No, seriously. I feel like debate recaps have become the near-totality of my blog posts lately. It’s almost as if this is a presidential election year or something.
Anyway, this was the second of the debate showdowns between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, aka the last remaining Democratic candidates for president after the field was shockingly winnowed down from three to two. (And also a sad night for anyone who had made a drinking game out of how many times Martin O’Malley could mention Baltimore in one debate. 30 second moment of silence for you, O’Malley! *fist pump*)
Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff were the moderators for this PBS-sponsored debate, making women 75% of the total people on stage. And no one cried once! That must be some kind of new record. Another possibility is that I’ve been watching too many episodes of “The Bachelor” lately.
Below is a quick and largely inaccurate paraphrased account of the debate.
Woodruff: Good evening and welcome! We’ll be right back after this commercial break.
Ifill (whispered): Not yet, Judy.
Woodruff: Oops! Just kidding. Good evening and welcome! Our candidates are Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Ifill: COMPETITORS, PLEAD YOUR CASE.
Sanders: We’ve come a long way in this campaign – basically from nothing, to being an actual threat. WHAT IS THAT EVEN ABOUT???!! Did anyone else not see that coming? Pretty nuts. But here’s the deal. Our campaign finance system is corrupt. American democracy is being undermined. Wall Street billionaires are able to pour money into politics. And we are living in a RIGGED ECONOMY. Also please note that I have a lot to say about criminal justice reform as I would really really really like to court voters who are concerned about this issue.
Clinton: Senator Sanders and I agree on just about everything. But vote for me because I will go further in making things happen. And isn’t this shirt a lovely shade of shimmering yellow? It’s bold, just like me.
Woodruff: …and NOW it’s time for a commercial break.
Woodruff: Welcome back! How big should government be?
Sanders: The rich are getting richer! Healthcare and free college tuition for all!
Woodruff: But my question, though…
Sanders: Wealth inequality!
Clinton: Can I field this one for him, Judy? He’ll increase the size of government by about 40%. But he’s making promises he can’t keep, like with healthcare. Virtually every progressive economist has found that the numbers don’t add up when it comes to his healthcare proposals.
Sanders: Dude. Sooooo not true. I will fight for healthcare for all!
Clinton: Oh, me too….me and OBAMA, that is. (sly grin)
Ifill: Moving on. Aren’t people skeptical of big government?
Clinton: Yes. They need clear answers and specific proposals, which I am giving them. Once I’m in the White House we can really get moving on getting things done.
Sanders: Well, Secretary Clinton, you’re not in the White House yet. Feel THAT Bern, lady?!!!
Woodruff: Speaking of burns. Secretary Clinton, many women don’t like you. Why is that?
Clinton: I don’t know. But I fight for their ability to have a choice, so if that choice doesn’t wind up being me, I’ll pretend that’s cool too.
Woodruff: Do you agree with Madeleine Albright that women who don’t support you should go to hell?
Clinton: Hahaha. Let me carefully sidestep this trap of a question.
Ifill: Senator Sanders, are you thwarting Hillary from becoming the first woman president? ARE YOU???!!!
Sanders: My presidency would be historical too. I’M SPECIAL TOO!!!!
Ifill: Let’s take some questions from Facebook. Wisconsin’s incarceration rate for black males is nearly double the country’s rate. How do we fix it?
Sanders: We must fix the criminal justice system. More white people need to get busted for marijuana, not just black people. PLEASE VOTE FOR ME, MINORITIES!
Clinton: I agree completely with Sanders on this, and I ask all minorities in America to please vote actually vote for me. Obama seconds this request.
Woodruff: How would you guys make race relations better than Obama has?
Clinton: Obama is amazing.
Sanders: You know who really screwed over race relations in this country? WALL STREET.
Woodruff: Let’s talk about immigration.
Clinton: I voted with Ted Kennedy on his 2007 immigration reform bill. You know who didn’t? This guy (thumbs to Sanders)
Sanders: I loved Ted Kennedy.
Clinton: Nuh uh. If you really loved him you would have voted for his bill. True love = votes.
Ifill: So here’s something close to home for you two. Seniors!
Sanders: We need to expand benefits for seniors.
Clinton: We do. But especially low-income seniors and women.
Sanders: Well yes, obviously. Are you agreeing with me again here? Let me see if I can turn your agreement into a disagreement.
Clinton: (nods) Yes, I agree.
Woodruff: Moving on to campaign finance.
Clinton: Oh, God. Do we have to?
Woodruff: Sorry, but yes.
Clinton: Both of us have so many small donors. We should be proud of that!
Sanders: Do you consider your super PAC to be a ‘small donor’?
Clinton: Obama had a super PAC. He actually had the biggest super PAC ever. Please stop looking at me. Everyone stop looking at me.
Ifill: Alright, let’s move on to foreign policy.
Clinton: (Lays out plan to combat ISIS.)
Sanders: Just so everyone knows, I voted against the Iraq War in 2002. Guess who didn’t?
Clinton: Yeah, but who has two thumbs and became secretary of state following that? THIS GAL.
Sanders: Sure, sure, you have extensive experience. But what matters more than experience? Judgment. You know, that fairly subjective gauge of someone’s ability to govern, as opposed their concrete and first-hand knowledge of things.
(***Donald Trump and Ben Carson can be heard cheering from their respective viewing stations****)
Sanders: And also, can I just add? Henry Kissinger is a terrible human being.
Ifill: Excuse me?
Sanders: Kissinger, you know. THE Kissinger. I’ve pored over every possible issue and have determined that he is actually the most central issue dividing Secretary Clinton and myself. He is the worst! And she is basically his BFF.
Woodruff: Well that was….interesting. Can you guys name two leaders, one American and one foreign, who would influence your foreign policy decisions?
Sanders: FDR! Because he knew the jig was up when it came to wealth inequality, and that is everything I need to know about foreign policy. I also admire Winston Churchill. Didn’t agree with him, nor would he influence my politics, but you know. Good guy.
Clinton: I agree with Sanders.
(Sanders mutters irritably)
Clinton: …but I like FDR because of his role in defeating fascism around the world. I also would choose Nelson Mandela for his generosity of heart and his understanding of the need for reconciliation. And also, following up on that whole generosity of heart thing, can I just slam Sanders for hating on Obama right now?
Sanders: Madam Secretary, that is a low blow. I am VERY tight with Obama. VERY. TIGHT. And if I recall, only one of us ran against him, and that was not me.
Ifill: Let’s wrap this up.
Sanders: Campaign finance is corrupt. We need a government that represents more than just the 1 percent. Take down Wall Street!
Clinton: Unlike some people on this stage – and I won’t name names here, but it isn’t me or the moderators – I am NOT a single issue candidate, and we don’t live in a single-issue country.
<Sanders issues death glare>
Moderators: That’s it! For those of you who made it through this whole thing without falling asleep, congratulations.