Editors' Blog

Taking Stock of a Tepid Debate

That's a bit harsh. It's a reaction to something I've been thinking about during this debate, which is that the debates on both sides, in both parties, seem somehow two dimensional. The 2008 campaign was historic and epic and an outlier in those terms going back a couple generations. Somehow I think it's more than that - a topic I'll return to. But let me share a few a thoughts on this debate.

I think Hillary had a pretty good debate. I don't think she made a terribly clear argument for her candidacy. But she came into this debate with the debilitating email nonsense seemingly abating, or at least with some turning of the tide.

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Live Debate Blogging #4

10:15 PM: Hillary is incredibly fortunate that the tide of thinking on the 'email' story has shifted in recent weeks and that it happened before this debate. It's not necessarily clear watching the debate because it's a matter of what's not happening, a mood that I think is not hanging over the discussion. Very fortuitous for her.

10:28 PM: Okay, I'm feeling like the wingnut-o-sphere is going to be talking about "Revolution" a lot tomorrow.

Live Debate Blogging #3

9:41 PM: This debate is generally intelligent but also tepid - certainly in comparison to the Republican debates. There's little anger or driving divisions between the candidates - or to the extent there are such divisions, they're content to state them in parallel rather than forcing them into a headlong collision. I'm thinking here mainly of Jim Webb, who's coming from his own very distinct and idiosyncratic viewpoint but also content to make his points without really disagreeing, except implicitly, with the others on the stage.

9:48 PM: "Sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails."

9:50 PM: "Do you want to respond?" "No."

Live Debate Blogging #2

9:15 PM: I'm trying to get a handle on what I think of how Anderson Cooper is handling this debate. My immediate take is that he's stylistically being very, very aggressive. But the facts he hits people with, they seem to be able to dispatch pretty quickly - even when the candidates don't have great arguments on the facts. Like he's talking an aggressive game but he doesn't seem that well prepared. Thoughts?

9:25 PM: Lincoln Chafee is so damn earnest and old line New Englandy and appealing. Not vote appealing - for me at least. But really appealing. And Hillary ... wow, that was an inspired response (Obama made her Secretary of State). Without being aggressive at all, in political terms, she just made Chafee's question go up in smoke.

9:29 PM: Asking staff to research whether Rick Perry handed his glasses off to Anderson Cooper after he got out of the race.

9:32 PM: Interesting that Webb signals opposition to Iran Deal.

9:33 PM: I'm not as much of a China hawk as Jim Webb but he's very, very right about our myopia on the Middle East. There is more going in the world than the eastern Mediterranean and the Muslim Middle East.

Live Debate Blogging

So here we are, at another CNN debate where the start and end times are kept secret. It's awesome.

8:39 PM: Jeez, releasing the Don Lemon Kraken. Bold, scary move.

8:41 PM: I think the national anthem was a shoot-out to people with non-traditional pitch.

8:52 PM: So there are actually other people running for president on the Democratic side beside Hillary and Bernie.

8:57 PM: Have to say I think O'Malley's opening was weakest so far. Chafee and Webb better and more resonant than I would have thought. Sanders suitably strong and burning.

8:59 PM: Staff here says Fox did better by going straight to questions. Agree it makes better TV. But I think giving each candidate a chance to make their case at first is better on the merits.

9:01 PM: Hillary is benefiting by how stupid Anderson Cooper's are. Good lord. He's like the perfect foil.

9:04 PM: Can think of a lot of highly relevant differences between Denmark and the US other than the fact that Denmark is small. Cooper is perfect foil.

9:07 PM: Cooper: Sure the issues. But what about labels?

Yes, There's a Debate

Let's face it: it can't match the drama of a Republican debate. But the first Democratic presidential debate is less than three hours away. So join us here for live coverage of all the goings on.

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Not Political At All

The Republican party Super PAC tasked with attacking Hillary Clinton is out with a new ad which it will show tonight during the CNN debate. It features video images of Ambassador Chris Stevens' grave. As I noted last week, Kevin McCarthy had to go because he endangered a primary RNC asset - exploiting the deaths of these four Americans for political mileage.

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Absolutely Fascinating

Fascinating look at how Haiti became a critical wedge issue in the 1932 presidential election, allowing Republicans to keep African-American votes for FDR remarkably low. The story goes back to the US occupation of Haiti almost a century ago and how FDR, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, actually wrote the new Haitian constitution himself. Yes, FDR wrote the Haitian constitution! That fact and the US occupation itself came back to haunt him in 1932. Check it out - amazing chapter of 20th century history I was totally unaware of.

Benghazi and the Journalism of Permission

As Hillary Clinton gets ready for the first Democratic nomination debate tonight and testimony before the 'Benghazi Committee' later this month, the tables are suddenly dramatically turned. Ever since 'Benghazi' got pulled into the maelstrom of the House GOP leadership debacle with former-future Speaker Kevin McCarthy's ill-considered frankness about the political priorities of the 'Benghazi' 'investigation', everything's changed. There are calls for the committee to be disbanded. Everyone associated with it is on the defensive. And now suddenly there's a former committee investigator suing over wrongful termination because he claims he refused to focus the entire investigation on Hillary Clinton.

The most notable change is the attitude of the Beltway press corps. After a year of peddling selectively leaked transcripts and hyperventilating over and repeating tendentious readings of unexceptional process stories, suddenly everyone is asking whether it could possibly be true that this was just a political witch hunt all along.

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From a Liberal Gun Nerd

Whenever we have a spate of news on a highly polarized issue, I usually get at least one lengthy email from a reader who seems to confound the accustomed partisan and ideological alignments behind the issue. (Remember TPM Reader LC, the liberal cop from the greater New York metro region during the height of the Ferguson protests). This time it's guns and TPM Reader JA, self-identified 'liberal gun nerd' from Austin, Texas. As preface, as I told JA privately via email, I disagree with his core premise, which is that gun control advocates are missing or passing up lots of opportunities for constructive compromise with responsible gun owners. As I noted, in my posts last week I think the last two decades have shown this is demonstrably not true.

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