By Robert A. Vella
America seems to be more interested in the tit-for-tat fireworks which erupt during the Republican Party presidential debates, but what’s happening now on the Democratic side is much more serious and consequential. The mistake I alluded to in yesterday’s editorial has mushroomed into a full-blown controversy for Hillary Clinton. More on that in a moment, but two other important revelations have fallen out from the second Democratic Party debate: CBS’ failure (the debate moderator) to mention the deadly terrorist bombings in Beirut (43 killed, hundreds injured) which occurred hours before the Paris attacks, and a puzzling schedule that put the most substantive debate to date in the weakest possible viewership time slot.
Everyone is now jumping all over Clinton, for good reason, over her gratuitous defense of being closely tied to Wall Street by invoking 9/11. From MSNBC:
Clinton is under fire from both Republicans and Democrats, as well as media analysts, for saying in the second Democratic presidential Saturday night that her ties to large financial institutions have to do with her efforts to rebuild lower Manhattan after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The next day, at a Central Iowa Democratic Barbecue that brought the candidates together again, both O’Malley’s and Sanders’ campaigns showed no signs of letting up, a noticeable shift as the candidates move closer to the first nominating contests, now less than 80 days away.
Cornel West, the Princeton professor and radical activist, spoke on Sanders’ behalf and was even more critical of Clinton than the senator was the night before. “I took Wall Street money but it didn’t affect me?” he said in disbelief of “my dear sister Hillary Clinton.”
Speaking with MSNBC on the sidelines, West said Clinton “is a master of giving lip service to progressive causes but acting like a neoliberal and a example of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party.”
But O’Malley’s tone was especially notable, as it was significantly more critical than it has been in the past, both towards Clinton and Sanders.
Speaking with reporters, O’Malley said Clinton made a “gaffe” in a “very, very distasteful way, trying to pump out a smokescreen for her coziness with the big banks of Wall Street by invoking the tragedy of 9/11 and those attacks — and especially so fresh after so many were murdered in Paris.”
Presumably because its victims were mostly Lebanese instead of French, the CBS moderating crew – along with just about everyone else in America and the West – ignored the terrible bombing attacks in Beirut when it began the debate with a discussion of terrorism and national security. Are white lives more precious than Arab?
Although I believe CBS moderated this debate much better than CNN had in the first debate, Dave Johnson – of Campaign for America’s Future – was appropriately critical:
The debate began with the moderator saying that “freedom was savagely attacked in the heart of Paris,” with no mention of the ISIS attacks in Beirut.
The moderators seemed to have come from Fox News, repeating Republican talking point after talking point. “Obama legacy is he underestimated ISIS.” “Why won’t you use the words, ‘radical Islam’?” “Border fence to keep our country safe.” “Raising the minimum wage costs jobs.” “There is an FBI investigation of your emails.” “Police are not enforcing the law because they are afraid of being caught on camera.”
The question about terrorism being attributed to “radical Islam” is a way to tar all Muslims as terrorists.
While I did raise questions about the Saturday evening broadcast of this second Democratic Party debate (during the apex of the college football season) in yesterday’s editorial, Vox went much further implying conspiratorial intent:
The Democratic National Committee, which organizes the party’s primary debates, has faced accusations of scheduling them on dates that will receive poor viewership in an attempt to protect frontrunner Hillary Clinton. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has denied these claims. There are other hints Clinton wanted less exposure, including reports that her campaign privately lobbied the DNC for fewer debates.
But when you just look at the debate schedule, it’s hard to deny its absurdity — especially when you take a look back at political debates of years past.