Takeaways from the 3/9 Democratic Debate

First, is Hillary getting uneasy? There’s the question she had difficulty answering, about why so many people find her untrustworthy. She then refused to answer whether she would drop out of the race if she is indicted. She wouldn’t answer the question, claiming it was preposterous. In light of the immunity given to her aide recently, does anyone agree with her? She has to have known that this question would be coming to her sometime soon, but her lack of preparation with a substantive answer was shocking. In fact, if she though her contempt would play well with the audience, she was sadly mistaken.

Second, her attacks on Bernie for voting for or against particular items in a multi-faceted bill were weak and questionable. To try to say that Bernie sided with vigilantes didn’t pass the straight face test. His response was spot-on, saying that she clearly hadn’t listened to any of his speeches. Similarly her claim that his opposition to TARP 2 was a vote against a bailout of the car industry was disingenuous and didn’t make her any points with the audience. She rarely got cheers from the audience and she must have realized her ploys were not being accepted as the debate progressed.

Bernie was more energized than he was in Sunday’s debate, and also more on his game. He faltered when shown the 30 year old video in which he praised Castro and supported Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega. In Miami, this connection may be harmful, in light of the strong immigrant community there from Cuba and Latin America. But to those of us who remember the disastrous Reagan years of regime change in Latin America, supporting despots and dictators against freedom fighters from the left, the attack on Ortega fell well short. To most of America, the idea of the Castro brothers as bogeymen has fallen by the wayside with the possibility of ending the isolation of Cuba after too many years.

My main takeaway from this debate is that Clinton is feeling the tension of the unexpected loss in Michigan and what it portends for Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri. If those three states come to Bernie next Tuesday, while North Carolina and Florida possibly go to Clinton, the handwriting should be on the wall. Clinton may live and die by her southern firewall, which is turning into a prison of her own making.

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