Hunter Thompson once wrote that a career politician smelling the White House is like a bull elk in heat.
“He will stop at nothing, trashing anything that gets in his way, and anything he can’t handle personally, he will hire out- or, failing that, make a deal,” Thompson wrote.
At Thursday’s debate, Hillary Clinton came out of the gate like an animal, rabid and snarling. On that night, she smelled the White House. She wanted this to be her turning point. She saw her opportunity to take the crowds, New York and the nomination.
Clinton seemed to have three basic strategies throughout the night: Invoke 9/11, talk about President Obama and speak over pretty much everyone. Over the course of the night she mentioned the president 24 times, five of those in one response. At some point, she realized that the moderators would not mute her once her time was up, so she yelled over anyone she could.
The first question for Sanders was about his remark on Clinton’s qualifications. The senator asserted that obviously she had the qualifications to be commander-in-chief, but he questioned her judgement, referring to her vote on the war in Iraq, her use of super PACs and the trade agreements she supported.
In an almost expert deflection, Clinton told the audience that an attack on super PACs was not only an attack on her, but on President Obama as well. Those in the crowd who recognized the dodge began to boo Clinton. This was not a crowd that was going to sit by idly while she repeated her tired rhetoric.
Early on in the debate, the moderators asked the question on everyone’s mind: If there is nothing incriminating on the transcripts of speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs, why not release them?
Given her angry responses to previous requests, the entire room went silent, waiting on edge to listen to her.
“I’ve said before, I will release them when everyone else does,” Clinton said.
And the crowd erupted in screams and jeers. The moderator asked her twice more, and she deflected each time, saying that she would provide her transcripts once all her opponents, including the Republicans, did. Then, she tried to overshadow the issue by demanding Sanders’ tax returns.
If I were an uninformed and undecided Democratic voter, this exchange might be the most damning of the entire night. Not only did she avoid a direct question three times, she told the voting public that she would allow her standard of leadership to be set by those in the Republican party. In that instant, she showed her true colors as a follower rather than a leader.
Right before the commercial break came the most heated moment of the entire night. Through her entire campaign, Clinton has advocated for raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour, while Sanders has called for $15. On stage in front of millions of people, she said that she had supported a national minimum wage of $15 an hour for years. Those in the crowd knew this lie for what it was and erupted in objection. Much to the annoyance of the host, after the moderators gave Sanders his time to respond, Clinton shouted over him.
The entire night, Clinton failed to answer a single yes/no question, and I am not sure she could answer one if she tried. The moderators asked her if she was prepared to lift the cap on social security and she talked around the question.
Sanders called for the U.S. to lead the world in fighting climate change and called for an end to fracking, something Clinton has supported for years. When he asked her about supporting a tax on carbon, she waffled. The moderators asked her if she was as responsible for the state of Libya as President Obama and she talked around that one as well.
Once before I said that Clinton sounded like someone upset that Sanders was not willing to step aside and let her do what she wanted, and Thursday’s debate only solidified that. When the moderators held her to a point, she threw a tantrum. When Sanders pressed her on issues, she lashed out and tried to distract from the subject at hand. When the audience showed their disapproval, she chided them like a mother scolding her children.
From shouting over the moderators, shouting over Sanders and talking down to the crowd, Clinton demonstrated how untrustworthy and out of touch she is.