By Meg DiMartino
Ahh, Presidential Debate season. A time to sit with your closest politically charged friends and see who live-tweets the funniest moment or adds the most inappropriately appropriate gif. A political junkie’s dream. A journalist’s busiest time of the year. A candidate’s chance to command the narrative. An American’s look into who they are electing to run this country. And my personal World Series. Every newspaper I read the morning after the first Democratic Primary Debate declared that Hillary Clinton rocked it in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 13 but for varying reasons. I completely agree (though I am already #ReadyforHillary) and would like to highlight key moments Clinton had especially being the woman’s voice on the stage among 4 male hopefuls.
First, right out the gates Clinton introduced herself as a granddaughter of a factory worker and as a grandmother. She moved on and said, “and yes, fathers can will be able to say to their daughters you, too, can grow up to be President.” As the only female on the stage she played and won the gender card specifically when she expresses her motivation for running to begin with. Toward the end of the debate, this theme appears again. When Anderson Cooper asked how her administration would differ from Obama’s she played it off so casually when she said that it’s pretty obvious “electing the first woman president” would be a distinction. This reward her a roaring applause and hollers from all over the Healy Family Student Center (where I was viewing).
In addition to what I would personally call the death of Lincoln Chafee’s candidacy, the Dems Debate viewers saw the start of the slow death of Clinton’s so-called email scandal. This major moment, for me, was when Bernie Sanders interrupted Cooper and exclaimed that the American people are sick of hearing about the emails! Something I have been repeating like a mantra since July. Clinton then stepped out of her podium and shook Sanders’ hand. A true class act, in my opinion. This gesture is not something that would have possibly occurred in the Republican rodeo. Further, “No,” was her response to Anderson Cooper when asked if she wanted to respond to Martin O’Malley and his comments on her email because it was handled and everyone wanted to move on to issues that Americans tuned in to hear.
Clinton was asked about Carly Fiorina saying mandated, paid maternity leave would mean fewer jobs and this was her time. Clinton said, “They [Republicans] don’t mind having big government to interfere with a woman’s right to choose and to take down Planned Parenthood. I’m sick of it. We should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain of ‘big government this’ and ‘big government that’ … I know we can afford it because we will make the wealthy pay for it”—and that is when she clearly won the Debate. Clinton confidently stood her ground in her roots she has planted fighting for women and families her entire political career.
Something unique about last night is that we did not see any other candidate attack Clinton’s character or personality that is usually a characteristic of debates in which men and women participate. When men debate a woman they usually visibly walk on eggshells to avoid appearing sexist or overly aggressive standing next to her. I did not see this happen at all, everyone felt comfortable and the arguments and attacks were tastefully related to the issues that affect the American people. In all honesty, it was a restorative process to our American political system for most viewers. I can’t help but be optimistic and say that it was a movement in the direction toward getting over the gender gap, by not treating Clinton in any certain, delicate fashion. By everyone acting as himself or herself the folks at home also benefit because they see actual issues being carefully curated. I’m not sure if CNN received as many viewers as it did for the first Democratic primary debate as Fox received when Trump was performing but it definitely offered the American people a sense of comfort that the government is still in good hands. As Donna Brazile said in her post-debate analysis, “It was a good night for Democrats, it was a good night for America.”
***Views are entirely my own.