June 26, 2019

Quick Takes (v38): What I Don't Want to Hear

It's going to be difficult for the debate moderators - Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow, Savannah Guthrie and Jose Diaz-Balart - to maintain control over the candidates and get anything accomplished tonight and tomorrow, that much I know.

What's also going to be difficult for them is to maintain control over themselves, and keep focused on things that are important.

These things, in my mind, are NOT important, and I'm hoping that we will not hear any questions related to these issues:
  • Elizabeth Warren's DNA
  • Beto O'Rourke's childhood writings
  • Amy Klobuchar's meanness
  • Kamala Harris' father
  • Pete Buttigieg's husband
  • Cory Booker's girlfriend
  • Joe Biden's son
  • Bernie Sanders' wife's money
This is not a big version of Meet the Press, it should be an issues-related 'debate'  or conversation, not a personality-based series of interviews.   

Any questions of that nature will clearly show that the press has learned nothing from 2016 - and they honestly had a lot to learn, according to a study on how the press covered the candidates. For example:
Here's another interesting finding, that goes to what was reported. For Trump, a mere 12% of his coverage was about the issues, with 43% of the coverage being negative (particularly after the Muslim ban comments). For Clinton, more than double the amount of coverage was issues-related (still a meager 28%) but the negative coverage was an overwhelming 84%.
Fingers are crossed for tonight - if they bite on the Warren DNA test or anything related to her long-since-addressed family history of Native American ancestry, which is really the most obvious one of the list above to get a hit, we'll know they have learned nothing.

June 25, 2019

Pre-debate Jitters

The Democrats are kicking off the 2020 election season on Wednesday, with Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA) Cory Booker (NJ) and Amy Klobuchar  (MN); former Obama HUD Secretary Julian Castro, who also served as mayor of San Antonio; Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI) and Tim Ryan (OH); former Reps Beto O'Rourke (TX) and John Delaney (MD; Gov. Jay Inslee (WA); and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio taking the stage in Miami for the first half of the first debate.

Thursday night, we'll be treated to the second half, which will feature former Vice President Joe Biden; Senators Kamala Harris(CA), Michael Bennet (CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Bernie Sanders (VT), who is still not a Democrat; Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA); former Gov. John Hickenlooper (CO); South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg; self-help author Marianne Williamson; and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Each of the participants has achieved at least 1% recognition nationally in approved polls, has raised money from at least 65,000 individual donors, including getting at least 200 donors in 21 states, or both (Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Gabbard, Gillibrand, Harris, Inslee, Klobuchar, O'Rourke, the non-Dem, and Warren).

Four other candidates - Rep. Seth Moulton (MA), Governor Steve Bullock (MT), former Rep. Mike Gravel (AK), and Miramar, FL mayor Wayne Messam - failed to make the cut.

There will be no opening statements (yay), but each candidate will have one minute for a closing argument. Answers to questions will be limited to one minute, with 30 seconds  for followup questions, not there'll be much time for them.

Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart are the talking heads. Holt will be the official moderator of the first hour, with Guthrie and Diaz-Balart joining in; for the second hour, Todd and Maddow will share moderating duties, with Holt joining.  I have not seen the rules for how much time the talking heads (particularly Maddow and Todd) will be able to chew up - that might be one of the more interesting things to keep an eye on. 

There's no defined list of questions that will be asked, and of course no guarantee that each candidate will be asked the same questions or be given the opportunity to chime in on all of the issues.  It's expected that there will be questions on health care, climate change, education (free college, wiping out student debt, and so on), and of course the great divide between rich and poor people and rich and poor corporations. 

We should also expect questions on foreign policy, immigration, race, and gender, and on anything critical SCOTUS decides this last week of their session. 

And, there's the e-word: electability, whatever that means. And impeachment. - don't forget impeachment. 

Dear lord, this could be cluster with one moderator and only a handful of folks on the stage answering questions.

20 candidates.
5 moderators.
4 hours.
3 networks.
2 nights.

What could possibly go wrong?  Or maybe the better question is, what could possibly go right?