Verdict: Worst Candidates Debate Ever, Part I: Obfuscation And Lies [UPDATED]

The transcript is here.

I usually review candidates debates by examining the transcript with a digital marker, highlighting the statements that raised ethical issues and problems. When I went over last week’s debate, I found that well over 50% of the text was highlighted. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the debate moderators (PBS “NewsHour” anchor Judy Woodruff, senior national correspondent Amna Nawaz, White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, and Politico’s Tim Alberta) were generally professional and competent, avoided pandering, and asked some genuinely tough questions. The problem lay in the answers, which were overwhelmingly dishonest, full of empty talking points, misrepresented reality, and either assumed that the audience was made up of gullible fools, or were delivered by fools. There are too many quotes to pull out.

Time after time, a candidate who was asked a tough question simply delivered another talking point and refused, even after being prodded by the moderator, to address what was asked. For example, here’s Joe Biden responding to a question about “confidential documents published last week by the Washington Post revealed that for years senior U.S. officials misled the public about the war in Afghanistan.   “As vice president, what did you know about the state of the war? And do you believe that you were honest with the American people about it?”

Joe’ wanted none of it, answering, in part,

“Rebuilding that country as a whole nation is beyond our capacity. I argued from the very beginning that we should have a policy that was based on an antiterrorism policy with a very small footprint that, in fact, only had special forces to deal with potential threats from that territory to the United States of America. The first thing I would do as president of the United States of America is to make sure that we brought all combat troops home, entered into a negotiation with the Taliban. But I would leave behind special forces in small numbers to be able to deal with the potential threat unless we got a real good negotiation accomplished to deal with terrorism.”

The moderator tried again:  “In that Washington Post report, there’s a senior national security official who said that there was constant pressure from the Obama White House to produce figures showing the troop surge was working, and I’m quoting from the report here, “despite hard evidence to the contrary.” What do you say to that?

Biden again ducked the question and said he was never in favor of the surge anyway.

Bernie Sanders’ approach was to ignore questions and blather on about climate change or the need for a socialist economy, and sometimes both at once. The candidates were asked (it was stupid question, admittedly, but an uncomfortable one for the Democratic Party):

The Democratic Party relies on black, Hispanic, and Asian voters, but you are the only candidate of color on the stage tonight, and the entire field remains overwhelmingly white. What message do you think this sends to voters of color?

(My answer, which would have had me brought down in a hail of bullets, would have been “It sends the message that in America, you don’t get special passes based on your color or ethnicity, and you still are governed by the same rules as anyone else. And that’s an important message that, shamefully, some on this stage are reluctant to endorse.”)

Here’s Bernie: “I will answer that question, but I wanted to get back to the issue of climate change for a moment, because I do believe this is the existential issue.”

No no no. The moderator tried again: ” Senator, with all respect, this question is about race. Can you answer the question as it was asked?”


I certainly can. Because people of color, in fact, are going to be the people suffering most if we do not deal with climate change. And by the way, we have an obligation up here, if there are not any of our African-American brothers and sisters up here, to speak about an economy in which African-Americans are exploited, where black women die three times at higher rates than white women, where we have a criminal justice system which is racist and broken, disproportionately made up of African-Americans and Latinos and Native Americans who are in jail. So we need an economy that focuses on the needs of oppressed, exploited people, and that is the African-American community.

The current economy is benefiting African Americans more than it has for many years, but this fact, and it is a fact, was not just denied but ignored during the entire debate. Indeed, the spectacle was one long recitation of Big Lie #5: “Everything is Terrible,” which will apparently be the theme of the actual Presidential campaign once it gets going in earnest. Everything is terrible, you see, because Trump is terrible. Oh, it isn’t terrible? Just wait: it’s secretly terrible, and will get worse, because, you know, Trump.

This is an alternate reality, and the candidates seem to think their audience is so, so stupid that they’ll not only accept this dream version of reality, but also still trust the people and party trying to con them with it. (Did you know Trump is a con man?) From CNN (CNN!);

As 2019 comes to a close, the US economy earns its highest ratings in almost two decades, potentially boosting President Donald Trump in matchups against the Democrats vying to face him in next year’s election, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. Overall, 76% rate economic conditions in the US today as very or somewhat good, significantly more than those who said so at this time last year (67%). This is the highest share to say the economy is good since February 2001, when 80% said so.

You know, terrible!



24 thoughts on “Verdict: Worst Candidates Debate Ever, Part I: Obfuscation And Lies [UPDATED]

  1. Why should anyone vote for a person unwilling to directly answer the,question posed?

    It’s not 5’o clock somewhere so I am here. 😎

    • I’m glad you asked that question! I can tell you that I only vote for the best candidates, and I will gather around myself competent advisers and listen to their input on who to vote for!

    • On the other hand, in my lifetime I cannot recall listening to a presidential debate where they actually did answer the questions posed — or for that matter actually debated matters rather than simply reciting talking points.

      Hmmm, maybe some of Reagan’s debates? I was a bit two young to really listen to Nixon/Kennedy.

  2. They’re trying to destroy the economy so they can remake it in order to take control. There is a 1% in every economy, even Socialist ones. Make no mistake about that.

    • What have they done to rate being in the one percent, and how many of them are volunteering to drop down to the bottom 25% to allow more non-white/female/LGBT/handicapped/pagans proportionately into the 1%?

    • Agreed. Best in that regard. On the other hand, he said stuff like this:

      Our country is falling apart.
      Our senior citizens are working until the day they die. Our kids are addicted to smartphones or drugs. We’re seeing record high levels of depression and suicides, overdoses. Our companies are recording record profits while our people are literally dying younger

      Everything is terrible. 1) “The average retirement age in the United States among currently living retirees was 59.88 years old. The median living retiree left work at 62 years old, and the most common age to retire was 62 years old. 18.7% of retirees retired at age 62, and a whopping 63.1% retired between the ages of 57 and 66.” No, senior citizens are NOT working until the day they die. 2. This is the party of legalizing drugs, and drug abuse is the #1 reason for those rising mortality rates. Sorry, I don’t care to hear that hypocritical crap from Democrats.3. “Our companies are recording record profits while our people are literally dying younger” Correlation is not causation. Cheap shot. Also, there are pockets where the deaths from these causes are spiking, it is not an over-all phenomenon. Fake news. Death rates are actually improving among children and older Americans, the Times reported last month. Those who are dying are dying of freedom: their personal choices. “The main causes were drug overdoses, alcohol and suicides.”

      More: This is not the first time that life expectancy has gotten stuck in the United States. Male life expectancy stalled in the 1960s, Dr. Preston said. It picked up again, and the gains made since have been substantial.

      Sam Harper, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal, offered a word of caution.

      “I’m not sure the dramatic, ‘there’s something desperately wrong with the entire country’ narrative is entirely accurate,” Dr. Harper said. “Certain groups, such as Hispanics and Asians, are doing O.K. It’s not like the entire country is being subsumed by a single social phenomenon that can explain all of this. There are a lot of moving parts.”

      He added: “The U.S. has made dramatic gains in life expectancy over the past several decades. It’s important to remember that people here live a very long time compared to a lot of places in the world.”

      John G. Haaga, director of the division of behavioral and social research at the National Institute on Aging, which funded this study, also saw a bright spot: Life expectancy in the coastal metro areas — both east and west — has improved at roughly the same rate as in Canada.

  3. This is some tasty code from The Bern and amounts to “We need some brown folks to do their shuck and jive on stage for us so we can tie it into socialism, climate panic, and uphold the never ending list of groups in the designation of “minority” or “underprivileged.”

    …we have an obligation up here, if there are not any of our African-American brothers and sisters up here, to speak about an economy in which African-Americans are exploited,..

    Yep. That’s as close as you can get to saying “dance for me darkie” while still getting votes.

    It’s a good thing Bernie is so excited about the disproportionate abortion rate for women of color. Otherwise you might have to consider calling him a racist.

  4. Will there be a debate where the moderators are allowed to say “Answer the damn question or get off the stage,” when a candidate dodges and weaves so blatantly that it’s obvious they’re ignoring the question? If they had immediate consequences for not answering the question asked, they might actually answer the question asked.

    • Perhaps if we had the candidates sit around a table and when they deflected or obfuscated on a question the get a jolt of electricity with each BS event getting an exponentially increasing level of electricity as seen in Bond films. Barring that just have the seats they sit on dump them into into a tank with sharks with “lasers” attached as in Austin Powers movies.. if you can’t get sharks you can use irritable seabass.

  5. My wife got a text message today from the Steyer campaign this morning, asking if he could count on her support. She thought for a minute before responding with, “Not if he were the only one running.” She got a response tonight, asking who she did support. She ignored it.

    She toned her first response down from my suggestion of “…not if the survival of the human race depended on it.”

  6. where we have a criminal justice system which is racist and broken, disproportionately made up of African-Americans and Latinos and Native Americans who are in jail.

    How does he expect this racist, broken criminal justice system to enforce “common sense”, “sensible” gun laws in an even-handed manner?

    How does he expect this racist, broken criminal justice system to enforce Red Flag Laws in an even-handed manner?

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