American Daily: October 15, 2015

It may be obvious in retrospect, but few people predicted beforehand just how thoroughly the debate atmosphere would play to Clinton’s advantage. The media has viewed her campaign message almost entirely through the filter of the email scandal. Clinton was able to use the poorly-disguised partisan excesses of her Republican tormentors in Congress to escape responsibility for a serious error in judgment on her part, framing the issue (not altogether inaccurately) as a partisan fight, so that Democrats would rally to her side. She further played off the campaign media, casting its email obsession as an unworthy distraction from the policy discussion that she, her fellow candidates, and nearly all the Democratic voters want to hear. Clinton, suddenly finding a moral ground on which to stand (which the news media had denied her for months), burst out in uncontrollable glee.
People will call tonight’s Democratic presidential debate boring, too issues-oriented, and lacking catchy moments. And that wasn’t a bad thing for Democrats. In fact, it was a good thing. The debate was not about a group of people tearing each other down; instead it was a debate about ideas. And that’s perfectly acceptable in a democracy. Viewers—prospective voters—heard candidates’ ideas, policy proposals, and the manner in which they differed from each other. What did they not see? Name calling, personal attacks, and petty politics.
Why, then, was the debate good for Biden? Because Martin O’Malley is probably his chief rival for Clinton’s understudy. Bernie Sanders isn’t right for the job. Even if he’s barely within the party’s mainstream in his positions on public policy, the Vermont socialist is widely (and probably correctly) viewed as too liberal to be a strong general-election candidate.
And while O’Malley’s performance wasn’t a joke or anything, he failed to stand out, and he’s unlikely to receive a post-debate public-opinion surge.
  • The debate demonstrated just how far apart are the two parties.
That’s certainly true on immigration, where the GOP candidates all oppose Obama’s executive actions, and all focused on border security at their two debates; the only real disputes on the Republican side were whether it was feasible to try to deport the 11 million (as the candidates called them) “illegals” currently in the country, and whether it was appropriate for politicians to address the public in Spanish. But it is also true on just about every other issue that came up in the debates so far, and many that didn’t.

Digital information itself has all kinds of advantages. It can be read by machines, sorted and analyzed in massive quantities, and disseminated instantaneously. “Except when it goes, it really goes,” said Jason Scott, an archivist and historian for the Internet Archive. “It’s gone gone. A piece of paper can burn and you can still kind of get something from it. With a hard drive or a URL, when it’s gone, there is just zero recourse.”


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