Madam Hillary prevailed in last night’s CNN event featuring the Democratic presidential candidates in Las Vegas. The event was billed as a debate, but Hillary’s opponents refused to make a case against her. Bernie Sanders threw her a lifeline. I don’t know what his calculation was there, but it was representative. The men are afraid of committing an offense against majesty.
To say that Madam Hillary succeeded in impersonating a human being would be going too far. Her purported opponents range from pathetic to weird. By contrast, Hillary appeared in command. Although she makes much of her claim to womanhood, she stood out as the most manly figure in this crowd. By contrast, Jim Webb appeared diffident.
Hillary was dressed for success and programmed to match. I thought her supporting players provided all of the entertainment last night:
Lost his mojo: Seeking to explain away his lapses into sanity opposing certain gun control measures, Bernie Sanders cited his representation of “a rural state.” Sanders’s devotion to political purity is his claim to distinction. He compromised it last night.
Miscast as a modern Democrat: Jim Webb. Asked by Anderson Cooper to name the enemy he’s proudest to have made, Webb cited the late member of the Vietcong who threw a grenade at him. Webb tactfully implied the man was no longer with us; he wasted him during his tour of duty in Nam.
Still working on a few personal issues: Lincoln Chafee. He attributed his vote in favor of the repeal of Glass-Steagall to the death of his father and his arrival in the Senate to serve out his father’s term. He could have blamed Bill Cliton, who supported the repeal, but he hasn’t overcome his fear of Hillary. He will only go so far as to say that he has avoided scandal in his career. By contrast with whom?
Reminder of the uses of expressive form: Martin O’Malley was polling at zero in a February poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers. Not zero percent, zero expressions of preference in the survey sample. Last night probably did nothing to change that result.