Hillary Won the First Dem Debate Because the Others Are Even More Terrible Candidates

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (photo credit: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

The consensus of the talking heads is that Hillary Clinton was the clear winner in last night’s Democratic debate. But some focus groups and online polls suggested that Bernie Sanders held his own. Clearly, she did better last night than she has so far in her controversy-mired campaign.

There were some sharp exchanges, but none of the other candidates managed to damage her. In one sense, Clinton prevailed because her opponents were so weak.

For example, conservative commentator Erick Erickson observed, “I’m still amazed the other four candidates made Hillary Clinton come off as the likable, reasonable, responsible Democrat.”

National Journal’s Ron Fournier wrote that Hillary Clinton won “because she’s a strong debater. She won because Bernie Sanders is not.”

Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker summed it up well: “Hillary Clinton won because all of her opponents are terrible.”

What They Discussed

Bernie Sanders used valuable airtime last night to defend socialism, saying that “countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway” were models we should emulate.

He and other candidates offered a wish list of new spending plans — while we are still running $500 billion deficits — and I don’t recall Anderson Cooper asking any of them, “How are you going to pay for it?” (According to one analysis, Sanders is proposing about $18 trillion in new spending over ten years.)

They bemoaned the state of the economy, stagnant wages and the struggles of middle class families — all valid concerns. Continue Reading

Fiorina, Rubio Impress at Second GOP Debate

Photo credit: Peter Stevens via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate — a three-hour marathon with 11 candidates — was quite a show.

Preliminary numbers suggest that 20 million people tuned in. Prior to last night, CNN’s highest rated presidential primary debate featured Obama and Clinton battling it out in January 2008 with just over 8 million viewers.

That tells you something. There is a lot of energy among conservatives and interest in the GOP candidates. How much is due to Donald Trump’s presence on the stage?

All of the candidates had their moments last night and no one was seriously hurt. Trump was clearly dodging attacks from the rest of field thanks to CNN’s questioning, but I think he held up under the fire. It will be interesting to see what the polls reveal in the days ahead.

One candidate, however, clearly stood out.

Carly Fiorina delivered one of the best moments of the debate when she brilliantly combined foreign and domestic policy into an outstanding defense of America and the unborn. Watch it here.

Obama and Hillary said they would not watch the debate, but I guarantee there were plenty of left-wing operatives watching for them. I suspect they were reaching for the Maalox imagining Hillary Clinton on the stage debating the sanctity of life with Fiorina.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio also performed well, demonstrating a clear grasp of foreign policy. In recent days, we have written about how the Obama/Kerry team was caught flatfooted by Russia’s moves into Syria. Continue Reading

The One Other Fab Fiorina Moment

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Mary, those were great, but don’t forget Fiorina’s comments on Vladimir Putin.

Fiorina did two things in her remarks on Putin.  First, she showed that Donald Trump provided little substance in his answer about Putin.  He basically said, “I’ll get along with him. I’ll get along with everybody. It’ll be great.”  Secondly, Fiorina demonstrated that she was well versed on foreign policy issues:

Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t talk to him at all. We’ve talked way too much to him.

What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message. By the way, the reason it is so critically important that every one of us know General Suleimani’s name is because Russia is in Syria right now, because the head of the Quds force traveled to Russia and talked Vladimir Putin into aligning themselves with Iran and Syria to prop up Bashar al- Assad.

Russia is a bad actor, but Vladimir Putin is someone we should not talk to, because the only way he will stop is to sense strength and resolve on the other side, and we have all of that within our control.

We could rebuild the Sixth Fleet. I will. We haven’t. We could rebuild the missile defense program.

Continue Reading

Three Things Donald Trump Should Say Tonight At The GOP Debate

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

It is becoming very possible that Donald Trump might win the GOP nomination. He’s led the polls consistently since before the Fox News debate, and he’s poised to hold that lead into the conceivable future, although Ben Carson is starting to close the gap.

Still, there are constituencies in the GOP base that are uneasy about The Donald. He could help himself a lot in tonight’s CNN debate by saying these three things:

1.) “I’m very, very pro-life. As President, I will defund Planned Parenthood, and I will sign a 20 week ban on abortion into law.”

Who Does It Help Trump Win?

  • Church-going Catholics
  • Church-going Evangelicals
  • Hispanics

Donald Trump has been all over the place on abortion. In 1999, he supported partial-birth abortion. Now he says he’s pro-life. But he concerned many pro-life activists when he avoided responding to the first Planned Parenthood video for nearly a week, while other candidates were aggressively attacking Planned Parenthood and Democrats in the media.

This is a great opportunity for Trump to affirm to pro-life voters that he stands with them and would represent them as President. If Trump can win the pro-life vote, he will win the nomination.

2.) “Iran won’t get a nuclear bomb if I’m President. I will be tough on foreign policy. I will protect America from Day One.”

Who Does It Help Trump Win?

  • Everyone concerned about Iran or ISIS

Foreign policy is going to be a — for lack of a better word — “huge” issue in the 2016 election. Continue Reading

What Do Bush, Walker, and Graham Have Against Christians in Syria?

Orthodox Christians worship at a church in Damascus (photo credit: michael_swan via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Jeb Bush’s August 11th speech at the Reagan Presidential Library laid out a six-point blueprint for driving the remaining Christians out of Syria — unintentionally, perhaps, but effectively nonetheless.  Each element of his plan for Syria was contrary to the interests of those beleaguered Christians.  A point-by-point discussion of the plan and its defects is published here.  Scott Walker gave a decidedly less substantive speech on the same subject at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., on August 28th, which also embraced policies contrary to the interests of Syria’s Christians.

By way of background, the Christian population of Syria was roughly two million before the civil war began in 2011 and is today under one million.  Most of the Christians in Syria live in areas controlled by the government of Bashir al-Assad, with some living in areas along the border with Turkey governed by a de facto Kurdish government.

Firstly, both Bush and Walker are calling for the violent overthrow of Assad before the defeat of the Islamic State.  This will plunge Syria into an even more violent competition for control between the extremist al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and the more extremist Islamic State in which there will be literally no place for Christians to hide and which conflict will certainly spill over into Lebanon.

The greater monster in the Syrian conflict is the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL), not the Assad regime.  Continue Reading

“Most Iraqis Believe the Islamic State was Created by the United States.”

Yazidi refugees and American aid workers on Mount Sinjar in August 2014 (public domain image via USAID)

“Most Iraqis believe the Islamic State was created by the United States.”

This observation was made not by a conspiracy theorist, but by an Orthodox priest who along with his whole Christian village was forced to flee Daesh (as the Islamic State is known by Iraqis) into the safe haven of Kurdistan.  He told me this on Wednesday as we spoke in a Kurdish village in the mountains of far-north Iraq, not far from the Iraqi-Turkish border. I had come here to learn of the condition of the Christian refugees and to explore ways to help the Christian Church in exile.

To American ears, the charge that the U.S. created Daesh is absurd.  To Iraqis, it has a compelling logic.  In their minds, we are the creators of their current reality; for better or worse, we made the State of Iraq as it exists today.  We are said to have allowed Daesh to occupy Mosul (a city of 1.5 million taken over by 3000), and they think we can eliminate Daesh easily if we really wanted to.  “How long did it take the U.S. to defeat Saddam Hussain?  A month?  And he had a powerful army.”

But most disappointing about the Abba’s charge is his belief that our policy in the Middle East is entirely motivated by the desire to work our will in the region.  “You promised us democracy.  Where is the democracy?”  If Iraq is today not democratic, the reasoning goes, that is because we never wanted it to be democratic; we wanted it to be compliant.  Continue Reading