This is how it goes. You starch your sarcasm collar up high and point your judgment nose low, and then everything falls into a saltwater pool of international proportions. While we had planned on digesting tonight’s debate on CBS between the Democratic triumvirate bench in the typical bathroom manner with which we digest small bits of food, today has fallen beneath the pall of last night’s coordinated attacks on Paris and on Beirut. There’s still talk that this plays into the Russian plane crash and any other act of terror that might be bothering the temples on either side of your eyes. In response, CBS told the New York Times that it is realigning its question path to match the timbre of the times. OK, so … will it be like those strange post-9/11 telethons were? Or will it be Hillary’s chance to shine in the international diplomacy mirror? Or will Bernie shut it down with some well-earned outrage? The O’Malley situation seems less relevant by the minute, but he’s eye candy, so there’s that. At any rate, we will be chiming in as appropriate starting at 9 p.m. We apparently didn’t have anything better to do (which is a lie), but we’re also still puffy-eyed with tears from the decay of modern civilization at a freaking concert in Paris. Grab a corndog and watch along as everyone walks the “too-soon” tightrope walk on international conspiracy, the one that tilts as safely as possible to the left. It might not be as fun or funny as previous liveblogs from this particular scribe, but he (I) has a feeling that it may be an important moment in political discourse. And abuse of tenses.
8:58 p.m.: Gah, we’re already crying after the pre-show. CBS IS TRAGEDY PORN. Apparently Bernie Sanders’ camp doesn’t like the sudden shift to foreign affairs, at least according this speculative website.
9 p.m.: A moment of silence for Paris. It was really just a “moment,” though, which is likely comparable to 10 seconds.
9:02 p.m.: You can likely go to #demdebate on twitter and find meaner people than me. (Hint: They may be Republicans!)
9:05 p.m.: Bernie Sanders has talked to a lot of people about the economy being rigged and has just basically steamrolled his way past the Paris question.
9:06 p.m.: “Barbaric, ruthless, jihadist terrorist group” – Hillary’s going for the gusto. We need to “do a better job against the scourge of terrorism.”
9:08 p.m.: Martin O’Malley thinks he can fix everything because he’s “new.” OK, good plan.
9:09 p.m.: Hillary is running down the middle row. RUNNING. She’s probably right, though. “This cannot be an American fight,” she says. Clinton and Obama have underestimated ISIS, that is the flavor of this question. Clinton, to her credit, is talking in smart tongues about actual leaders in the the Middle East. The problem is that most people just glazed over.
9:12 p.m.: O’Malley just said a whole lot of Senior Prom nothing, but he’s cute, still. Bernie Sanders is going after Clinton, now, on the issue of the Iraq invasion. He’s also rambling a bit.
9:14 p.m.: Clinton caused all of this by voting for the war, Sanders says. Hillz is coming back with a textbook full of context so that everyone knows she was actually Secretary of State.
9:15 p.m.: So, basically, they’re trying to start a grudge match between Sanders and Clinton, this time on regime change. Now O’Malley is piling on with a heaping pile of “secondary” and “third” consequences. Clinton isn’t really having it. “I don’t think you can paint with a broad brush,” she says. She just dipped into the Sunni jar! The term “complexity” has been broughten. Sanders, in an attempt to steal the narrative, is saying that “this is a war for the fall of Islam” in which people are going to have to get their hands dirty in Muslim countries. Clinton bites back, calling Sanders’ read on the whole thing “unfair” because Jordan has been awesome. Blergh.
9:20 p.m.: Can we quit with “boots on the ground” imagery? Clinton, to her credit, is coming on hard with the knowledge about Lybia, etc. BAM! The moderator just asked O’Malley if it’s too dangerous for an unskilled person to come on as president right now. He has so far responded in tiny sugar-substitute packets marked “instability.”
9:22 p.m.: O’Malley just punched back, however, with an attack on the term “boots on the ground.” Semantics will win this election! You get the feeling that all three of these people would be better served at a coffee table in a friendly room than in front of podiums in front of audiences. Oh, wait. That passed. Sanders just brought up PTSD and soldiers.
9:24 p.m.: More semantics: Is it radical Islam or is it jihadists? Clinton is being taken to task a bit, but she just said, “nihilism,” “lust for power” and “adversary.” Also, “barbaric,” “vicious” and “lust for power.” It’s a whole ’80s Cold War album.
9:27 p.m.: O’Malley thinks American Muslims are key to us solving the ISIS conflict, or something. Clinton is getting hawkish and saying things like “arsenal” and “intelligence that is actionable.” Sanders has something to say and is trying to interrupt.
9:29 p.m.: Speaking of Cold Wars, Sanders is pointing out that we’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars protecting nuclear weapons, but not spending enough on Syrian refugees. O’Malley was the “first person on this stage” to suggest that we accept Syrian immigrants, those fleeing the terror of home. All 65,000 of them, etc.
9:32 p.m.: Clinton is throwing all the foreign policy “challenges” on the table including a drone in a submarine with a nuke in it. YIKES.
9:39 p.m.: Sorry. We nodded off a bit during Hillz’ screed on healthcare reform and O’Malley’s lapdog leap into capital gains territory. Sanders is talking about “redistribution of wealth.” Uh-oh. Time to end corporate loopholes and start taxing corporate giants. TUITION-FREE COLLEGE! Bernie does not, though, however have taxation numbers yet. “I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Dwight Eisenhower!” ZING! O’Malley so wants to be Sanders’ VP. Handjobs all around.
9:43 p.m.: Sanders and Clinton are not really on the same team as far as the Affordable Care Act. Also, Sanders drove people to Canada to get cancer tests? BADASS! “All healthcare is a right and not a privelege,” he says. Amen.
9:49 p.m.: “Immigrant bashing carnival barker” is my new band. It’s also Donald Trump, according to O’Malley.
9:52 p.m.: FIGHT FOR 15 QUESTION FOR SANDERS! “At the end of the day, what you have right now …” are a bunch of people making not a bunch of money. Living wage is “not a radical idea.” PROGRESSIVE SWOON!
9:55 p.m.: “The more our people earn, the more our people spend,” O’Malley says. Sanders echoes that. Clinton supports a $12 national minimum wage. Municipalities can go higher if they choose to.
9:56 p.m.: EVERYBODY JUST LOST THEIR SHIT, BUT THEN WE HAD TO GO TO A COMMERCIAL TO THE SOUND OF HILLZ’ SIGNATURE CACKLE!
10 p.m.: I wish there were a halftime show. There isn’t. Now we’re going after Hillary for taking donations from Wall Street. Hillary is slightly unconvincing when talking about big banks and hedge funds, but maybe it’s just because she’s wearing pearls.
10:03 p.m.: Sanders is playing your defiant poor uncle at Christmas. He’s in a onesie AND a union. (kidding, folks).
10:04 p.m.: He just got the Hillary “women” smackdown. NOW SHE’S TALKING ABOUT 9/11. AND BIG BANKS. AND OMG EVERYONE IS SCREAMING.
10:06 p.m.: “Break them up,” says Sanders of banks. O’Malley is going after Hillz on her Wall Street connections. Clinton’s economic plan is “weak tea,” O’Malley says. Applause. Clinton is now calling out O’Malley for his investment banking connections. “You’re good,” O’Malley says. WOOOOOOOWWWWWW.
10:09 p.m.: Sanders wouldn’t touch a Wall Street exec with a ten foot money pole.
10:10 p.m.: Hillary is winning on the gun issue right now by my standards, a sort of Achilles’ heel for Bernie. “Close the gun show loophole,” she says. Ooooh, Sanders is blowing back on gun regulation. He apparently has been misrepresented. Also, he’s talking about “mental health.” Sanders says the immunity bill he supported was basically not a mistake, but certainly something he would look at. O’Malley is powering down on Hillary Clinton calling her a flip-flopping Annie Oakley. Jesus, this theater.
10:15 p.m.: Clinton is fudging a bit on the donation question; something picked up by CBS from Twitter. Sanders politely makes her look like a greedy fraud just by saying those words.
10:16 p.m.: Hillary is all about getting the job done, banks or not. Sets the ball up for O’Malley to say “crony capitalism” like a Democratic seance.
10:22 p.m.: You say you want a revolution, Bernie? He does, even though there’s a Tea Party nightmare running the dialogue. Bernie would like to buy the world a Coke, or something.
10:24 p.m.: “I’m still sick of hearing about your emails,” Sanders says. “Let’s go to the major issues facing America.”
10:25 p.m.: “I agree completely,” Clinton says, before talking about how inspirational Sanders is and how terrible Republicans are. “I think President Obama deserves more credit for what he has done,” Clinton butters the biscuit. “Also, ‘I think after 11 hours that’s very clear,'” she says in response to THE EMAIL HEARINGS!
10:30 p.m.: Sanders just got a sort of softball on race and criminal justice. Although, his populism sometimes veers into sloganeering. MARIJUANA! FIVE POINTS!
10:31 p.m.: Clinton knows a thing or two about activism, man.
10:33 p.m.: Oooooh, Clinton just did a triple sow kow about Black Lives Matter.
10:34 p.m.: Is it wrong that it sometimes feels like Sanders is a living episode of Welcome Back Kotter?
10:36 p.m.: O’Malley needs to stop talking about Maryland like it’s a nation.
10:37 p.m.: Clinton just said a bunch of things about college tuition that seemed to be in a bottle labeled “contradiction.”
10:38 p.m.: Sanders is MAD AS HELL AND NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE about the healthcare, drug and insurance companies. Medicare for all, single-payer system. Clinton just got a shout back on her 1994 healthcare plan, and thinks that Sanders’ healthcare plan is bunk. It would allow states to administer, and Hillary doesn’t want a Republican governor handling her ladyparts and their care.
10:44 p.m.: These commercials, though. Does Trivago know that it sounds a lot like Truvada? Asking for a friend.
10:46 p.m.: Ohhhhhhh-Malley, you are no Hillary Clinton on international policy. “Threats always change?” Where were you when Bin Laden was killed?
10:50 p.m.: O’Malley is advertising himself and talking about how “new” he is. This is a lot of words for nothing.
10:51 p.m.: Clinton likewise has a website. She wants you to go to it with your debit card. THIS IS POLITICS.
10:52 p.m.: Sanders is on fire for his closer, “Please become part of the political revolution.” All a little Ron Paul reminiscent, though, right? Just like in a funhouse mirror?
10:55 p.m.: I think we’re done early???? WE ARE. HILLARY AND SANDERS JUST HUGGED. Now we’re doing the play by play. Hillary spiked when she played the lady card. Sanders spiked with Eisenhower. O’Malley won with “immigrant bashing carnival barker.”
10:57 p.m.: Oooh, next CBS debate is with the Republicans in February. MARK YOUR VALENTINES CALENDARS. Also, thanks for playing along, all seven of you. It’s been fun and somewhat reaffirming in a weekend of tear sludge. Goodnight!