Ethics Observations On The ABC Democratic Candidates Debate

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.

 

 

28 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The ABC Democratic Candidates Debate

  1. To say nothing of the fact that the man behind the curtain operating The Wizard of Oz was, in fact, the Wizard of Oz. And a Wizard of Oz who was able to give everyone what they wanted.

  2. Andrew Yang of course complained that the debate was on the evening of a Football game, that a lot of Americans wouldn’t watch.

    I think he should understand, a lot of Americans weren’t going to watch, certainly not those who have made up their minds. And the debates aren’t going to help those who haven’t made up their minds.

  3. 3. Biden was also the only candidate who acknowledged, even in passing, that the powers of the Presidency are (and should be) circumscribed by law. Pretty much everybody else just steamrolled over such an idea, with Kamala Harris openly mocking the concept.

    4. Of course they want those people in jail. Haven’t you been paying attention to all their new and improved definitions of “violence?”

  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?

    The mere possession of an AR-15 is not violent.

    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.

    We all know where they will be taken away. It will not be ion Bayside, Queens, New York or Bel Air, Los Angeles, California.

    It will be in places like Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn New York and Watts, Los Angeles.

    When the first black man is killed in a confiscation campaign, how will Beto deal with #BlackLivesMatter?

    • “When the first black man is killed in a confiscation campaign, how will Beto deal with #BlackLivesMatter?”
      That is an fascinating scenario, that I haven’t considered. Since confiscation would logically start in large, urban population centers…disparate impact, here we come!

      • You know very well how he’d deal with it. He’d start a civil rights case against the officer who fired the lethal shot. He’d force the police department into a Consent Decree putting them under DOJ supervision. He’d blame the NRA for… something. And the media would compliantly look the other way.

  5. “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.’”

    Unless it is guns right? He has no problems deciding for law abiding citizens what kind of gun they can have.

  6. I must say Kamila is giving Obama a real run for his money on who can be the most condescending politician to the American people.

  7. “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.”

    He also got the job done. Dorothy got home.

  8. Please tell me why these are called debates. Debates are supposed to be why someone should be persuaded to accept the debater’s argument. If everyone is simply saying Trump must be defeated why spend 2 hours on that.

    Instead, these debates remind me more of a third world straw market. Each is barking to the public to come and see his wares and great deals. Lots of promises. Most promises cannot or will not be kept. Each is trying to outscrew the Americans that are hated by the illiberal left. It all reminds me of high pressure Mexican time share sales people; they’re all smiles and pats on the back until they have your money. Then they tell you you misunderstood what they told you and the down payment is non- refundable.

    I cannot determine who makes the best case when each one seems to be adressing different issues.

    • A true “debate” can never have more than 3 participants…maybe 4 of they are all super efficient. Preferably 2 only.

      The idea being everyone really needs time to explain their position in depth, what problems it solves and how it solves those problems; they need time to question their opponent’s position; and they need to time to respond to critiques of their position.

      I don’t remember the last time I saw a true “debate” on the Presidential stage. It sometimes approaches that when the final party candidates go head to head for the general election, but even then the past several election cycles only sort of approaches a true “debate”.

      These primary “debates”, are really just feeding bullet points to the crowd.

  9. Regarding Number 6: I do not know that I would say they were hiding the ball on Climate Change.

    They did have a Climate Change Town Hall recently. I did not watch it, so maybe that would be hiding it in plain sight.

    -Jut

      • I really don’t understand the point. How does the CNN Town Hall relieve the ABC debate from giving appropriate coverage of the MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE OF ALL according to the rhetoric of everyone there? The fact is that the candidates know even their own voters would rather hear them talk about free stuff than giving up cars and beef.

    • My only point being that if this is supposedly THE issue that must take precedence over all others in urgency, priority and sacrifice, it makes no sense to pay almost no attention to it in a two hour debate. Again, taking the Democrats at their word, it would be like having a similar debate in 1944 and only devoting seven minutes to World War II.

      • Very true, but do these candidates really vary at all on their climate change proposals? The only difference seems to be what arbitrary date they’re promising to end the use of fossil fuels, and which magical creature, be it a leprechaun, genie, wizard, or unicorn, that they will use to make that happen. Because unless the date is many decades further away than any of these clowns propose, only a magical reality-altering wish is going to get rid of fossil fuels and create their utopia of clean, abundant, cheap, non-nuclear energy.

        Does Bernie’s wildly unrealistic plan differ from Warren’s wildly unrealistic plan in any way that will be clarified by having them debate it?

        • Why does the scientific community keep refering to hydrocarbon based fuels as fossil fuels. Fossils are mineralized tissues while volatile gasses and liquids are comprised of composted organic plant materials.

          Go ahead and try to burn a fossil.
          😎

          • It’s because the original meaning of ‘fossil’ was ‘something dug out of the ground’ (Latin fossa =ditch). When people started digging up bits of dinosaur, they were called fossils, but the fossil fuels are ones like coal and oil that come out of the ground, based on the older meaning of the word.

            • That sounds reasonable but does not explain the word fossilized when explaining the mineralization process thay takes place over millions of years nor do we treat frozen mammoth tissues as fossilized remains

        • I just think it was pretty clear that the seven hour climate change extravaganza was deemed by the party to be dispositive of the Climate Crisis and that everyone should get back to talking about giving voters free stuff ASAP. Anyway Jack, the Climate Crisis is just a talking point among many. There’s gun violence, income inequality, systemic racism, murderous cops, ICE, children in cages! Climate Crisis was last week. Get with the program. Free air time is hard to come by.

  10. It is doubtful they will be taking guns from urban allies like POC gangs. It is far more likely those people will be deputized to take guns from city deplorables and then spread into the countryside to find the old and ill-trained suburbanites.

    Good news is these candidates do not have very good odds on getting elected.

  11. 5.
    Beta channeling SlowJoe’s fabulist style in his retelling of events? Beta commenting on the Odessa shooting:
    “…and in Odessa, I met the mother of a 15-year-old girl who was shot by an AR-15, and that mother watched her bleed to death over the course of an hour because so many other people were shot by that AR-15 in Odessa and Midland, there weren’t enough ambulances to get to them in time…”.

    According to information given to the local CBS station by the City of Odessa:
    “The Odessa Fire Department arrived at Freedom Buick GMC Truck on 42nd Street 7 minutes and 21 seconds after Leilah Hernandez and her brother Nathan were reported shot to 911, according to the city.
    An ambulance arrived about a minute later. …all 30+ ambulances in Odessa were scrambled two Saturdays ago after the shooting started. Plus the City of Midland sent many over to assist…there was no shortage of ambulances.”
    .

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