Well that was a pretty darn interesting two hours if you ask me.
We finally got to see a Democractic Presidential debate Tuesday night, with a manageable field of five candidates, giving all of them plenty of time (except, apparently, for Jim Webb, who did everything but stomp his feet, take his ball and go home because he wasn’t getting the time he wanted).
Was it thrilling? Nope. But that’s OK. It was substantative, entertaining, and informative.
I watched at a midtown Manhattan bar at a Bernie Sanders supporter “watch party,” packed with about 100 people. (So weird to see a whole bar quietly watching TV.) Lots of thoughts to get to about the debate, so here goes…
— Hillary Clinton won because she was Floyd Mayweather inside the ring: Touched up a bit but not really hurt. I thought Hillary was strong on the foreign policy stuff, she sounded pretty darn progressive on income inequality (a big pivot for her from the past), and luckily for her, the line of the night came from her biggest rival praising her (more on that in a minute). She’s an excellent debater, though I thought her answer on the Black Lives Matter question was weak, and she did a whole lot of dodging at the start when Anderson Cooper (who was pretty good) asked about her changed opinions.
— To me the clear star of the night was Martin O’Malley. I said the other day here that this was his shot to become relevant, and boy, did he seize it. He was direct, he was forceful, he attacked Hillary on some of her Senate positions, and he made a clear case for why he should be taken seriously as a candidate. His closing was terrific, too. I’m very, very happy O’Malley may start to get some traction now.
— As for my man Bernie … it went OK. His gun control answers were convoluted and all over the place, and it seemed like he was pressured from all sides and that the issue dominated the first half of the debate. He got much better as the night went along… and then he said this.
Lots of people at the bar cheered. I cringed and groaned. Bernie handed his biggest rival for the nomination an absolute gift, giving her a free pass on a situation that, while not the huge scandal the GOP is making out to be, is also not nothing. This is a real troubling situation that the FBI is looking into. And Bernie basically cleared it off the table. At least he admitted it was bad politics.
Overall, Bernie’s goal was to keep this a two-person race. I don’t think he did that. I think O’Malley will get a nice bump and it’s now a three-person race, at least for a little while.
— Nice to see a debate among grown-ups, without name-calling and actual policies and problems being discussed, not mindless platitudes and dick-swinging from macho male men.
— Jim Webb would make a real nice nominee for the Republican Party. He’s about as Democratic as Joe Lieberman was at the end. And bragging about killing a guy in his military service in his closing statement? That’s right out of the Republican playbook.
— More Democratic debates, please. And Lincoln Chafee, you can leave now, thanks for playing.
**Next up, this story blew me away, from last Sunday’s “60 Minutes” program. It infuriated me, moved me, and made me want to strangle someone on TV like few stories have in a long, long time.
Glenn Ford was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death row in Louisiana in 1983. There was almost no evidence against him, he was African-American facing an all-white jury, and his attorneys were woefully unqualified.
Ford spent 30 years in prison before finally being released when new evidence came to light about his innocence, and he was finally released.
The story “60 Minutes” tells is about the anguish and remorse felt by the prosecutor in the case, Marty Stroud, and he comes across as very sympathetic and torn up over what he did.
But what really blew me away were the comments of Dale Cox, the current acting D.A. of Caddo Parish, Louisiana. This son of a bitch defends the prosecution of Cox, doesn’t believe any injustice has been done, and argues strongly FOR the death penalty as much as possible.
Here’s an excerpt from CBS’ Bill Whitaker’s interview of Cox, but really I urge you to watch the whole piece:
Dale Cox: I think society should be employing the death penalty more rather than less.
Bill Whitaker: But there have been 10 other inmates on death row in Louisiana who have been exonerated. Clearly, the system is not flawless. Are you sure that you’ve gotten it right all the time?
Dale Cox: I’m reasonably confident that– that I’ve gotten it right.
Bill Whitaker: Reasonably confident?
Dale Cox: Am I arrogant enough, am I narcissistic enough to say I couldn’t make a mistake? Of course not.
Bill Whitaker: But until this information came out, the state was convinced that Mr. Ford was guilty.
Dale Cox: Yes.
Bill Whitaker: He could have been killed.
Dale Cox: Yes.
Bill Whitaker: And it would’ve been a mistake.
Dale Cox: Yes.
Bill Whitaker: It sounds like you’re saying that’s just a risk we have to take.
Dale Cox: Yes.
So in Dale Cox’s world, it’s OK if you kill a few innocent people, that’s just the cost of doing business.
If this CBS interview didn’t cost him his job, there really is zero justice in the world.