Sen. Bernie Sanders is leading in some polls for the upcoming Iowa caucus, so it should be expected that a massive target would be on his back. Pulling ahead in the polls is usually a warning to expect attacks from your party, although not usually allegations of sexism.
However, as the first commercial break was quickly approaching in last night’s Democrat debate, there was a shocking lack of shots fired against Sanders, or anyone for that matter. Sanders mildly scuffled with national frontrunner Joe Biden, but their debate was polite and Bernie was far from defensive. Until he and Sen. Elizabeth Warren were goaded into a puerile argument over sexism that quickly devolved into a fact-checking tussle devoid of meaning or importance.
It took 45 minutes for the moderators to bring up Sanders’s recent controversy, in which he allegedly told Warren that a woman could not win the presidency in a private meeting in 2018. Moderator and CNN correspondent Abby Phillip, when questioning Sanders, treated the accusation as fact, and questioned him on his supposed stance that a woman could not win in 2020. Sanders responded by stating that Hillary Clinton winning the general proves that a woman can easily win the presidency, trying to shut down the line of questioning.
However, the conversation was far from over. Phillip then asked Warren to respond, again taking it as undisputed truth that Sanders had made such comments. Warren responded by stating that the Democrat Party needs to choose someone who can win, and that the only people who have ever won every election they’ve been in are her and Sen. Amy Klobuchar. This comment could have initiated an interesting conversation about what experiences and positions would best serve the future nominee against President Trump, but this debate was replaced with banter best kept in a schoolyard at recess.
The conversation devolved into childish scuffles over technicalities, phrasings, and the hyperspecifics of the various candidates’ voting records. At one point, Sanders and Warren argued over whether 1990 was within 30 years. Such depth and substance is why the Democrat debates are worth watching. Who wants to listen to the actual merits (or lack thereof) of the candidates when they can argue over who said what?