“Excuse me!” Bernie Sanders wouldn't have had to utter the now infamous admonition--complete with hand in the air--had moderator Anderson Cooper done his job and actually enforced the rules with Hillary Clinton when it wasn't her turn to speak.
She continued to talk--even introducing a new topic--more than once after Cooper had repeatedly called time. She made sure she always had the last word. We should all take note of this as it reflects an attitude that normal rules don’t apply to her--though it is a clever debate tactic.
In this round, however, Bernie Sanders won on substance, and because of that, the mainstream media were scrounging for something to criticize. So they seized on the fact that he was "mean " and spoke to her in a "tone."
The subject took up considerable time on post-debate media forums and seemed to concern reporters more than the substantive policy differences that came out in the debate, notably:
*That despite claiming to want to keep jobs in America, Clinton never met a Free Trade deal she didn’t like.
*That there is no excuse for inaction when children’s health is involved (focusing on the issue of lead pipes in Flint and elsewhere).
*That it wasn’t the job of middle class taxpayers to fund Wall Street bailouts—even, especially, as many were losing their homes to foreclosure.
*That there is no such thing as “super predators”—only teens living in poverty who need education and jobs—something the wealthiest nation in world should be able to secure for them.
*That while we must close NRA-sponsored loopholes in our gun laws, appealing to the emotions of gun control activists is irresponsible if a candidate promises to draft or support laws that are on their face, illegal and/or unenforceable--such as holding manufacturers of legally sold and licensed firearms responsible for the actions of those who purchase them. (I despise the tactics of the NRA, but in this instance I’d liken Clinton’s suggestion that gun manufacturers and/or dealers be held liable for tragedies like Sandy Hook—an action she argues would bring people to the table to negotiate tougher gun control laws—to holding Ford liable if someone plowed into a playground full of children in his Explorer.)
*That despite Sanders’ offer to release the text of every speech he’s ever made to corporations (exactly zero) she STILL refuses to disclose the content of her paid (at $200K+ a pop) speeches made to private meetings of Wall Street contributors. (Secretary Clinton claims she’ll release speech content when the Republicans also disclose. Sanders rightly pointed out that she’s not running against a Republican in the primary, she’s running against him. And frankly, nothing she said could be as damning as what people continue to imagine she said, when she refuses to disclose it.)
*That one cannot serve two masters, so we need campaign finance reform if we are ever to have a truly democratic electoral process. Sanders made the point well: corporate executives didn’t get where they are by throwing money away. If politicians were not influenced by Wall Street donations, corporations would not be spending millions to support campaigns.
I may have more to say later, but for now, here’s just one thing about tonight’s debate etiquette (or lack thereof.) Full disclosure—it includes a personal confession: when a person routinely interrupts, refuses to respect generally accepted boundaries, and quite obviously angles to always speak last whether or not it's her turn---she needs and deserves to be shut down.
I say this now as a woman, and as someone who is frequently guilty of the very same conversational sins myself: when you interrupt, speak out of turn or talk over someone, it's bad form to then cry "poor me" and accuse (by direct or indirect means) the other person of being a bully, or imply that his justified reaction (borne of frustration with your bad behavior) is somehow his fault.
Hillary Clinton employed a debate tactic tonight (not for the first time since this process began) that is quite common among seasoned debaters and courtroom litigators: do whatever you can to make sure that your opponent never lands a blow or gets the last word. Make sure that his words won't have a chance to settle in the minds of listeners, or the substance of his facts have time to resonate.
She executed it (interrupting the flow of his remarks as often and as best she could) with pinpoint precision. (And I’ll give her points for moxie.) But alleging "sexism" when asked to abide by the rules is cheap. Though I am not surprised by the subject of the debate postmortem, I still wish the media had exercised more objectivity in the analysis. And to Secretary Clinton, a word to the wise: vilifying an opponent through media surrogates after displaying contempt for debate rules is no way to win votes--at least not mine. You’re better than this.