Ms. Cary has appeared on NPR over 100 times; for a full listing of her interviews and commentary, click here.
The first Democratic debate of the 2016 cycle will be held on Tuesday, October 13 on CNN, with Anderson Cooper hosting from Las Vegas. As I write this, speculation is rampant about whether Vice President Joe Biden will jump in the race. Right now the betting is that he won’t debate – there’s not enough time for full-scale debate prep – even if he does enter the race. So in addition to probably not seeing the vice president on stage, here are five things you probably won’t see either:
First, you won’t see former President Bill Clinton in the audience, for the same reason you didn’t see former President George W. Bush at any of the GOP debates cheering for his brother. As Hillary Clinton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last month, “I’m not running for my husband’s third term … I’m running for my first.” If he’s smart, he’ll stay away.
Second, you won’t see Hillary Clinton go after socialist candidate Bernie Sanders, who is surging in the polls and has raised almost as much money as she has this quarter – all from over a million small donations, which means he’s got staying power because most of his donors will be able to donate again and again. Clinton recently told a longtime supporter, “I am not going to start to take shots at Bernie Sanders.” In fact, the last time she was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” she wouldn’t even mention him by name. While some backers are getting nervous about her silence – she risks looking arrogant and out-of-touch – they also know that polls show that most Sanders supporters would back her in the general election should she be the nominee. That means she won’t tear him down and risk losing Sanders supporters in the long run. “I have five words of advice for the campaign,” longtime Clinton backer Paul Begala told the Washington Post when asked whether she should start attacking Sanders: “No, no, no, no and no.”
Think CNN’s strategy is to keep the format so loose that all the Republicans look like buffoons?” my brother texted me during the most recent GOP debate.
Most Republicans would answer him with a resounding “Yes.”
I can’t tell you how many friends asked me immediately afterward why the debate was so ungoverned – a bell or a buzzer would have been better than hundreds of “Thank you, governor” interruptions from Jake Tapper. And why he was asking so many food-fight type questions? “Can’t the GOP do something about that?” I was asked over and over.
The answer is no. “By law, the Republican Party cannot dictate who the moderators are, or what the ground rules should be, or even the length of time for each debate,” one Republican source involved with the debate negotiations says. “If the GOP decides anything other than the date of the debate and the media partner carrying it, the party would ‘own’ the debate – and for the networks to sponsor it would be viewed as an illegal in-kind contribution to the GOP.” Oh well.
Is it any surprise that Congress ranked at the bottom of the most recent Gallup poll of institutions Americans feel confidence in? Such poll results are a sad reflection of voters’ impatience with the lack of compromise and increasing polarization in Washington. “This whole thing that’s happened over the last 20-plus years is somewhat alien to those of us who grew up in a different time,” says former President Bill Clinton. “You fight in the election. You have your differences. The voters would decide, and then they expected you to get something done. And now it’s viewed as something rare.”
“If you’re fighting with somebody all the time … you literally can’t hear what the other person’s saying,” Clinton adds. “If you’re in constant combat mode – there can be nothing good about your opponent and nothing bad about you and you’re never wrong and they’re never right – it makes you deaf. It shuts your brain down. And that’s a bad thing.”
But the effects go beyond the White House and Congress to the American people. “Hatred corrodes the container it’s in,” says former Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson. “And don’t think it ain’t out there. [People] hate Congress. They hate the president. They hate the leaders.” Simpson makes a great point: “You can’t hate politicians and love democracy.”
The entire archives of Ms. Cary’s blogs and columns for US News & World Report is available, click here.