[Sanders’s] most newsworthy moment, of course, came when he declined Cooper’s invitation to attack Clinton for using a private email server. “[L]et me say something that may not be great politics,” he said. “But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.”
Sanders was wrong: It was great politics. His statement made him look like a mensch and a man of principle, ensuring that the debate remained a surprisingly substantive exchange on the issues he cares about most, rather a GOP-style pro-wrestling match. He actually seemed less interested in taking down the front-runner than in elevating his own ideas. That’s hugely rare in a politician.
— Yes, Hillary Clinton Won the Debate …But Bernie Sanders set the terms, Michelle Goldberg, Slate, today
As with this matter, the punditry’s reaction to the above moment last night was, um, different than mine. After spending most of the first hour of the debate disappointed in Sanders’s performance—he seemed very, very nervous, and occasionally almost tongue-tied—I reacted to that comment by him with a “Wow! Yeah! He’s found his sea legs!”
My question today is: Why is this interpreted by the political analysts as a big victory moment for Clinton rather than for Sanders? Is this how most of the viewing public saw it?
I’m betting that answer is that they saw it as I did. And as this one journalist, Michelle Goldberg, saw it. As a victory for the Democratic Party. And a triumphant moment for Sanders.