February 2016 Democratic Presidential Debate
Trying to Ignite "The Tempest in a Tea Pot"
This can be a tall order when there is neither a tempest NOR a tea pot.
This was becoming an issue with a pressing, high priority. It looked very much like the billionaires and the establishment Democrats had decided to suffocate every Democrat they could find with a barge load of drivel and oatmeal. For them there was clearly the unsurprising attraction to the prospect of the majority of the electorate sleeping through another election in 2016.
How could the Democrats ever manage to actually start reaching the American electorate? And, when did the DNC intend to begin that process?
For the full duration of the campaign prior to February, 2016, the Democratic Party managers seemed obsessed with maintaining an agonizingly low "low profile" for every possible aspect of media coverage. MeanMesa suspects that the "constructive intention" of putting every Democratic voter in the country into a coma with the first "authorized" debates was, actually, a scheme to hatch a carefully designed polling advantage for Mrs. Clinton's admittedly moribund election strategy prior to the Iowa caucuses.
It turns out that neither the challenge nor the solution was not as complex as some observers might have presumed. MeanMesa was relieved when the DNC's glacial barrier finally fractured sufficiently to allow the more traditional "pieces" of a normal election campaign to begin to be restored.
How It Was Done
1. Breaking the suspiciously partisan, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz debate scheduling "death grip."
With Democratic debates scheduled for the lowest likely possible viewership in the wane rating hours of late Saturday night, debate exposure to potential Democratic voters was cut
|THURSDAY, February 4, MSNBC|
to a bare minimum. Worse, this wasn't "just once." The track continued until every American who didn't want Rafael Cruz to start the next "holy war" was becoming concerned -- very concerned.
This stunt was so egregious that it was beginning to look like it could cost Democrats an election victory in 2016.
2. Breaking the suspiciously partisan, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz exclusion of other debates between candidates not "authorized" by Wasserman-Schultz's administrative "death grip" on the DNC.
Not only were the "officially sanctioned" DNC debates not working, DNC Chairwoman [and ex-Hillary campaign advisor...] Wasserman-Schultz had taken measures to guarantee that there would not be any others. The guarantee included the punitive threat that any candidate participating in a "not-officially authorized" debate would be excluded from subsequent "officially authorized" debates.
This meat handed approach to elevate Hillary to "shoo in" status drew a predictable amount of ruffled feathers -- including MeanMesa's ruffled feathers. [This little blog did its part by posting Dumping Debbie - MeanMesa. We can all be quite certain that the DNC's "attitude change" resulted directly from this blog's attention to the matter. Okay, probably not, but just the thought gives a "nice feeling."]
3. Introducing "first line," competent, non-ideologue, debate hosts -- Chuck Todd and Dr. Rachel Maddow.
|"Not FOX" moderators [image-CNN]|
Visitors here have seen plenty of what happens when both the "debaters" and the debate "moderators" are fully, conceptually saturated with rancid, FOX style wing nut misinformation and presumptive, pre-scripted, propaganda directives. MeanMesa considers CNN, even while comporting its very best behavior, to clearly "be sitting on the same bus."
This selection of moderators made the debate strikingly more effective and educational for voters.
4. Allowing the first policy oriented "combat" opportunities between Sanders and Clinton.
Throughout the agonizing plethora of Republican "debates," the uselessly "sold out" US domestic media has shown an alarming and painfully visible lack of interest in reporting anything emerging from within a Presidential debate which was not some form of verbal fisticuffs. This "appetite for verbal violence" was so consuming among the strident network executives as to represent another obstacle to the Democrats. As a consequence of this, they were now being hopelessly famous for "engineered banality" as they mechanically responded to moderator invitations for mouthing repetitious talking points.
When Sanders and Clinton "faced off" about Hillary's Wall Street Super PAC activities, the network executives had the right wing media equivalent of a premature ejaculation. Prior to the sparks flying around in the MSNBC moderated debate, the obedient, heavily medicated, domestic media had been carefully presenting the narrative that the Democrats were still simply milling around in an endless, irrelevant, road weary "talking festival."
This is precisely the point of this posting. We get to the details a little closer to the end, so please stay with MeanMesa. First, let's have a look at one section of the debate transcript to set the stage for our discussion.
Sanders-Clinton debate transcript:
Annotating what they say
Team FIX/February 4, 2016
[Excerpted. To read the entire transcript,
CLINTON: I am not going to make promises I can't keep. I am not going to talk about big ideas like single-payer and then not level with people about how much it will cost.
CLINTON: A respected health economist said that these plans would cost a trillion dollars more a year.
I'm not going to tell people that I will raise your incomes and not your taxes, and not mean it, because I don't want to see the kind of struggle that the middle class is going through exemplified by these promises that would raise taxes and make it much more difficult for many, many Americans to get ahead and stay ahead. That is not my agenda.
MADDOW: Senator Sanders, you'll have 30 seconds to respond to that.
SANDERS: What being part of the establishment is, is, in the last quarter, having a super PAC that raised $15 million from Wall Street, that throughout one's life raised a whole lot of money from the drug companies and other special interests.
To my mind, if we do not get a handle on money in politics and the degree to which big money controls the political process in this country, nobody is going to bring about the changes that is needed in this country for the middle class and working families.
CLINTON: Yeah, but I -- I think it's fair to really ask what's behind that comment. You know, Senator Sanders has said he wants to run a positive campaign. I've tried to keep my disagreements over issues, as it should be.
But time and time again, by innuendo, by insinuation, there is this attack that he is putting forth, which really comes down to -- you know, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought.
And I just absolutely reject that, Senator. And I really don't think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you. And enough is enough. If you've got something to say, say it directly.
But you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received.
CLINTON: And I have stood up and I have represented my constituents to the best of my abilities, and I'm very proud of that.
SANDERS: ... you know...
CLINTON: So I think it's time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out...
CLINTON: ... in recent weeks, and let's talk...
... let's talk about about the issues. Let's talk about the issues that divide us.
SANDERS: Let's talk about -- OK, let's talk...
CLINTON: And let's -- let's...
SANDERS: ... let us talk about issues.
CLINTON: ... we both agree with campaign finance reform.
SANDERS: Let's talk about issues.
CLINTON: I -- I worked hard for McCain-Feingold.
CLINTON: I want to reverse Citizens United.
SANDERS: ... let's -- let's -- let's talk about issues.
CLINTON: And so -- let's talk about issues.
SANDERS: Let's talk -- let's talk about issues, all right? Let's talk about why, in the 1990s, Wall Street got deregulated. Did it have anything to do with the fact that Wall Street provided -- spent billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions?
Well, some people might think, yeah, that had some influence.
Let's ask why it is that we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, and your medicine can be doubled tomorrow, and there's nothing that the government can do to stop it.
You think it has anything to do with the huge amounts of campaign contributions and lobbying from the fossil fuel industry? Let's talk about climate change.
Do you think there's a reason why not one Republican has the guts to recognize that climate change is real, and that we need to transform our energy system? Do you think it has anything to do with the Koch brothers and Exxon/Mobil pouring huge amounts of money into the political system?
That is what goes on in America. I am not -- I like...
... there is a reason. You know, there is a reason why these people are putting huge amounts of money into our political system. And in my view, it is undermining American democracy and it is allowing Congress to represent wealthy campaign contributors and not the working families of this country.
CLINTON: Well, you know, Senator, I don't think -- I don't...
TODD: ... Secretary, we're gonna...
CLINTON: ... I don't think you could find any person in political life today who has been subjected to more attacks and had more money spent against her by special interests, among whom you have named a few, than I.
And I'm proud of that. You know, when I took on the drug companies and the insurance companies for universal health care coverage, they went after me with a vengeance.
CLINTON: Today, you've got hedge fund billionaires aligned with Karl Rove, running ads against me to try to get Democrats to vote for you. I know this game. I'm going to stop this game.
But while we're talking about votes, you're the one who voted to deregulate swaps and derivatives in 2000, which contributed to the over-leveraging of Lehman Brothers, which was one of the culprits that brought down the economy.
So I don't know -- I'm not impugning your motive because you voted to deregulate swaps and derivatives. People make mistakes and I'm certainly not saying you did it for any kind of financial advantage. What we've got to do as Democrats -- what we've got to do as Democrats is to be united to actually solve these problems. And what I believe is that I have a better track record and a better opportunity to actually get that job done.
That's what this election should be about.
TODD: Thirty seconds.
SANDERS: I think as Secretary Clinton knows, there is nobody who fought harder. I was on the House Financial Committee at that time. I heard the arguments coming from Democrats and Republicans -- Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan -- about great an idea it would be if we did away with Glass-Steagall and if we allowed investor banks and commercial banks and big insurance companies to merge.
Go to YouTube today. Look up Greenspan-Sanders. Listen to what I told them then. I helped lead the effort against deregulation. Unfortunately, we lost that. The result is -- was the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression.
TODD: Thank you both.
MADDOW: Senator Sanders, Secretary Clinton, obviously we've touched a nerve. We're going to be back with more on this subject, and much more, right after this. Stay with us.
TODD: All right, welcome back. Let's get right to it.
Senator Sanders, you were talking about all of your campaign contributions and campaign finance reform. You rail against big money in politics. But do you realize there is one public financing system that we do have in place, and it is -- it is in place to run for president. Why aren't you walking the walk on that?
Why aren't you participating in the presidential public financing system which is designed to essentially keep big money out of presidential politics?
SANDERS: Chuck, actually we looked at it, but it turns out to be a disaster. The way it is structured right now, if you make it all the way to California, you could do pretty well. But in terms of the early states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, the other states -- it just doesn't work.
Your point is well taken. I believe in public funding of elections, absolutely. But this system is -- I don't know if the secretary would agree -- is currently very antiquated and no longer applies to modern day politics.
TODD: Well, going on that then, why criticize her on Super PACs, and you got -- and all this when it is -- you know, that's the system? I mean, you could be participating in a publicly-financing -- public financing system...
SANDERS: But if the...
TODD: ... and being able to set -- being able to set an example.
SANDERS: -- but Chuck, it is a public financing system that everybody knows is antiquated. It no longer works. Nobody can become president based on that system. So what's the alternative? There are two alternatives. And, you know, we looked at it. Well, should we do a Super PAC, but I concluded, honestly, I don't represent Corporate America or billionaires, I didn't want it.
So the other alternative was to ask working families and the middle class to help out in a transformational campaign. And you know what? We got 3.5 million individual contributions, $27 a piece. I think that's pretty good.
MADDOW: Secretary Clinton, on the issue of Wall Street...
CLINTON: On the issue of Wall Street.
MADDOW: ... on the issue of Wall Street, when our reporters go out and talk to people on the ground in the early states, what they tell us over and over again when they find voters who are leaning toward Senator Sanders rather than yourself is that the most frequent area of concern that they hear from those voters is the issue of Wall Street and whether or not you are too close to Wall Street.
Last night, when you were asked about speaking fees and the amount of speaking fees you got from Goldman Sachs speeches, you said that's what they offered.
Have you been too dismissive of voters' concerns about this issue in your own campaign and your own career?
CLINTON: Well you know, Rachel, I think I may not have done the job I should in explaining my record. You know, I did -- when I left the secretary of State's office, like so many former officials, military leaders, journalists, others, I did go on the speaking circuit. I spoke to heart doctors, I spoke to the American Camping Association, I spoke to auto dealers, and yes, I spoke to firms on Wall Street. They wanted me to talk about the world, what my experience had been as secretary of State.
But what I want people to know is I went to Wall Street before the crash. I was the one saying you're going to wreck the economy because of these shenanigans with mortgages. I called to end the carried interest loophole that hedge fund managers enjoy. I proposed changes in CEO compensation.
I called for a consumer protection financial bureau before it was created. And I think the best evidence that the Wall Street people at least know where I stand and where I have always stood is because they are trying to beat me in this primary. They have collected and spent as much as $6 million on these ads. Hedge fund billionaires, Karl Rove, another billionaire, jumped in.
And why are they doing that? These are guys who try to make smart investments. They know my record, they know me, they know that I say what I believe and I will do it. And I also have a pretty good understanding about how to stop them.
So I do want people to know that, and I think it's important for everybody to understand I have a record, I have stood firm and I will be the person who prevents them from ever wrecking the economy again.
MADDOW: Senator Sanders, you have been a critic of Secretary Clinton taking those speaking fees and having donations from Wall Street. What about her defense of her record?
MADDOW: Senator Sanders, you have been a critic of Secretary Clinton taking those speaking fees and having donations from Wall Street. What about her defense of her record?
SANDERS: Let me just say this. Wall Street is perhaps the most powerful economic and political force in this country. You have companies like Goldman Sachs, who just recently paid a settlement fine with the federal government for $5 billion for defrauding investors.
Goldman Sachs was one of those companies whose illegal activity helped destroy our economy and ruin the lives of millions of Americans. But this is what a rigged economy and a corrupt campaign finance system and a broken criminal justice is about. These guys are so powerful that not one of the executives on Wall Street has been charged with anything after paying, in this case of Goldman Sachs, a $5 billion fine.
Kid gets caught with marijuana, that kid has a police record. A Wall Street executive destroys the economy, $5 billion settlement with the government, no criminal record. That is what power is about. That is what corruption is about. And that is what has to change in the United States of America.
CLINTON: If I could, let me just say that of course it has to change. It has to change. And that's why I have put forward a plan to do just that. And it's been judged to be the toughest, most effective and comprehensive one.
I have great respect for Senator Sanders's commitment to try to restore Glass-Steagall. But I do not believe that that is enough. And in fact, I don't believe it really addresses a lot of the biggest issues we have.
You know, we now have power under the Dodd-Frank legislation to break up banks. And I've said I will use that power if they pose a systemic risk. But I want to go further, because it was investment banks, it was insurance companies, it was mortgage companies, all of which contributed.
So let's not just be narrowly focused on one part of the problem. We have a lot of issues with corporate power that have to be addressed. My plan takes us further and it would do the job.
SANDERS: I would say that -- that folks who have looked at this issue for a long time, whether it's Elizabeth Warren or many other economists, will tell you that right now, yes, we do need a 21st century Glass-Steagall legislation. And I would tell you also that when you have three out of the four largest banks in America today, bigger than they were -- significantly bigger than when we bailed them out because they were too big to fail, I think if Teddy Roosevelt were alive today, a good Republican by the way, what he would say is: Break them up; they are too powerful economically; they are too powerful politically.
And that is what I believe and many economists believe. Time to break them up.
What Bernie Could Have Said
Picking words to insert into a heated debate
is always easier when you're not actually there...
The "spark" which made this interchange notable -- especially, which made this interchange noteworthy for the media which was starving for a scrap -- was focused on the alternate approaches these two candidates were adopting to fund their campaigns.
MeanMesa considers this to be so extremely important because it was an instance where "personality cult" issues morphed into "policy issues," at least in the larger picture.
Both Sanders and Clinton have edged themselves into campaign positions where campaign funding has risen to the point of establishing itself as a defining "personality" issue. Of course there are plenty of alternate positions about many other alternate aspects of each platform, but the defining focus which seems to be leading the perception of the "personality" of each is precisely this one.
Importantly, most of the voters already following the details of the race have a very murky boundary between the respective "personality" and "policy" elements of both candidates. For these voters one seems to exert as much influence on "overall favorability" as the other. A stark appraisal of what we are seeing suggests that, at least for this early part of the race, voters are still maintaining a "casual" mix of "personality" and "policy" conclusions, and the admittedly murky aggregate resulting from this is setting the subconscious background for the results we see in opinion polls.
These opinions are seldom constructed on a cold, hard, ideological analysis of a "future view" of what Presidential behavior might be after one of these candidates wins the election. The old political axiom is completely descriptive: "Voters fall in love during the primaries, but voters fall in line during the general."
So, given all of this, how would MeanMesa have altered Sanders' debate statements where he was emphasizing this difference? Perhaps the following imaginary comment will explain.
SANDERS: I hope everyone knows how much I respect Hillary Clinton. When I speak of the actions of her SuperPACs, I am not implying that there is something fundamentally wrong with her because she has taken this approach.
However, there are two, different ideas about how to conduct a campaign at play here. I have my idea, and she has her idea. Further, her idea is not an exceptionally deplorable one by any measure. Her approach to funding her campaign is the common way that campaigns -- for both sides of the contest -- have been funded for decades. Her decision to employ this approach clearly identifies her as a tough, determined, pragmatic candidate, and her approach does not define her as an undesirable choice in any way.
In fact I prefer to consider myself to also be a tough, pragmatic candidate.
Still, there is a monumental difference between our candidacies. Explaining that is the reason we are having this debate. That difference can be summed up this way.
Hillary intends to win an election. I intend to win a revolution.