Ethics Observations On The CNN Democratic Candidates Debate [Corrected]

The full debate transcript is here.

(Or you could read “Moby-Dick” instead,  here, which I highly recommend.)

  • After enduring a long analysis of the December debate, the Ethics Alarms assembled shouldn’t need a sequel so soon— I don’t know what the Democrats think they’re accomplishing by having two of these guaranteed fiascos within a three-week period.

Virtually everything said last night we’ve heard before; every impression of this weak,weak,weak slate of candidates was already established.

  • Yes, it’s good to have the field whittled down to a manageable six, but it also wrapped in neon the hypocrisy of the Democratic party. The party of women  had just two women on stage, one a near impossible dark horse, and the other old, white, and whether Bernie said so or not, unelectable. The party “of color” had  no black, Asian, Native American  or Hispanic representatives on stage (, I won’t make the obvious Elizabeth Warren crack, only allude to it here, which I guess is the same thing.) The supposed party of the young presented four candidates over 70. The party that hates the rich had one billionaire and three millionaires among the six. The party that wants to smother the First Amendment right to spend money to promote political candidates (or attack them) by voiding Citizens United includes one aforementioned billionaire who has literally bought his way into the debates, and another, Mike Bloomberg, lurking in the wings.

This is not, in short, a party of integrity. Res ipsa loquitur.

  • Althouse didn’t comment on the debate, but one of her commenters (called “daskol”–Come on over to Ethics Alarms! You’re brilliant!) did so concisely and accurately.  The assessment was masterful:

Steyer seems like he’s barely containing the crazy. Warren was scolding. Sanders bombastic. Buttigieg was so studied and obvious in his attempt at grandiosity that it looked silly, and he definitely was not going for a comic effect. Joe has lost more than a step, and it’s painfully obvious to anyone who’s either familiar with what he used to be like or has dealt with a loved one battered by the bitch time and her evil handmaiden, dementia. Klobuchar seems normal and boring, which was a relief in this crowd, but, like, really, really ordinary, and she’s auditioning for a really extraordinary job. Their responses to the questions were non-sequiturs. Their closing statements were disjointed from one another, and internally disjointed in most cases, with the only common theme that Trump is awful, and we’re in terrible danger if we don’t rescue our country from him. None of them seemed to believe what they were saying, all came across as scared under the bright lights, scared and badly programmed human robots trying to do that sincerity and authenticity thing. God help us.

Daskol’s description of Biden is the most important. He indeed looks like he is declining in energy and mental acuity by the minute. I remember thinking in 1984 that it was troubling how much President Reagan had aged  in a single term as I watched him debate Walter Mondale, but 1) Ronnie  still seemed sharper than Walter and 2) Reagan was nowhere near as diminished as Joe. Is the plan really to try to elect a man on the verge of dementia and have a young, woke, far-left VP ready to take over?

  • One striking ethics story from the debate was the blatant bias of CNN. I hate to defend Bernie Sanders, but this was a true “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” moment, except that the bias was anti-Bernie. CNN had carried the report claiming that Sanders had told Warren (in a supposedly private meeting) he disagreed with Warren’s belief that a woman could be elected President. Sanders insisted that he didn’t “want to waste a whole lot of time on this, because this is what Donald Trump and maybe some of the media want,” and strongly denied ever saying what Warren and her camp claimed. CNN moderator Abby Phillip asked, “You’re saying that you never told Senator Warren that a woman could not win the election?”  “That is correct,” Sanders replied,

Then Phillip turned to Warren and asked: “What did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”

Foul. Unfair. Most of all, how is this a helpful or informative issue?  The sequence was CNN’s  clumsy attempt to portray Sanders as a sexist, despite the fact that even if Sanders said what was claimed, there’s nothing sexist about that assessment. (I think it is wrong in the abstract, but right as rain in reference to Warren and Klobuchar.)

  • Then things got really stupid. Warren said, “And I think the best way to talk about who can win is by looking at people’s winning record. So, can a woman beat Donald Trump? Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections.The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women… Amy and me.”

Klobuchar, lacking the wit or integrity to point out what a ridiculous standard that was, could only say, “So true, so true.”

Then Warren, not satisfied with her initial deceit (the entire Democratic argument for electing one of these bozos appears to be based upon the assumption that the electorate is substantially made up of mouth-breathers), added, “And the only person on this stage who has beaten an incumbent Republican any time in the past 30 years is me!”

But wait, there’s more! After a useless recap by Senator Klobuchar of the Democratic women who have won recent elections, Bernie weighed in with, “Well, just to set the record straight, I defeated an incumbent Republican running for Congress.” “When?” asked the ex-Harvard prof, baiting the trap. “1990!” said Sanders. “That’s how I won. I beat a republican congressman.”

“Thirty years ago….Wasn’t it 30 years ago?…And I said I was the only one who’s beaten an incumbent Republican in 30 years,” said Warren.

Oooh Liz, you’re SO clever—except your whole assertion is baloney, and misleading as well—and you know it.  Warren has won two elections, in one of the most Democratic states in the country (Massachusetts), against the fluke GOP Senator Scott Brown and the immortal Geoff Diehl. She also has no governing or management experience, no, not even running a business. Neither does Klobuchar, who also won her Senate seat in a very blue state against a weak Republican candidate. Her other election victories were for lawyer positions. She’s just a lawyer.  At least Bernie and Buttigieg have been mayors, and Biden was Vice President for eight years. Many successful Presidential candidates have lost elections, notably Abraham Lincoln, and more recently, Bill Clinton. (Donald Trump is one for one.)

  • Biggest lie of the night? That would probably go to Pete Buttigieg, who said, “Our party should no longer hesitate to talk about the issue of the debt and the deficit. We’ve got a dramatically better track record on it than Republicans do. In my lifetime, it’s almost invariably Republican presidents who have added to the deficit. A trillion dollars, under this president.”

Mayor Pete was playing a deceitful trick by adding that “in my lifetime,” since he is about 12, but even with that he was lying outright. Both Democratic  and Republican administrations  have had  annual deficits (except for Bill Clinton, once), added to the debt. But  Democrat Barack Obama added more debt than any other President in history, adding nearly as much debt as all previous Presidents combined. When Obama took office, the gross federal debt was $10.6 trillion. When he left office, it was $19.95 trillion, an increase of 88 percent, and the debt-to-GDP ratio surpassed 100% for the first time since World War II.

Trump’s performance in this regard has been miserable as well, but it takes epic gall—and Mayor Pete certainly has that in abundance, to say on national TV that Republicans have a worse record regarding the debt than Republicans. Here are the top ten deficits in US history (1943 and 1945 were under Democrats, but fighting World War II is a pretty solid excuse).

  • Finally, Warren ostentatiously refused to shake Bernie’s hand after the debate, and it was caught on video.  She did this even after saying she regarded Sanders as a “friend” during the debate.

She’s an awful person. Even the mouth-breathers are beginning to notice.

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Here’s the twitter link you can use to post this on Facebook with violating “Facebook community standards”: https://twitter.com/CaptCompliance/status/1217484383143256064

30 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The CNN Democratic Candidates Debate [Corrected]

  1. “I don’t know what the Democrats think they’re accomplishing by having two of these guaranteed fiascos within a three-week period.”

    They’re desperate to get enough material to cobble together a handful of sound bytes via highly selective editing in order for the MSM to try to make one of their preferred candidates look good as opposed to the dismal tripe their candidates have produced so far.

    • “They’re desperate to get enough material to cobble together a handful of sound bytes via highly selective editing in order for the MSM to try to make one of their preferred candidates look good as opposed to the dismal tripe their candidates have produced so far.”

      They will creatively cherry pick what their candidates say in the debates to absurdity just like they cherry pick what Trump says to absurdity.

    • If that’s the plan, then they’ll be reduced to word-by-word editing, probably having to cobble together vocabulary from multiple candidates to produce anything from these debates that doesn’t do more harm than good. Everyone involved has come across as desperately unprepared to take on the most difficult job in the world. In fact, everyone involved has come across as desperately unprepared to take on any job more demanding than pizza delivery.

  2. The ranking of Deficits should be adjusted for inflation and then compared to a ratio to GDP in one chart and compared to a ratio of Tax Revenue in another chart. Then ranked after that.

    • Real $$ values would be helpful. We should also remind the world that Trump’s deficits arose from rebuilding the military after years of being frozen or even sequestered. Trump’s 2017 budget was rejected and in its place he finally had to sign the Omnibus budget bill Congress demanded. If I recall correctly, that bill kept military appropriations sequestered during that budget year. Tax receipts have grown substantially since the tax rate cuts to hold as a result of expanding economic activity. What is the real deceit is when members of Congress claim tax cuts don’t help and then point to rising deficits. Pure BS but no one calls them on it.

      We don’t have a revenue problem we have a spending problem. The only way to stop that is to ban promises to pay for things that every Tom Dick or Harriet want the government to subsidize. Guess what, that ain’t gonna happen.

  3. Dear God, Jack – did you actually watch the whole thing? I TRIED to watch it – I kept flipping back to CNN but got so depressed each time that I ended up clicking out after about 90 seconds. Had I not, I suspect I would have flung a shoe at the screen.

  4. “Is the plan really to try to elect a man on the verge of dementia and have a young, woke, far-left VP ready to take over?”

    That appears to be the case. Somebody needs to get close to Joe on Election Night and tell him, a la Mark Hanna to William McKinley after the 1900 election, that his job for the next four years is to live.

  5. I’d like to add that the Clinton Budget surplus did not happen. Essentially what he did was some kind of accounting magic, so if you use a particular set of numbers, it works. But if you look at the amount of US debt per year, there is no one year, where the debt is less than the previous between 1993 and 2001. Thus, his administration experienced only deficits. See link. Funny enough, in the year 2000 it says budget surplus, yet the value is $18 more than 1999.

    • I understand that the debt is the accumulation of past deficits but also the interest owed on same – like principle and interest. I could be wrong. In a surplus or break even year of a budget, there could (should be) no new deficit (borrowing) that increases the debt. A surplus could be used to pay down the debt or it could be directed elsewhere – like a reserve. Also, it might be that contracts to borrow went over a budget year and there was new debt occasioned in a surplus year based on a prior obligation. This seems remote but possible.

      In any tabulation, the debt value is a snap shot. It fluctuates with a variety of factors.

      So, the debt value is not static even when there is a surplus/break even budget in a year. The closing value of the debt at the end of a year (opening value for the next year) will reflect how much was paid against the interest and principal and any changes in interest, fees, etc. It may be, depending on payment timing and various rates of interest, etc. for the different borrowings that make up the total debt that the debt value grew slightly in a year where there was a surplus.

      Anyway, what’s $18B between friends?

      • To get on the same page, let’s define a few simple things. Money you earn – revenue. Money you spend – costs. Money you borrow – debt. As I understand, interest payments can be put into the costs section. If my revenue is more than last year’s revenue at the same point in time (for the fed govt, end of fiscal year is Sept 30), given my costs are equal, I have experienced a surplus, thus my debt amount has gone down compared to last year. If the same scenario occurs, but my cost increases have outpaced my revenue increases, I must borrow more money to keep operating, hence my debt value goes up compared to last year. I think when you do an apple to apple comparison, you need to have the same reference. So saying I had a great Xmas bonus doesn’t mean I have a surplus when I do math at the end of my fiscal year. Maybe on a year over year monthly basis you’ll have variation, but that is not the metric here. I’m not trying to be rude, I just want more understanding on this topic.
        Overview by a blogger of the question.
        More detailed look, same conclusion.

      • Those numbers also leave out the off budget items that wind up being unfunded liabilities. The weeds are getting taller.

  6. I watched the whole thing, and it was boring as all heck. They really phoned it in. the December debate actually had some debate in it. It felt like 2/3 of it was talking point recitation. I’m glad I’m not the only one who notices Pete’s class president smarm. It was funny to me, when he gives his answer, they ask him the question again, because it was a bunch of bloviating. It was funny when Klobuchar was talking about elected women, she forgot the name of her dear friend, that person she knows oh so well. Warren should have had at least the balls to say to Bernie’s face “You’re a damned liar”, to quote Joe Biden. When Biden mention mental health parity I was confused, and I hoped he had taken some of that parity before the debates. According to today’s RCP aggregate IA & NH polls, Bernie and Biden are basically dead even. This will get interesting. Will Bloomberg’s plan to wait it out until Super Tuesday pan out? Stay tuned!

  7. Not completely following your chart.

    Maybe I am missing an explanation.

    2009 and 2017 are asterisked, both attributed to Obama, but 2009 is blue and 2017 is purple.

    2009 and 2017 were transition years from one party to another. Is that why they are asterisked?

    I am not sure why both are attributed to Obama. He was in office in 2009, but he was not in office in 2017.

    Shouldn’t 2017 be Trump? Or 2009 be Bush?

    Is it purple because it was a mix of Republican and Democrats at the time. That would not make sense, because that was true in 2012.

    -Jut

  8. MODERATOR: Senator Sanders, did you murder Senator Warren’s pet wolf and knock down her wigwam?

    SANDERS: Absolutely not. I never did any such thing.

    MODERATOR: Senator Warren, how do you feel about Senator Sanders killing your pet wolf and knocking down your wigwam?

  9. NBC headline makes it look like both of them were to blame: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., appeared not shake hands and shared a brief conversation after the Democratic presidential debate. The two clashed over Sanders’ apparent comments to Warren that he did not believe a woman could win the election.

  10. Interestingly enough, while apparently biased against Bernie, CNN also did him a favor by NOT discussing Kyle Jurek.

    • The people in those videos spewing that violence crap are loudmouthed blowhards, all mouth, no action. I’ve know a lot of ignorant people like that over my lifetime, engage mouth long before engaging brain.

  11. Mayor Pete was playing a deceitful trick by adding that “in my lifetime,” since he is about 12, but even with that he was lying outright. Both Democratic and Republican administrations have had annual deficits (except for Bill Clinton, once), added to the debt. But Democrat Barack Obama added more debt than any other President in history, adding nearly as much debt as all previous Presidents combined. When Obama took office, the gross federal debt was $10.6 trillion. When he left office, it was $19.95 trillion, an increase of 88 percent, and the debt-to-GDP ratio surpassed 100% for the first time since World War II.

    Yeah, but if Obama proposed reducing the rate of growth in spending, let alone cutting spending, the Republicans would have accused him of wanting to starve poor children to death. They would have shut down the government, and the media would have blamed Obama. /sarc

  12. The DNC is in the same position as four years ago. They couldn’t nominate a competent, ethical candidate. To make it worse Wasserman-Schultz actively cheated on behave of HRC in 2016. This group is the best they have? Lord help us. I can only pray people vote their pocketbooks and re-elect Trump. He was not my original choice, but he’s better than this gang of liars and cheats.

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