Well, this is going to be easy to write. Wednesday night’s Democratic debate (that wasn’t a debate) was pretty tame and stuffed to the brim with a whole lot of “meh.” Last night’s Democratic debate (that was slightly more of a debate) had more fire. Not, much - but a bit.
And here’s the thing. It was so painfully, clearly obvious that Senator Kamala Harris came out on top that I don’t actually have anything quippy to say. I mean, when the issue of race came up, Harris beat Joe Biden down like he was an amateur. (Editor’s note: This is the same link as the one on the front page).
Just like Warren on the previous evening’s debates, Harris was razor sharp across the board and was, again (as we always say) … presidential. I think Biden, Warren and Sanders have been the obvious front runners but that’s simply because they’ve raised a lot of money and get a lot of press. Which is important.
And, while it’s true that I don’t think you can have much of a “debate” when you only allow each candidate 60 seconds to answer questions (because you’re not really going to get to the meat of the deal.) That being said, when you put ten people up on the stage, sometimes it does become clear - “who is out of their league?”
And, there was a whole lot of “this candidate is out of their league.” Andrew Yang, who is mainly an “automation is a huge problem” candidate (he’s right); self-help author Marianne Williamson, former Gov. John Hickenlooper; Rep. Eric Swalwell (who had a nice “pass the torch” exchange with Biden); Sen. Kristen Gillibrand; and finally Sen. Michael Bennet - all of which, performed well (except, perhaps for Williamson) but are clearly just “out of their league.”
Which brings it down to Harris, Biden, Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Frankly, Biden kind of bungled it. Harris clearly got under his skin and it showed. After her beat down exchange, Biden awkwardly tried to explain his positions but it didn’t matter. From that point on he was stony faced and submissive. He, quite literally, lost - and he knew it.
Sanders was … well, he was Sanders. He didn’t offer anything that he hasn’t been consistently saying his entire career in politics - free health care, go after wall street and big Pharma, end student loan debt. His usual playbook. BUT THEN, he said something that I thought took guts. When asked if he would “raise taxes on the middle class,” he told the truth. He said, “Yes.” Because - that’s how government pays for things.
I mean, politicians usually say “no” to that question (and then raise taxes on the middle class anyway). So, at least Sanders is consistent and truthful. And I do like Sanders but, compared to the youth on stage he really did stand out as … old.
So, I wouldn’t say Sanders lost the debate in the same way that Biden did; however, Sanders, I feel, probably didn’t win over new voters.
Which brings us to Pete Buttigieg, or “Mayor Pete” as his constituents know him. He’s still not mainstream well known but is considered a rising star on the left. And he is. He’s incredibly smart. He’s extremely well spoken. He’s a veteran having served in Afghanistan. He has governing experience (several years Mayor). And, to be honest - he’s just flat out likable. I don’t see him as a front runner though. He’s just too unknown. But, perhaps a VP pick or a cabinet position?
Anyway, it all comes down to this. Biden has the money. He has the reputation. But he got his butt handed to him by the fiery Senator Harris. Who also has money. Primary’s are still a long way away and anything could happen, but after two nights of hearing twenty candidates, it really does look like these folks are at the head of the pack:
Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders and VP Joe Biden (even though he lost big time last night, I wouldn’t count him out just yet). Then I would add both Julian Castro and Mayor Pete near the top of the race as they appear to be exceptionally good candidates … that probably don’t have a chance to make the top of the ticket.
I probably know what you’re thinking. Either - “I hate all the libtard Democrats and don’t care what they have to say” or, “There are too bloody many Democratic Presidential nominees for me to care what any of the non-front runners have to say (because we all know the three obvious front runners are Biden, Warren and Sanders.)”
Fair enough. But last night’s debate (that wasn’t actually a debate) held a few surprising moments. But, only a few. I mean, Warren basically - crushed everyone. And, I say, “wasn’t actually a debate” because, rarely did the candidates - debate one another and when you only get 60 seconds to answer complex policy questions then, well - it’s not a debate.
Anyway. A few takeaways:
In his after the “debate that wasn’t actually a debate” coverage Trevor Noah was spot on when he said, “This was a chance for many of the unknown candidates to introduce themselves to a national audience. They could go from “who is that?” - all the way too … “ooooooh, yeaaah - that guy! (pause). No, I’m not going to vote for him. No.” (It’s probably a bit funnier when Noah says it).
And it was one hundred percent true! There were at least three people on stage where I had that exact moment of “who” to “oh, him” to “nope.” Let’s call them “the debate that wasn’t actually a debate losers” - Tim Ryan, John Delaney, Jay Inslee. I’m not even going to rank them on their policy choices because, most of the Democrats have similar ideas (in the same way the most Republican’s have similar ideas). These three public figures just, well, quite figuratively - didn’t even need to be at the “debate.” It’s not like any of them were bad, per say. They, along with Klobuchar, were all fine (even though she kept getting cut off). But all of them were just kind of. “meh.”
And “meh” will NEVER beat Donald Trump.
Then, we come to the nights actual loser. And there really is only one actual loser and that’s Beto O'Rourke. He’s been polling fairly high. People seem to like him. I was expecting him to, at the very least - beat out Bill de Blasio in the debate but - nope. De Blasio beat down O'Rourke on multiple occasions and Beto came off as kind of a stammering dolt. De Blasio did what New Yorkers do (I lived there for many years), they shout over you to get their point across, and they expect you to do the same to them to get your point across too!
I swear, walking the streets of NYC, I’ve seen that exact scenario dozens and dozens of times. Two New Yorker’s, usually men - have a minor dispute over something, then yell at each other to get their point across. And then they’re both like, “Oh, cool, that’s your point. I understand it now.”
And then they literally shake hands and are like, “We should grab a beer some time,” and walk away from each other.
Lots of folks outside of NY are appalled by this kind of behavior. Especially if you’re from the passive aggressive Midwest. I think it’s kind of great, TBH. Get it out in the open and then move on.
Anyway. That’s my take on De Blasio. He’s a typical New Yorker. He might actually do well against Trump. Can you imagine the debates between those two. Because I’m thinking - Shouting. Match.
Alas, it’s really not going to be De Blasio. He might stick around for a bit but … nope. Not him.
Moving on. Tulsi Gabbard and Cory Booker both came out fine, Booker probably more so. In fact, along with De Blasio, I expect both of them to be in the race for a while - until they all drop out and offer their full support for the obvious front runners - Warren, Sanders, Biden.
Which brings me to the remaining two stand out stars of last nights “way too many candidates on stage” debate (that wasn’t a debate.)
The first, truly great stand out star: Julian Castro. As the kids these days say, Julian Castro - “killed it.” He was razor sharp on policy, he was razor sharp on social reform, he was a charismatic speaker, he was comfortable on stage and he was, as we all like to say - “presidential.” My opinion on this seems to be par for the course because Castro shot up on Google about 4000% and trended himself right to the top of the candidates list.
But … honestly … it probably won’t matter. Because, the second stand out from last night was Elizabeth Warren. Warren just crushed everyone the first half of the “debate.” The second half she had much less speaking time and so other folks were able to step up more and “meh” the heck out over everyone watching.
As sharp as Castro was on policy, social reform and being “presidential,” Warren has pretty much been doing exactly that for the last few months. And she continued to do it at last night’s debate.
I would love to see Castro right at the top with the three front runners and the other two popular candidates (Harris & Buttigieg) but I honestly don’t see any of them taking down Warren, Sanders or Biden.
And, if that’s not enough Democratic candidate talk for you. Well, don’t worry! There are another ten candidates speaking tonight! And only two of them are named Sanders and Biden. You know, the obvious front runners.
But, then again - you never know who will stand out and who will tank but I guess we’ll find out tonight.