Laugh Track: Top 10 Funniest Dem Debate Moments

Democratic debate (Andrew Burton / Getty)
Andrew Burton / Getty

When Democratic presidential candidates get together to debate, it really is like watching the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks, as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) once joked.

They don’t just live in a different America. They live on a strange, faraway planet where politicians can control the weather, and evil corporations control everything else. (Oh, and where BLACK LIVES MATTER, über alles.)

It’s ripe with comic potential. These were the ten funniest moments.

10. The candidates talked down the economy. Last Tuesday, President Barack Obama said: “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.” His would-be successors did not get the memo, as each of them talked down the economy. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led off by talking about how “we have to get the economy working,” and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) talked about growing inequality between rich and poor.

9. Everyone competed to hate the Second Amendment. While Clinton and Sanders disputed which of them had been consistently worse for gun rights, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley boasted that he had been worst of all, passing gun regulations that somehow have failed to prevent an ongoing death spiral of violent crime in Baltimore. It was a reminder that there is no room in the Democratic Party for dissent–or for the Constitution.

8. Bernie Sanders couldn’t hear a question. In a reprise of Admiral James Stockdale’s catastrophic gaffe in the 1992 vice presidential debate, when he claimed his hearing aid was off, Sanders asked moderator Lester Holt to repeat a question from YouTube. It highlighted the sheer age of the field, as well as the age of their ideas. Later, in an encore, Sanders had to explain what it meant to be a “democratic socialist”–an ideology that died decades ago.

7. The candidates competed to take credit for Obamacare. Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley each claimed credit for helping to write, fight for, and implement the “Affordable Care Act”–a law that the majority of Americans want to repeal. Millions lost their insurance, millions lost their doctors, and millions are paying more in premiums and high deductibles. In Obama’s home state, nearly 200,000 more just lost their plans. But it’s working great, right?

6. When Hillary Clinton used the word “jail.” She was referring to corrupt Wall Street bankers–whom, by the way, the Obama administration failed to prosecute as promised. But with much of the country wondering whether Clinton will be indicted before Election Day for corruption and misuse of classified information, jail must certainly be weighing on the Secretary’s mind. Neither of the other two candidates had the guts to say the word. But she did!

5. Martin O’Malley bragged that no one from Wall Street has contributed to him this year. In response to Clinton reminding him that he had been happy to accept contributions from Wall Street in the past, O’Malley said he had not taken money from Wall Street “this year.” The year is 17 days old and O’Malley is at 2.3% in the latest Real Clear Politics national poll average, so no surprise. Even the audience of loyal Democrats laughed at that one.

4. Bernie Sanders dinged Donald Trump. One of the few moments of genuine humor came from Sanders, who said that Trump believes “climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.” It was a good line, capturing Trump’s opposition to climate change policies, as well as his suspicion of China. Of course, Sanders thought the U.S. was on the wrong side of the Cold War, and still blames us for fighting it (see below), so take that from whence it comes.

3. Hillary Clinton claimed credit for the Iran deal–and Iran sanctions. If Clinton wants to take credit for a deal that allows Iran to develop nuclear weapons after a decade or so, and gives it over $100 billion to fund its terrorist proxies, so be it. But she told a knee-slapper when she claimed credit for the sanctions that brought Iran to the table.  The truth: her State Department, like the rest of the Obama administration, tried to prevent sanctions against Iran.

2. “We were able to get the chemical weapons out” of Syria, said Clinton. Clinton dodged a question about Obama’s failure to enforce his “red line” in Syria by claiming that he had found a unique window of opportunity to solve the problem of chemical weapons peacefully in a deal with Russia. She topped that fraudulent history with a claim that Syria gave up chemical weapons–a claim not even the Obama administration takes seriously anymore.

1. Clinton claimed to have stood up to Russian President Vladimir Putin. That “reset” button must have been flushed down the memory hole, because now Clinton is claiming that she put up a fight against Russia, describing Putin as “someone you have to continually stand up to.” A brazen lie–and a total joke, equaled only by Sanders’s complaint that the military aims “to fight the old Cold War with the Soviet Union.” He’s stuck in 2012–or 1917.