The first Democratic debate: your take

June 26, 2019 • 11:15 pm

I missed all but the last ten minutes of the first Democratic Presidential debate, as I was out and about. All I saw was a bunch of self-promotion, and some heated moments as the Dems attacked each other. Well, that’s to be expected. Weigh in below with your opinion, though it’s early days. Who did well and who didn’t?

CNN’s analysis is here, with their list of winners and losers. Of course making lists like this is largely for entertainment value, but for what it’s worth:


Julián Castro: The former San Antonio mayor had been running below the radar — WAY below the radar — until Wednesday night. That is likely to change after his performance, in which he was able to carve out a remarkable amount of speaking time for a candidate polling somewhere between 0% and 1%. (An hour into the debate, Castro had spoken as much as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who is in the midteens in national polling, according to a count kept by The Washington Post. Hugely helpful!) Castro’s battering of Beto O’Rourke on immigration was hard to watch (especially if you were related to O’Rourke), but a clear win for Castro.
* Elizabeth Warren: Yes, she got more questions than anyone else. And, yes, she didn’t directly answer all of them. But Warren — especially in the early parts of the debate, when the most people were watching — was the straw that stirs the drink in the debate. (She did disappear somewhat in the second hour.) The debate began on home turf for her — talking about economic inequality. And Warren’s hand-raising when all of the candidates were asked whether they supported abolishing private insurance (only Bill de Blasio joined her) was a strong message to liberals watching that she was proud of who she was and what she believed. Warren came into the debate with the momentum in the race. Nothing she did on Wednesday night will stop that momentum.
* Cory Booker: The senator from New Jersey won’t be the big star coming out of Wednesday’s debate — my guess is that Castro will be that person — but he found a way to inject himself into most of the conversations during the night — even those where he wasn’t directly asked. Booker had the most talking time of any of the 10 candidates; talking the most isn’t always a sign of victory, but when you are someone like Booker who is just trying to get his name out there, it’s a pretty good measure. One caveat: For all of that talking, is there a memorable line from Booker coming out of this debate? I don’t think so.


* Beto O’Rourke: Hard to watch. Badly out of his depth from a policy perspective. Too rehearsed in his answers. The idea of him starting his first answer of the debate by speaking Spanish might have seemed like a good idea in his debate prep room but it played as pandering and overly planned in the moment. If one of O’Rourke’s goals coming into this debate was to show he was more than a good-looking but sort of empty vessel, it, um, didn’t work.
* NBC’s sound people: It’s never a good thing when there are hot mics when there shouldn’t be. It’s even worse when the tech people can’t fix that problem quickly and you have to go to an unplanned break. And it’s disastrously bad when the President of the United States takes to Twitter to say this: “.@NBCNews and @MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves for having such a horrible technical breakdown in the middle of the debate. Truly unprofessional and only worthy of a FAKE NEWS Organization, which they are!”
Your take?


148 thoughts on “The first Democratic debate: your take

    1. I think I’ve said as much, but Klobuchar can use my hair-comb as a salad fork anytime she wants.

      I was not on the Tulsi train, but I think she did really well in this debate.

      1. We’ve both expressed our support for Klobuchar, but I was really disappointed with her opening statement (I couldn’t watch the rest of the debate after everyone’s opening statement). If I was her campaign manager, I would have told her to build her entire campaign on the idea that she’s “tough” on people. Something like “If you want someone who will be tough on Trump and smack him on the nose every time he throws out an insult, I’m your woman. If you want someone tough enough to stand up to dictators like Putin on the foreign stage, I’m your candidate. If you want someone who’s touch enough to stand up to the Republican Party and for the working class, I’m your President.” Instead, she tried to come across as kind and sweet as possible, and that just doesn’t seem to work for her (at least in the opening statement. Like I said, I didn’t see the rest).

        Did she do better in the rest of the debate? She really needed to stand out and give people a reason to her see as different from the other candidates.

        1. Did she do better in the rest of the debate?

          I would say yes. I get why they think she needs to go the ‘nice’ route, and agree with you that that isn’t the tact to take. That said, she came off as confident, comfortable and leader-like.

    2. I liked Klobuchar. Gabbard did better than I expected but I still substantively disagree with her so her performance didn’t do anything for me.

      I’d add Delaney to the ‘Losers.’ He didn’t say anything I thought was notably different, and you could practically smell the desperation coming from his attempts to distinguish himself.

      I’m watching the second night now. Biden’s getting owned. But I’m not particularly impressed with much of the others. It’s far more fiery rhetoric and less calm discussion of good policy. I’m going to go completely against probably what most of the pundits will say, and opine that Night 1 was the ‘winner’ and Night 2 was not. Short term, maybe the angry firebrand image stands out from the crowd. But medium term, I think people will remember the messages from the first night vice the infighting from the second night (long term…the debates don’t matter as much as the state primarys…)

  1. I felt bad for Beto who has said he was “born to be President”. I think his ship just sank.

    Tomorrow is the Big Kids’ turn. Can’t wait. There are TWENTY FIVE Dem debates in total. This is going to be exhausting.

    1. When/how are the other Dem debates going to be held? Exhausting, but at least we won’t be listening to the whiney orange one.

      1. The second debate is tonight, from 8-10pm CST, and will be televised on NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo. I think PBS Newshour will be livestreaming it too on their site, as I imagine others are as well.

        1. Thanks, Katey. I’m all set for tonight, but I thought someone said there were 20+ more to come??

    2. Beto needs to back down and go for a Senate seat again. He almost beat the loathsome Cruz in ’18. I think a lot of these candidates should back down and run for Senate seats if they can. I don’t know why people think becoming a Democratic POTUS is a game changer if Mitch still runs the Senate. If the Senate continues under the grim reaper, none of these candidates lofty and ambitious goals will see the light of day.

    3. Well, after Beto ends his now mortally wounded campaign, he can go on another personal-reflection-and-soul-searching solo vacation — just Beto, himself, and his mirror — like he did after blowing his lead to Ted Cruz.

  2. Felt bad for Delaney. He was the most logical and reasonable one on the stage but didn’t get enough time. Don’t think it would do him too much good anyway, because it’s hard to win votes based on logic and reason. Playing off of people’s emotions and using the right buzz words is the best way to get support, and it’s hard to see that changing. Some candidates like Booker and Castro did a good job of executing this in brief spurts without being too obvious about it. O’Rourke was too obvious in his appeal to Latin voters with the Spanish speaking tactic and Gabbard was underwhelming. Others had brief moments but nobody was bold enough to garner any overwhelming praise.

    1. One of my friends called him “rude” for talking past his time limit, but then when I saw the word count I understood his eagerness to get his message out. If he survives the cut, he’ll need to practice messaging within the allotted time.

      1. Yeah I felt bad because in order to get a word in he had to force his way into the debate and talk over his time limit, so he ended up looking like an ass. He was in a lose-lose situation.

  3. I just can’t do it 17 months out. A “debate” with 10 people and 1 minute to speak per topic? As Jerry said, it is largely entertainment value, you aren’t going to get much substance at this point in the game. Everyone is better informed reading the candidates stated positions on topics. If they don’t have a clear position, well, that just may be the most telling criteria to eliminate them from an overcrowded field.

    1. Totally agree. I refuse to watch. The only thing I get out of such an ‘event’ is perturbed. With so many people, it’s hard to call it a debate – just answering questions and then talking over each other. Sadly, many people will choose their candidate by stage performance rather than political positions.

    2. I somewhat disagree; I think most of their positions are easily enough understood (in the broad strokes) that what the debate provides is an opportunity for them to point out the flaws in each others’ concepts.

      Example would be medicare option vs. medicare for all: most politically savvy people know what those terms imply. It’s Warren standing up there and pointing out that the ‘option’ option allows Healthcare companies to continue to reap huge profits at the expense of the taxpayer that’s the important part of the debate. And it’s Klouchbar responding with a discussion of the social cost and difficulty of taking away popular health plans that that’s also an important part of the debate.

      1. I see your point, but also think the only result of this debate was Beto officially eliminating himself. Maybe de Blasio too, but I don’t think he was “in” to begin with. To the point that these debates are largely exercises in futility, I didn’t see any candidate make a point that isn’t already generally agreed upon across the board. Are there policy differences between the candidates? Absolutely. You just aren’t going to see them illuminated in this debate format.

  4. The Republican presidential nomination contest of 2016 demonstrated that the method of nomination by circular firing squad may not lead to the happiest outcome. Let me express a forlorn hope for some vision and seriousness on the part of the clown-car troup of aspirants for the Democratic presidential nomination.
    Bernie Sanders’ major credential for the Democratic nomination is that he is not a member of the Democratic Party, Beto O’Rourke’s is that he lost one senatorial campaign to Ted Cruz, the aptly named Tulsie Gabber’s is that she doesn’t let anyone else finish a sentence, and several others have the credential that nobody has ever heard of them. It would demonstrate vision and seriousness if most of this lot withdrew their candidacies altogether, in favor of either Elisabeth Warren or Joe Biden. Or both of them. Since Mr. Biden has 8 years of experience as Vice-President, and did well in that office, a ticket of Warren for President/Biden for Vice would make a lot of sense. [I agree with one poster that Representative Delaney was impressive, but his is, after all, a lost cause in any case.]

    1. I wish all but the top 6 would step down now. It would be so much easier for the voters to begin to actually learn about the remaining candidates’ positions and overall worldview, which is really not possible to sort out in such a crowded field.

      1. I will be wanting the ‘back 3/4’ or so to drop out in a while, but right now the Democratic party is still smarting from accusations in the 2016 election of favoring Clinton. So I think they are being very careful to let all the candidates at least have a shot.

    2. Remember, Bill Clinton polled at 2% before people knew who he was. He shot up in the polls over time and became President for eight years. I don’t know if that’s possible in today’s media environment, but people without name recognition and with poor polling numbers always have a chance. I don’t think we should never make our choices this far out based on polling numbers.

        1. That’s true, and there’ve been other Dems who’ve come from far back in the pack to win the nomination, like McGovern in ’72, or Carter in ’76, or Dukakis in ’88. But it usually requires the frontrunner to falter — Ed Muskie crying in the New Hampshire snow about the insult to his wife, Gary Hart getting up to monkey-business with Donna Rice, etc.

          Plus, Barack had star-power going for him, dating back to his keynote address at the ’04 Democratic National Convention.

  5. I must disagree. You caught the closing statements, which of course are self promotion – what else should they be?- but there were substantive questions and answers about medical insurance, immigration, foreign policy and gun violence among other topics. I was not impressed with Delaney, nor with O’Rourke, who seemed out of his league. The biggest surprises to me were de Blasio, who had some powerful moments (although he has no chance at all) and Julian Castro. Booker was OK, Warren gave the solid and informed performance that we expected, Klobuchar had highs and lows. Gabbard is not ready for this. Inslee is a one-issue candidate (although I agree that it’s the most important issue) and I don’t know why Ryan was there.

    1. I agree about the end not being at all representative of the tone of the debate. I thought it was very positive and there was almost no circular firing squad. There were barely any mentions of Trump. It was mainly about policy and what working people need from government.

    2. and I don’t know why Ryan was there.

      To promote his forthcoming book of alliterative economic poetry?

  6. Booker: came across as confident and informed.

    Agree about Beto.

    Castor: liked his detailed knowledge

    Klobuchar: (my candidate): solid, but wonder if she is too “no-nonsense” to win, given where she is (1-2 percent)

    Warren: there is something about her delivery that I find irritating and grating. I like her better when I *read* what she says rather than listen to it. I wonder if she overpromises.

    Overall: other than Beto going down, not much has changed.

    1. In interviews, Warren comes across a bit whiny in my opinion. She seemed less whiny last night. Her fighting spirit persona seemed a bit fake, like she’s trying to be the new Bernie. Since I don’t like Bernie, I don’t like pseudo-Bernie, either.

      1. I like Warren’s policies but I fear that her “style”, which can be seen as somewhere between humorlessness and hectoring earnestness, may cost her votes. I don’t think that should matter but it does. Obama had about the perfect Presidential style: passionate but laid back, and with some humor.

        1. I was watching him campaign for the Democrats before the 2018 mid-terms and he was ridiculing the Republicans and their(now vanished) hysteria about ‘invasions from the border’; it was quite painful to watch because he was so brilliant.

          He did an effortless little imitation of their schtick, a kind of quavering-voiced parody of their Fox-News talking points, and the whole crowd dissolved into laughter. He simultaneously brought the crowd in on a joke and made the GOP seem faintly absurd at the same time. It was masterful.

          It’s unfair to say it, because Obama was a uniquely gifted communicator, but that’s what’s lacking in any of the candidates so far.
          Hopefully something approaching it will emerge as their personalities unfurl over the next year or so, because I honestly think a keen wit paired with intellectual confidence and an eagerness for battle will be enough to annihilate Trump in debate.

          The only reason he’s been so successful so far is because no-one has tried to take him on; they’ve instead ‘taken the high road’ which is admirable but doesn’t win debates. Obama against Trump would have been an annihilation – he can bluster all he wants, but there is so, so, so much ammunition there for a nimble opponent. Obama would treat the guy like a buffet table – where do you even start?

          I would like to see the Democratic candidate, whoever it is, really take the fight to Trump in debate, and not be afraid to bully him. Really knock him around the ring, using all the rhetorical weapons that Trump doesn’t have, eg. wit, self-deprecation, parody, knowledge, experience, intelligence, irony, etc.

    1. Hilarious, as usual. But Colbert is wrong about Julian Castro: Castro doesn’t speak Spanish (whereas Beto is fluent).

  7. Will the rest of the world have to put up with the Tangerine one for another 4 years – unless he annuls the electoral process in favour of hereditary presidencies?
    Pretty much all other questions are secondary.

      1. Hmmm, yes, that does work. But … can you imagine a job interview which resulted in Donald Orange being hired by anyone to become “Agent Orange”?

      1. Besides, as long as you have the support of the military, constitutions don’t matter. And I suspect that the overlap between the Tangerine one’s political base and the military is pretty high – and that’s not an accident.
        In contrast, I would not have been at all surprised to see Obama usurped by a military coup.

  8. I saw Malcolm Gladwell argue that when people have choices between various things, whether it be candidates (policy positions) or wine (taste), for example, they lose the ability to differentiate between them when there are more than seven choices. I don’t know if this has been empirically proven, but it makes sense. Here, Democratic primary voters will have to choose between 20 candidates plus a few others that didn’t qualify for the debate. Hence, how they differ on policy issues will be quickly forgotten. Plus the policy differences between them are minor compared to those of Trump and the Republicans. Most people will decide their preference by evaluating a candidate’s personality or how glibly he/she can respond in one minute to questions that deserve much more time, at least until the field is winnowed down to three or four. I think this is especially true when there isn’t a demagogue like Trump running for the Democratic nomination.

    1. There’s never been “a demagogue like Trump” who’s run for the Democratic nomination — except maybe for Huey P. Long, who was making an early run at FDR for the ’36 nomination until he got clipped in the Louisiana state capitol by a nice Jewish doctor whose father-in-law had had his political career assassinated by Long’s Louisiana machine.

      1. One can also add George Wallace, who challenged LBJ in some primaries in 1964. Although, perhaps, you would distinguish between a racist and a demagogue, but I wouldn’t in this case.

        1. Nah, I’ll give you George Wallace, too, although I was thinking of him more as the third-party candidate he ran as in ’68.

          He did revert to the Democrats in ’72, and won five primaries — including Michigan! — before Arthur Bremer ended his campaign by shooting him down like a dog in the parking lot of a Maryland shopping center.

        2. If you watch some of George Wallace’s old press conferences on youtube, it’s uncanny (and unsettling) how so much of what he says — about the press, about protesters, about law and order, about freeloaders, and about the Left — echoes what one hears from Donald Trump at his rallies.

    2. Charisma and personality will be the true deciding factors, so I think these debates are a good thing. We currently have Drunk Uncle as commander-in-chief. Do we want another drunk uncle? (Bernie Sanders) Or a professor? Or a technocrat? Or a Pretty Boy? Or a football coach? Someone who thinks too much or someone who goes with the gut? (the Obama-Trump dichotomy) Someone with a biography that people relate to? Or someone with a biography that people aspire to? Someone you’d invite to the bar? Or someone you’d invite to speak at your mother’s funeral?

      1. Reminds me of this exchange with Adlai Stevenson during his 1952 campaign against Dwight Eisenhower:

        Supporter: “Governor, every thinking American will be voting for you.”
        Stevenson: “Madam, that is not enough; I need a majority.”

    3. There are probably close to zero people who actually care about the entire field enough for it be considered a choice. In reality the field has already narrowed in the eyes of most voters to at at most four to five candidates. And among that much smaller pool voters can indeed make substantive policy comparisons.

  9. It’s annoying to say but they really need to make the orange Swamp-Thing the focus: because sweeping policy-proposals and innovative tweaks absolutely will not sway the electorate or motivate turnout.

    Dems have to put President Barf on the defensive: go after his (lack of) policies and rapturous idiocy rather than proposing billions of dollars in additional spending. Make the moron defend himself, the revolving-door of his corrupt cabinet, and his objectively failing record.

    Since taking office, North Korea has more weapons, Iran is closer to the bomb, our deficit has exploded further with permanent tax-breaks for the ultra-wealthy, our allies are less reliable, the Constitution has lost its teeth, taxpayer money is redirected from public to religious schools, basic research is threatened, and the southern border has turned into an actual crisis coupled with no wall that is not paid for by Mexico. Yet instead, the sycophants will whine about socialism and low unemployment and the embassy now in Jerusalem. So again, they need to put the dean of Trump University on the defensive rather than make themselves the easy rhetorical targets.

    The Republicans largely support this charlatan because together they’re packing the courts with the kind of “activist” judges who they pretend to abhor, and that’s on top of all the religious pandering and misuse of government funds and tools for the sole purpose of reinforcing their pious base (who actually vote).

    Personally I would vote for warm excrement in a shoe over that deadbeat clown who doesn’t deserve to go on a tour of the White House let alone live there. But it’s likely, at least right now, that President I-Like-Soldiers-Who-Weren’t-Captured will lose the popular vote by millions more than in 2016 while comfortably securing the 2020 Electoral College.

    Another six years of this garbage is my bet, as the Democrats spin themselves into a unified cyclone of ineffectual confusion.

    1. Those are good points but the nature of this process will make a candidate who does that too early unable to differentiate themselves. Biden, Sanders and Warren may be able to get away with it. The rest of the ridiculously overcrowded field doesn’t stand a chance if they just repeat “Trunp bad.”

      Unfortunately, any criticism they hurl at each other is going to be picked up by Trump, compounded and exaggerated by the time the general election comes around and as you point out, may bring about their demise. Sigh.

  10. I did not watch much of it as I really see no point. Until they get the crowd down to 3 or 4 it is mostly a cluster. I think the only people who go nuts over this stuff are the networks. Not even sure how they call it a debate. It is questions from the media and answers by the cluster. I have learned much more about the individuals by their appearances alone on one of the news shows on MSNBC. They spend a half hour presenting their stuff and are not cut off after 60 seconds. The news person then questions them on what they are saying. Makes a hell of a lot more sense than this circus.

      1. I guess there was one brief moment when debate happened. One guy stated the Taliban had attacked us on 9/11 and the lady said, no it was Al Qaeda who attacked us. That was a proper correction bordering on debate. Would have to say, that guy had no business being there.

    1. As imperfect as it was, I found it quite interesting, and mainly reassuring, to see 10 intelligent, informed, non-bozos, none of whom made any serious gaffes.

  11. I’m something of a political junkie these days so was a kinda psyched before the debate began, but — gotta admit — about halfway through the second hour, my d*g climbed on the couch next to me, put his head on my chest, and the two of us nodded out.

    From what I saw, Bill de Blasio came out looking for somebody to hold his jacket so he could start throwing punches. He interrupted others and took strong policy positions. He’s plainly trying to establish himself as the candidate who could do what Joe Biden at one point promised — drag Donald Trump behind the school bleachers and give him the ass-whooping a bully deserves. Not sure how effective that strategy is, but he registered a stronger signature on the radar screen.

    Julian Castro also punched above his weight and raised his profile. He showed himself willing to lead on the issues, though I’m not sure whether the Party and the American public are ready to follow him in decriminalizing illegal entry.

    Elizabeth Warren has done a good job of keeping her head down and pushing substantive policy ever since getting off to such stumbling start with the DNA-testing fiasco. She kept up the solid performance last night and, as the frontrunner on last night’s stage, didn’t hurt herself none.

    Beto clearly had the roughest ride, getting off to a bad, pandering start with his weekend-in-Juarez-style-Spanish answer, and never recovered.

    Everyone else seemed to hold their own, though none of ’em made a move that’s likely to register much in the polls.

    1. “I’m something of a political junkie”…”and the two of us nodded out.”

      That’s some heavy imagery there Ken. And you might need to think about rehab if your dog is nodding out too… That’s a classic co-dependent relationship.

  12. I’ve always liked Warren and she did well. Castro got some good face time and was able to get ahead of the other no-names, he has good potential. O’Rourke and de Blasio did rather poorly.

    Other things to consider–these debates are also a tryout for the vice presidential nominee or potential cabinet positions. What some of these candidates should be doing is running for the Senate, that’s where the big governmental block is.

      1. Of the 25 announced Dem candidates, 15 are white guys. If any of them win the nomination (and three or four of them are currently in the top tier), I think they’ll almost have to offer the Veep slot to Kamala, to try to balance out the ticket.

    1. I wonder how much lead time would be necessary to switch from running for Prez to running for the Senate in 2020?

          1. Marco Rubio, one of the last candidates against Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, decided to run for reelection to the US senate at the last minute, after earlier announcing that he wouldn’t. (Guess he decided he wanted to spend less time with his family, lucky them. 🙂 )

            He won, too, to the disappointment of me and the insufficient number of other Floridians who voted against him.

            The deadlines for US senate races vary from state to state, but they’re generally not until shortly before that state’s party primary for the senate seat, meaning sometime during the summer of 2020. Still plenty of time for announced presidential candidates to change their mind and shoot for the senate.

  13. I tried to watch one of these “debates” a few decades ago. I’m not the easily offended type. I won’t say I felt insulted by the inanity of the format, but I definitely thought it was a waste of time.

    The few “bites” I have seen on the news since then have not changed my mind.

  14. There were so many candidates that it was hard for any one to go into depth, so that was frustrating. I’m trying to learn about the lesser known candidates to see if any of them have good ideas, and here are a few impressions:

    Jay Inslee doesn’t stand a chance, but I was glad to see one candidate hammer home the issue of climate change. Tim Ryan had good ideas on the need for the Democratic
    party to focus on working class needs, but Tulsi Gabbard looked smarter on foreign policy. Gabbard didn’t speak much, but sounded good and I would like to learn more about her.

    I hope the field narrows soon so that the differences between the remaining candidates can be teased out.

  15. The loser of this debate was NBC’s Chuck Todd.

    Chuck Todd Sample Question: Candidate, in one word, what’s the biggest existential threat facing the world today?

    Candidate Answer: . . . . wut?

    Everything Chuck Todd touches dies.

    1. He and Maddow treated it like some lightweight A.M. talk show, not a serious presidential debate.

      And Maddow left no doubt as to who her favorites were.

  16. Strange why people here are so negative about the debate.

    Unlike GOP debates, the candidates addressed substantive issues, didn’t descend into childish insults comparing genitals, and no one shouted out to Jesus.

    They also showed that the Dems are moving to the left, where most voters are, while the GOP becomes increasingly radicalized toward right-wing fascism.

    “If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy.” –David Frum.

      1. Indeed, it has. For now, it is a tempest in the tiny teapot that passes for intellectual discourse among the religious right. But the Republican Party itself — with its ruthless use of gerrymandering and voter-suppression measures, and its unprincipled manipulation of congressional parliamentary procedures — has demonstrated little respect for democratic processes, so would likely climb aboard with alacrity were the train to get rolling.

        It is chilling to read the initial article in First Things magazine that triggered this brouhaha.

        1. It’s terrifying because now even ‘intellectual’ conservatives are beginning to swing behind Donald Trump.
          And not just because of his policies, or the way he gets them supreme court picks; so not just on a transactional level…they’re actually swinging behind him on a philosophical level. They’re actually buying into the whole shebang.

          There’s a really disturbing ruthlessness about the original article. A total, fascistic contempt for subtlety and compromise, which is all part of this inane right-wing weaponisation of masculinity, as though being fair and working toward a compromise, instead of crushing your opponent and taking what you want, is ‘weak’ and ‘feminine’.

          At least they’re finally saying it out loud I suppose. I rather hope they continue to be this open about their contempt for democracy.

      2. Thanks for this article. It’s very interesting, and sums up the shift that’s occurring on the right(not just the religious right), away from the neutrality of liberal democracy.

        No side wants to be out of power, but the possibility that your opponents might win is the compromise we make for the sake of having a stable, relatively fair society.

        I don’t honestly think that large chunks of the American right have ever been genuinely comfortable with that compromise, and Trump was just the kind of guy to tip them over the edge.

    1. Frum is correct that the Trump cult cares little about democracy. They are interested in maintaining their power, in this instance maintenance of the ascendancy of their values, based on their interpretation of Christianity. This phenomenon should not be surprising. Any group that feels its core values are threatened by the “other” will fight tooth and nail to keep them. People in power like democracy when they perceive it works for them. If not, they will jettison it in a minute. We are at that moment in the United States and other parts of the world. The odious Mitch McConnell is a sad example of how a politician in power brazenly thinks nothing of destroying democracy.

        1. I think this is just more proof that the legislature should be taking action on this and many other things. Do their constitutional duty and stop waiting for the court to screw everything up. They are, after all, the representatives of the people, while the court represents no one really.

        2. This decision isn’t surprising, especially with Chief Justice Roberts (who has a high tolerance for voting discrimination) writing the majority opinion. Still, it’s disappointing.

          Eventually — sooner rather later, one hopes — the American polity will come to the realization that the only responsible way for this nation to go about its decennial redistricting is through nonpartisan commissions charged with drawing neutral lines.

          The cracking-and-packing that computer-assisted gerrymandering permits a majority to conduct is intolerable to a democracy premised on the principle of one-person, one-vote.

          The “safe” congressional districts our current system encourages — in which politicians chose their voters rather than the other way round — has contributed mightily to this nation’s deep ideological divide. Congresspeople have much more to fear from a primary challenge from their parties’ extremes than they do from an opposite-party opponent in the general election, so have no incentive to compromise or campaign to the middle.

          1. I just read that the SCOTUS decided (5-4) that the ‘citizenship’ question has no place in the census. Justice Roberts aligned with the ‘progressives’ (Justices Breyer, RBG, Kagan and Sotomayor). A great victory for those seeking to improve voter rights.

          2. And Trump is already seeking to delay the constitutionally-mandated census until he can get a decision he likes.

            “Seems totally ridiculous that our government, and indeed Country, cannot ask a basic question of Citizenship in a very expensive, detailed and important Census, in this case for 2020. I have asked the lawyers if they can delay the Census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter,” he said

          3. Fuckin’ Trump thinks US Supreme Court appointments are patronage jobs like the judgeships they used to hand out to the hacks at Tammany Hall. If you appointed ’em, they gotta vote with ya. He thinks if he can replace RBG and maybe another, he’s in like Flynn: they’ll do any goddamn thing he tells ’em.

      1. The SCOTUS lost all credibility as a non-partizan organization in 2000.
        But you are right, the Democrat party should concentrate on regaining the Senate. With someone (‘odious’ is still polite) like Mr McConnell dictating the Senate, that is even more important than getting Mr Trump out.

    2. They also showed that the Dems are moving to the left, where most voters are….

      Most voters are moderate. The Democratic party has been dragged way to the left by a vocal left wing.

      Of the candidates in the first debate, only Klobuchar, Ryan, Delaney, and Gabbard could be considered moderate. The rest are far to the left of most Americans.

  17. Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Bill DiBlasio for me.

    Many of them said things I’ve been thinking about for years, like climate change has created an economic opportunity for manufacturing of new energy technologies. Someone said “We should dominate” in that area. It doesn’t matter to the steelworker in Youngstown if they think climate change is real or not if they’re pulling down good money making windmills or solar collectors.

    I think all of them had some good moments, but the one who stands out as the least inspiring would be Tulsi Gabbard. She had almost no emotion in her voice. You can’t inspire people to get behind you if you don’t show passion. (I think this is Buttigieg’s biggest weakness, too)

    1. Gabbard has an odd affinity for the brutal Assad regime in Syria, and for its sponsor, Vladimir Putin, so there’s reason to be wary of her.

      1. I think that is not really fair, all the players in the Syrian civil war are bad, Assad far from the worst of them.
        Sometimes I think the “West” failed him. If he had had our support he would (well IMMO) never have resorted to gassing his citizens, (if he did), and have sought Russian/Iranian help. And then, there is quite an argument whether he was the actual culprit for the gassing (but that is a different discussion).

        1. Whether or not Assad was responsible for the gassings (and I think the publicly available evidence plainly suggests that he was) he is a brutal dictator. His rotten, despotic clan has to go if there’s ever to be lasting peace in the Levant.

          And Gabbard’s affinity for Assad (and Putin) seems to go beyond mere realpolitik.

          1. As said, I agree Assad is a rotten dictator, no argument there, but I think he’s not as bad as most of his opposition, or at least not worse.
            I think (sorry to repeat myself) we made a mistake to take such an uncompromising stand against him, there definitely is no more palatable opposition. And maybe if allied, we could have ‘softened’ him on human rights issues (admittedly a far hope), after all, he’s no Saddam Hussein.
            (and I think the evidence he used the gas is not conclusive, but that is a different dicsission)

  18. I know we’re still a long way out, and many of us are suffering from electoral fatigue – but I came away optimistic. Feeling like ‘Pretty Much Any of these People, 2020!’. Any of them, even the ones I like least, would be just fine, and measurably better as President than Trump. I thought the debate was useful and they were able to make their points. Now we just need to get out and vote.

      1. Lady, Although technically you maybe right, I think all ten of them showed to be “Good Candidates”. Way above cat vomit.
        I side with Yazikus here, Pity I can’t vote for any of them, although it makes my life easier, I’d like to vote for every single one of them, they were GOOD.

        1. There is even some talk that Ms Stein was supported by the Russians, paid to get a loss for Ms Clinton.
          I doubt whether that is true, but still, she should not have continued with her campaign into the actual elections. If she had had a single green hair on her head, she would have stepped back and endorsed Ms Clinton.
          It reminds us of Mr Nader in 2000.

          1. I like the idea of the Green Party, but their refusal to support nuclear energy while calling for an end to fossil fuel use baffles me. How on earth are we to bridge the gap otherwise?

          2. hey fam this a great one over here is an muti wat of makeing income you get paid for what ever link you share with them sign up and go make your money checkout the link blow

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          3. The Greens want to preserve wildlands, limit development, and avoid exhaustion of natural resources, but they also support open borders and unlimited immigration. The two are incompatible.

          4. Kind of incompatible, yes.
            However, my point is that if they are really ‘green’ as they contend, they would have put all their efforts behind the least bad of the 2 only serious candidates. They didn’t.
            So an accusation like the one I mentioned is quite easily made. without sounding really too much of a crackpot.

      1. I think we have to expect the Green and Libertarian parties to put forward slates of presidential candidates again (though I would be pleased if they didn’t). But I will be sorely disappointed if they get the combined six million votes they did last time — especially if as many voters in potential swing states waste their ballots on such candidates. No excuses this time around.

      2. Rest assured that, in Illinois at least, the Green party will ask for money and get their word out two weeks before the election. And then go back into hibernation for another four years.

        1. At least Illinois is solidly Democratic, so it won’t matter. Where it matters is in potential swing states.

          Donald Trump won the big electoral-college prizes of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin in 2016 by a combined total of 77,000 votes. In those same states, the Green Party and Libertarian Party combined for over half a million votes. Thanks a bunch, folks; hope you’re enjoying your corrupt and chaotic Trump presidency.

  19. Just saw the full debate, I didn’t like Castro interrupting O’Rourke just after he asked him a question. But otherwise he was very good.
    I was puzzled by Gabbard answering completely beside the question when asked about equal pay for women. I don’t know what happened there.
    Booker was insisting a bit much on his POC background, but was excellent otherwise.
    In fact, I was impressed by most of them, nay about all of them. Ryan was a bit short on the policies he wants to actually implement.
    I was impressed by Delaney, but he looks like an imp, those eyes..
    Warren was very impressive, although she didn’t talk much in the second half.
    If I’m not mistaken, Inslee was the only one who did not interrupt anyone, a good point in my books. I’d vote for him any day anyway.
    O’Rourke was not bad at all, I fail to see why so many did not find him impressive.
    I’d love any of these candidates to take on Mr Trump.
    Their Great Achievement is that they did not descend into the “Circular Firing squad”, so Kudos to all ten of them.

  20. The idea of a “debate” involving more than 3 or 4 individuals, at most, is self-evidently ridiculous. The Democratic Party events last night and tonight, like their Republican counterpartss 3-4 years ago, are not debates at all, but vaudeville routines.

    The Democrats’ #1 priority for the top of the 2020 ticket should be the likelihood of winning the presidency, with its effect on Senate races as the second-highest priority. Only a tiny minority of primary voters have any experience or knowledge to guide them in these regards. Therefore, the most effective way to choose the top of the ticket would be for the Party’s experienced professionals to make that choice in a smoke-filled room—a method with a certain historical resonance. As a concession to modern sensibilities, perhaps the room does not absolutely have to be smoke-filled.

    1. That’s pretty much how things were done for most of the nation’s history. The primaries were simply a way for relatively unknown candidates to audition for the party bosses by showing they could garner some votes in the hinterlands; the quadrennial party conventions were where the serious business of picking candidates got done.

      Primaries became increasingly important in the Sixties and Seventies. The last convention in which there was any doubt who the candidate would be was the Ford-Reagan battle at the 1976 RNC. Every party nomination race since has been a foregone conclusion by the time of the conventions rolled around.

      The problem with the old system was that it put tremendous power in the hands of the party bosses — mainly big-city mayors and union presidents on the Democrats’ side, folks like Richard Daley and Frank Rizzo and George Meany. Not sure we wanna go back to those bad old days.

  21. I think you’re right about O’Roarke’s foreign language response; Castro and Booker also went down that road. It’s fine if speaking to a specific audience, but not a national English-speaking audience; it’s certainly not going to attract any voters from the GOP who’ve been whipped into fear of immigrants, and without winning some support from those who voted for Trump last time, we’re going to be stuck with Trump/Pence for a long time.

    Gabbard gave a non-sequitur response to the question about equality. And she rudely interrupted Ryan in the middle of his response to a question asked of him.

    Inslee is a one-issue candidate; he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) respond substantively to any other issues. He made a good quip about DJT being a global threat, though.

    There were a lot of interruptions all around (see above); some DeBlasio critics seemed to pick him out as the worst offender, but I think Delaney was the worst of the bunch for that — and the latter didn’t have much of interest to say on any issues, mostly self-promotion.

    That leaves DeBlasio, Ryan, Warren, and Klobuchar. None of them made any serious faux pas last night; but Klobuchar is haunted by reports of staff abuse, and she didn’t say anything to distinguish herself from the crowd.

    So I’d be interested to hear more from DeBlasio, Ryan, and Warren; not so much for any of the others. Unfortunately NBC’s livestream of the event froze during one of Ryan’s responses, so I missed several minutes of coverage.

    1. “without winning some support from those who voted for Trump last time”

      I don’t agree with this. I think Trump will get his base, the 42% who support him now.

      Clinton had more votes than Trump in the last election. The Democrats can defeat Trump in several of the states he won last time if they just get out the vote, and that’s all they need to win.

    2. Gabbard gave a non-sequitur response to the question about equality.

      For her first response, Gabbard was offered the third crack at the gender pay gap. She wisely declined and instead gave her prepared ‘who I am’ spiel. And it worked.

      Considering how Beto and Lizzie refused to give straight answers all night, even when pressed, I’ll give Tulsi a pass this one time.

    3. The debate was co-broadcast and co-sponsored by the Telemundo network — which is why one of the co-moderators was Telemundo host, and former Republican congressman, José Díaz-Balart — so I don’t think it was inappropriate for the candidates to habla a bit of Español.

      Anyway, the Trump voters that feel a surge of resentment every time they have to press #1 for English are never gonna vote Democratic anyhow.

    1. Ms Warren is expert on economy (eg. she predicted the 2008 crisis) and one of her main tenets is that a functional democracy needs a large middle class. I see nothing extremist in her proposed policies.

  22. I think Trump was the big winner. I want him defeated as much as anyone, but I happen to significantly agree with this analysis on who won the debate:

    Here is an excerpt:

    “Donald Trump: I have long believed that the structural features of the 2020 election made a Trump victory reasonably unlikely. Tonight was the first time I thought the race should be regarded more as an even-money proposition.

    In the course of two hours, various Democratic candidates for president argued for:

    Confiscatory tax rates
    Abolishing private health insurance
    Completely unfettered abortion, with no restrictions whatsoever
    Either the buyback or outright confiscation of legally-owned guns
    Reducing illegal immigration to a civil offense
    Letting the Taliban live in peace

    Any one of these positions is enough to cost Democrats the 2020 election. Imagine if the eventual nominee has to sign on to three or four of them?

    But the best news for Trump is that the Democrats barely talked about him.”

    I understand it is a conservative leaning publication, but it is helpful to see what the other side is thinking once in a while.

    1. Confiscatory tax rates

      Some call it economic patriotism.

      Abolishing private health insurance

      Only some of the candidates are in favor of getting rid of private insurance. They debated about that.

      Completely unfettered abortion, with no restrictions whatsoever

      As well it should be.

      Either the buyback or outright confiscation of legally-owned guns

      Unless I missed something, this is a blatant falsehood. None of them advocated for confiscation.

      Reducing illegal immigration to a civil offense

      This seems very reasonable. We already have laws to deal with undocumented immigrants committing crimes.

      Letting the Taliban live in peace

      Did this happen?

      Any one of these positions is enough to cost Democrats the 2020 election.

      I strongly disagree with this assertion.

      1. Letting the Taliban live in peace

        Did this happen?

        Tulsi Gabbard, who actually served a tour of duty in Iraq, and who’s currently a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard — unlike all the Republican chickenhawks who pushed us into Iraq in the first place and who are currently pushing for a military conflict in Iran — drew a distinction between fighting al-Qaeda and fighting the Taliban. That is all.

        And as for “abolishing private health insurance” — that’s simply a right-wing dysphemism for the type of single-payer system enjoyed by the people of nearly every other modern, industrialized democracy in the world.

    2. The article you cite by Jonathan Last reflects that attitudes of anti-Trump conservatives. They despise Trump, but they want the Democratic candidate to be conservative-lite. This is not going to happen. For many of them, I fear, their economic and cultural values will give them an excuse to vote for Trump. I don’t trust them and wouldn’t cater to their conservative demands. The few votes they can deliver are not worth it.

      1. I by-and-large agree with you, and have been disappointed by some never-Trumpers — I’m lookin’ at you, National Review — although I think there are still principled never-Trump conservatives who will remain steadfast in their refusal to capitulate.

        Nonetheless, I don’t think Democrats should cater to them. My main concern in this regard is that some independent conservative candidate will emerge — a David French or another Evan McMullin — who will be more palatable to them than voting for the Democrat, but who will not siphon enough conservative votes away from Trump to make up for it.

        Every vote will count in swing states.

    3. The Bulwark clearly did see a different debate from the one I saw.
      – They discussed incremental tax rates and only two candidates (de Blasio and Castro) endorsed a 70% on the million+ incomes.
      – They endorsed the principle of abortion, there was no discussion about ‘no restrictions whatsoever’ at all.
      – The confiscation of firearms was to be seen more as a buy back, as I understood it, and the candidate specifically asked (Klobuchar) was clearly against outright confiscation.
      – Reducing illegal immigration to a civil offense got some support indeed -but not unanimously-. The immigration discussion was much more than that point though.
      – I think only one (Gabbard), maybe 2 or 3, not very clear, candidates wanted to leave the Taliban alone. It was one of the more divisive points, IIRC.
      So no, ‘Bulwark’ is way off.

      1. The Bulwark, subhead “Cocked and Loaded.”

        Seems like when writer Jonathan Last watched the first debate, it was more a case of “half-cocked and half-loaded.”

  23. While I have always believed that policy positions should determine my vote, I now realize that charisma should be an important factor in whom the Democrats nominate. This is because such a candidate is more likely to increase turnout, which is necessary to defeat Trump in 2020. Barack Obama had charisma; Hillary Clinton did not. One reason Trump won in 2016 is that he was able to turn out the white Christians in a greater proportion than their numbers suggest.

    Robert P. Jones is an astute observer of the intersection between religion and politics. He notes that “while white Christians composed only 43 percent of the population in 2016, they constituted an estimated 55 percent of voters. And although white evangelical Protestants composed only 17 percent of the public in 2016, they were 26 percent of voters. In other words, in the electorate, white Christians overall were 12 percentage points overrepresented, and white evangelical Protestants were nine percentage points overrepresented.”

    Turnout is what it will take to defeat Trump and the party of right-wing religion, not trying to convert his cult members. I’m not sure what Democratic candidate has charisma. But it’s a trait that could send Trump back to Trump Tower and, better still, a prison cell.

      1. Unfortunately, there was a charisma deficit amongst the candidates last night. Maybe, we’ll have better luck in tonight’s debate. However, if forced to pick the most charismatic of the lot, I would go with Cory Booker. I’m not saying that the Democrats couldn’t win without a charismatic candidate, but it would certainly help.

        1. Yes, I agree that Booker was quite charismatic, but so was Castro IMMO.
          Clearly some excellent candidates such as Klobuchar, and to a lesser degree Warren and Inslee, had a “charisma-gap” in this debate.

          1. And we did not see much of O’Rourke’s famed Charisma. Maybe this is not the format where his Charisma works. Still, he was the only one to refer to Mr Obamas’s highly successful ‘Family Case Management Plan’, Kudos to him.

          2. Beto reminded me of some self-help guru who gushes empty platitudes. His charm only works on those susceptible to self-help guru types.

    1. Oh, yeah? If it comes down to charisma, how the hell did Fritz Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and Al Gore ever lose?

      Oh, right. 🙂

  24. I liked hearing from Castro, and was disappointed hearing from O’Rourke.

    Ryan and Delaney should just drop out.

    Inslee and de Blasio were new to me and mildly interesting. Gabbard seemed canned to me, somehow like a TV show contestant.

    Booker made a fair impression, and Klobuchar seemed the same as always, though her “three women up here who fought pretty hard for a woman’s right to choose” line was good.

    Warren struck me the most at the end of several responses, including her closing statement, when she said “I will fight for you as hard as I fight for my own family.” That intensity and emotion is hard to come by in politics, and quite effective.

  25. I did not see much of the debate. However, I did agree with Andy Borowitz who mentioned the public “…having difficulty imagining a president who does not display flagrant signs of malignant narcissism, impulse-control deficit, or rampant paranoia.”

  26. Big win:
    Gabbard. Had to make an instant impression, and she did. Very poised and confident.

    Klobuchar. Personable, relaxed, concise responses outlining pragmatic solutions.

    Castro. Articulate, poised. FWIW, planted his flag on the far left, including for open borders.

    Minor loss:
    Warren. Essentially a wash, but what she needed was to dominate in this B-squad field. Avoided giving a straight answer to a single question. Doubt she won over any new converts.

    Booker. Came across as too annoyed, strayed into the wonky weeds, his mostly urban renewal platform better suited for a mayoral campaign.

    Major loss:
    Inslee. I’m a governor. Who gets things done. And who shouts and points.

    DeBlasio. I’m a mayor. Who takes credit for things other folks got done. And who talks over other candidates and the mods.

    National TV Seppuku:
    Ryan. Started out well, then floundered, then got KO’d by Gabbard.

    Beto. Scuttled his campaign 12 seconds in with the Spanish, then spent the rest of the night sputtering vague warm fuzzies, running over his time.

    Delaney. Deer in headlights. Will forever be remembered as the goofy air traffic controller in AIRPLANE!.

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