The Reverand Jesse Jackson sitting in a blue-dowsed auditorium while Sheryl Crow sings the National Anthem in black leather pants can only mean one thing: The Democratic National Debates have begun. And judging by the gaudy fanfare and title bout headlines, they’re being hosted by either World Wrestling Entertainment, or its annoying little brother, CNN.
Now that we’ve all had a chance to watch, re-watch, TiVo and/or stream Tuesday’s Democratic National Debates, it’s high time to seriously and relentlessly rank and degrade the candidates in the Friendly Unofficial Political Analysis, or FUPA.
Hilary Clinton: B+
Solid performance, no missteps here. She took a little heat for the State Department emails, but managed to Jiu Jitsu that into support from candidate Sanders and a delightful “No” soundbite when asked if she’d like to respond to accusations from candidate what’s-his-face. I mean, Chafee. Clinton smiled often, which despite inspiring all the warm cozy feelings of a praying mantis after sex, still managed to foster confidence in her as a human(ish) being. Despite lukewarm proclamations throughout the night (by all candidates), Clinton’s hardline stance on enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria ought to make any anti-Cold War enthusiasts nervous. This position, often cloaked in political speak and page two headlines, represents a brash dare to a Russian leader who likes us about as much as he’d like a warm weekend at Epcot.
Bernie Sanders: B+
At long last, prime time America felt the Bern! Unfortunately, someone apparently advised him to ditch the trademark cardigan and comb his hair – whoa! It was like seeing your dad without a mustache for the first time and you couldn’t understand why mom was letting some shaved ape eat ravioli with us and call me “sport.” Ah-hem… excuse me, got a little carried away there. Bottom line, the crowd loved Bern and that played well and he refused to be tripped up by the maddeningly predictable “Are you a socialist?” rhetoric (he is, in fact, a champion of Social Democracy – it has some of the same letters in it, but not the same thing. Kind of like “vegan” and “vegetarian cheese omelette”). But he should really hire an intern who follows him around, and every time his hair settles into a nice part, runs up and rubs his head with a balloon.
Martin O’Malley: A-
Oh my Malley! Paging President Dilf, you’re needed in the War Room to show off your guns. Holy smokes, O’Malley – the pics of you on the Intertubes make former President Clinton look like a devout Mennonite. If President Putin wants to settle the score with an arm wrestling match, I’ll show up with stars and stripes underpants and U.S.A. painted on my chest, ’cause we got this! I mean c’mon, those arms look anacondas that just swallowed a pig. Unfortunately for O’Malley, however, black lives matter, like a lot. And the state he used to govern seems to be having a tough time getting its collective head around that fact. Still, O’Malley’s first big national appearance won him more points than anyone else on that stage, though it still looks like a two-horse race. If he continues to show as well in subsequent debates, though, he’ll almost certainly wind up on the winner’s ticket (and the cover of Men’s Health).
Jim Webb: C-
Captain Smiley gets a passing, but by no means exemplary grade. Much like his fraternal twin, Eddie Munster, Webb was sporting a pretty dour attitude for most of the debate. Granted, his lectern was stationed halfway behind the curtains stage left, but the Vietnam veteran ex-marine’s countenance was that of a… well, an ex-marine Vietnam vet. I actually think Webb will wind up serving in the eventual president’s cabinet, but he’s not geared toward public acclaim. He tried admirably (and stubbornly) to steer the questioning into his apparent wheelhouse, Chinese cyberterrorism, to no avail. It was sort of like watching someone who knows the population of every city in Borneo toiling on Jeopardy. They’d look really smart if only they got that one category. As it is, Webb came across as an everyman at times and a grumpyman at others. Oh, and he pretty much confessed to killing a man once. And then he laughed about it. No big deal.
Lincoln Chafee: D-+
Yeah, so about that whole “Gonna be president someday” thing: you’re not. Any chance Chafee might have had at potentially being considered by some people as maybe a viable candidate to perhaps ponder running for president essentially shattered into billions of microscopic shards, which in turn melted under the white-hot scrutiny of millions of viewers, and ultimately dripped shamefully into the sewers. And I’m being nice here. For starters, he bears too eerie a resemblance to Jigsaw, the sadistic puppet from the SAW movies. If he ever painted red spirals on his cheeks, I’m pretty sure he’d become a tenured attraction at ComiCon. Second, his painfully awkward response to Anderson “Slender Man” Cooper’s relentless questioning on his first Senate vote (spoiler, he couldn’t remember how he voted and all but accused Cooper of being “no fair!”) made me physically uncomfortable. Lastly, he used to be a Republican. When asked why he changed parties, he said because the Republican party left him, meaning he is just as conservative as he was when he chose to NOT be a Democrat. Honestly, it was a train wreck. If you don’t have the time to watch the whole debate, please see the animated GIF below, which represents a rough but fair rundown of Mr. Chafee’s evening.