Before the event, a lot of rightbloggers said the first 2016 Democratic presidential debate last Tuesday would be boring because it wouldn’t have anyone like Donald Trump. So did Donald Trump, who announced he’d live-tweet the thing nonetheless. (“Trump to make Dem debate exciting; announces he’ll be live-tweeting event for YOUR enjoyment,” fluffed BizPac Review.)
Even those not actively sucking up to the short-fingered vulgarian agreed: “Boring Debate is Hours Away” — Reason; “A nothing event” — Chris Christie; “Sheriff Clarke Gives Best Reason Ever for Not Watching Democrat Presidential Debate” — TeaParty.org. (The big reveal: “If I want to be lied to I’ll interrogate a criminal.” #Benghazi 4ever!)
“Democrats see a more substantive, if sleepy, debate than rowdy GOP show,” said the Washington Post, representing the Liberal Media and featuring a photo of Hillary Clinton looking as if she’d just awakened from sleeping under a bridge.
When the event was over, though, and had brought in a record number of viewers for a Dem debate even without the presence of a famous lunatic (Jim Webb isn’t quite famous), rightbloggers suddenly expressed a keen interest — in explaining how it proved Democrats are socialists and doomed.
Maybe you saw the thing and judged that while also-rans Lincoln Chafee, Webb, and Martin O’Malley did themselves no favors, Sanders seemed sincere at least and Clinton, the woman every media outlet has been beating up for months, looked like the legit front-runner her poll numbers show (just as she did back in 2007, when she was supposed to be on course to battle Rudy Giuliani in 2008, so let’s not get carried away).
Donald Trump did indeed tweet (“Support the NRA more then ever, @nationalrifle needs to back @realDonaldTrump who wants to protect 2nd amendment!”), prompting other celebrity assholes to weigh in. But for a change Trump was forgotten as more practiced rightwing factota rushed to tell readers that the Democrats had merely done what they always do: get together over a plate of fetus parts to discuss how they would ruin whatever bits of America their Dread Lord Obama had left unmacerated.
Glenn Beck’s The Blaze announced that “Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on the Fox News Channel Wednesday evening that he thinks it is ‘very likely’ the Democratic Party dictated some of the terms of the debate to CNN.” Wow, if that’s true, it’s a serious breach of journalistic — wait, Trump demanded MSNBC change their debate format for him or he wouldn’t show up, and they did it? Never mind, then.
“3 BIG Lies From The Democratic Debate Just Got Exposed,” alleged Western Journalism, “And Americans Need To Know It.” One of the BIG lies: “Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., wrongly placed the United States as the world’s leader in wealth and income inequality.” To debunk Sanders, Western Journalism quoted Factcheck.org — which will seem rich to those of us who remember when Western Journalism was denouncing Factcheck.org for promoting the vicious falsehood that Obama was born in the United States (“Why would those who run this site choose to tell so obvious a lie and so endanger the site’s reputation?” they thundered back in 2010).
Anyway, Mr. Smarty-Pants Socialist, Factcheck.org told Western Journalism that “the U.S. ranked 42nd in income inequality according to the World Bank.” Neither they nor Factcheck provided a source, but I believe they’re talking about Gini coefficient scores, which measure family income inequality, and in which the CIA ranks the U.S. 41st — we do better than South Sudan and Rwanda, but not as well as Uganda, Senegal, and Albania. Yay America, the dim, flickering light of the world.
Veteran pundit Michael Barone first proved to readers of the Washington Examiner that he had actually seen the debate, or had at least followed it on MLB At Bat, by admitting “Hillary Clinton held her own,” but added that “one possible result of this debate was a groundswell of Democrats saying Joe Biden must enter the race to save the party’s chances,” which he may have got from the crowd chanting “BI-DEN, BI-DEN” whenever Clinton spoke. He also said the candidates gave only “ritualistic and/or grudging praise for Barack Obama and administration” — maybe when Clinton said, “President Obama has been a great moral leader on these issues,” Barone noticed her rolling her eyes; Barone has been at this game a long time.
At the Wall Street Journal, Juleanna Glover criticized O’Malley’s “incomprehensible and esoteric tirade on the mistake of repealing Glass-Steagall banking regulation” because, well, this is the Wall Street Journal, folks. Glover seemed to have it in for Clinton particularly. For example: “She said she got ‘a lot of business done’ when Dmitry Medvedev was president of Russia — suggesting that Mr. Medvedev was something other than Vladimir Putin’s puppet.” Ha, missed that one, didn’t you, folks? Also, Clinton “denied having said that the investigation into her use of a private e-mail server was not ‘legitimate’ ” — a roundabout locution which suggests even Glover knows no one gives a shit about the email thing anymore.
“Ultimately,” Glover wound up, “Mrs. Clinton’s bickering with socialist Sen. Sanders about who was more leftist could entice Mr. Biden to jump in.” Bickering with Bernie Sanders about who was more leftist? Was Glover really talking about the DLC and Walmart shill who said during the debate, “I represented Wall Street as a senator from New York”? Well, rightbloggers are like people who still insist Green Day is punk rock: That is, for many of them Hillary was the first Democratic politician they learned to call socialist, and they’ve clung to that (“Hillary Clinton, Socialist Still” — Deroy Murdock, National Review, 2007) right up to the present day: Just this morning Townhall‘s Kurt Schlichter asked, I am not even kidding, “Can Any Republican Defeat Ancient Socialist Crone Hillary Clinton?”
You’d think people trying to accuse Democrats of commie-socialism would just stick to actual democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — and some did: Geoffrey Norman of the Weekly Standard, for example, detected several “Sanders stumbles.” For example, there was Sanders’s “too-clever answer about Clinton’s e-mails.” Was Norman really calling the single most celebrated moment of the debate a “stumble”? He was. Norman also thought Sanders talked too much about “Wall Street, millionaires and billionaires, minimum wage, etc. etc.,” which actually seems, given the electorate’s interest in income inequality (not to mention the $3 million Sanders raised from small donors after the debate), surefooted rather than stumbling.
National Review’s Jim Geraghty, exasperated that an avowed socialist would be applauded on the national stage rather than tarred and feathered, headlined “The Debate Lesson: America Now Has an Openly Socialist Party.” This “bunch of loons,” Geraghty said, “…contended socialism is mostly about standing up to the richest one percent and promoting entrepreneurs and small business,” etc., instead of torturing Cardinal Mindszenty and building the Berlin Wall, as National Review readers have long known. Also, Geraghty continued, the candidates contended “there’s a need for a ‘New New Deal’ which is in fact an Old Old Idea, considering how FDR called for a Second New Deal in 1935.” And we all know how FDR screwed things up.
And bad enough Sanders is a socialist — that big cheer he got for blowing off Clinton’s “damn emails” was a knife in the rightblogger heart. These are people, you must remember, who are always pulling kernels out of Clinton’s shit and crying WE GOT HER THIS TIME! “Contrary To Bernie Sanders, Americans Do Care About The Clinton Email Story,” sputtered Doug Mataconis. Polls apparently show the emails are very important to Republican voters, and a little important to other voters who, thirteen months from now, will probably find themselves having to choose between Clinton and whatever nutcase is still standing after Trump takes the buyout from the Republican Party and Ben Carson, tempted by the song of a pretty bird, wanders off into the woods.
The happiest lot were those who realized there was no need to prove any points to their like-minded readers, and just sprayed poison pixels generally — like the American Spectator’s George Neumayr, who after a Trumpian dull-debate lede (“boring and inconsequential…Nobody on stage seemed too interested in challenging Hillary”) made a straight appeal to the id of his base:
Companies should be compelled by law to provide “paid family leave” to mothers with newborns, according to Hillary. But no such obligation falls on the mothers themselves. They have no duty to care for their unborn children, according to Hillary, who scathingly criticized Republicans for daring to speak up for defenseless children. If Republicans truly opposed big government, she harrumphed, they would turn a blind eye to Planned Parenthood’s abortion mills.
Well, not everyone’s cut out for the political humor racket. Speaking of humor, at Breitbart.com Charles Hurt’s headline declared, “THE EMPTY LECTERN WINS DEMOCRAT DEBATE IN LANDSLIDE.” Hurt went on: “The Empty Lectern alone stands head and shoulders above the five candidates now running for the Democratic nomination…the most honest, capable and inspiring leader in the Democratic field is, hands down, The Empty Lectern,” etc. Get it? Clint Eastwood, 2012 Republican Convention? If you’re a rightblogger you do — in fact you probably have that scene bookmarked on YouTube and watch it whenever you’re feeling low. And it doesn’t matter that, a few months after that hilarious monologue, Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney. If your party’s polls are led by people who cannot possibly be elected president, and the other party’s polls are led by at least one person who possibly could, you may decide it’s time to get comfortable with pyrrhic victories.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 19, 2015