The Green Papers
The Green Papers

The first Democratic Party debate re: 2016 is here

Tue 13 Oct 2015

Alas! (as well as finally)-- it is now time to discuss the various and sundry contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Yes, dear reader, in case you might well have forgotten by now (and- given how so much of the media has, so far, covered all this- you can't be at all blamed if you might have!), there are actually two Major Parties here in the United States of America and both of them will nominate candidates for President of the United States next summer.

Truth be told, the battle for the Republican presidential nomination has, so far at least, proven to be the "sexier" story: for with- at the start- nearly a dozen and half candidates, the pre-Caucus/Primary debates on the GOP side have seemed almost as much an eventual determiner of who might well end up as the 2016 Republican presidential nominee as said Caucuses and Primaries themselves!

But, this evening (that of Tuesday 13 October at 8:30 PM Eastern Time US [0030, 14 Oct GMT]), comes the Democrats' turn to debate for the first time.

There is no real doubt, of course, that the "star" of tonight's debate- at least at the start- will be one Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Back in December 2007- during what was, obviously, Hillary Clinton's first run for the Democratic presidential nomination- I was interviewed for the program Rear Vision on Australia's National Radio. In the course of that interview (primarily an attempt, for my own part, to best explain the American method [one hesitates to call it a "system"] of nominating candidates for, and thereafter electing a, President of the United States to Australians but, secondarily, something of a preview of the 2008 Presidential Election race then still upcoming), I said the following:

Hillary Clinton's the closest thing we have to a front-runner in either party and she has a lot of negative baggage. A lot of people just don't like her, and so she's not a front-runner in the traditional sense of the term.

However, I did not- at the time (the given time constraints [even within a "Live-to-Tape" format: I was actually interviewed, by telephone, nearly a fortnight before the program actually aired and my comments were edited in sequence; nor was I the only "guest" on the half-hour program (the other was Associate Professor of Government at Harvard University Sunshine Hillygus)] were such that I had to keep things both succinct and 'moving along', as it were)- make it very clear that I was here specifically referring to those who "just don't like her" within her own Party (it was principally this that provided much, if not most, of that "negative baggage" of which I was then speaking).

There can be little doubt that Mrs. Clinton (and, just for the record, I myself call her "Mrs. Clinton"- and not, say, 'Secretary Clinton' [even though her most recent public service, as one-time U.S. Secretary of State, entitles her to such being her most appropriate current Form of Address]- if only to not at all deny or disparage her other, earlier roles in American Politics- either as a former First Lady or erstwhile U.S. Senator from New York State: I very much doubt that, with my use herein of "Mrs. Clinton", it will be at all unclear- at least to the contemporary reader of my pieces such as this one- to whom I might actually be referring) proved to be a loyal, as well as formidable, companion to her husband, Bill Clinton, during his Presidency despite her own all too obvious (then, as well as now) future political ambitions. It will be up to future historians- many of whom have yet to be even born as I now type this- to, someday, determine just how much, if any, truth there might have been in her assertion- at the time of the so-called 'Monica Lewinsky scandal' which then led on to that political debacle known as the Impeachment Crisis of 1998/99- that she did not really suspect her husband of really being an adulterer- where not also an outright womanizer- till then, but I know of many a potential Hillary Clinton supporter (most of them women) who- both at the time and over the many years since- have found her so asserting altogether hard to believe (although, truth be told, it has also not much kept them from, if only for the most part, continuing to be such Hillary Clinton supporters to this very day).

Nonetheless, the above- combined with Mrs. Clinton, during her tenure as First Lady, all too often coming off as something of the proverbial "one-room Township schoolmarm" (pedantic, where not even also [if only at times] prudish [for no one was seriously (key word here: "seriously") accusing Hillary of such sexual innuendo as that all too easily attached to the very name of President Bill], within her own prescriptions for America's political, economic and social ills [especially once she had to so advance same during her first campaign for the Senate])- is that which would come to well fill that "negative baggage" of which I would speak several years thereafter. As I would say- in response to a friend of mine who was a very strong supporter of 'Hillary 2008' and who had pointedly questioned my even having said that which I quoted from myself in italics above (she had listened to the 'podcast' of my Rear Vision appearance online)- "No one much likes being lectured to!"...

I did not at all need to add that being so "lectured to" by someone whose own "glass house" was so often, and so easily, seen through was likely even more problematic in this regard.

The conventional wisdom concerning how then-Senator Barack Hussein Obama of Illinois bested a then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton back in 2008 (especially given that, not much less than a year before the Democratic Convention in Denver, Mrs. Clinton appeared to be such a veritable 'juggernaut'- virtually a 'shoo-in' for that Party's presidential nomination that year [indeed, I was pretty much 'out on a limb' when I characterized her as "not a front-runner in the traditional sense of the term" (and Mainstream Media people with whom I was in regular contact during the next couple months- and who themselves were disdainful of, if not even rather hostile to, the political 'blogosphere' in which The Green Papers operates- did not much hesitate to tell me so when given the chance!)]) tends to more revolve around the technical aspects of the Democratic Party Presidential Nomination process (such as, among other explanations, the fact that the Obama campaign seemed to take Caucuses more seriously than did Hillary Clinton's people)...

yet it cannot be denied that Mr. Obama's version of early 21st Century left-of-center American Liberalism seemed, to the everyday Democratic Primary voter or Caucus-goer (as the 2008 Primary/Caucus "season" proceeded apace), the more uplifting- where not also the more hopeful- compared to Mrs. Clinton's message on same (and the crowds flocking to hear Obama as we got into the latter stages of the nomination campaign were, in the main, markedly different from those gathering to listen to her). Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, continued to more try to attract the more moderate Democrat (the people she honestly felt any Democratic presidential candidate would need to court in order to win come November: that is, the very type of voter who had supported her 'New Democrat' husband back in the 1990s); the very salvation of her presidential ambitions, therefore, appeared- as the Primary/Caucus "season" came to an end in early June 2008- to be in the hands of the so-called 'Superdelegates' (those officially denominated "unpledged PLEOs [Party Leaders/Elected Officials]") most of whom- in the end, however- opted to fall in line behind Obama...

for the most part, then, 2008 showed that it was at least somewhat easier for an African-American man than a white woman to be nominated, and then elected, President of the United States and one of the nagging questions hanging in the air in the aftermath of that Party's Convention in Denver seemed to be 'Did you really want someone as President who is more like your own MOM?!'

Is such a thing fair? No-- no, it's not...

but until the day finally comes (for it has not come yet!) when a woman seriously running for High Political Office here in America is simply seen as just another person- regardless of gender- running for same, the aforementioned question will itself still nag. (By the way, Carly Fiorina is currently running into this same kind of thing on the Republican side: until she rose in the polls in the wake of her performance at the first debate among GOP 'Bantamweights', Ms. Fiorina was simply a businesswoman perhaps quixotically seeking the Presidency; her performance as one of the 'Heavyweights' the second time around has since left her open to the same at times finger-wagging "one-room Township schoolmarm" image I described above [although many more conservative Republicans almost certainly well find just such a lady the more comforting in comparison to Mrs. Clinton's version, thus it remains to be seen if a female GOP presidential contender- if only occasionally- coming off as being both pedantic and prudish is really all that much of a 'negative' in the long run!]).

There is no question (nagging or otherwise), however, that- going into 2016- Mrs. Clinton is trying less to appear as one's 'Mom' than to, if anything other than just another contender for her own Party's presidential nomination, be more one's "grandma" (and now being eight years further advanced in age, along with the fact she actually is now a grandmother, does her no harm in this regard). She has certainly been trying her best, whilst out on the hustings of late, to downplay those very tendencies that- in a parody of the 1960s hit song Windy making the rounds during her years as First Lady (particularly during the aforementioned Impeachment Crisis)- had "Hillary's stormy eyes... flashing at the sound of lies": tendencies that, however unfortunately, were all too apparent back in 2007/08 and may well have hurt her chances when compared to those of the man who actually became President.

In this 2016 remake of the "movie" 'Democrats 2008', however, the role of insurgent that now-President Obama himself once took on is currently being played by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Like Obama's of eight years back now, Sanders' message may well be uplifting (in that the many attending his rallies are made to feel real good about being liberal progressives) but his is more quasi-apocalyptic than outright hopeful, portraying an Apocalypse in which the quintessential Common Man more and more toils for the ever increasing benefits of an ever more idle Rich. Very much like Republican Donald Trump (or, for that matter, Trump's fellow GOP'ers Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina) to the right (some, if not many, would say well right) of center, Senator Sanders- to the left (some, if not many, would say well left) of center- has seemingly well tapped into a vein coming out of a veritable "gold mine" of political (anti-Establishment) angst within a specific realm of the entire American spectrum of political ideology; but- as is also the case with Mr. Trump (or Dr. Carson, or Mrs. Fiorina)- it will not be until at least portions of the electorate are forced to speak definitively at the polls- beginning with the first Caucuses and Presidential Primaries this coming February- that we "out here" will first be able to see if just such a message will actually translate into those proverbial "votes cast in anger", but also in his own favor...

in other words, the question yet well begs: is Bernie Sanders electable? Yet Senator Sanders does get his first direct "crack" at Mrs. Clinton this very evening.

The remaining three Democratic presidential contenders who will share tonight's stage with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders- former (Republican) Senator from, and former (Independent) Governor of, Rhode Island Linc Chafee; former Maryland Governor- and, before that, Mayor of Baltimore- Martin O'Malley; and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb- will each have the rather unenviable task of- after first saying "Hello" and, thereby, introducing themselves to an audience, most of whom will have never even heard of each of them- trying their best to then let the average Democratic Party voter, as well as those within the Nation at large, who might tune in (it will be most interesting to discern if these pre-Caucus/Primary debates on the Dems' side get the ratings that those on the GOP side have been getting) actually come to know who they really are!...

and ever lurking in the shadows (offstage, both stages left and right) will be the "ghost" of Vice President Joe Biden- unseen but, nonetheless, ever hovering- as Biden himself continues to seemingly work himself up (or is it, rather, the Obama Administration that is so working itself up?) over the issue as to whether or not he should actually run for President yet again.

It remains to be seen whether or not the kind of "fireworks" promised- and, indeed, delivered- during at least the 'Heavyweight' Republican debates (largely due to the presence of Mr. Trump onstage) will at all also "fire" during tonight's Democratic debate (if so, largely due to the presence of Mrs. Clinton onstage); but, at least as of this typing, it has to be fairly stated that- absent some unforeseen happening in Las Vegas this evening- the ongoing race for the Republican presidential nomination remains- and will yet remain- the "sexier" story.

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