August 1, 2019

The Dem Debates, Round Two

I did it. I watched all of both of this week's debates.

And I shared what was going on with any willing reader on my Facebook page. I did get a thank you from a few people who noted (paraphrasing here) "thank you for sparing me the agony" or similar sentiments.

So, after watching and capturing the shenanigans for posterity, what do I know now that I didn't know before, or what happened that solidified my earlier thinking?

For starters, the progressive candidates went on record stating that if you challenge their ideas as being too far out there for the majority of the electorate, you're not worthy of being called a Democrat, you shouldn't be running for president, or both.  I have changed my registration from Democrat to unaffiliated, in part for that reason, that the progressives think it's their way or the highway, and the rest of us can just go home.

On the other hand, the more moderate candidates believe that the extreme policies will hand the election to Donald Trump, and so we have to find a reasonable way to bring Independents, disaffected Trump voters, and yes, Democrats, including the millions who stayed home in 2016, to show up at the polls to vote for our guy or gal. It will be interesting to see how this continues to play out. 
What else?

Twice I've suggested that Joe Biden should not run for president. He listened to me in 2015 race, but he ignored me this time. After last night's debate, I'm even more convinced than I was after the first one that I'm right and he shouldn't have entered the race.

I've been listening to the pundits saying that Biden did much better than the first time, that his defense of his record last night should have reassured his voters that everything's going to be OK. But I've gotta say, I agree with one of the talking heads on CNN during the wrap up that the bar was set so low for Biden after his disastrous performance in the first debate that he would have had a hard time not doing better.
And I'm reminded, as I hope you are, of those same 'low bar' expectations when Trump was debating his opponents - and it never went away. The bar continues to be low for Trump as president, even lower than it was for Trump as candidate. Have we learned nothing? Or, should I say, have the pundits learned nothing?

I honestly don't know if Biden has the best chance to beat Donald Trump - I know lots of people think he does, but I'm not convinced. 

I don't like Bernie Sanders, at all. Not just because he doesn't belong on the stage with Democrats - because he isn't one - but because he comes off as an always-angry two-trick pony: "big pharma and health insurance companies" is pony number one, and "millionaires and billionaires" is pony number two. Or vice versa, I'm not sure anymore which pony is which.

But healthcare and health insurance are not the same thing, and health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are not the same thing. And not all health insurance companies are for profit bullies. Bernie and the rest of them conflate all of this, and it makes a mess of things. He and the others have to be doing this on purpose. I can't like him any less than I do already, but that makes me like the rest of them a little less, too.

If the candidates in the Tuesday debate, or in the Wednesday debate, were the only ones in the race, we'd have a better idea of where things stand. But they're not the only ones, so we have moderators torn between trying to keep all the focus on the group they're sitting in front of, or trying to make it seem like the debate is really 20 people not just ten. This stinks for the candidates, for the moderators, and most importantly for the voters who have only a speaking point's relationship with the candidates and the debates. And those speaking points, the zingers? Those are the media's bread and butter, for sure.

You know what I'm talking about - "I wrote the damn bill!" and Warren's "I don't know why people take the time to run..." line, and Booker's "You're dipping in the Kool-aid" crack, Gillibrand's promise to Clorox the Oval Office, and more. But there is so much more to the debates than the snappy retorts and attacks and hit lines. And while it seems there's no time like the present to play the sound bites, we don't seem to have time to talk about anything else other than who's leading in the polls (which are meaningless right now). To quote Joe Biden, that's a bunch of malarkey. It is never too early to talk about what these 20 candidates  stand for. Again, look back to the 2016 race, and don't repeat the same mistakes.
What else?

It's time - or past time, as the case may be - for some of these folks to do a Swalwell and step away from the race. Who's on that list? Marianne Williamson. Tim Ryan. Bill de Blasio. Michael Bennet. Steve Bullock. Julian Castro. Beto O'Rourke. The other five who are supposedly in the race - Tom Steyer, Seth Moulton, Joe Sestak, Wayne Messam, and Mike Gravel - yeah, no. Don't even bother.
That leaves us with, in no particular order, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, Cory Booker, Sanders, Biden, Tulsi Gabbard, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, and Kirsten Gillibrand.

It's a good mix (even if I wish two or three of them weren't in it), and includes veterans, young people, old people, moderates, progressives, business owners, people of color, lawyers, entrepreneurs, wealthy people, a climate guy - in short, it leaves us with people who have different enough thoughts on how to move forward to have an actual conversation.

And finally, speaking of hit lines, and of moving forward, I'm going to leave you with Andrew Yang's closing statement. He's not a conventional candidate, by any stretch of the imagination, but he nailed what's going on, and how people react to what's going on, very clearly.

Coming up next? Questions I wish I had heard at the debates. 


  1. Yang's closer was good. of them all Gabbard and Yang are the most reasonable sounding to me...

  2. I'm intrigued by Yang. Initially I thought the 'freedom dividend' was ridiculous, but I heard him in a one-on-one interview and appreciated the logic and intent. And the intent is key - not handout, but opportunity. Gabbard did well and I thought it was interesting, someone on her team convinced her to advertise during the breaks in the debate - so you see her on stage acting calm and reasonable, and then go to break and see her acting sane and reasonable in a commercial asking to be our Commander in Chief (using that language).

    On the first night, I found myself agreeing with Delaney, a moderate businessman politician, and his concerns about extremism handing the election to Trump; think that's true.

    Am I an outlier on Biden? The pundits were all over how much better he did than last time, and how he cemented his front-runner status and related bS, but how does 'doing better than his horrible performance the first time out' help someone with nearly 50 years on the job? #smh

  3. Nope-not an outlier- I've always agreed with you that Biden should have stayed home.
    Also- crazy link you sent about Gabbard & Russophile contributions. It's always the Russians (except its not)... LOL