My biggest gripe is that we’re past the point at which so many candidates should be allowed to crowd the stage. While last night’s debate wasn’t nearly the hot mess that the earlier one hosted by CNN was — leaving out Jake Tapper was a huge help — it still only allowed for sound bite responses, not substantive debate. I long for the day that Liz Warren will be allowed time to explain the difference between “cost” and “taxes.” And the better-than-Jake-Tapper moderators still managed to be annoying by asking about Ellen Degeneres but not climate change or our inhumane immigration policies.
Joe Biden is still leading in many national polls, but you wouldn’t have known that from the debate. Clearly, the second-tier candates were focused on knocking down Warren, and they left Biden alone. IMO Joe seemed a tad unfocused, as he usually does, and in his closing remarks he was still blathering about reaching across the aisle. But the worst news for him wasn’t in the debate. His fundraising hasn’t been going well, and he’s been spending more than he’s been taking in. So he has much less cash on hand than many other candidates as we approach the primary elections.
I thought Bernie Sanders had a good night. He was mentally sharp and energetic; the same old Bernie. All of the comments I’ve read put Sanders in the “winner” column.
I feel a bit mixed about Liz Warren. Most commenters praised her performance, but IMO she can’t keep putting off the raising-taxes-to-pay-for-health-care question forever. Here’s how Bernie handled it:
Was that so hard?
The criteria will be higher for joining the November debate, but eight candidates already have met them, and four more could possibly meet them. So we may end up with the same gang of 12 in November. This is unacceptable. At the very least, the Dems should seriously consider having the six top polling candidates debate one night and the remainder another night.
Who do I really not want to see any more? Number one in my list is Tulsi Gabbard. She has not yet secured a spot for the November debate, and I don’t think she helped herself last night with voters who weren’t already in the tank for her. Zack Beauchamp wrote at Vox:
First, she described the Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria, which is controlled by America’s Kurdish allies, thusly: “the slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war we’ve been waging in Syria.”
The US is not waging a war of regime change in Syria (as Biden pointed out later in the debate). American troops are in northern Syria assisting Kurdish forces in combating the ISIS presence in the country. The reason Turkey invaded the Kurdish-held territory is that it sees the Kurds as terrorists and doesn’t want them to have a quasi-state on its border. And it was able to launch the invasion because President Donald Trump pulled out US troops.
But Gabbard’s comment wasn’t a one-off error. Again and again, Gabbard called for an end to the “regime war in Syria,” which is simply not what’s happening there. She bizarrely blamed the “regime change war” for the Syrian refugee crisis, instead of the murderous regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has indiscriminately attacked populated areas.
When Buttigieg challenged her shaky analysis, saying that “the slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal,” she accused him of supporting “endless war.” His response was succinct and devastating: “You can put an end to endless war without embracing Donald Trump’s policy, as you’re doing.”
She also complained that the impeachment effort is being driven by “hyperpartisan interests” and that news media treat her unfairly:
… the New York Times and CNN have also smeared veterans like myself for calling for an end to this regime change war. Just two days ago, the New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears.
To which the New York Times replied,
The Times article Ms. Gabbard referenced, however, notes that the congresswoman is a frequent topic of Russian state news media; there is no inference that she is a Russian asset. Ms. Gabbard also met with the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad,in January 2017, and has said in the past that the dictator is “not the enemy of the United States.” In August, on CNN, Ms. Gabbard called Mr. Assad a “brutal dictator.”
Last week Gabbard was whining that the completely transparent and IMO too lenient debate inclusion criteria were not transparent enough and that the DNC was rigging the nomination process against her. I’m not fan of the DNC, but seems to me they’ve been bending over backward to avoid an appearance of favoritism this time. Gabbard is nothing but a five-alarm flake.
The other candidate I wish would go away — but who has already qualified for the November debate — is Tom Steyer. He simply brings nothing to the table except a bunch of his own money. For example —
I agree with that, but he says this while standing on the same stage with Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren, both of whom have been fighting that fight for years now. This is like Süssmayr talking over Mozart. Why do we need Steyer? Among those not yet qualified for November, along with Gabbard, are Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Julián Castro. While I’m not personally a supporter of any of those three, I’d rather see any of them in the November debate instead of Steyer.
Andrew Yang, on the other hand, may not have a prayer at the nomination but he brings something to the conversation. At the very least, he’s gotten some Very Serious People to talk about universal basic income. He’s qualified for the November debate, and I’m okay with that.
Many commenters are putting Pete Buttigieg in the “winners” column today, but he annoyed me with his comments about Medicare for All. He’s clearly decided to invade Biden’s space and go for the “moderate” vote.
Kamala Harris annoyed me when she needled Warren for not supporting her proposal to get Trump’s twitter account closed. This seemed a picayune thing to argue about. And, anyway, Trump’s twitter account can be revealing, in a bleak sort of way. It’s the only nearly transparent thing about his administration; it’s where the blackness of his id and the blankness of his head are openly on display.
Klobuchar seemed to me to be having a good night, although I don’t remember what she said. The remainder of the field, IMO, neither helped nor hurt themselves.