The Presidential Debate

The pundits focused on Hillary and Bernie. They ignored a third candidate on the stage who fared well. His name is Martin O’Malley. He didn’t hit the home run the gurus said was required to bring him into the race, but he represented his record clearly with poise and with the dignity the American people have a right to expect of the person in the Oval Office. He had the stature of a President.

The Bernie-Hillary show was a media creation, a script which, to his great credit, Moderator Anderson Cooper did not follow. Cooper asked hard questions to every candidate with the first questions of the evening. Cooper was a professional journalist, working for the American people to flush out the inconsistencies and push for the truth of what a candidate really stands for. Bernie danced a jig on his poor record on gun control and his votes on the Brady Bill; Hillary danced on the email controversy, her Iraq War vote, and her change of opinion on the TPP trade agreement. Cooper was the consummate moderator, insisting that candidates answer the question they were asked, but respectful and fair.

Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee were like minor leaguers on a Major League field in the early playoffs. There were five candidates on stage but only three major leaguers.

Webb performed poorly as the most conservative candidate who suffered from a shirt collar that made him look tight as a tic. He looked like the kid whose parents dressed him in a tux for the senior prom – very unnatural, ill at ease, unable to be his winsome self.  Chafee  stood by his progressive voting record and admirable credentials as a former U.S. Senator and Governor of Rhode Island, but his facial eccentricities and persona do not help his candidacy. Although he might make a great president, he’d be very hard to watch for four full years.

O’Malley, on the other hand, looked and sounded the part of a presidential candidate. Or, perhaps, Vice-Presidential. Like Joe Biden, O’Malley is both smart and tough, seasoned and fresh, just the kind of running mate Hillary or Bernie might choose, if either of them wins the Democratic Party nomination. The problem, of course, is that O’Malley is another Easterner, which all but eliminates him according to the prevailing wisdom that the best ticket is geographically balanced.

But, if in the debates ahead, Bernie and Hillary should falter, Martin O’Malley is someone to watch. If I were Bernie or Hillary, I’d sleep with one eye open. Remember the tortoise and the hare.

  • Gordon C. Stewart (Bernie supporter), Chaska, MN, October 14, 2015.



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