“So that’s how a debate is supposed to work! Wow, that was actually helpful.” – The Five People Who Actually Turned on Last Night’s Debate
We have to give credit where credit is due, last night’s Democratic debate was one of the strongest debates in the 2016 election cycle. The moderators asked pointed questions on a variety of issues and outlined legitimate differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Here are some of our takeaways from last night’s debate.
Barack Obama: My Buddy
If no context was given to you during the Democratic or Republican debates, you would think there are two completely different guys named Barack Obama living in the US. One that is systematically destroying “American values” from an unidentified location as he stroking a white cat with his right hand and the other selflessly creating a better tomorrow for us all, while we can’t put his head on Mount Rushmore fast enough!
To the Republicans, an Obama presidency is the metaphorical boogeyman that is the root to all of America’s problems, yet to Democrats the Obama presidency in an entirely different outcome all together. To both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they frame the past eight years as the first steps of a much larger process in establishing American dominance (both internationally and domestically). They both want to show so badly that their campaign is actually the next step to President Obama’s policies, that “who supports President Obama the most” was a talking point they argued over last night!
If you really think about it, the strategy makes sense. Democrats for the most part have been happy with the policies of the Obama administration has put forward. For both candidates to campaign on the fact that their policies would be the natural evolution to the ones President Obama has laid out in the past eight years is a smart one.
It will be interesting to see if either candidate sings the same tune during the general election – especially when it comes to foreign policy – but for right now, being closer aligned to the Obama presidency has become an important talking point in these Democratic primaries.
While in an Alternate Universe, Two Co-Workers Fight Over the Quality of Office Bagels
— Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) February 12, 2016
Hey Bernie, Clinton Thinks You Guys are the Same on Campaign Finance Reform. Your Thoughts?
Yeah, that seems about right.
The Kissinger Test
In contrast as much as both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton want to be connected to the Obama administration, they couldn’t be more divided on the issue of Henry Kissinger. As Secretary of State, Kissinger is credited for opening up relations to China – which history would look at as a major victory during the Cold War – he was also the architect for such atrocities as the bombing of Cambodia, Pakistan’s genocide in Bangladesh, and backing various dictatorships in South America during the 1970’s. That’s probably why it led Sanders to make this argument:
It’s easy to see why Kissinger is such a complicated figure in US history. While there have been calls for him to face-up to what he did as Secretary of State, American history has a very opaque view of Kissinger. Many within the political Establishment – that include both Democrats and Republicans – look at Kissinger as a one of the most influential minds regarding American foreign policy. So for Clinton to say she takes advice from Kissinger in regards to foreign policy, is similar to getting Oliver North to be an advisor for Call of Duty; in that enough time has passed that our minds have glossed over the more nefarious aspects of both men.
Let’s be clear here though! That’s not to say getting foreign advice from someone who helped orchestrate Operation Condor isn’t any less fucked, but generally people tend to have more leniency on the situation now than they did in the 1970’s. For both candidates, how they perceive Kissinger is important to understanding their respective campaigns.
For the Sanders campaign (and their supporters), there are no half measures. You don’t create a super PAC, because you want to fundamentally change how we finance political campaigns. If you’re elected, you won’t place Wall Street execs as financial advisors because you’re trying to reign in financial institutions. And you won’t take foreign policy advice from Henry Kissinger because some of his decisions as Secretary of State in the 1970’s would easily be considered backing war crimes if carried out today! There are no half-measures.
For the Clinton campaign (and their supporters) however, embracing certain political truths is not only pragmatic, but necessary for survival. Of course you create a super PAC, because you’ll be at a great disadvantage come the general election. Of course you have people from Wall Street as financial advisors, because who else would understand the financial system better than they do. And of course you consult with Henry Kissinger on foreign affairs, because he opened up China to the US! To them there’s a line between having ideals and not understanding how to effectively implement policy decisions.
To both Sanders and Clinton, Henry Kissinger is a political Rorschach test.
They can’t help but see different things.
(Photo Credit: PBS, Google Images)