Live-Blogging the April 14, 2016 CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debate in New York

10:51 pm: Senator Sanders answers the question of whether Secretary Clinton has greater credibility for the campaigning she has done in support of Democratic candidates very well.  First, he corrects the record: He has done a lot to support Democratic campaigns, it’s just less-visible than the kinds of campaign appearances Clinton has made on behalf of Democrats.  Finally, he shifts the conversation to the kind of Democratic Party he hopes to build, one in which organized moneyed interests won’t determine its candidates.

10:48 pm: Senator Sanders has said that President Obama should withdraw Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland because he hasn’t pledged to overturn Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission.  Judge Garland hasn’t made that commitment because he is a judge, and because he actually intends to be confirmed by a Republican Senate.

10:31 pm: One thing to consider about the debate over Israel: The Liberal Ironist prefers 2 States; the far-Right in both Israel and the Palestinian Territories does not, because they want the other nation to be driven-out of their land or suppressed.  Senator Sanders is willing to criticize Israel’s awful Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu; Secretary Clinton is not.  Secretary Clinton will view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the prism of a Realist; Senator Sanders will pressure Israeli governments to change policy.

Without pressure from a U.S. President on Israel, the Liberal Ironist sees no way that the hardships faced by the Palestinians will be lessened.  The debate over this subject goes to Sanders almost by default.

10:19 pm-10:31 pm: Hearing Senator Sanders call Israel’s counteroffensives against Palestinian militants disproportional in its harm to Palestinian civilian life and Secretary Clinton remind the audience that Arafat walked away from peace in 2000 (he did) and that Hamas responded to Sharon’s 2005 Gaza withdrawal with more violence against Israel (which they did) just goes to show that part of the reason this conflict is so intractable is that separate perspectives don’t even address each other’s points.

Secretary Clinton’s criticisms of Palestinian leadership were more-rigorous; they also didn’t say anything about the past 10 years.

10:17 pm: Listening to Secretary Clinton start-out the NATO question by affirming her commitment to NATO, agreeing with the idea of asking other NATO members to make a larger budgetary commitment to the military alliance, but ultimately warns against threatening to walk away from the alliance if European states don’t contribute a larger share of funding to its maintenance.  Every part of her answer suggested greater appreciation of NATO and more cognizance of the basic foreign policy issues pertinent to North Atlantic security.

In these days of Russian tin-horn revanchist expeditions, neither Democratic candidate suggests that NATO isn’t needed.  Good.

10:15 pm: Senator Sanders wants our European NATO allies to shoulder more of the military expenditures needed to maintain the military alliance.  Apparently he is unfamiliar with the “Prisoners’ Dilemma,” and why it’s so problematic to ask for higher costs on members of a cooperative venture.

9:39 pm-10:14 pm: Ugh, I’ll fill this in later.

9:38 pm: Secretary Clinton is on the attack again, criticizing Senator Sanders for voting for indemnification for gun manufacturers against lawsuits.  (Senator Sanders later gets another sensationalist question from a CNN moderator that asks him if he owes a bereft Newtown mother an apology for the shooting death of her child; he doesn’t directly address the question, which leads to a lot of booing.  It’s a dumb question, much dumber than Secretary Clinton criticizing Sanders’ vote to indemnify gun manufacturers against lawsuits.)

9:35 pm: Senator Sanders calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage.  I find it chilling that Sanders hasn’t in any way considered the possibility that committing to more than double the national minimum wage would eliminate so many jobs that it would reduce total income.  He seems to ride a tide of going further than the rest of the Democratic Party and getting credibility for standing alone and never have to think through some policy consequences…I daresay it’s a bit Cruzesque.

9:30 pm: Pandemonium.  Both candidates are shouting–but unlike a Republican Primary Debate this year, they are actually shouting about policy and philosophical differences and not simply belittling each other. Even at their worst, the Democratic debates are better.

9:15 pm: Secretary Clinton actually gets a question from a CNN moderator about why she hasn’t released the transcript of her paid speech to Goldman Sachs.  CNN continues to lead the media race to carry-on a solipsistic soliloquy about how people might feel about a candidate’s response to a question where no one has yet clarified exactly what the relevant issue is.

The Liberal Ironist continues to appreciate Senator Sanders’ Leftist curmudgeonism as a net positive in this primary, but along with the substantive scrutiny he has brought to the issue, Senator Sanders has brought conspiratorial insinuations that accepting campaign donations disqualifies a Democratic Presidential candidate.  (Every Democrat who might run for President except for Senator Sanders, who is not a Democrat, is not a real Democrat?)  This allows Senator Sanders to campaign on innuendo and allegation, rather than actually explain why he would be a better executive by reference to examples and fact.

9:10 pm: Senator Sanders gets a question about whether it can be demonstrated that campaign donations from the financial sector have ever influenced her vote on any bill before the U.S. Senate.  After a rambling response, Secretary Clinton responds, “Well, Senator Sanders didn’t provide any examples of campaign donations influencing my vote, because there aren’t any.”  Applause.

9:07 pm: Secretary Clinton really is a better debater than Senator Sanders.  She digs in in response to Wolf Blitzer’s question to Sanders about his angry claim that Secretary Clinton was “not qualified” to be President; she burnishes her record as the twice-elected junior Senator of New York–a point which goes over well–and says in response to Sanders’ previous put-down that “I’ve been called a lot of things, but never that.”  Clinton reminds the audience that President Obama trusted her judgment enough to appoint her Secretary of State!  She isn’t just a stronger debater on points, but she’s also a more-bellicose debater; she doubles-down on attacking Sander’s qualifications to be President!  She refers to Sanders’ rather embarrassing Daily News interview, in which he seemed to be thinking out loud without an abundance of rigor about questions on foreign policy and even on systemic risk issues involving the largest banks.

Sanders’ response is angry (which is understandable), but he attacks Clinton on her Iraq War vote again.  We know she voted for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002.  We also know that Senator Sanders doesn’t like super-PACs.  It’s impressive as a way of proving his accountability to the average voter that he has managed to fund his campaign through small donors, but Clinton fires back compellingly, noting that President Obama organized a super-PAC (Do not insult President Obama before this audience) and she says that “A President has to have the ‘judgment’ (read: knowledge) on Day 1!”

 9:06 pm: “Does  Secretary Clinton possess the experience and intelligence required to be President?  Of course she does.”  Thanks, Bernie, I guess we can go home now.


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