Bernie Sanders Won Last Night’s Democratic Debate

Bernie Sanders makes a point to Anderson Cooper during last night’s debate

W.J. Astore

Last night, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton separately took questions from a “town hall” in Derry, New Hampshire with Anderson Cooper moderating.  Overall, both candidates did well, though I give the edge to Sanders (more on why in a moment).

Sanders came across as passionate on the issues and concerned for ordinary Americans.  He continues to speak of a political revolution, which to him doesn’t mean tumbrels to the guillotine.  It means getting more people involved in the political process, especially youth and the disadvantaged.  He spoke eloquently of helping others.  Memorable to me was his work to desegregate housing owned by the University of Chicago when Sanders was a student.  When asked why he fought against racist policies, Sanders said he’s always hated a bully – and always fought for fairness and equality.  He came across, in short, as an honest and decent man, a man of integrity, which is the word his wife used to describe him (she was sitting in the audience, and was asked to describe her husband with a single word).

Hillary came across as determined and competent and informed.  She tended to meander during her answers, coming across as somewhat of a policy wonk or a technocrat.  She rejected Sanders’ talk of a revolution, preferring to build on President Obama’s (and her own) legacy.  For example, she wants to put the finishing touches to Obamacare, rather than going for Sanders’ idea of a single-payer, “Medicare for all” system.  She spoke briefly of breaking the ultimate glass ceiling for women – her gaining the office of the presidency – and how that would inspire women of all ages.  She took her usual hardline on U.S. foreign policy, making no promises that she would reduce wars or for that matter spending on defense.

In sum, if you’re happy with the status quo, you’ll get plenty of that with Clinton.  If you want change, if you’re tired of a “rigged” economy and a corrupt political process, Sanders is far more likely to act in your favor.

Where I thought Hillary fell down was in her posturing as a progressive.  The millions of dollars she has accepted in speaking fees from banks and investment houses, she suggested, would have no impact on her policy decisions, which is simply implausible.  Powerful organizations don’t give political candidates big money without strings attached to it, and of course Clinton knows this.  It also seemed implausible when Clinton suggested she had not decided to run for president when she accepted those speaking fees.  As if her “doubts” about running absolved her of responsibility for taking big money from Wall Street.  It was all frankly unconvincing.

Hillary Clinton is a fighter.  She came across best when she spoke of the Republican right-wing attacks she’d had to endure over the last 25 years, and what they’d taught her about the political process.  Her footing was less secure when she had to relate to other people.  For example, a man suffering from advanced-stage cancer asked her about dying with dignity.  Bill Clinton, the “natural” as Hillary called him, would have turned this into an empathetic “I feel your pain” moment.  But Hillary got lost in the details, saying she would have to study up on the ethics of terminal care, the laws, the role of medical professionals, what other countries are doing (she mentioned The Netherlands), and so on.  As she tackled the problem in a wonkish way, she seemed to forget the person standing in front her.

In sum, Bernie Sanders is driving the narrative, not Hillary Clinton.  It’s Bernie who’s been talking about a rigged system, about economic fairness, about working for unions, about justice and prison reform, and it’s Hillary who’s been put on the defensive.  So lately Hillary’s been borrowing liberally from Bernie’s script.  She’s now talking about “the deck being stacked” against ordinary people, and how she’s going to fight for workers, and how much Wall Street is supposedly against her candidacy.

As Bernie has gained in the polls, as his message has begun to resonate, Hillary has responded by trying to be more like Bernie.  And it just doesn’t ring true, at least for me.  Advantage, Bernie.


19 thoughts on “Bernie Sanders Won Last Night’s Democratic Debate

  1. I wonder how soon Goldman-Sachs (“Gold Sacks”) will arrange another juicy honorarium for Madame Clinton to deliver a speech displaying her policy wonkishness. You know, just to prove how much Wall Street opposes her!


    1. Hillary to the peasants: “They (‘Gold Sacks’) hate me! They really hate me!” With apologies to Sally Field.


      1. I covered this You-Know-Her thing in verse a long time ago. But still, undaunted by a lifetime of incompetence and irrelevancy, she has come back for yet another climb up the greasy pole, as if no one remembers all the reasons why no one in their right mind — at least for those calling themselves “progressives” (the term itself a craven eupemism for “liberal”) — would want her anywhere near the levers of power in the declining empire. So, please, let us never forget why history has revealed her as …

        A Useless Ewe
        (From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

        How did the Nazi Germans get like that?
        Why did the Japanese do such fell deeds?
        How did America grow dumb and fat?

        Why does our media spout fascist screeds?
        Like ruptured ducks they waddle, limp and quack
        Our chicken hen a timid twitter bleeds

        A pigeon on her stool she sings for slack
        So she can coo and squawk and glare and cluck
        Her stupid vote for war she won’t take back

        Instead, she stalls and hides and hopes for luck
        Invested in the bars of her own cage
        Her signature refrain: buk! buk! buk! buk!

        She pecks and scratches, fitful, on the stage
        Her part already fading from the page

        She piles up heaps of corporation cash
        To foster the impression of a lead
        Reactionaries throw for her a bash

        To help her buy a job without the need
        To find out whom the people would prefer
        She’d like to have the title and the deed

        But not what she would just as soon defer:
        A stance on issues ravaging the land
        From which ambivalence we can infer

        That we need someone not so blind and bland
        No leadership from her will manifest
        Until we’ve put aside the other hand

        Which makes decision easy to ingest
        And moot the question of her quisling quest

        For who requires an also-ran to run?
        Who follows those advancing to the rear?
        Who offer no new thing beneath the sun

        No lure to them who’ve cast aside her fear
        And have no wish to truck with it again
        Why wait for years if only then to hear

        The call to act like mice and not like men
        Advice to trim the sails and not make waves
        To baldly go where everyone has been

        A road to hell this good intention paves
        Before and after; both sides of the street
        A path that neither life or treasure saves

        Much better left to warm her Senate seat
        This useless ewe continuing to bleat

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006-2010


        1. Mike, I have to take exception to your terminology here. Bearing in mind the relativistic nature of US politics in this looney-tunes environment–e.g. Gov. Kasich was a “moderate” among the GOP presidential wannabes…I guess!–though he has big shortcomings in some areas of his platform, I think we may still distinguish Bernie as a progressive whereas Madame You-Know-Her is the Liberal. As Phil Ochs said 50 years ago, introducing his song “Love Me, I’m A Liberal”: [his definition thereof] “Ten degrees to the left of center when times are good, Ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally.” I peg HRC far more than ten degrees to the right at this time and definitely apply the term craven to her political career.


  2. I appreciate your article on HuffPost today re: Sanders and Clinton at the Town hall meeting last night. Even though I was paying very close attention to their comments, you show some greater insights into the candidates’ thought processes that I will have to think about. My husband was in the AF during the Vietnam War, and I appreciate your comments regarding the issues coming from someone who has “been there”( ie. foreign policy, progressiveness, political change). I am for Sanders because I believe he is consistent and to the point. He doesn’t ramble. Hillary was better than usual last night, but there still seemed to be a lot of rambling. I think she would end up just being “Clinton-part 2”.
    Thanks again for your communications.
    Tracy Thomas-Miller


    1. Thank you. I don’t think Clinton was expecting a serious Democratic challenger, and she certainly didn’t expect Sanders to catch fire.

      My sense is she’s triangulating, looking for a new path ahead that steals some of Sanders’ thunder while suggesting he’s simply too “dangerous” or idealistic to win in November.

      In this, she’s no worse than most politicians. They want to win and will change their views to suit the season. But the electorate seems to want a person who’s not a typical politician, hence the support for Trump, who may be crazy but at least he’s not “typical.”

      Hillary may still have the horses (money) to win — time will tell.


      1. You-Know-Her did not expect a serious challenge to her inevitable coronation in 2008, either. Then this virtually unknown black guy showed up, elbowed her aside, and she wound up working for him as his Secretary of State for four years. On the job as usual, I put together a little report in verse about this utterly unaaccomplished mediocrity.

        It Takes a Pillage

        Another trip by You-Know-Her,
        Like Dubya’s Karen Hughes,
        Abroad to sell Israeli sand
        In desert interviews
        To monarchs of “democracy”
        Who find her rants old news.

        She thought that voting for a “war”
        That Dick and Dubya sold her
        Would make her look all-tough-and-stuff
        But only served to mold her
        Into a shrieking, shallow shill
        For Zionists who told her

        What she would say: when, where, and why,
        No matter the occasion.
        Her bullshit bile: “Let Muslims die!”
        Or, “Let’s have an invasion!”
        While ducking every question with
        A doublespeak evasion

        Has left no further room for doubt
        That travesty and terror
        Have triumphed in the U.S.A.,
        Where crass conceit and error
        Combine to export gifts from Greeks,
        With You-Know-Her the bearer.

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2010


        1. Just saw on NBC Evening News (Feb. 4) You-Know-Her cracking a “hilarious” joke about her speech fees from Wall Street. Why did she take $675,000 (thus far)? “Because that’s what they offered.” Oh hardy-har-har-har-harrrr, as Ralph Kramden (now THERE was a Great American!) would have said.


      2. You have an “old” poem ready for almost every occasion, Mike, which is sad when you think about it — sad because so little has changed in the thrust and dynamic of U.S. politics and foreign policy since 9/11 (or, you might say, since Vietnam?).


  3. About that You-Know-Her as a “fighter” thing. I covered that in verse a decade ago. Nevertheless, she has returned for yet another grab at the brass ring. So, lets hear it one more time for:

    Buffaloed Girl
    (Somewhat after the traditional song of a similar name)

    Buffaloed girl, won’t you come out tonight?
    Bask in your fright; hide in plain sight.
    Buffaloed girl don’t you put up a fight;
    Just dance to the right with the goons!

    Buffaloed girl, don’t you burn any flags;
    Marry some fags; count body bags.
    Buffaloed girl, wrapped in riches not rags,
    Just keep raking in those doubloons!

    Buffaloed girl, send our troops to Iraq!
    Then leave them there! Don’t bring them back!
    Buffaloed girl, cover George Bush’s back,
    And scrape up a few more platoons!

    Buffaloed girl, just stay out of the fray.
    Keep your mouth shut! Keep making hay!
    Buffaloed girl, while the cat is away
    Just keep playing mice with buffoons.

    Buffaloed girl, don’t you hear the troops cry?
    Wounded for wrongs; dead for a lie
    Buffaloed girl, look in everyone’s eye
    And then soil your own pantaloons

    Buffaloed girl, under Lieberman’s wing
    Saving his job, that’s the main thing
    Buffaloed girl, you and Holy Joe sing
    The duet of right-wing spittoons

    Buffaloed girl, rail at video games
    Focus group that; spout the right frames
    Buffaloed girl, don’t you name any names
    Just save children from their cartoons

    Buffaloed girl, take a “listening” tour
    If you don’t know; if you’re not sure
    Buffaloed girl, voters like their fake “pure”
    Like war debt that simply balloons

    Buffaloed girl, when it counted you hid
    Don’t try to lie. That’s what you did
    Buffaloed girl, Dubya made you his kid
    When you bought the crap that he croons

    Buffaloed girl, your irrelevance mounts
    Even in small, measured amounts
    If “it” takes a village, by all your accounts
    Then take “it” to Mars and its moons

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2006


  4. Bernie is the better candidate, by far, but he will not become president because the system is rigged against him. Fact is, the USA has never been a democracy. It has always been a plutocratic oligarchy and the plutocrats will not allow Bernie to win. They will take him down if he becomes a threat to their dominance. The plutocrats are in charge. As FDR said, “Presidents are selected, not elected.”


  5. I find it difficult to find one new thing to say in verse about You-Know-Her, who acts and sounds just as lame, venal, and opportunistic today as she ever did. Still, You-Know-Her did reveal another glimpse of the amoral monster within her upon hearing of the homosexual rape/murder of Libya’s leader, Moammar Gaddafi, which resulted from her own “humanitarian” policies and those of her buffaloed boss, Barack Obama. Hence, to the background tune of insane, gleeful cackling, we have:

    A Glib Giddy Ghoul / Goldwater’s Girl
    (Venimus. Vidimus. Et Mortuus Est)

    “We came. We saw. He died,” she cackled,
    This chicken hen hawking her bile,
    Amused at the bleeding and shackled
    Gaddafi upon whom would pile
    Jihadists with red hatred spackled,
    And all so Dame Clinton could smile.

    Or, alternatively:

    On hearing of Gaddafi’s savage murder
    She smiled and joked: “We came. We saw. He died.”
    Apparently, she thought that those who heard her
    Would share her chickenhenish war-slut pride.

    She campaigned in her youth for Bomber Barry
    Goldwater, who from Arizona came;
    Who made his money ripping off the natives
    On reservations where he staked his claim.

    Our You-Know-Her worked hard for Bomber Barry
    Who swore that if elected he would kill
    Vietnamese who found us less than scary
    In numbers that would break their iron will.

    A pantsuit with no principles or vision
    Just raw ambition: naked, stark, and vain.
    If peace might happen, war is her decision.
    Goldwater’s Girl is just a John McCain.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2015

    Come to think of it, given the virtual orgasm that You-Know-Her experienced on You Tube when learning of Gaddafi’s savage murder, she might more accurately have summarized Caesar’s latin motto as follows:

    “He died. We saw. I came.”

    What a wit! What a woman! What a worm.


  6. I have not watched any of the Democratic Party debates this time around because I have already seen and heard — too many times to count — everything that You-Know-Her will show and tell to get a job she has always desired but for which she has shown no aptitude or ability whatsoever. So, from the bottomless archives of Here We Go Again With You-Know-Her, I offer another of my (endlessly recurring) takes on:

    An Ersatz Commander in Knickers

    Before a mirror now she stands
    Saluting with her two right hands
    “Commanding” like some jaded Joan of Arc
    A warfare welfare mother slick
    Another monkey on a stick
    She gladly held the match that lit the spark

    She clearly failed to look and see
    The dwarf dyslexic chimpanzee
    Who made baboons of her and Bubba Bill
    Attacking those upon the left
    Who saw through Dubya’s lack of heft
    She now sounds less a leader than a shill

    In thrall to medals on the chest
    Not nearly brightest nor the best
    She signed off on a jingoistic jaunt
    No judgment did she bring to bear
    Emitting only heated air
    Her bad decisions have returned to haunt

    And now with knickers in a bunch
    She lives to rue the fateful hunch
    She followed on her first blind date with war
    It seemed like such a little thing:
    A rapt submission to a fling
    That’s left her used again like Dubya’s whore

    Yet unrepentant at the ease
    With which war caused her brain to freeze
    Our You-Know-Her wants us to make her queen
    She’s got this urge to have a go,
    She’d like us all to truly know,
    In spite of all that we have heard and seen

    She now says she would like to fight
    And not just pander to the right
    She says the middle finger them she’ll give
    But calculating cons and pros
    She tallies up the “yea”s and “no”s
    And then displays a pinky as her shiv

    It simply doesn’t seem to work
    This “centrist” mush served by a jerk
    Who likes the times that buy men’s souls just fine
    For having sold her own soul cheap
    She now can utter not a peep
    When voters choose someone more genuine

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2007


  7. With a tip of the hat to Republican millionaire Ross Perot, who twice split the Republican Party ticket, handing the U.S. presidency to Bubba Bill Clinton (and You-Know-Her, to hear her tell it), I offer from eleven years ago an observation and a warning. Just consider what pusillanimous, Clintonian ambivalence: i.e., “triangulation,” has cost the Democratic Party, America, and the World:

    Maybe or Maybe Not
    (after the style of Rudyard Kipling’s “If”)

    If you would lose your head when others wouldn’t
    And let polls do your thinking when you won’t,
    If you could trust George Bush when wise men couldn’t
    But still excuse his lying when they don’t,

    If you can wait for someone else to lead us,
    And being led yourself, follow behind,
    And, living large, dine with the ones who bleed us,
    Yet never seem to pay us any mind;

    If you’re content to make George Bush your master,
    If you can slink away to his estate;
    If you can turn Triumph into Disaster
    And treat Joe Lieberman as your blind date;

    If you can bear to hear the lies you’ve spoken
    Straightened by truth to make you look the fool,
    Or watch what former Democrats built broken,
    While right-wing cynics use you as their tool;

    If you can make one heap of all our army
    And risk their lives on one throw of the dice,
    And lose, and cover up by speaking smarmy
    And blame somebody else by talking nice;

    If you can show no heart or nerve or sinew
    Yet serve your own self even as you flee,
    And so put out when there is nothing in you
    Except the sign you wear which says: “Kick me!”

    It could be that someone will come to teach you
    Some braver soul, perhaps, will show the way
    Maybe an errant vertebra will reach you
    Perhaps your spine will stiffen one fine day

    You may, perhaps, or maybe you won’t, either
    Perhaps you’ll skitter further to the right
    Like other chicken hawks, you need a breather
    Before the next time that you take to flight

    With luck, we won’t lose more than three each day now
    Perhaps only a dozen died this week
    It could be you’ve found some cool way to say, “Wow!
    Just look at all that `Victory’ we seek!”

    You could have chanced to find some Chinese money
    To borrow from our children for your war
    Maybe you’ll visit good King George, your honey,
    And pledge your party as his loyal whore

    You and the press have sure played Rip Van Winkle
    And gone to sleep to wake up out to lunch
    While vampires on our “values” loudly sprinkle
    Invective while continuing to munch

    Yet still you quake and quiver at the vision
    Of greedy bats out after our last dime
    Upon our necks they make a new incision
    While you prevaricate and stall for time

    While Cindy Sheehan shows true grit you wobble
    And, like the wildebeest, hide in the herd
    Content to let the lion chew and gobble
    On others’ children – all without a word

    Perhaps you’ll dodge a vote and so we’ll stay in
    Most likely you’ll decry some burning flags
    While soldiers die you slither on your way in
    To Senate chambers famed for bogus gags

    No doubt you’ll raise more funds to sell your virtue,
    And kneel for kings to lose the common touch,
    While only friends but not your foes desert you;
    Because you’ve asked too little for so much,

    You’ll likely fill the unforgiving hour
    With only sixty seconds’ worth of work,
    And still expect the Earth for you to flower,
    Which maybe will not happen now, you jerk!

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2005


  8. As for my aging archives of “old” poetry — since I see nothing new to write about the same motherless cretins who continue to infest the U.S. government decade after decade — I thought I should give Bernie Sanders at least an indirect passing mention since the “Anybody Left of You-Know-Her” contingent has nowhere else to turn other than Jill Stein of the Green Party who has by far the best economic and anti-militarist platform of any candidate currently seeking the job of POTUS. Anyway, in view of this article’s topic: namely, the so-called “debate” between Senator Sanders and the bloody-minded You-Know-Her, I thought of a few “new” verses exploiting — if not exploding — the usual ornithological metaphors appropriate to America’s long-since discredited official endless-war group-think. I haven’t even published these lines on my own website yet. So, you read it here first, fellow Crimestoppers. Something “new” for Professor Astore:

    A Fine Feathered Fiend

    The Chicken Hen glowers and clucks for a fight
    “Buk buk buk buk buk buk buk buk!”
    Secure in her arrogance that she is right:
    A “hawk” who still quacks like a duck.

    Consulting the mirror that hangs on her wall
    She asked of herself what she knew:
    “Don’t I have same right to just kill them all,
    Like Bill, George, and Barack? I do!”

    “Just show me those peasants who care what I’ve said
    Or done or what costs have accrued
    From decades in which I helped add to the dead.
    So what if they know? They’re still screwed.”

    “I’ve lots of ‘experience.’ This I will flaunt.
    I’ll claim that in losing, I’ve won.
    And if ‘it’ means what the Republicans want,
    Then damn right, I’ll see it gets done.”

    “Now tell me the future, and put it in quotes.
    Show me what I have paid much to see;
    Not the bald Jewish guy winning all of those votes
    Who’ve seen nothing they want less than me.”

    Thus glaring and clucking and pecking, this “hawk”
    Threatens mayhem and death to all those
    Who see in her scratching and hear in her squawk
    Just a hen in her worst rooster pose.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” copyright 2016


    1. I, too, have not bothered to view the Democrat “debates” but a headline on CNN’s website (so it must be accurate, right?) indicated Bernie has vowed to obliterate “ISIS.” Doesn’t quite sound like a peace candidate. Of course, to fail to make such utterances would open the door to GOP (whom I’m sure wouldn’t otherwise attack him…Whew, these are the most hilarious parenthetical remarks I’ve made in a long time!) to paint him as a weak-kneed Liberal pansy capitulationist. Nor can we expect Bernie to speak in favor of human rights for Palestinians. “Revolution,” Bernie?!? Shall we argue that “single payer healthcare for all” is a revolutionary concept in contemporary America? Or should we recognize the US would simply be playing catch-up with the civilized world??? And a much overdue game of catch-up, at that.


      1. Glad I didn’t watch the show, Greg. From what I hear, You-Know-Her openly boasted about her infatuation — mutual, as she tells it — with mass murderer Henry Kissinger, who once complained incredulously about the stubbornly independent Vietnamese: “I refuse to believe that a little fourth rate power doesn’t have a breaking point.” So millions died in Southeast Asia just so Henry could see if they would break! What a monster. And You-Know-Her wanst to use him as a character reference! Again, glad I didn’t watch or I would have thrown something at my television monitor while simultaneously vomiting in disgust. What a nation of credulous, amoral fools to even consider such a war-slut for their president. Jill Stein has my vote, since as you say, Bernie Sanders would probably kill as many muslims for the Apartheid Zionist Entity as she would. Possibly something of an edge to Sanders on domestic economic issues, but not much else separates them.


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