Hillary Clinton is the hawk in the Democratic field, such as it is, but even she says the fight against ISIS can’t be an American fight. But if we don’t take the lead, the fight isn’t going to happen, at least not ably and in keeping with our interests. She dodged a question about the Obama’s administration’s responsibility for the rise of ISIS and dishonestly blamed Bush for Obama’s pull-out from Iraq. At least she accepted the Paris attack as a serious topic of discussion, whereas Bernie Sanders, when he got the opening question about it, addressed it in ten seconds before turning to how awful it is that we have a rigged economy. None of the candidates would say “radical Islam,” which is verboten phrase for Democrats just like “all lives matter.”
The debate moment that will probably generate the most chatter is Clinton’s bizarre rejoinder when Sanders criticized her contributions from Wall Street:
So, I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.
This was a transparent evasion and failed canned answer, unless you are credulous enough to believe that all the Wall Street money flowing to the Clintons is gratitude for her leadership role after 9/11.
It felt as though Hillary took more fire than last time, both under the pointed, able questioning of John Dickerson and from an aggressive Martin O’Malley (who had a good debate), but Sanders doubled down on not making her e-mail an issue. She is still in danger of losing New Hampshire and perhaps Iowa, but the Democratic race nonetheless feels like a pro-forma affair. The Democrats will have debates, if they must, but clearly hope that no one will pay attention.