Luther King Jr...and Hillary noted why this was a particularly special occasion:
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton praised South Carolina for removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds in Columbia as roughly 1,000 gathered to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy. 
Monday's "King Day at the Dome" celebration marked the first time the state has officially honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day without the racist symbol flying above the crowd. Civil rights activists had previously used the holiday to call for the flag's removal. 
"How wonderful it is to be here together without the Confederate flag overhead," Clinton said. "That flag always belonged in a museum, not at the statehouse."
While thanking lawmakers for making the right call, Clinton also praised activist Bree Newsome for "shimmying up that flagpole" to take matters into her own hands. Awesome!

And finally, let’s wrap it up with a bit of undeniable truth from the Secretary of Explaining Stuff:


  1. Great! News and Views is a big job. The debate: I tried to watch it as if I had never seen any of the candidates. The thing that struck me the most was that Bernie seemed unable to hold a thought for a few seconds. He kept trying to reply immediately to things Hillary was saying while she was still talking, and he just couldn't wait for the moderators to do their part: saying just a few words between candidates speaking. His supporters would say this is because he is passionate, but I took it to be a lack of mental organization and "impulse control". If there's anything I want in my president, it's a cool head.

    1. I got the same impression. I think Hillary will get a bump from this debate.