Commentary: Iowa CBSN Democratic Debate
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Commentary: Iowa CBSN Democratic Debate

The questions were tough, and the moderators tenaciously probed.

Commentary: Iowa CBSN Democratic Debate

The second Democratic debate happened Saturday night, November 14, on CBSN. With Joe Biden confirming that he will not enter the race; Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb and Lawrence Lessig dropping out; and the candidate pool being a lot smaller than that of the Republican party, the debate was a lot more intimate, with much more ground being covered. CBSN had statistics shown throughout the entire debate of who was being the most talked about on Twitter at any given moment, also showing select Tweets of people's reactions to candidates' statements.

There were a lot of issues discussed and tough questions asked. Hillary Clinton got the biggest heat of the night, being pressed on her vote to support the Iraq war and her enormous Wall Street campaign donations. Bernie Sanders, who has been surging under Clinton for months, did not attack as directly as Martin O'Malley, who has been polling at 5% at best.

Clinton held her own, but was very weak on her Wall Street donations. She claims to feel reinstating Glass-Steagall -- a bill that put regulations on big banks that was repealed -- is "not enough," and that she has a tougher plan, one which is vague and suspicious when considering that her biggest campaign donors are big banks. She also tried to pull the line that, "Not only do I have hundreds of thousands of donors, most of them small, and I'm very proud that for the first time a majority of my donors are women, 60 percent.” Alright, that's fine, but Bernie Sanders has the largest amount of individual campaign donations in history, over 750,000 people by now. But she actually gets worse:

“So I — I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked...Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.”

She claims to garner the support of big bankers because of 9/11. How can she claim to have helped the post-9/11 economy by helping Wall Street when the economy went into a recession post-9/11? Is she using 9/11 to appeal to emotion?

Nevertheless, O'Malley did very well. He challenged the media to fact-check him on his claim that, " immigration from Mexico last year was zero," which was correct. He exhibited his experience as a governor and how his ideas and morals appeal to progressives:

“We did ask everyone -- the top 14 percent of earners in our state to pay more in their income tax and we were the only state to go four years in a row without a penny's increase to college tuition. So while other candidates will talk about the things they would like to do. I actually got these things done in a state that defended not only a bond rating but the highest median income in America.”

My favorite line for the night from him was, "Our symbol is the Statue of Liberty. It is not a barbed-wire fence," referring to the need to be more welcoming to immigrants and refugees. On the issue of Syrian refugees, O'Malley made a solid metaphor, saying that the United States accepting 65,000 refugees would not hurt our resources much, because it would be like "making room for 6.5 more people in a baseball stadium with 32,000."

In light of the many attacks by ISIS the day before the debate, foreign policy and military operations made a big presence in the discussions of the debate. This is paramount, since these are the two main territories of the president. Clinton proposed that ISIS is not "an American fight, although American leadership is essential.” O'Malley set himself apart from her, stating "this actually is America’s fight. It cannot be solely America’s fight.” Sanders was pressed on his statement in the previous debate that climate change is the most pressing national issue, and he did not waver:

“Climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism. … I would argue that the disastrous invasion of Iraq, something that I strongly opposed, has unraveled the region completely and led to the rise of al Qaeda and to ISIS.”

I commend Sanders for staying strong and bringing a subtle light to the Iraq war being a business venture for oil, but the tug-of-war for oil causing terrorism and climate change is a different statement than climate change causing terrorism. This is a confusion of cause and effect, or more so a way for Sanders to look strong and cover his ground. It worked for the most part, but is not entirely true.

Sanders was tough on the issues, but not tough on his opponents. He pulled out a controversial card when he hinted at the need to reform military spending to focus more on military operations rather than weapons manufacturing, uttering the words no other candidate on either side would: military-industrial complex, a term coined by President Eisenhower to refer to the monetarily beneficial relationships between the military, arms manufacturers, and the government. "The Cold War is over," he said. Moreover, he set himself as a tough, sane self-proclaimed socialist when challenged on how high he would tax the wealthy. He said it would be higher than 50 percent, and "...we haven't come up with an exact number yet but it will not be as high as the number under Dwight D. Eisenhower...I'm not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower." The number under Eisenhower was 91 percent, and he was a beloved Republican.

Sanders also asserted that free college is not a hand-out, since you still have to study and apply to get accepted. He also notes the significance of labor workers -- carpenters, plumbers and electricians. This is different from Clinton's stance on making debt-free college as opposed to free college (as Sanders desires), saying, "I don't think taxpayers should be paying for Donald Trump's kids to go to college." This parallels how Sanders finds healthcare to be a right and not a privilege, as it is in other countries. Is education a right in Sanders's vision that Clinton believes should not be given so easily to the rich? Should the rich also have to pay for healthcare? Do the rich not deserve education or healthcare because they are rich? Are they not human as well?

This debate was good for voters to see Clinton in a more revealing manner. She flip-flops, is more conservative, is disingenuous, says what she thinks will gain support, and fails to provide or convince people that she will do the things she says in favor of the middle class. O'Malley put it best when he challenged her on the issue of gun control: "You’ve been on three sides of this... There’s a big difference between leading by polls and leading with principle.” Sanders was strong in his usual script and asserted his support of the middle class, but made little attacks against his opponents, which may prevent as much surging as could have potentially occurred. His best and most meaningful attempt was against Clinton's defense on her Wall Street donations: "not good enough." O'Malley did not follow Webb nor Chafee's lead in dropping out due to weak debate performance -- he was consistently fiery and populist on the issues, attacking Clinton strongly when appropriate. Expect to see a lot more of him for the rest of the campaign.

Overall, the debate was good for all three candidates, and shows their similarities and differences. The questions were tough, and the moderators tenaciously probed. This was, by far, the toughest debate out of any on either side. It is humorous when you see the GOP candidates claiming their questions are too difficult. Theirs are a cakewalk compared to what happened Saturday night.

If you missed the debate, here is a list of "the best lines."

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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