Ten Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate 2B [UPDATED]

[I’m reviewing last night’s debate first, and will catch up on Debate 2A later today. The candidates on the stage were Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, Michael Bennet, Jay Inslee and Andrew Yang]

1.  The most obvious point is that having 10 participant televised “debates” is no way to pick a President. It’s incompetent, it is unfair to all the candidates,  the audience, and even the moderators, who have to make their priority trying to allocate time fairly among the ten rather than guaranteeing an enlightening discussion. and it highlights skills, or the lack of them, that have a dubious relationship to leadership and being an effective President.

2. If Joe Biden gets the nomination, it will only highlight how mind-numbing;y awful the alternatives were. Because his first debate performance was so dreadful, the spinners are trying to term this one a success because it was better, a non-ethical adaptation of Rationalization #22, “There are worse things.” Biden was as verbally chaotic as ever, but looked shockingly tired, enervated, and unenthusiastic, as well as just plain old. He reminded me of Fred Thompson’s regrettable run in 2011, when it was so clear that his heart wasn’t in it, and that his vigor had fled. Biden shouldn’t be running.

3. Biden still managed to utter one of the most unethical sentences of the night:

“I have the only plan that limits the ability of insurance companies to charge unreasonable prices, flat out, number one. Number two, we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail, for the 9 billion opioids they sell out there.”

Intentionally vague, misleading, careless and faintly totalitarian! Good job, Joe!…

  • What’s an “unreasonable price” to a group that thinks that its fair to make insurance companies agree to pay for medical expenses that they know are coming because the insured already has the problem when he or she bought the insurance?
  • As the New York Times detailed here, it is hardly just the big drug companies who have fed the opioid crisis. Major drugstore chains and Walmart, contending they distributed billions of painkillers. Unscrupulous doctors wrote dangerous prescriptions.  There is also no supply without demand: many opioid addicts share responsibility, perhaps the major share, for their plight. Joe, however, with a blunt mind and blunt rhetoric, deceptively reduces a complex issue to “Drug companies BAD!” to pander, to inflame, and to keep the public in the dark. Or maybe he believes its that simple.
  • [Update] My mind just assumed that Joe wanted to jail pharmaceutical executives for selling opioids, and I still think that’s what he meant, but who knows with Joe? Joe is such a muddled fool that my auto-correct failed me. He was saying that insurance companies are breaking the law by fulfilling their obligations? What IS he saying? Thanks to commenter William Reese for flagging this.
  • Did he really mean “we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail”? I assume not, but since the party he belongs to is tilting more toward liberal fascism every day, this is a dangerous phrasing, because a lot of progressives would be happy to jail political opponents.

4. Of course, the competition for the most unethical or incompetent statement of the night was a fierce one. Ann Althouse, in her debate review, was especially annoyed by the reliably ridiculous Kirsten Gillibrand, who shot off this bizarre  response to a question about how the Green New Deal (“which includes the guarantee of a job with medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security for everyone in America”)  is realistic: “So the first thing that I’m going to do when I’m President is I’m going to Clorox the Oval Office.”

It was a non-sequitur, leading Ann to conclude that the line was a pre-scripted joke and she just stuck it in, even though in context the line made no sense. I bet Althouse is right. Althouse also highlights some other howlers from the gender-baiting New York Senator:

  • “The second thing I’m going to do is I will reengage on global climate change. And I will not only sign the Paris global climate accords, but I will lead a worldwide conversation about the urgency of this crisis.”

Oooo, she’s going to lead a conversation, and sign the meaningless Paris accords, while “reengaging.” This could be used as a template for all Democratic virtue-signaling and grandstanding on climate change. It means nothing, there is no substance there, and Gillibrand still didn’t explain how we pay for guaranteed jobs with medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security for everyone in America, because she can’t. Nobody can, but maybe if these candidates keep the public sufficiently ignorant, it won’t matter. That appears to be the plan.

  • Case in point: this Gillibrand statement…

“The greatest threat to humanity is global climate change. I visited a family in Iowa who — water spewed into her home, Fran Parr, it tossed her refrigerator upend, all the furniture was broken, all the dishes were broken, and mud was everywhere. That is the impact of severe weather right now on families’ lives.”

…thus continuing the false and  repeatedly debunked narrative that catastrophic weather events are evidence of climate change. Anyone who makes such an argument is either lying or is too gullible and scientifically ignorant to participate in debates on the topic.

5. Then there are the outright lies that surfaced last night. Andrew Yang stated that Amazon is closing 30% of America’s stores and malls. Nobody challenged him, including CNN moderators Don Lemon and Jake Tapper. It’s not true. The number of stores in the US is rising, not falling. Malls are closing, but at a rate that is nowhere near 30%

Digression: Yang’s big idea is to give a thousand dollars each month to every man, woman and child in the U.S. This is a more grandiose version of George McGovern’s big idea when he ran in 1972, when he proposed a one time grant of $1000 to the same group. At the time, I regarded his embrace of such an irresponsible policy as proof that he was a pandering, leftist fool. I’m amazed that any candidate from the same party that let McGovern get crushed by Richard Nixon would evoke poor George in 2019.

6. Michael Bennet (D-Co.) wins some kind of award for demagoguery with his “Mr. President, kids belong in classrooms, not cages.”

Senator Bennet, Mexican and Guatemalan kids belong in their own country’s classrooms, not ours.

7. Another favorite meaningless sound bite from Cory Booker: “We have treated issues of race and poverty and addiction by locking people up rather than lifting people up.”

8. Biden had some admirable moments. Alone among the declared candidates, he was unequivocal about illegal immigration, saying, “The fact of the matter is, you should be able to, if you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back. It’s a crime.”  In another statement that appeared to support the traditional U.S. approach to immigration, Biden said approvingly that “we’ve been able to cherry-pick the best from every culture.” That indicates that he does not support the “let immigrants choose themselves whether they should live here,” which is the current Democratic Party position.

Biden also defended  the Obama deportations, and had a strong, ethical, pro-trust, pro-loyalty and pro-confidentiality rebuttal when de Blasio said that Biden should have challenged the President. “I was Vice President,” Biden said. “I am not the President. I keep my recommendation in private. Unlike you, I expect you would go ahead and say whatever was said privately with him. That is not what I do.”

9. Ugh. Kamala Harris repeated the Dracula lie that women are  paid only about 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. Nobody challenged this apparently unkillable fake statistic, that as been warping  public discourse for decades. It was raised in a 1988 Presidential debate, and had been refuted then!

She also stooped to this bit of shameful evasion: when Biden correctly estimated the costs of Harris’s health care plan as $30 trillion, Harris said, “The cost of doing nothing is far too expensive.” What does that mean?  What’s more “expensive” than bankrupting the country?

10. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a fringe player who, if she lasts that long, can be counted on to have to defend her long-time advocacy against gays, making her unacceptable to a core Democratic constituency, issued a powerful attack on the hypocrisy of Kamala Harris:

Now Senator Harris says she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she’ll be a prosecutor president. But I’m deeply concerned about this record. There are too many examples to cite but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana. She blocked evidence  that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California. And she fought to keep a bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.

Harris had no rebuttal. She just defaulted to general statements that she was proud of her accomplishments as Attorney General.

The transcript is here.

25 thoughts on “Ten Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate 2B [UPDATED]

  1. It’s incompetent, it is unfair to all the candidates, the audience, and even the moderators, who have to make their priority trying to allocate time fairly among the ten rather than guaranteeing an enlightening discussion.

    Let’s get real here. There is no universe in which a presidential debate, let alone anything hosted by CNN is going to rise to the level of “enlightening discussion”. That would require the media outlet to recognize that there is nuance in all this, and frankly that might be a bit much for most of the population who is addicted to 10 second soundbites and prearranged and over practiced insults.

    • To be fair, when Democrats talk about “conversations”, they really mean one-way edicts.

      INSKEEP: You know, when the Connecticut state Democratic Party decided to change the name of its dinner and get Jefferson and Jackson off of there, the conservative blog RedState wrote about this and used the word madness – the writer of the blog post did – and argued that this was just going way, way too far to try to erase parts of history that we find awkward.

      MANCINI: It’s so funny. I don’t understand why people are afraid to have difficult conversations. That never made sense to me as a child, and it never – it doesn’t make sense to me now, right? These are hard conversations to have, but we should have them.


      • Yes. When Dems say “conversation,” they mean “lecture.” I think it was Professor Obama who popularized this verbal slight of hand.

    • So many idiotic leftist euphemisms, so little time.

      Peace = Surrender
      Conversations = Unilateral
      Tolerance = Acceptance
      Justice = Subjection
      Hate = Disagreement
      Catastrophic = Discomfort

  2. Gillibrand conversating “…about the urgency of the crisis…”

    Not about the crisis itself or even better – a solution with an action plan, but about the urgency.

  3. Re #5: Is it possible he meant that OF the stores and malls that ARE closing, 30% said it was due to pressure from online retailers like Amazon? I don’t know what the statistics are though, so that’s just a guess.

  4. #9 Yes, in the Left’s view of the world, I earn a great income while my wife earns nothing. In fact, she’s made to perform “uncompensated labor” which she derives no benefit from. Yet somehow we both live in the same house, eat the same food, and drive the same cars. We both have the same health insurance and savings. The Left goes to great lengths to avoid noticing these things, let alone offer an explanation as to how they could be.

      • ”Lefty women don’t marry guys,”

        Au contraire, my lovely and long suffering wife is a career Lefty.

        There are many discernible “degrees” of Lefty in the X-Chromosomal Unit milieu, I suspect you reference some of the more ardently…um…committed; my wife didn’t vote for HRC.

        Or (IMO) ones that should be, if you catch my drift.

        • If the Mrs. S did not vote for HRC, I’d consider her a very reasonable person. That’s a very different strain of Lefty with which I’m not familiar these days.

          Mrs. OB was having a casual conversation with a woman at a party a few weeks ago and the woman told her she’d just gotten divorced, “Why?” Mrs. OB asked her. “Trump,” the woman replied. Mrs. OB guffawed, but the woman was serious. Her husband didn’t hate Trump and that pushed the woman over the edge.

          I bet Mrs. S works, non? And is well compensated and good at what she does? Or else she’s perfectly content to stay home and be a mother and wife.

          • ”’Trump,’ the woman replied.”

            You gotta be fucking kidding me??? Good thing for hubby she checked out when she did, guy’s better off without her; THAT’S the kinda person that’d leave you with 4 hungry children and a crop in the field…

            “I bet Mrs. S works, non?”


            “And is well compensated and good at what she does?”

            She is, out-earns me at this stage of the game. Shoot, OB, I married up & I never let her forget it!

            • Forgot to add, with the led-up to that election, you may have some sense of the continuous, unflinching homogeneity of my…um…input regarding HRC.

              Trust me, had I been married to John Podesta, HE’D have second-guessed voting for her.

              I also made clear early on that not only would I not vote for The Donald, (I’d vote for Donald Trump before I’d vote for HRC, and I’ll NEVER vote for Donald Trump) but IMO the only way he’d ever see the inside of the Oval Office would be on a WH tour.

              FTR, on the advice of my pal Steve Witherspoon, I wrote in Cornelius Hieronymous Gotchberg.

              • She really did divorce because of Trump. Her words. And I’m not making this up, as Dave Barry would say.

                Yeah, Mrs. OB out did me financially for years. Praise Allah!

                I’ll vote for Trump as many times as possible. I voted for HRC last time, holding my nose. I thought Trump was too far outside the pale, but I think he’s doing a lot of good things and primarily opposed because he’s not a career politician, which is worse than being a real estate developer or branding guy.

  5. Did he really mean “we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail”? I assume not, but since the party he belongs to is tilting more toward liberal fascism every day, this is a dangerous phrasing, because a lot of progressives would be happy to jail political opponents.

    The first thing that happens under a socialistic regime is that you spend other people’s money. When you run out of other people’s money, it becomes necessary to begin jailing or even executing the people whose money you took, because you need to put the blame on them for not having any more money. Blame may be the one thing that centrally planned economies produce in abundance.

  6. “Number two, we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail, for the 9 billion opioids they sell out there.”

    Insurance companies produce/sell drugs?

  7. 4: I read this and I mentally went o an extreme for a one-panel cartoon of bedraggled Noah struggling with the Ark’s animals in a storm. One of the others is saying to Noah that it wasn’t divine powers, but global warming. Noah’s looking at him like he was crazy.

    Or the less religious verson, of wondering who was responsible for the heat ages/ice ages over millions of years? Humans didn’t exist then and it still happened. Can’t retro blame orange man, at most he was an influence for forty years… Interglacial periods get hotter than this, ask the dinosaurs. They don’t want to live by either faith models or reason/evidence, I wish they’d pick one approach and stick to it and stop putting faith in mashed up science-dressed Doomsday prophecies… This is all just millennial-end of the world angst on a nasty feedback loop for power. Warming is as organic and natural as it gets.

  8. #3 – the response to the opiod epidemic is to punish those that really need painkillers to help the addicts. I think it is highly unfair to sacrifice the innocent to save those that had a hand in their addiction.

    • I think it is highly unfair to sacrifice the innocent to save those that had a hand in their addiction.

      You, sir, have won the Internet for today. Enjoy your fringe benefits.

    • The government solution to many problems caused by irresponsible people is to punish responsible people instead.

      Colleges have to keep all kinds of extra paperwork on their students’ attendance because some colleges were defrauding the states and federal government. The schools involved in the fraud were not punished.

      Gun control measures target only lawful gun owners. Criminals who commit crimes with guns are not affected by the legislation.

      Social security is paying out tons of money for survivor benefits to people who don’t really need them because a small number of people didn’t buy life insurance.

      Our social safety net makes it financially beneficial to have children out-of-wedlock and makes it difficult for traditional families. If my wife and I had not gotten married, we would have received over $105,000 in benefits over the last decade. That does not include the lower tax rates. That would have been a 20% increase in our income. Responsible people are reduced to buying second hand baby formula sold by people who got it free from WIC, but aren’t using it (there are entire stores that just sell excess WIC giveaways).

      We subsidize female birth control and make condoms the only birth control that isn’t ‘free’. This has resulted in an almost doubling of STD rates. Responsible people are the only ones left who have to pay for their birth control.

      We give college federal financial aid to people with lots of debt, not people with low income. The person who purchased 3 houses, several boats, and numerous luxury cars is treated more favorably than the person of modest income who has little debt.

  9. 1. Indeed, ten isn’t just a crowd, it’s a mob, and one-minute sound bites is not a “debate.”

    2. To be fair to the pundits, it is generally true in debates, regardless of how chaotic, that when a front-runner survives (at least until the “eight more years” comment, which probably nobody heard), he/she/[your appropriate woke pronoun here] actually “win.”

    But I don’t disagree that Biden’s competition is universally awful, and that is a definite factor on full display.

    3. Silly me, I must be completely out of touch with reality. I had no idea insurance executives sold opioid drugs.

    Further, putting people in jail for selling legal products? Gun companies, get your lawyer on. “Climate change” deniers, you’re on deck.

    It goes without saying that imprisoning people for merely opposing a putative president’s plan is going to bring smiles from the ghosts of Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, but is that really the kind of approval we want for the American president?

    Democrats morphed into puritan communists so slowly, I didn’t even notice.

    Finally, foot-in-mouth disease is a chronic condition with Creepy Uncle Joe.

    4. So Kirsten Gillibrand, a white woman, wants to make the Oval Office more white when she wins by bleaching it. Brilliant!

    I’m staying away from her climate change cult stuff. David Koresh’s ghost told me she’s not quite convincing enough to be an actual leader.

    5. Malls are closing because they are overpriced, lack diversity of goods, and are no longer safe because of mobs of young people berating, accosting, and beating people up.

    Nobody wants to go shopping and come back with a black eye or worse, like the guy in New York City yesterday who wore a MAGA hat. Cities are providing inner city youth with transportation to suburban shopping malls for “woke” political purposes, and the result is that the well-off white folks malls are designed to serve are avoiding them for their own safety.

    That’s not Amazon’s fault.

    6. Yeah, that classrooms not cages comment was a definite lowlight, proof that people will say anything to get attention, even presidential candidates. It is ugly, false, and defamatory as well as being demagogic.

    8. “Admirable?” Well, I suppose in the sense that they are effectively Republican positions (and should be the position of every American), yes.

    There is no public shaming that would be too much for Bill de Blasio. Of all the candidates for president, he is the very worst. That he could be elected mayor says more about New York City’s self-absorbed depravity than words ever could.

    9. That lie is here to stay, Jack. Like the “one in four” campus rape statistic, it is too useful to the demagogues on the Left to surrender.

    You can’t get the Left to talk about the cost of their plans except to say that the cost of not doing something is far more. It’s the same Democrat evasive double-talk we’ve seen for … well, my entire lifetime when it comes to spending other people’s money.

    10. Harris has no rebuttal because there isn’t one available. The people elected her to do exactly that, to be tough on crime and marijuana possession was (and still is in most jurisdictions) a crime, and part of the “war on drugs.” Whatever we think about that, it was a real thing. And if a few innocents get caught up in the gears, well, egg, meet omelet.

    And blocking, suppressing, and hiding evidence is what prosecutors do. I’m sure some don’t, but I have seen too many cases of prosecutorial misconduct to think that it is anything but rampant throughout the country.

    Prosecutors usually see themselves as the antidote to crime, not as guardians of legal propriety and fairness of the system.

    It’s a shame, really.

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