CNN’s Hot Mess, Night 2

I endorse what David Dayen writes about the atrocious job CNN did as debate host. I would add that whichever Democratic Party official(s) approved that format should resign immediately. Night #2 was such a mess nobody could be said to “win.” Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, Julián Castro, and Jay Inslee were the least wince-inducing, IMO. And I’m not endorsing any of those people. Just saying they did not annoy me overmuch. Everybody else more or less just got on my nerves last night.

Never Trumpers and centrist Democrats are celebrating today because Joe Biden remembered his own name and managed to not trip over his podium. “Joe Biden was brilliantly and gloriously adequate,” Dana Milbank writes.

Biden was .?.?. perfectly adequate. He wasn’t the most eloquent or stylish debater on the stage. He struggled to find words at times, he seemed over-rehearsed, he seemed not to grasp how texting works (“Go to Joe 30330”), he cut himself off when his allotted time expired and, at times, he seemed stunned by the ferocity of the barrage — which, in fairness, was stunning.  …

… Biden’s triumph over mediocrity has a ready explanation. Correctly or not, voters believe this nonthreatening old white guy of moderate leanings is the one to beat President Trump. In the Quinnipiac poll, fully 51 percent of Democrats said that Biden has the best chance of doing so.

Biden fumbled around clumsily with a question on deportations in the Obama Administration. He revealed some fundamental ignorance and tone-deafness on health care issues. Running in the general election on Barack Obama’s legacy is not going to work to get independents to the polls. The only reason Biden wasn’t torn up worse is that the format made everyone ineffectual. This is the guy people want on a debate stage with Trump? Seriously?

I also think Gillibrand’s persistent challenges of an op ed Biden wrote in the 1980s just made him look sympathetic, and she’d been doing well up to that point. People need to choose which bricks they throw more carefully.

We can hope that the next debate will have a much smaller field. The New York Times says that Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, O’Rourke, Sanders, and Warren have already qualified for the next debate. Castro, Yang, and Klobuchar are close. I sincerely hope no one else gets a bump and is included. And I hope ABC, the host for the September debate, learns from the CNN atrocity and does it differently.