Monday, November 16, 2015

O'Malley On the March

It looked like the media were going to try to frame the second Democratic presidential debate of the 2016 campaign as a contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and some commentators managed to do so, but there was no mistake that Martin O'Malley has become more difficult to ignore.
The former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor came out forcefully during the debate for increasing the minimum wage and tighter gun control, more so than in the previous debate, and he skillfully called out Mrs. Clinton for her reluctance to press for a $15-per-hour national minimum wage on the former issue and her ambiguous shift of positions on the other, and he also stood up again for immigrants' rights.  But he really distinguished himself in his handling of foreign policy, an issue he is admittedly inexperienced in. He called for America to assume a greater leadership in the fight against the Islamic State while cautioning against grand schemes to topple dictators without figuring out what to do next. And he reminded the voters that American soldiers and Marines are more than just "boots on the ground."  Overall, O'Malley looked like he was ready to take the fight to the primary and caucus voters and even readier to take on the Republicans.
Bernie Sanders had a couple of good moments himself when he explained his objective to restore the income equity of the 1950s -  "I'm not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower," he said.  But I would be hard-pressed to find anything Hillary Clinton said that was assuring.  Quite the contrary - how about this gem of a comment in defending her ties to Wall Street? 
"So I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country."
So, it was patriotic to help bankers while the World Trade Center's ruins were smoldering?
This is why Debbie Wasserman Schultz scheduled only six  Democratic presidential debates for the 2016 race - to ensure that Hillary would have fewer opportunities to stick her foot in her mouth.  Six debates, apparently, were still too many to avoid that.
Hillary's arrogance and smugness were never more on full display than in this debate.  Martin O'Malley, on the other hand, showed a calm, collected approach to the issues and a greater understanding of foreign and military affairs than you would expect from a former governor of a state of six million people, and he already has demonstrated his formidable chops on domestic policy.  His debate performance may not have transformed him from long shot to serious contender overnight, but it's a positive step in that direction as he continues to show his mettle in this marathon race. :-)            

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