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Dem Debate Week -- Comeback Grandma? Can O'Malley Pull a Fiorina? Will Joe Run or Pass?

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 12/10/2015 Mark Green
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By Mark Green
Matalin and Corn preview the first Dem debate: Will HRC's new progressive push work? What's O'Malley's opening against an iconic woman and anti-plutocrat? Will Joe stop his tease? Then: after Oregon and four gun deaths per-hour all year, Right says answer is more guns. Really?
Debate Preview I: Hillary & Bernie. After months of being target practice for a jaded media and no-holds-barred GOP, Hillary tried pre-debate to turn around a negative narrative by opposing TPP and Keystone, humor-izing herself on SNL, pushing back on Benghazi based on McCarthy's gaffe, going hard on gun safety after Oregon. Has she re-set race or at least stabilized it?
Mary maintains that McCarthy's admission about the political motive of the Benghazi Special Committee was stupid because it enabled Hillary to "play to her sweet spot which is to play the victim." David says his comment was stupid not because it was false but true. "This eighth Benghazi Committee has no reason to exist since the others haven't proven any of the Far Right conspiracies and it's now lasted longer than the one into Watergate."
Host: Last week, Cecille Richards schooled Chair Chaffetz in the Planned Parenthood hearing. Now that McCarthy gave away the game, will the October Surprise be that Gowdy emerges the loser in his long-planned confrontation on October 22 with the formidable former Secretary of State?Did her SNL sketch help counter the rap that Hillary's a cold fish, like Nancy Reagan's "Second Hand Rose" performance at the Gridiron Dinner moved the needle on her reputation 30 years ago? Based on her familiarity with Hillary, Mary agrees that it's a bum rap and the SNL routine worked..."but she's dropping among Democrats because of Clinton fatigue and perceptions about her honesty." David adds that people like a fighter not a front-runner and her attacks on the Republican presidential candidates are helping drive her comeback. (Indeed, she could be immunized if not strengthened long-term if she gets through Benghazi and emails without significant further damage.)Do her moves on Keystone and TPP shrewd appear shrewd or merely pandering? While opportunism sure is no sin in politics, is this a 'bridge too far'? Mary thinks it is, especially since Bill was such a strong supporter of NAFTA (though not as a candidate).
The panel agrees about Sanders's effective campaign and that the GOP is licking its chops to fillet him in a General Election if he gets that far. Mary doubts he will because, even should he win the first two state contests, he won't be able to loosen her grip on minority voters in later primaries. David questions whether the 'socialist' label is still politically lethal "since all Presidents since FDR have been socialists when it comes to Social Security, Medicare etc."
Debate Preview II: O'Malley & Biden. Do Mary and David agree the O'Malley -- who sees himself as the insurgent Gary Hart of 2016 -- has the candidate and electronic skills to stand out in the Debate? Will that be the story line -- a Democratic Fiorina who emerges -- after Tuesday night?
Could be, they agree. Mary notes that her Democratic friends concur on his youthful, energetic, well-spoken appeal but it's hard to break out with so few debates? "Except Sanders broke out before there's been even one," notes David, adding that it's not obvious what his path can be since Bernie has solidified a quarter of the party with his blistering attacks on the .1%. "What can he do -- attack Hillary? Merely doing well in a debate now may not be enough."
Then there's the re-re-rise of Biden, riding a wave of sympathy after the death of his son and his perceived "authenticity." Considerations? Odds? David questions whether there's much space left among Dem voters and his family considerations. But Mary and the Host emphasize that once being president is in your blood, it's tempting to think third time's the charm, especially after being in Obama's back seat for eight years. David doesn't disagree: "Mo Udall memorably said that the only cure for the presidential bug is formaldehyde."
So, one word answer: balancing everything, on which side of the fence will he fall this week? Yes or No? Matalin: "Yes." Corn and Host: "No." Guns: More Guns the answer for U. S.? Nazi Germany?
Obama's surely right that gun massacres, especially on campuses, is becoming the new normal. Can't something be done?
We listen to Clinton make an emotional appeal standing with the mothers of Sandy Hook victims in New Hampshire. "We're better than this!...We have to take back the second amendment from the extremists."
Mary asks who "the extremists" are -- "those anti-Christian extremists in Charleston and Ft. Hood?" No, HRC was referring to the NRA. "Well," she responds, "the only thing that will assuage liberals is to do away with the Second Amendment." David balks at this all-or-nothing framework. "What's so different about America that we suffer more of these shootings? Wouldn't universal background checks and an assault weapons ban [and longer wait periods] reduce some of these shootings or their kill rate?"
Matalin won't give an inch, noting that people abroad use knives and that Carson wasn't wrong for saying that what'd help is armed personnel like teachers stopping a perpetrator. "What are you going to do," David interrupts, "have Navy Seals in classrooms?" As for Carson saying the kids should have coordinated and rushed the shooter, Corn points out notes that Carson didn't know who Chris Mintz was, who indeed did rush the Oregon shooter. There's a big split on Carson: Mary had him over her house last week and she found him to be a person "of enormous integrity." David regards him an "insensitive boob."
Host: Corn's reductio ad absurdum about Navy Seals is not misplaced. For the only response to the magical Brue-Wlllis/Jack Bauer-ization of this problem -- assuming that some trained, gun-packing kindergarten teacher will stop a well-armed killer with a plan - is laughable...not to mention the likelihood of accidents with loaded guns in thousands of schools seems exponentially more probable than stopping an armed intruder.
Speaking of boobs, it's after the program that Carson opines that a) doing anything about gun safety is akin to Hitler taking guns from the German population and b) armed Jews could have helped stop or reduce the Holocaust. Which proves that Carson is surely the best surgeon running who could safely split Siamese twins and the stupidest historian in the contest.
Obama-Putin: Strong/Stupid vs. Smart/Weak? David, didn't Obama make early mistakes in responding to Syria and ISIS? "Not necessarily since there never were very good options. What should he have done, send arms to the opposition not knowing if they were working with al Qaeda It's easy to criticize here but what would Republicans have Obama DO?" Mary agues that one thing the U. S. cannot do is "let Russia get a foothold or dominance in that region, threatening Israel and the Baltic states. Perhaps at this stage we have to consider policies anathema to our values."
Like what? Like propping up one-man regimes to stabilize the situation, she replies.
Host: Like Saddam? That's quite an admission from a Bush supporter. The fact is that Syria is not a blank slate. This and the next president have to act after the failure of American policy, strategically and militarily, in Iraq and Afghanistan. After those debacles, the American public rationally does not want to engage troops there, risk another quagmire there, or risk a WWIII over Syria.

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