Last week was the first Democratic Presidential Debate, featuring Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and three other stand-ins from the extras department.
I stayed up until 4am here in the UK to see all the action. I had a few people ask me why couldn’t I just watch it the next day and catch the highlights? That would be the sane option. However, these debates are one of the few times you can see the high pressure world of politics nearly unfiltered, with real moments of honesty and palpable moments of failure.
These debates make or break campaigns and this one in particular was exciting especially because of the dynamic of Hillary Clinton and a guy named Bernie Sanders.
Who are the players?
Lincoln Chafee - A former mayor and governor (and former Republican), he’s a long shot candidate who needs to make a real impression to stand out. Not just here, but in life in general.
Jim Webb - A former Senator and military man (and former Republican, also). He is stocky, forthright, direct. Looks like he could kill a man.
Martin O’Malley - A former governor of Maryland (was never a Republican) and if central casting was looking for someone to play a president he’s the man.
Bernie Sanders - A current senator (very much never a Republican). Imagine an old, grey-haired, ideologue that is completely unelectable as a party leader but excites the far left of their party. It would never happen, right?
Hillary Clinton - A former senator, former Secretary of State, former First Lady, and current Republican Anti-Christ. She has already won and is only popping down to be nice.
Here for me where the highlights of the debate (times are estimated, or even possibly fabricated, but the events are real):
Midnight - I’ve just figured out the debate doesn’t actually start until 1.30am instead of 1am. I make more coffee.
12.30am - Setting up my snacks to keep me awake, tonight I’ve gone with an odd mix of pretzel sticks, crisps and garlic and onion dip. Probably best that I’m alone, no one would want to smell me.
1am - Still a half hour to go. Why have I committed to do this?
1.25am - Run for a quick wee, not realising there will be plenty of chances for a toilet break during the many, many commercials and every time Jim Webb speaks.
Main goals for each candidate tonight - Hillary, to prove she’s human. Sanders, to prove he’s electable. O’Malley, to prove he exists. Other two, proof it’s easy to be there.
1.30am-ish - The debate begins, with Anderson Cooper turning to the audience like it is a sporting event, ‘Are you all ready.’ They scream. It’s already a farce.
1.31am My CNN stream freezes and I spend the next 15 minutes hitting refresh, swearing and thinking I will have to make up most of my tweets for the next two hours.
1.46am Finally my stream starts working, I’ve missed Sheryl Crow singing the national anthem (!?) and Jim Webb struggling to remember his kids’ names. As the debate progresses I can see why he struggles remember them as he is more worried about China invading ANY MINUTE.
1.47am I managed to catch Hillary introducing herself by saying, ‘If you don’t already know who I am, please don’t listen to anything they say about my emails, Benghazi, my husband. Just nominate me so I can go home.’
1.51am They have so much more room on the stage than the Republican debate, maybe they could take a few of their candidates just to balance everything out. Oh, wait it sounds like Jim Webb is a Republican still.
2.05am Some guy name Lincoln Chafee is here too, but he seems startled and confused every time someone speaks to him. I think he might be lost. Sorry, no he has already lost.
2.14am Why is Bernie Sanders shouting everything? I know he’s old, but does he not understand how television works? I turn down the sound, step outside and I can hear his voice over the horizon.
2.16am Now Hillary is shouting, but that might be because she’s gone deaf standing next to Bernie.
2.35am Martin O’Malley weighs in, this is the night he’s been waiting for, as no one in America knows who he is. He’s very pretty, I almost get lost in his eyes before I listen to his voice. He doesn’t sound presidential, he sounds like he is going to cry.
2.46am Bernie Sanders comments on what Bernie Sanders would do, because nobody knows Bernie Sanders like Bernie Sanders does.
2.48am Bernie Sanders, “I don’t care about Hillary’s damn emails. What are emails?”
2.51am O’Malley does have a bit of a spark in him after all, did Hillary goose him? She’s a foxy Grandma after all.
3.01am Feeling bit tired, but luckily Jim Webb has started talking about China again, so that’s a chance to close my eyes. Even Bernie’s taking a nap.
3.06am O’Malley just gets sexier and sexier, especially when he isn’t talking. I need more pretzels.
3.07am Bernie Sanders says “Huge” just like Donald Trump. And they both have strange hair. Coincidence?
3.10am Bill Clinton tweets a picture of himself sitting alone in a hotel watching the debates. Unclear if his fly is open.
3.15am Lincoln Chafee hasn’t left, although after listening to him, he would have done better if he had. I want to hug him though, he’s very sweet.
3.16am Very different than a Republican debate as the candidates admit other people have views that are different than theirs and they respect that concept. I’m not sure that’s allowed.
3.34am Hillary has a wee, just to prove she is human.
3.49am Most candidates are debating each other, while Jim Webb is debating the clock. Lincoln Chafee is debating being relevant.
3.50am Another commercial break? Oh dear god, I’ll pay to end this thing. I need to go to bed but I don’t want to miss anything, I mean one of the candidates might joke about the fact they once killed a man.
3.54am Jim Webb has just joked that he once killed a man.
3.56am Closing statements:
Lincoln Chafee, “I need to go home and shut my website down.”
Jim Webb, “Vote for me or I will kill you” (slow creepy smile)
Martin O’Malley, “I’m glad to be here, because none of you knew who I was before, and you will not likely ever see me again.”
Bernie Sanders, “Bernie Sanders. Huge. Bernie Sanders.”
Hillary Clinton, “Are we done yet? I’ve got an interior designer booked to meet me in the Oval Office in the morning.”
4.05am Blissful sleep, only disturbed by passionate dreams of Martin O’Malley.