Viva, Las Vegas Debate! A Lighter Look at CNN’s Democratic Lovefest

By Al Perrotta Published on October 14, 2015

It’s little wonder the Democrats held their first debate of the 2016 race in Las Vegas. It’s loud, hot and shallow, and by the time they’re through with you they’ve taken all your hard-earned money.

What Elvis Presley song were they singing to Hillary? “Suspicious Minds”? “You’re the Devil in Disguise”? More like, “Love Me Tender.” Tuesday night’s debate took place in the Wynn casino, but it might as well have taken place in an Elvis wedding chapel for all the romancing of Hillary going on.

Poor Anderson Cooper. Despite his best efforts, he wasn’t a respected journalist hosting a debate. He was Chris Harrison hosting a Sin City episode of The Bachelorette. It was a missed opportunity for the other candidates on stage. I mean, Hillary truly is a target-rich environment.

Hillary changes positions quicker than Cher changes costumes.

Her private server with state secrets on it was easier to get into than a bed at the Mustang Ranch.

As Secretary of State, she passed around classified information like a Strip hustler handing out girly show fliers.

Her “smart power” in Libya and Syria was about as smart as folding with a full house.

Yet her opponents barely tried to touch her.

This Just In: If Elected, Hillary Would be the … FIRST … FEMALE … PRESIDENT!

What about the optics of the event? Let’s just say, I haven’t seen a lineup that Caucasian in Vegas since the closing of Jersey Boys. They made Wayne Newton look like Jay Z.

They weren’t devoid of diversity, of course, as Hillary kept reminding us. Clinton played the female card like she had a whole sleeve full of them. The reason she’s an outsider despite being the consummate insider is because she is a female. She is distinguished from Obama because she is … a female. She even took longer to get back to the debate stage because she’s a female. She did everything short of whipping out Barry Manilow tickets to prove she is a female.

Hillary did provide one cute moment of levity. She was apparently late getting back to the podium after a commercial break. “You know it does take me a little longer. That’s all I can say.”

Perhaps she was alluding to the Keystone pipeline. As she pointed out, “I didn’t take a position on Keystone until I took a position on Keystone.”

It was surprising how close Hillary stuck to President Obama. One could say she was even clingy. Why? To keep Obama from switching his affections to Joe Biden perhaps?

When asked about the email scandal, Hillary gave her pat and already disproven answers. Then Sanders came to her gallant rescue. Throw him in a tunic and his saving of the damsel act could play at Caesar’s. “America is sick of hearing about your damn emails!” he thundered. Hillary laughed and thanked him. And the audience roared.

If you were expecting poor Anderson Cooper to step in at this point with any of the dozens of reasons America needs to hear about the growing scandal, forget it. You’d be better off expecting Britney Spears to do her Vegas show dressed in a burka.

Speaking of burkas, it was also curious to hear DNC boss Debbie Wasserman-Schultz called out more than ISIS. Talk of terrorism, radical Islam and the religious genocide in the Middle East was harder to find than a clock in a casino.


The Democratic mindset on who they see as their true foes was no clearer than when facing the night’s final question: Cooper asked, “You’ve all made a few people upset over your political careers. Which enemy are you most proud of?”

Only Jim Webb seemed to understand the difference between an enemy and a political opponent. He said, in a line that would have been perfectly at home in a Stallone movie: “I’d have to say the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to.”

Meanwhile, Hillary was happy to declare Republicans among her host of enemies. Martin O’Malley chose the NRA. Lincoln Chafee picked the coal industry. Sanders said Wall Street, drug companies and “those #%$#! neighbor kids who keep kicking their ball into my yard!” Okay, I made that last one up.

Mr. Sanders, You Don’t Have to Shout

Judging from the post-debate polling and the Frank Luntz focus group on Fox News, the Vermont Senator scored well last night.

But why so loud, Bernie?

Let’s just say Sanders did not use his “inside voice” for the debate. All night he sounded like he was trying to be heard over slot machines in his head. Bachelor parties don’t have as much shouting and waving around.

Sanders wants to explain to America what it means to be a “democratic socialist.” In short, he’s okay with your start-up company making money until you make enough money for him to take it from you. Sanders wants the United States to be more like Denmark, Norway and Sweden, forgetting that America gave us liberty, prosperity, moon landings and rock-n-roll. Sweden gave us ABBA.

Sanders called for a “political revolution.”

“Bernie, I don’t think the revolution’s going to come,” Jim Webb said, “And I don’t think the Congress is going to pay for a lot of this stuff.”

Oh, but Jim, the “billionaires” are going to pay for it. Oh, and our children, and our children’s children, and our children’s children’s children …

Jim Webb

That wasn’t the only time the former Virginia senator swam against the progressive tide.

Webb was as out of place on that stage as Billy Graham at a blackjack table, and as welcomed as a card-counter. The straight-talking Marine came out in favor of nuclear power, securing the border, and restoring the Constitutional balance between the Presidency and Congress.

He did such a good impersonation of a Republican he could open for Rich Little.

Webb may have been the Vietnam vet up there, but it was the rest of the candidates who were suffering from war flashbacks. ISIS could drown a dozen tourists in the Bellagio fountain, Iran could drive nuclear-tipped missiles up and down the Strip, Elvis himself could open tomorrow night at the Luxor and those candidates would still be talking about the Iraq War.

Lincoln Chafee

Then there’s Lincoln Chafee. There have been plenty of disastrous performances in Vegas. Remember the night a white tiger nearly mauled Siegfried and Roy’s Roy Horn to death? This was worse. In a moment that may live forever in debate lore, Chafee offered an epic reason why he voted for a bank deregulating bill called the Glass-Steagall Act.

“Glass-Steagall was my very first vote. I’d just arrived, my dad had died in office,” Chafee told Anderson Cooper.

“Are you saying you didn’t know what you were voting for?” Cooper asked.

“I’d just arrived in the Senate. … It was my very first vote.”

“With all due respect, what does that say about you that you were casting a vote for something you weren’t really sure about?”

“I think you’re being a little rough. I’d just arrived at the United States Senate.”

Imagine, voting for a major bill before seeing what’s in it. Thank God other Democrats have never done that on some matter of life and death like health care.

Martin O’Malley

Maryland’s former governor Martin O’Malley was the one who brought up the Glass-Steagall Act and he did get boisterous on the subject of guns. However, for most of the night O’Malley was so drab and low-energy he made Ben Carson look like Liberace.

O’Malley had one task last night: present himself as a strong alternative to Bernie and Hillary. Didn’t happen. On the plus side, his looks do make him a strong Democratic alternative to Scott Brown.


Tuesday night’s debate made Bernie seem almost logical and Hillary seem almost likable. And that’s a magic trick worthy of Penn & Teller.

But you’re still talking about a grumpy socialist who’s older than sand and an imperial queen who’s being fitted for an orange pantsuit.

Joe Biden didn’t go to Vegas. But this debate may have made him more likely to roll the dice.

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