Oh hello, candidates! It's been far too long since we invited you into our homes to holler unpleasantly. Please, come in, kick off your shoes, and get ready to yell about policy. Bernie, please remember to interrupt Hillary and waggle a finger at her. Hillary, we expect to see you do that trick where your mouth says "I'm laughing" and your eyes say "I could have you killed." Fun for the whole family!
The festivities begin at 6 pm PST, and I'll be liveslogging so you don't have to. Instead of watching the actual debate, I encourage you to simply check in with this post every few minutes to get the funniest/dumbest highlights that you can roll your eyes about tomorrow so everyone at work will think you follow politics. (You don't, though, because who has time? New season of Kimmy Schmidt drops tomorrow!)
And if you're looking for a productive way to spend your time tonight, why not pop by the True Love Art Gallery for MAN-DATE, an exhibit celebrating the male nude? It looks like a good time and I'm pissed I can't make it. Somebody please head over and let me know how it is by tweeting at me: @mattbaume. Also please tweet your observations about the debate at me. But fair warning: I'll probably read a tweet about the male nude before a tweet about corn subsidies. (Unless the corn subsidies are wrapped around a dick.)
5:59 Tuned in just in time to see the twilight's last gleaming. Every time I hear our national anthem, I wish we still used the original lyrics:
To Anacreon in Heav'n, where he sat in full Glee,
A few Sons of Harmony sent a Petition,
That he their Inspirer and Patron would be;
When this answer arriv'd from the Jolly Old Grecian
"Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
"no longer be mute,
"I'll lend you my Name and inspire you to boot,
"And, besides I'll instruct you, like me, to intwine
"The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."
6:01 Bernie begins with a little gloat about how much better his poll numbers are now than they were a few months ago. Clearly lots of Sanders supporters in the audience — they shout "TWENTY SEVEN DOLLARS APIECE" along with him.
6:05 Bernie: "We're doing something very radical. We're telling the truth." Hillary: "It's great to be in New York."
6:10 They're getting harsh about each others' judgement. "Let's talk about the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country," says Bernie, referring to the war in Iraq, but for a moment I hoped he was talking about America's failure to embrace Limahl.
6:13 Various questions about how they'd take an ax to mega-banks. Bernie is surprisingly stumbling here — trips over words and stammers about how banks should be broken up. I mean:
6:15 Hillary is clearly winning in the attitude department. "I love bein' in Brooklyn," she coos, grinning slyly off-camera like she's got a hunky masseuse waiting for her.
6:20 Moderator asks: why doncha release those transcripts, Hillary? "I did stand up to the banks," said Hillary, and goes on to answer a completely different question. Moderator presses her. "There are certain expectations when you run for president. This is a new one. If everybody agrees to do it... there is a long standing expectation that everybody running release their tax returns and you can go to my website and see 8 years of tax returns," she says. Moderator presses her again. "When everybody does it, I'll do it," she says. "I WILL DO IT," Bernie hollers. "I will give all of the transcripts I gave to Wall Street behind closed doors... THERE WERE NO SPEECHES." He also has a few charming words about his wife doing their taxes and they've been busy so that's why they haven't released them yet.
6:25 Bernie says he'll release his 2014 tax returns tomorrow. Wolf asks about previous years. "We'll get 'em," he says, waving his hands. He is not pressed on this like Hillary is pressed on her speeches.
6:29 Important point:
I mean, can you even imagine? Skyward Sword was good, but the Motion Plus controls were a pain and it was nowhere near as charming as Windwaker. Linkle's been a fun Bayonetta-style character in the Hyrule Warriors DLC and she would be an absolute blast as a main character whenever Nintendo releases the NX. I'm going off on this tangent because Bernie and Hillary are shouting over each other about which one more strongly supports $15 minimum wage. Ho hum.
6:34 Bernie looks like a real asshole when he laughs at Hillary's intensity on gun violence. Then later when she starts to talk, he sneers EXCUUUUUSE MEEEEE, like a tourist who didn't know he had to ring the bell on the bus before his stop.
6:40 Wolf Blitzer asks Bernie if he owes an apology to the victims of gun violence for his past opposition to lawsuits against gun makers. Bernie looks terrified by this question. "What we have to dooooo," he drawls, "is do everything we can."
6:41 Hillary hits back hard: protecting gun manufacturers from lawsuits is "a special gift" carved out only to the gun industry, and Sanders was complicit, she says.
6:43 Wolf Blitzer tosses to a local TV reporter to ask a question. He gets a little round of applause from the audience, and smiles shyly. It's cute.
6:46 Reporter asks is Hillary's sorry about the 1994 crime bill. She points out that it was her husband who signed it, not her. (But she still regrets the unintended consequences.)
6:47 On Hillary's use of the term "superpredator" in the '90s, Bernie says: "it was a racist term and everybody knew it was a racist term."
6:48 To be fair, Bernie isn't the only one smirking unpleasantly on stage tonight.
6:51 We're in break. No huge revelations, and we're probably right where we were when we started: just voting for whoever wins the nomination.
6:58 Bernie brings up Hillary's promotion of fracking. She is only too happy to respond to something else.
7:01 Oh, too bad for Hillary: a moderator presses her on fracking. She explains that natural gas will get us off of coal and reduce Russian influence, and fracking is the best bridge. "We want to cross that bridge as fast as possible." The explanation actually comes across as very smart and reasonable. "Little steps are not enough," says Bernie, who I guess has discovered dilithium crystals?
7:05 Bernie asks Hillary to support a tax on carbon. "You know," she sighs, "I have laid out a set of actions... building on [Obama's] clean power plan." She says a few things about the Supreme Court, then zing: "I don't take a backseat to your legislation that you haven't been able to get passed."
7:07 I dunno what's going on with Bernie tonight but he's super-interrupty tonight. Even when he's not talking, he's making faces like a driver's ed instructor watching a 15-year-old turn the windshield wipers on and off.
7:15 Don't worry if you're not watching the debate. A lot of people aren't.
7:23 Discussion has turned to peace in the Middle East. We'll definitely locate the solution to this problem here tonight.
7:28 Bernie needles Hillary about whether Israel's attacks on Gaza were disproportionate. Twitter freaks out at Hillary's refusal to use the word "disproportionate." Bernie points out that she doesn't talk about how the US can support Palestinians.
7:30 Commercial break. That Israel stuff was an exhausting angry fight — and that's between two people who basically disagree. Imagine how miserable it must be to try to negotiate with parties who want to fire rockets at each other.
7:34 The best part of this debate is definitely the commercial break during which CNN just puts up a silent title card. The peace and quiet of those 2 minutes is just so wonderful.
7:35 And we're back. Maybe this last half-hour of the debate is where they'll put all the questions they haven't already asked a million times.
7:39 Bernie on universal health care: "I live a couple miles away from Canada and it's not some kind of Communist authoritarian country. They're doing okay."
7:41 A super-wonky question about taxing income to extend the life of social security. Hillary answers expertly and intently. Bernie says Hillary's just copying his plan, which was Obama's plan, and goes on to shout over the moderators.
7:45 Bernie makes shushing gestures even when nobody else is talking.
7:47 Hillary supports Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Bernie says that if elected he would ask Obama to withdraw the nomination because we need a nominee who supports the overturn of Citizens United. Hillary heroically pivots to the failure of every single debate to bring up the subject of reproductive choice. She's 100% correct and the audience goes nuts. Sanders attempts a left-wing one-up by pointing out that he has a perfect track record on choice, and that he's from a state that "led the effort on gay marriage, and proudly so." Moderator responds "thank you senator" to let him know his time is up but it sounds like she's thanking him for gay marriage.
7:53 Okay, Democrats, let's wrap this up so we can all move on with our evenings.
7:55 Moderator Dana Bash points out that there's still three months between now and the convention, and the country bursts into tears. At least we'll have Game of Thrones to get us through most of that.
8:00 We're in break, after which the candidates will be able to make their case one more time. Do we really need this? Are either of the candidates going to say anything we don't already know, haven't already heard? What, is Bernie going to be like "look under your seats, America" and we all get a year's supply of his favorite jam?
8:10 Candidates are making closing statements. Both statements consist of words. Well done, A+ word-saying. We are all enriched by tonight's political discourse.