Bernie Sanders's golden debate moment

When the books about the making of the president in 2016 are written, one of the high points will be when Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSinema pushes back on criticism of her vote against minimum wage, implying that it's sexist Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Schumer insists Democrats unified after chaotic coronavirus debate MORE (I-Vt.) rose during the Democratic debate this week to defend rival Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: China implicated in Microsoft breach | White House adds Big Tech critic | QAnon unfazed after false prediction Jill Biden redefines role of first lady QAnon supporters unfazed after another false prediction MORE from the partisan attacks against her from Republicans in Congress over her email issue.

The Sanders intervention, when he said that the "American people are sick and tired of hearing about [Clinton's] damn emails," brought a thunderous ovation from Clinton supporters and Sanders supporters in the room, and from many voters in living rooms throughout the nation.


If either Clinton or Sanders is ultimately elected president, that moment will be remembered alongside the brilliant slashing of then-Sen. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.) by then-Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) in the 1988 vice presidential debate when he said to Quayle, "You're no Jack Kennedy."

In the debate, Sanders did what Sanders does best: He denounced the kind of Republican attacks that make politics so distasteful to so many Americans today, and he brought attention back to the great issues of income inequality, social injustice, climate change, and the growing domination of big money over politics and government, which should be the leading issues of the campaign — not emails or servers!

The moment was pure and classic Sanders, projecting the authenticity, integrity and principle that makes him so beloved by his supporters and so respected. It made supporters of Sanders proud of their candidate, a sentiment that is all too rare in American politics these days.

The moment was also a major windfall and probable inflection point for Clinton, who has been shamefully maligned, persecuted and insulted at taxpayer expense by the House Select Committee on Benghazi that should be disbanded for the real scandal — abuse of power by a Republican-controlled committee — that the highly credible Sanders brilliantly called out in the debate.

John Podesta, former White House chief of staff for President Clinton and current campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton, and one of the leading "wise men" in American politics, said it best on CNN in an interview that was reported in The Hill. The Sanders moment in the debate helped Hillary Clinton, and it also helped Sanders.

It is no wonder that in the hour following the debate, the Sanders campaign received $1.3 million in new campaign donations, a triumph that has now reportedly risen to move then $2 million.

Nor is it surprising that there is a new twinkle in the eye and dance in the step of Hillary Clinton, while her supporters emerged from the debate as proud of her as the Sanders supporters emerged proud of him, and Democrats across America had one more reason to be proud of both.

The losers in this magical moment of the debate were Republicans, whose partisan scheming was further discredited, and Vice President Joe Biden, whose Hamlet-like performance appears to be a sad show that will soon be closing.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at