Mass Reaction to the Democratic Debate

Hillary Clinton needed a mic drop moment and last night she delivered it. Some of the loudest cheers over her first debate appearance of the 2016 presidential campaign season came from this bluest of the blue states.

Some Blue Mass Group denizens were both energized and relieved. One poster opines, “She was the only president on that stage.” Another cut to the chase: “She is frigging amazing….”

The Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi notes that the “grave dancing” was “premature.” Not only did Hillary take on all comers and verbally toss them over her shoulder, she got a memorable assist from none other than Bernie Sanders, the world’s grumpiest democratic socialist. “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” Sanders said. “Enough of the e-mails. Let’s talk about the real issues.”

Leaving ethics and legal issues aside (and those are big asides), Sanders is correct. As long as there are no damning revelations, Clinton’s email server problems will remain an inside the Beltway obsession. If you are a “Fight for $15” minimum wage activist, the issue does not register.

Over at Mass Political Profs, Stonehill College’s Peter Ubertaccio underlines what astute observers of the national political scene already know: “She is the only candidate in the top tier of her party.” Keller@Large says the only woman in the group was the “only obviously presidential figure.”

If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, the Boston Herald’s Howie Carr, in his own way (OK, he did call him a “septuagenarian moonbat’s moonbat from Vermont by way of Brooklyn”), comes to Sanders’s defense, if only to say that the network went a bit hard on him as part of what Carr thought was a determined effort to prop up Clinton.

But don’t count Joe Biden, America’s favorite uncle, out yet. Biden was a no-show, disappointing Democratic political junkies everywhere. Kimberly Atkins, the Herald’s Washington-based columnist, concludes that the vice president was better off getting a handle on his opponents’ debating styles rather than making some dramatic entrance.

Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of the debates was watching a group of adults have a civilized discussion, free of the spitball-fighting fury that has characterized the Republican forums. Remarking on the exchange between Jim Webb and Sanders on the Vietnam War, Ubertaccio observes, “That is how adults disagree. It’s how a party that aspires to governance behaves.” (Note to CNN debate moderator Anderson Cooper: It’s time to kick the Vietnam syndrome.)

CNN’s debate stagecraft came in for some well-aimed brickbats from Northeastern University’s Dan Kennedy. The longtime media analyst blasts the CNN’s decision to have an African American, a Latino, and a female reporter ask questions about what the network perceives to be African American, Latino, and female issues. He proclaims CNN the “biggest loser,” calling the network’s producers “weirdly tone-deaf, wallowing in racial and gender stereotypes.”

Meanwhile, in the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction department WGBH’s Mike Deehan checks in with Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley, who apparently spent the debate enjoying the confusion he caused on Twitter among people who thought he was the O’Malley running for president.

As it happens, Boston’s O’Malley does support Maryland’s own Martin O’Malley (who got some nods in his direction as a possible contender for the number two slot).  However, according to Deehan, the former governor suspects that all his Hub supporter wants is first dibs on his 2016 presidential campaign swag.

GABRIELLE GURLEY

 

BEACON HILL

Two of Beacon Hill’s Big Three want to tax fantasy sports. (CommonWealth) Dan Shaughnessy talks to Dan Okrent, “the inadvertent, accidental godfather of DraftKings, FanDuel and all the other Wild West gambling services” that have created the zillion-dollar fantasy sports sector. (Boston Globe)

A contracting system designed to push more of the risk associated with big, public construction projects on to contractors isn’t saving the state money and may actually be increasing costs. (CommonWealth)

Former state official Edward M. Murphy says he learned from Jerry Miller that sometimes the best way to reform a state agency is to blow it up. (CommonWealth)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Fall River‘s controversial pay-as-you-throw trash program is falling about $1 million short in expected revenues because of those who have opted out or not paid the monthly fee. (Herald News)

Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter will announce a plan to clean up discarded hypodermic needles strewn around the city’s parks and playgrounds. (The Enterprise)

The Walsh administration wants developers to pony up more to help affordable housing efforts amidst the boom times — and price runups — being enjoyed by Boston’s real estate industry. (Boston Globe)

DRUGS

The overdose rate in Lowell is rising fast even amid calls for action to address the problem. (The Sun)

Leading federal, state, and local elected officials met in Quincy for a public hearing on tackling the opioid abuse issue in a city that has seen a spike in overdoses. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Harvard professor and Bowling Alone author Robert Putnam, talks about his new book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, in a wide-ranging interview in the new issue of CommonWealth. Putnam says a widening opportunity gap among American children threatens the very foundation of the American Dream.

ELECTIONS

The New York Times says Clinton was the hands-down winner, having the kind of night she needed after months of pounding.

Conservative wrap: The National Review says the debate showed the Democratic Party has morphed into an unapologetic Socialist Party. The Weekly Standard gives its version of winners and losers. The American Spectator headline: “Dance of the lemons.”

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Dante Ramos says the impending sale of EMC renews questions about the noncompete clauses that are in place in Massachusetts, but not in Silicon Valley. (Boston Globe) The sale is also reviving the inferiority complex of the Boston-area tech sector. (WBUR)

A Salem News editorial sees troubling signs in Marblehead’s resistance to having an assisted living facility open in the community.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno opens talks with the Pawsox, but cautions that any stadium deal would have to make sense for the city. (Telegram & Gazette)

U.S. News & World Report offers a look at how the recent fantasy sports scandals could affect potential public offerings of DraftKings and FanDuel.

EDUCATION

Gov. Charlie Baker pushes for more charter schools at a raucous legislative hearing. (Salem News) On charter schools, Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh have different approaches. (WBUR)

There’s a rich-poor divide in high school sports in Massachusetts, with students in wealthier communities playing a lot more sports than their counterparts in poorer communities. (CommonWealth)

CommonWealth‘s new fall print issue explores the looming decision facing the state over whether to adopt the new Common Core-aligned PARCC test or stick with MCAS. Meanwhile, a new study suggests the two tests are equally good at gauging students’ readiness for college — one of the main selling points that had been advanced on behalf of PARCC. (CommonWealth) The Sun asks candidates for the Lowell School Committee where they stand on the two standardized tests.

The Department of Education is set to unveil a new program that would allow students to use federal loans and grants for nontraditional alternative education such as coding software and massive open online courses. (New York Times)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Planned Parenthood has announced it will no longer accept payment for fetal tissue in an attempt to quell the controversy surrounding a covert video from an anti-abortion group. (New York Times)

TRANSPORTATION

An Eagle-Tribune editorial praises Gov. Charlie Baker for having the MBTA prepared for another rough winter.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

It could take decades to fully decommission the Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth and remove radioactive materials from the site. (Boston Globe) And it could cost close to $1 billion to do the job. (Boston Herald) What the closure of Pilgrim says about the New England energy market. (CommonWealth) The announcement has refueled the debate over a controversial power plant proposed in Brockton that supporters say could ease the energy supply hit from the loss of Pilgrim. (The Enterprise)

Scituate and Hull received state grants to repair sea walls battered by last winter’s storms. (Patriot Ledger)

North Carolina’s Jay Faison says he plans to spend $175 million trying to convince skeptical Republican lawmakers that climate change is real. (Governing)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A Quincy attorney was held without bail after pleading not guilty in the grisly slaying of a Marshfield man who had told neighbors he was a diamond smuggler. (Patriot Ledger)

A Milwaukee jury finds a gun retailer guilty of negligence in selling a firearm through a straw and orders the company to pay more than $5 million in damages to two police officers shot with the weapon. (Washington Post)

PASSINGS

Former Boston School Committee member and two-time mayoral candidate David Finnegan has died at age 74. (Boston Globe)