Sunday, August 9, 2015

And Now, Back to Your Corners

It was a busy week of sparring on both sides of the political aisle, and in the end, probably not much has changed, which helps some candidates and hurts others. Do remember that it is August and much of what has and will be said will fly away in the wind or get beaten down to nothingness in the heat and humidity. But we do have the beginnings of the campaign outline, for better and worse.

On the Republican side, the first debate, and don't forget about those who didn't poll well enough to have Megyn Kelly embarrass them, told us a good deal about the coming shape of the GOP race. It will not be kind to women's health.  Every one of the candidates, even moderates like George Pataki (nothing about him later), promised to be as dismissive, condescending, mean, uncompromising and punitive on women's reproductive rights as they possibly could. If the choice is between a women's life or a fetus's, women lose. Planned Parenthood? Gone. Exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother? Sorry--keep the child despite the circumstances.

In 2012, each Republican candidate said they would not raise taxes even to save the economy. Oh, for the good old days of GOP rationality. Unanimous agreement that women are second-class citizens takes their extremism to a new and disturbing level.

Then of course there was the talk of immigration and how high the wall should go before we say, "That's good." Listening to the candidates I thought that perhaps they considered the CBS program, "Under the Dome" to be a documentary worth investigating. What creeps into their comments, though, is the idea that all immigrants are suspect and that anyone, although we're really talking about Hispanics, should be questioned if they have an  accent. But I don't expect that the police would be worried about someone with an eastern European lilt to their voice.

As to which candidates helped themselves? Jeb, Marco Rubio and John Kasich stood out for both their answers and their demeanor. Ben Carson and Chris Christie did not do poorly, but they are not really part of the post-debate conversation, which only hurts them because they needed a good showing to overcome the "can't win" label.

On the left, Hillary Clinton was seen as the big winner from the GOP debate because she was the target of many of their comments, especially the ones most offensive to those who are liberal and/or support women's reproductive rights. Or marriage equality. Or the environment. This is allowing Clinton to move farther to the left on those issues and income inequality. That's fine for the base, but she's going to have to appeal to more moderates in the general election so she can't be seen as too  extreme on the other side of the spectrum. And the GOP is going to make a big deal about the e-mails she had on her private account. And Benghazi. But I don't think these will be major problems for her.

Bernie Sanders has been packing in the crowds and is slowly creeping up in the polls, but he has his own problems with many in the African-American community. I don't doubt for a minute that Sanders will address these concerns satisfactorily, but the last thing Democrats need is an internal split akin to what the Tea Party has done to the right. The left's strength has been in its unity, which is a fairly new concept for Democrats. They need to make sure they stay that way.

And I didn't even know.

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