1, The overwhelming impression one—well, this one—got from last night’s depressing Democratic candidates debate is that the United States of America has somehow painted itself into a corner where one of the worst characters in American political history is nonetheless the shaky human firewall against a calculated overthrow of the American experiment by a sickening conspiracy of power-seeking demagogues, democracy-defacing socialists , individual liberties-rejecting totalitarians, and, of course, and a news media that self-righteously views itself as the propaganda agent for all of these. In the immortal words of Chester A. Riley, wing riveter at the fictional Cunningham Aircraft plant in California, “What a revoltin’ development this is!”
But here we are.
2. Symbolic of the plight was the sight of long-time Clintonista and Democratic Party operative George Stephanopoulos sitting in the debate moderator’s chair last night. No one who is aware of the ABC host of the news division’s morning and Sunday show could possibly view his presence as anything but an overlay of bias and a guarantee of soft-ball questions and general favoritism. The problem is that many, perhaps most, of the target audience of last night’s fiasco are not aware of it. Remember 2015, when the GOP hopefuls subjected themselves to the sneering contempt of such leftist moderators as CNBC’s panel of Becky Quick, John Harwood, and Carl Quintanilla? Their questions and interjections from the moderators were, as I observed at the time, ” so hostile, so disrespectful, so obviously concocted from a biased perspective,” that there was criticism from all sides of the political spectrum. Nonetheless, at least the Republicans were challenged, and they knew that partisan opponents facing them were not going to countenance flagrant misinformation. This is why the DNC’s cowardly decision to freeze Fox News out of the debates was such a transparent effort to avoid fair vetting of the candidates, fair meaning in this case, something more challenging than boot-licking submissiveness. “It was a great debate. I think we learned a lot tonight,” the lackey enthused after it was all over. Did anyone really think that was a great debate? That kind of self-evident spin is supposed to be reserved for people like Tom Perez.
3. The major development in the debate is, or should be, that Joe Biden is teetering on the brink of senility, and can’t possibly survive the primaries. He just says stuff, like “We didn’t lock people up in cages.” But we know “they” did. Meanwhile, he’s an open trap for the other, younger, less impaired candidates: being critical of him (by pointing out his frailties) risks looking mean-spirited against a “nice old guy.” Last night Castro directly suggested that Biden was losing it, saying at one point, “Are you forgetting, already, what you said just 2 minutes ago? … You’re forgetting that!”
Incidentally, Joe is not a nice guy; he just plays one on TV. Those who have worked with Biden almost unanimously regard him as a jerk. “He abused his staff, called them vulgar and humiliating names in public, with the media present, names such as “Shithead”, and blamed them for things that were obviously not their fault. That was on good days,” one source told me.
Imagine: Biden’s entire case for the Presidency essentially rests of the argument that he’s electable because he’s innocuous, and he’s not even that.
He is old, though. Last night he talked about playing “the radio” and said to “make sure you have the record player on at night.” The vaunted Democratic youth vote is going to run to the polls for this geezer? I don’t believe it, and I don’t think the Democrats believe it. The ethical value at issue here is competence.
4. Most hypocritical and ridiculous statement of the night? Biden wins this one, with “Nobody should be in jail for a nonviolent crime.” Drug dealers should be in jail? Bernie Madoff shouldn’t be in jail? Martin Shkreli shouldn’t be in jail? How about all of those Wall Street types who progressives have been saying for a decade should be in jail for crashing the economy in 2008? Michael Cohen shouldn’t be in jail? Paul Manafort shouldn’t be in jail? What collar criminals—no jail time? Prosecutors who knowingly put innocent black men in jail for life until DNA evidence proves they were framed? No jail?
Here was the response on the ABC moderators” “Thank you, Mr Biden.” The other candidates? Crickets.
5. It was nice, though, to hear Beto O’Rourke openly admit that the agenda of the Democrats is to forcibly take away the guns of law-abiding citizens. “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he said. “We’re not going to allow them to be used against fellow Americans anymore.” Of course, this is pure grandstanding. Nobody can prevent criminals from using any kind of guns, including those that are already banned. It will make a great campaign video…for Republicans, though, even if–OK, when—Beto fails to get nominated.
6. In the Hiding the Ball event, those vying to be standard bearers for the party that has declared climate change to be the single, over-riding, existential issue of our time, responsible for racism, economic inequality, natural disasters and, of course, the imminent end of human life on earth unless we focus all of our resources on addressing that before it’s too late, and the clock is ticking…TICKING! discussed climate change for seven minutes out of two hours.
7. Pete Bittigieg delivered the most ethical line of the debate, which should be shaken in his face routinely as he goes forward, discussing the various health care plans: “The problem … is that it doesn’t trust the American people. I trust you to decide what works for you, not ‘my way or the highway.'” Frankly, I don’t know how a 2019 Democrat get away with can saying that, unless the voters are both amnesia-riddled and ignorant
8. I find the ad hominem, unsupported personal attacks on the President, calling him a racist, a white supremacist—Beto actually said, “We have a white supremacist in the White House, and he poses a mortal threat to people of color all across this country” unethical, disgusting, and destructive, not to mention far worse that accusing Trump supporters of being “deplorables.”
But you knew that.
Dumbest of the schoolyard taunts, reminiscent of Trump’s own style during the GOP debates, was this from Senator Harris: “He reminds me of the ‘Wizard of Oz”: when you pull back the curtain, it’s a really small dude!” What the hell is she talking about? The reference was going to be taken by 99% of the audience as to the movie, and the Wizard was not a “really small dude.” Frank Morgan, who played the role, was 5’8,” a bit above average for the period, about the same size as the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) and the Tin Man (Jack Haley), both 5’9″, and much taller than Judy Garland.
The transcript is here.