I watched almost the whole debate last night between Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (It was supposed to be 90 minutes, but when it went past that mark, I figured I’d catch the rest on re-run.) For what it’s worth, I think Ms. Clinton hit it out of the park on just about every question except for the one about releasing the transcripts of her speeches to Wall Street; “I’ll look into it” was a clunker. I realize she may be bound by confidentiality agreements, but the answer could have been, “Sure, as far as I’m concerned, they can run them in the Manchester Union-Leader.” But other than that, she trotted around the bases.
That’s not to say Mr. Sanders stood there, as the immortal Ernie Harwell would say, like a house at the side of the road. He answered all the questions about his campaign for economic equality and damning Wall Street at the ready, and he used them again and again. Where he seemed to get into the weeds was on foreign policy, especially Afghanistan, and on that Ms. Clinton has him beat.
I got a little tired of hearing about who was the most progressive, but it was refreshing to have Democrats not shy away from the label. It’s about time they owned it, even if no one went as far as to call themselves “liberal.” The GOP still has let the stink remain on that word, but that’s a quibble. And if people think Hillary Clinton talks too loud, she was more than matched by Mr. Sanders, who doesn’t seem to know to use his indoor voice ever. Some people find that endearing.
The best part was that this was a real debate. Thank you, moderators Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd, for not big-footing the exchanges between the candidates or asking silly questions about their favorite maple syrup. We got real substance last night, not press releases.