Also, transcript of Sanders: We can’t judge the issue ourselves. That said, is Krugman allowed to say this?
KRUGMAN (10/16/15): Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had an argument about financial regulation during Tuesday’s debate—but it wasn’t about whether to crack down on banks. Instead, it was about whose plan was tougher. The contrast with Republicans like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, who have pledged to reverse even the moderate financial reforms enacted in 2010, couldn’t be stronger.We don’t know if Krugman is right in that assessment. Today, though, we’re asking a different question:
For what it’s worth, Mrs. Clinton had the better case. Mr. Sanders has been focused on restoring Glass-Steagall, the rule that separated deposit-taking banks from riskier wheeling and dealing. And repealing Glass-Steagall was indeed a mistake. But it’s not what caused the financial crisis, which arose instead from “shadow banks” like Lehman Brothers, which don’t take deposits but can nonetheless wreak havoc when they fail. Mrs. Clinton has laid out a plan to rein in shadow banks; so far, Mr. Sanders hasn’t.
Is Paul Krugman allowed to say that? This is our reason for asking:
On the whole, we thought Candidate Sanders was superb in Tuesday night’s debate. We thought Candidate Clinton was very good too.
We’ll happily vote for either one depending on who gets nominated. That said, an early question from moderator Anderson Cooper helps us see where things will go if Sanders heads the ticket.
Cooper asked Sanders about socialism. He then worked the honeymoon beat:
COOPER (10/13/15): A Gallup poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House. You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?Should Cooper have asked these questions? On the whole, that line of questioning makes perfect sense.
SANDERS: Well, we’re going to win because first, we’re going to explain what democratic socialism is.
Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.
COOPER: Denmark is a country that has a population—Denmark is a country that has a population of 5.6 million people. The question is really about electability here, and that's what I’m trying to get at.
The Republican attack ad against you in a general election—it writes itself. You supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. You honeymooned in the Soviet Union. And just this weekend, you said you're not a capitalist.
Doesn’t—doesn't that ad write itself?
But good lord! He certainly ran to the honeymoon fast! And that’s exactly where things will go as soon as Sanders is nominated.
We were ten minutes into this first debate and Anderson Cooper wanted to know about that honeymoon! From a luxurious study carrel, Patton Oswalt sagaciously live-blogged thusly:
“A Vanderbilt heir is grilling the candidates on socialism.”
We’re often asked if we really taught Patton everything he knows. Normally, we try avoid answering questions like that. On this occasion, we began to think that we probably had!
Within ten minutes, Cooper had become the honeymoon-crasher. Later, he hit Candidate Clinton with this question about income inequality:
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, how would you address this issue? In all candor, you and your husband are part of the one percent. How can you credibly represent the views of the middle class?Last year, multi-quadrillionaire Diane Sawyer had the exact same concern. We’re not even saying the question is wrong—just that it takes lots of brass.
Let’s try to return to what Paul Krugman said.
At present, some of us liberals are looking for ways to defeat ourselves in the overall sense:
The inevitable New York Times semi-employee has offered the inevitable F-bomb about Candidate Bush. Inevitably, supporters of one Democrat are deciding that the other Democrat is a demon.
It happens every fall! For unknown reasons, this letter was published in yesterday’s New York Times:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (10/15/15): Did your reporters watch the same debate I did? Because it wasn’t all about Hillary Rodham Clinton attacking Bernie Sanders, yet to read the first half of this article you’d think that was all there was to it.With all the letters they must receive, we have no idea why the Times would publish one with so many amorphous complaints. The writer thought Candidate Clinton was awful! He was especially struck by her many bad qualities! Also, by the phony half-measures she favors!
Mr. Sanders made some pretty powerful points about income inequality and the role of big money in politics, and his defense of Mrs. Clinton and her private email server was the quotable event of the evening, one that strengthened her, but also strengthened him.
I thought that Mrs. Clinton’s performance was awful, and she suffered from more substantive attacks than Mr. Sanders—her support of the war in Iraq, her triangulation, the phony half-measures she supports. All of her bad qualities were on display, and I found myself liking her less at the end of the evening than I had before.
To me, Mr. Sanders was the winner—and most informal media polls found that a majority of those who responded agree.
He found himself liking her less! Inevitably, he ended with informal media polls which have no actual value.
Editorial judgments at the Times rarely cease to amaze. That said, let us take a guess. For many Sanders-nistas, one of Candidate Clinton’s “phony half-measures” would have been the position she stated regarding Glass-Steagall.
Opposition to Glass-Steagall has become a standard point within our tribe. Given that fact, is Krugman really allowed to say that Candidate Clinton had the better case?
For ourselves, we can’t judge this issue. We can judge the instinct that leads us to 1) love Bradley and therefore hate Gore; 2) love Nader and therefore hate Gore; 3) love Obama and therefore hate Clinton; 4) love Clinton and therefore hate Obama.
Reactions 1 and 2 gave us eight years of President Bush. Within our tribe, some can’t wait to do it again. We think people ought to be wiser.
We played nicely at the start of this post. We think Candidate Sanders is a very unusual politician with deeply accurate views about the big picture.
That said, he also took that honeymoon. Beyond that, Patton’s Vanderbilt heir didn’t have time to ask him about that spoken folk music album!
Later, pundits will.
Sanders did a remarkable thing at that first debate. He created an iconic moment, telling the press and the rest of the world to stop getting distracted.
His statement deserves to be recorded. It produced a long, insistent round of applause from the audience, who had watched an iconic moment:
COOPER: Senator Sanders?“It’s obviously very popular in this crowd,” the Vanderbilt heir observed. He then returned to pushing the scandal. The emails must go through!
SANDERS: Let me say this. Let me say—let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.
CLINTON: Thank you! Me too! Me too!
SANDERS: You know? The middle class— Anderson, and let me say something about the media as well.
I go around the country, talk to a whole lot of people. The middle class in this country is collapsing. We have  million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens Union.
Enough of the e-mails! Let’s talk about the real issues facing America!
CLINTON: Thank you, Bernie! Thank you.
COOPER: It’s obviously very popular in this crowd, and it’s—hold on.
COOPER: I know that plays well in this room. But I got to be honest, Governor Chafee. For the record, on the campaign trail, you’ve said a different thing...
We’re not trying to knock Cooper. Within the press corps, it gets a trillion times worse.
But that statement by Candidate Sanders is one of the greatest and most important in presidential debate history. He was insisting that we stop falling for the endless distractions we endlessly get handed.
Over the past thirty years, do you know how many distractions we’ve gone for? Two days later, one of Candidate Sanders’ supporters was offering that highly amorphous letter in the Times.
There’s zero reason why the writer shouldn’t prefer Candidate Sanders. But why is a Sanders supporters irate when Sanders himself seems so focused and sane?
The statement he made on Tuesday night is one of the most important in the history of our debates. Consider:
By December 1999, Candidate Bradley was actually saying that Candidate Gore invented Willie Horton. The statement was crazy and utterly false, but this is where it can go.
In that race, it helped produce a truly horrible outcome. Sanders wants a clear-eyed focus. His statement was wickedly great.
By the way, Krugman said Clinton had the better case on Glass-Steagall! Is Krugman allowed to say such a thing? Is it possible that one of her phony half-measures actually isn’t wrong?