Sanders a B+, Clinton a C.
Domestic policy? Sanders an A-, Clinton a B-.
Foreign policy? Sanders gets a B-, Clinton a C-.
Strategery and presentation? Sanders B+, Clinton B.
1. Domestic policy
Clinton, on domestic policy, managed to not get grilled on how she has supported private prisons, re minority quality of life and living standards. But, on the super-PAC issue, Judy Woodruff hit her right between the eyes with that "horns of a dilemma" question about why, if it's wrong for GOP candidates to get all that PAC money, much of it from financiers, it's not wrong for her. And, even less than her ability to answer Wall Street-related questions in previous debates, was she able to answer this.
Otherwise, her attempt to look "tough" on Wall Street? As Mark Shields of PBS News Hour put it afterward, that's like trying to look more anti-busing than George Wallace on busing — while debating him.
She did try to tangle and obfuscate some domestic issues, like immigration, in bureaucratic or Senate voting snares. However, for someone who thinks ISIS is infiltrating all of our computers, she must think that none of us have Google.
Missing? As it has been from all Democratic debates — reproductive choice issues. Sanders might be a hair more liberal than her. He's certainly more so on gay rights, though she tried to make things look different at the end.
2. Foreign policy
Sanders did score some very good points related to Henry Kissinger. Unfortunately, while talking about coups, he didn't talk about the 2009 coup/semi-coup in Honduras that occurred during Clinton's watch as Secretary of State — a change of government that was manipulated by her and her boss, Dear Leader. Nor, per a blog post that's going up this afternoon, did he talk about how we repeatedly sandbagged and kneecapped Russia, from the semi-coup in Ukraine two years ago to prodding Georgia into war against Russia (strongly backed by Clinton as well as lots of GOPers) before that.
(And, I wonder how many Millennials are googling Henry Kissinger?)
Lawrence Korb, former director of national security studies at the Council for Foreign Relations, claims that Sanders is a lot more "serious" on foreign policy than Clinton paints him. Unfortunately as underscored by the piece running in a site like Politico, that's not necessarily a selling point for Sanders in my book. (But it does refudiate Hillary Clinton's "we don't know who you're talking to on foreign policy claim.)
Of course, Sanders had a big whiff at the start of the second hour, in the lead-in question about whether he would cut any federal programs. Sure, he talked about "auditing" the Defense Department (no mention as to whether that would include auditing the cost to build F-35 planes that Bernie wants in Vermont), but he whiffed on giving a straight answer like:
I will cut the Department of Defense and the CIA.How hard is that to say? Jill Stein can say it, and chide you for not saying it.
Unfortunately, besides no questions on Honduras, and both candidates getting Russia wrong, we had nothing (are you surprised) about Israel/Palestine. We also had nothing about foreign aid, and little about trade (which is surprising). I blogged about the foreign policy questions missing from the previous debate, and with only one more on the Dems' schedule for now, don't expect that to change. It's issues like these that will be key to me to seeing if Sanders, should he beat odds and gets nominated, has any chance of swaying me away from Dr. Jill Stein or whomever the Greens nominate, as I've already blogged. At least he didn't talk about "crushing" ISIS, unlike a week ago. More weirdly yet, no North Korea questions.
Clinton, smartly here, waved the experience flag. Knowing about things like Honduras and Russia, I rate her lower than much of the MSM world probably does.
On the "presentation" side, I agree with David Brooks, among others, that Sanders picked up more steam as the debate went further on. That said, I think focusing on Clinton's "low blow" (and it was at least as much of one as the "artful smear" she alleged he's done) rattled him somewhat during his close, and interrupted his momentum.
That said, Sanders showed even more a sense of humor than he did a week ago in New Hampshire.
The audience was from a university, but, in the second half of the debate, Clinton got more cheers a fair amount of the time. Dunno if that was because more tickets were sold to the general public, or if it was a higher percentage of minority students than at UNH last week and they still don't back Sanders, or what.
Turns out that the Wisconsin Democratic Party was in charge of ticket allocation. And a bunch of older white establishmentarians got theirs. I've not heard Sanders protest an unfair allocation, but I don't think he got his on tickets. So, like his muted protest about the Iowa Democratic Party's stonewalling on a caucus audit, this is probably about preparing to fold his tents at the right time.
Or else, per Clinton wrapping herself in the flag of Obama, and Milwaukee neighboring Chicago, some attendees were naive about Dear Leader. However, this mainly seems to be stacking the deck against Sanders, and him not — at least for public consumption — protesting.