The second Democratic debate

June 28, 2019 • 8:00 am

Maybe I’ve just watched too many of these things in my life, or maybe I was just exhausted with ten candidates all trying to promote them self by regurgitating sound bites and, often, avoiding the questions. But I managed to make it through the entire Democratic debate last night.

I was not enthused. Joe Biden, put on the defensive by Kamala Harris about racism and busing, didn’t seem to do well, but neither did Bernie Sanders, who avoided questions to keep loudly pushing his line on Medicare for all.

Buttigieg was also put on the defensive when asked why the South Bend police department was only 6% black in a city with more than four times that percentage of African-Americans. He did not respond well.

Somehow I couldn’t work up much enthusiasm for anyone, even Harris, whom the media have pronounced the “winner” of this second debate. Her “lived experience” story about being bused didn’t move me, but rather seemed like an identity-politics ploy.

Please leave your opinions below, but I may leave off debate-watching (there are twelve scheduled until just April of next year!) until the field has shaken down to a mere handful of candidates. At this point it seems as if centrist Democrats like Biden are being steamrollered, but of course it’s early days.

The only thing I can say at this point is that I’d gladly vote for any of the Democrats over the moron we’re forced to call our “President”. But I knew that before the debates.

183 thoughts on “The second Democratic debate

  1. Unfortunately, watching the democratic primary debates is like watching a rugby team about to crash into the Andes.

    1. A heroic struggle to see who will ultimately get to prevail over a yooge, pitiless, uncomprehending block of igneous rock?

  2. It seemed that the debate often descended into chaos as each candidate tried to interrupt another. So, to solve this I offer a modest proposal. The organizers of these debates should follow the lead of the 1960s quiz shows, such as “21.” All candidates should be placed in isolation booths. They can hear what other people are saying, but can only be heard when the moderator turns on their booths for talking. Problem solved! 😎

      1. That implies:
        (A) The Republican candidates have enough intelligence to memorize the answers, and
        (B) The questions have enough depth or new twists that a candidate can’t just spew a canned shtick, so that knowing the question in advance actually gives you an advantage.

    1. And at the end of the debate the two least impressive contestants(as voted for by the viewers) were sealed inside their booths and crushed into a cube by a junkyard crusher.

      That’s how you get the American public to engage with politics.

        1. Seems slightly tame by comparison with the stuff that reality TV has actually thrown at us over the last two decades. Derren Brown actually ‘did’ Russian Roulette on live TV.

  3. I’m a huge Buttigieg fan and thought he did a solid job. Not amazing or “breakout,” but I’ve watched many of his other town halls and speeches, and at this point, I’d love to see him get the nomination. Maybe as he comes under more pressure, or as I see more of him, that might change, but I find him to be a breath of fresh air in this crowded field. Authentic, wickedly smart, thoughtful, calm, and exactly what we need right now (of course, IMO). Just not Biden, I fear Dems would be making a huge mistake by going the “safe,” moderate, establishment route. We need a fresh face.

      1. Don’t you think the male candidates should smile more? Sometimes they came off as shrill. And how about the way they were dressed? 🙂

        1. @Ken
          Speaking of how the male candidates look. I was gobsmacked at how Bernie is almost as tall as Joe! He’s always bent over sort of like Snoopy Vulture…

      1. I haven’t noticed the sideswipes at atheists. Surprisingly, he has rather stronger support–second to Bernie–among the non-religious group (saw this cited on 538 blog). But in general, I agree, his constant references to faith are not one my favorite of his qualities, but I could see it bringing in some moderate Republicans and chipping away at some moderate Dems who might otherwise be looking at Biden, Klobuchar, or others.

      2. I’ve heard he’s done that but I’ve only seen him in last night’s debate. I agree, I don’t like it. But I really liked his comment last night pointing out the hypocrisy that the Republicans are constantly on about religion and yet behave so reprehensibly. I can’t count how many times I’ve wished to hear a Democrat say just that kind of thing.

        That Democrats don’t make such obvious points is one of those kinds of things that makes you fear that the Democratic Party can find ways to not win any election. It’s kind of like that commercial spoofing horror movies where the people hide behind a wall with chainsaws hanging all over it to hide from the bad guy chasing them even though there is a running and waiting car sitting right there.

        1. Last night I heard him refer to Republicans as “almost godless hypocrites” (I think that was the phrase). He’s spot on regarding the hypocrisy. But as an actual godless person I resent the implication. Besides, who appointed him arbiter of who’s a real Christian?

          1. This is what he said, not as you remember it. Pete seems to be part of the religious left. That is, they keep their religion to themselves without imposing it on others while supporting liberal social and economic policies. I have no doubt that he believes in the separation of church and state. That’s what matters. His private religious views would in no way affect whether or not I would vote for him. Atheists who consider themselves liberals are shooting themselves in their feet if they get upset that some liberals are religious.
            “That criminalization, that is the basis for family separation. You do away with that, it’s no longer possible. Of course, it wouldn’t be possible anyway in my presidency because it is dead wrong.

            We’ve got to talk about one other thing. The Republican party likes to cloak itself in the language of religion. Now, our party doesn’t talk about that as much, largely for a very good reason. We are committed to the separation of church and state and we stand for people of any religion and people of no religion.

            But we should call out hypocrisy when we see it. And for a party that associates itself with Christianity, to say that it is ok to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.”


            1. Yeah, Mayor Pete sometimes gives me the willies when he talks about religion, but the opening part of his spiel about it last night was something even this secularist can get behind foursquare.

          2. I myst say I didn’t catch the “almost godless” part, Greg (but it’s possible I missed it.)

            1. As Historian pointed out, he didn’t actually say those words. IMO he said this between the lines.

        2. Three or four years ago his remarks about religion would probably have annoyed me a lot more. I think the fact is that my priorities have shifted since then.

          Right now the Dem candidate could be fiercely religious and he’d be more appealing than Trump. He could be an outright creationist and I’d still consider him preferable…just.

          Pushing back against the erosion of secularism is only possible while liberal democracy survives, and that depends on getting rid of Trump.

    1. I was very impressed with Buttigieg’s performance, even though I disagree with several of his positions.

      He did especially well avoiding kafka trap laid in the ‘racist police’ question. The very first question from Rachel Maddow, of course.

  4. If the Democrats could lay off the genetic profiling (“identity politics”), they’d probably reach a much broader voting population. As things seem now, however, I’m not optimistic.

  5. Biden looked old and defensive, and he actually thinks Republicans will work with him. How did that work out with Merrick Garland?

    Bernie sounded like a cranky old man. Why is he even in the Democratic debate when he is not a Democrat?

    Harris and Buttigieg did ok.

    Everyone else was forgettable.

  6. Kamala killed it. Mayor Pete did, too (even when owning up to problems in the South Bend police department). They’re both bright and articulate, quick-witted and fast on their feet.

    It did no favors for the two alter-kockers at center stage to have the two of them on their flanks for comparison. Uncle Joe Biden seemed lurching, moving at a slower speed, though his gaffes shouldn’t prove fatal. And Bernie was Bernie — what the hell else would you expect? Bernie’s been Bernie and nothing but Bernie going back all the way to childhood, I imagine. He’s a known quantity, love him or not.

    Of the rest of the candidates, some of them had their moments (especially Kristin Gillibrand), and none of them took the pipe. But let’s face it: they were all just jockeying for fifth place on a stage of ten.

  7. I suspect people are taking this group or cluster get to gather far too seriously. Certainly the networks do. Lets remember what date this is, nearly a year and a half before you can vote for anything. Unless you happen to vote in one of the primaries next year. Maybe we could have 24 new contestants by then. I think we have noticed a few who do not belong here and a couple of them are well past 70.

  8. I couldn’t be bothered. If they get the field down to a half dozen, then I’ll start paying attention.

      1. Williamson and Deepfried Okra would make a great pair!

        While Pete is personally too goddy for my taste/belief, I feel fairly confident that he would keep it out of his policies.

    1. The “contender” field is down to about seven now: Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, Buttigieg, Castro, Booker. I think it unlikely that any of the others will break through.

  9. I didn’t watch the debate, but saw excerpts and read about it.

    Seems to me that K. Harris called Biden in essence, “racist adjacent”. Why else would she have said something to the effect of “I know you are not a racist” and then brought up busing, which I am sure sent the younger ones googling away.

    And it bringing up busing, in essence called him an old white guy.

    A question for the house: It seems that all, maybe most, Democratic candidates want to extend healthcare to undocumented people….plus they in essence favor de facto porous/open borders. Are those 2 things longer-term viable?

    BTW, Rod Dreher in the American Conservative has some good takes….and is in awe of Ms. Harris.

    Also, Is it over for Beto?

  10. Warren is my favorite so far. Last night I was less enthused by Harris than most people, apparently. Had some nice prepared soundbites, and her going after Biden was good strategy, attacking the frontrunner. But those attacks ring hollow to me having lived through the 80’s and 90’s crime bills and seeing what Biden actually did. He was right to call her attacks mischaracterizations. Also, Biden on this night had the only susbtantial reply on immigration (address the root of the problem) as did Castro on night 1. I did not see much difference in Sanders vs. his previous campaign, mostly positioning as anti-establishment, still too light on the details.

  11. As an outsider looking in I think the acclaim surrounding Harris’s performance is wrongheaded. Sure, she did well in the debate, she dominated the conversation and shivved Biden but she also came across as slightly charmless and I disliked her playing of the race card.

    In liberal media bubbles the thrill of the fight is all that matters, and in that sense she is regarded to have done well, but in terms of demonstrating that she’d appeal to voters? Not so much.

    There was far too much finger-wagging and reliance on her identity. That won’t work in a debate with Trump, and personality wise she’s not much more likeable or warm than Hillary…and while I recognise that accusations of chilliness and condescension seem to get laid on female candidates a hell of a lot more often than they do on male candidates I still don’t think she was appealing.
    Her most memorable soundbites amounted to a(very) mild form of emotional bullying, and no-one on earth finds that attractive in a candidate.

    I haven’t watched the whole thing* but I don’t think Harris’s breathless elevation to ‘new favourite’ status is either a.) credible, or b.) positive for Dem hopes of displacing Trump.

    *I’m hoping Mayor Pete pushes himself front and centre next time; he’s so fabulously elegant and reassuring but a bit too laconic at the moment.

    1. …I also found the “I don’t think you’re racist, but…” line fantastically cheap and unpleasant. Biden’s response has been characterised as weak, but realistically there’s nothing he could’ve said in response without coming across as a domineering white guy dismissing ‘lived experience’. He just had to shut up.

      Again, this is why I think Harris’s approach is so electorally unappealing and dangerous for the Dems: can you imagine that kind of line working against Trump?

      1. agree re Harris – she is now the strident one, leaving Warren looking cool & collected, capable and grown up. which is fine with me.
        Yes, Harris as displayed last night dropped in my estimation.
        But the whole scene is ridiculous. Shallow, unedifying and pathetic. Just a means for a few MSNBC etc to show off. Chuck Todd? really? The MSM should be excluded. And the DNC abolished.

      2. agree re Harris – she is now the strident one, leaving Warren looking cool & collected, capable and grown up. which is fine with me.
        Yes, Harris as displayed last night dropped in my estimation.
        But the whole scene is ridiculous. Shallow, unedifying and pathetic. Just a means for a few MSNBC etc to show off. Chuck Todd? really? The MSM should be excluded. And the DNC abolished.

        1. As I commented previously, the line “I don’t think you;re racist, BUT…” sure sounds a whole lot like “Some of my best friends are Black, BUT…”

    2. It almost sounds like you have something against minority women. Or maybe a liking for old white men. Whatever.

      Harris is not some newbee to this business. She has done quite well in California where lots of people happen to live. I would not hang my hat on a guy who has lost more than once and is way past his prime. He was against busing way back when and that is just a fact.

      1. Okay Randall. You got me, I’m a racist and I hate black women and want to see them fail.

        ..Or maybe, just maybe – and it’s only a maybe – I was giving my honest verdict?

        1. I think you probably were just giving your honest opinion. But you also have kind of an odd take on one performance in the show last night. If you recall, Harris said to Biden, before she nailed him, that she did not think he was a racist. But it does not mean that what he did was good or right.

          What Harris is, is a prosecutor and like any good prosecutor, they will be prepared. I do not think Biden was prepared.

          1. Imo, saying ‘I don’t think you’re a racist, but…’ to a guy who no-one on earth actually believes is a racist…is rather cheap.

            And it’s very gracious of you to concede that I’m “probably” not a racist. I’ll put that on a badge and wear it.

          2. The “I know you are not racist” is in the same vein as, “And when did you stop beating your wife”…..

            She was calling him racist adjacent.

            1. And then pointed out that he’s supported racist policies in the past. Does supporting racist policies make you a racist? Beats me.

              1. I’d hope that at least some of the stuff he’s done for civil rights in the intervening decades would count in his favour.

              2. Yeah, Joe’s got a problem explaining why — after two decades of massive local resistance to Brown v. Board of Education had prevented the integration public schools — he believed that desegregation should be left to local authorities.

                He’d’ve been better off acknowledging the error of that assessment (as Buttigieg acknowledged his errors regarding the South Bend police), rather than pretending he never opposed “busing” in principle.

              3. He should also explain his decades long support for the Hyde amendment (and other abortion measures) and only reversed his position a few weeks ago, after “struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents.” Anyone who has to struggle with that issue loses me. Of course, as usual, he went out of his way to say he made “no apologies for the last position.”

          3. “I don’t think you’re a racist, comma, BUT…” sounds to me a whole lot like “Some of my best friends are Black, comma, BUT…”

      2. Indeed. And as for Harris bringing up her own experience? I mean, she was literally bused, I can’t imagine her not bringing it up.

        What does everyone thinking about John ‘I’m a Scientist!’ Hickelooper? As far as I can tell from wiki, he worked as a geologist for about four years in the early eighties and that is as far as his science-ing went.

        1. Really? I thought she came across as charmless therefore I’m racist?

          Is this the approach Dems are going to take re. criticism of Harris in these primaries? Because if it is then good luck on getting the most effective, electable candidate.

          No-one should have magic armour – the whole point of this is to wean out the candidates who are least electable, and if every time someone like me points out weaknesses in a minority/female candidate(weaknesses that you can be sure Trump will exploit to the fullest) we’re accused of being racist/homophobic/sexist then you’re going to end up with a Dem candidate who has not properly been tested.

          1. Please sir, show us where you were accused of being racist or sexist? You not only have your own opinion but seem to have your own understanding of what others say about you when they did not say it. As has been said here before….show us the evidence.

              1. As I already knew, you have no evidence but your imagination. By the way, I know my own name so you need not repeat it in your replies.

            1. “It almost sounds like you have something against minority women. ”

              You wrote this. I consider it an insinuation of racism, as would any normal person.

              You also have a habit of lunging in on people’s posts without thinking, sometimes getting furiously angry because you missed a joke, and generally being utterly intransigent when any mistake on your part is pointed out.

              In fact I posted a jokey, entirely friendly reply to one of your comments only last week and you a. missed the point entirely and lashed out, and b. got predictably angry when I pointed it out.

              I don’t know what your problem is, whether it’s with me specifically, and I’m beginning not to care.

          2. I realized that my ‘indeed’ may have seemed directed at you after I hit post – which was poorly done. I mean rather to sympathize with Harris’s position – not that she should have magic armor. Apologies for my short-sightedness in that comment.

            1. That’s okay. I actually agree with what you said in your comment. I think Harris is a deeply impressive woman, and her past experiences are legitimate fodder in a debate. The question is about how you use those anecdotes; how you deploy them. People notice when you use them as a tool to shut up your opponent, and generally they don’t like it.

              Still there’s plenty of time to go.

              1. Yes, that’s well said. I agree, from being generally impressed with her down to not being impressed with her performance last night for the reasons you explain, and to certainly not discounting her just yet.

        2. I like the Hick, but he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance. We are hoping that he focuses on a Senate seat where he would have more influence.

    3. I’m also an outsider, but, personally, I want Biden and Sanders out of the contest at the earliest opportunity. They are both just too old.

      I’m not overly happy that Elizabeth Warren is seventy, but she is at least younger than the colostomy bag with a Twitter account.

    4. I saw a recent poll (done properly, I think) that showed Fox News garnering more viewers than all the other major news networks put together. If the media are telling us what to think and presenting what they feel is worth showing, we’d be well advised to pay attention to what Fox is saying.

      Did everyone see that viral video of the little old lady at Amash’s town hall who said she watches conservative news, and all she knew about the Muller report was that it totally exonerated Trump, and there was nothing negative about him in it at all!

      We must bear in mind that at least half the country is kept solidly uninformed or misinformed. What people think of the candidates is shaped by what Fox presents more than any other source. And Fox isn’t even hosting a debate.

      Two things are true of the Trump supporters I know: Everything they “know” is wrong, and nothing they “know” is subject to change. They only watch Fox.

    1. Strange, I rather liked that, nay, particularly liked that, he had already talked for longer than anybody else. He realised that there was no point in trying to go on with his point in this format. I think it was his best moment.

      1. You apparently missed the double entendre nature of the comment.

        You do realize that the main critique of Biden is that he is out of touch with today’s political world, stuck in the past.

  12. the over talking was maddening. I Thought Mayor Pete came out clear winner. but I liked him going in. Yang is most in tune with reality of future and in my opinion correct. being correct doesnt win against tRumps persuasion techniques. I dont see the middle (politically and geographically) needed to sway the near 50% dead heats of past 20 years, voting for the more extreme control sounding folks (Promises to EO all the last EO is just more EOs) or getting past their discomfort of “free rider” ties or tossing out private insurance or the pretty successful free market health care start ups. I just hope dems dont use the super delegate thing to put Biden in like they did before. and I hope Sanders learns to Help one of the other delegates to win.

    1. It’s Yang and his supporters that I’d worry about more than the Bernie Bros. Bernie supporters moaned about Hillary, and a significant minority of them pissed their vote up the wall(possibly handing the election to Trump) but that was at least a minority, and in the end 80% of his supporters still ‘bit the bullet’ and voted Hillary.

      Yang supporters otoh…I’ve spoken to a lot of them online and every single one of them has said they won’t vote for the Democrat candidate unless it’s Yang.

      1. I would be cautious about the sites promoting Yang (and Williamson). Several of these have been set up either by far right-wing white nationalist groups, or by the Russians. Their goal is to muck up the candidate selection process as much as possible with enthusiastic promotion of candidates with no chance of even making a primary ballot.

        Now, nobody sensible is saying they won’t vote for anyone else if some nobody isn’t the candidate, but perhaps some gullible people can be scammed out of their donations and/or their vote. Trump’s success, if nothing else, tells us we have a nation full of suckers.

        I seriously doubt if there ARE any genuine “Yang or nobody” people out there, but the trolls are quite active already.

  13. I don’t know much about any of these candidates. Several I’ve never heard of before and several I’ve only seen a total of a few minutes of over the past year or less. The only ones I knew much of are Biden and Bernie.

    After this debate I am currently sure about Bernie. He definitely is not a good choice. I appreciate his enthusiasm and largely agree with his points, but he apparently can’t tell you anything about how he plans on making any of the things he says need to happen actually happen. He never answers any questions put to him. No matter the question he goes straight to pep-rally mode and completely ignores the question. I can only think that he doesn’t have any real plans about how to make any of it happen. And he is too old. All in all he came off as a crank that you largely agree with but don’t want on your side because he appears to be slightly nuts.

    Similar with Biden. Biden is far from awful and I think he did OK last night, but we would be much better off with one of the others from a younger political generation. I also view his age as a negative.

    I agree with Jerry about Kamala Harris. I was not impressed. Rather I was turned off. Every time she spoke she played the victim card, blatantly, aggressively. I couldn’t disagree more with the press that she won this debate. I think it sucks if the public feels that way too. To me it means they can’t see when they are being played. She really turned me off.

    My two favorites in this debate were Peter Buttigieg and then Michael Bennet. Bennet is not as good a speaker as Buttigieg is but I liked what he said. I liked what both of them said and what they didn’t say.

    Swalwell was OK but I didn’t like how he went after others on several occasions. At least once when he did so he had a good point (Biden’s claim about working on a particular bill with McConnell in the past). But other times it was simply a cheap shot. I’d like to see the Democratic candidates do better than taking cheap shots at each other.

    Kristin Gillibrand was so-so for me. Nothing particularly negative or positive in this debate.

    Marianne Williamson, bless her heart. I don’t dislike anything she had to say and I think it’s probably good to have people like her in the mix at this point for various reasons. But she is not a serious candidate.

    I was a bit put off by John Hickenlooper. He is one that I knew zero about prior to the debate. It sounds like he did some good things in Colorado, or at least was there when they happened, but he kept pounding on socialism as being a bad thing. Which I take to mean that he classifies much of what the other candidates propose as socialism. At least for the purposes of soliciting votes. I think that’s a pretty shitty thing for a Democratic candidate to do. Leave the fear mongering about “socialism bad” to the Republican and Libertarian parties.

    Andrew Yang strikes me as a smart and decent human being. He also spoke very well several times last night. And though I agree with his motivations and purposes I am not yet convinced that a UBI is a good idea.

    And with all that it can’t be said enough, I would have no issues at all in voting for any of these people, even the author, against Trump.

    1. This. I agree totally with what you said about Harris; I posted about my feelings about her performance above. I think she was dominant, effective…and personally unappealing.

      The media bubble seems to think that pulling out cheap lines on Biden and resorting to the race card in order to shut up supplicant, egg-shell-walking white male opponents are signs of a winner: they really aren’t. I sensed no warmth, wit or charm from her and her identity politicking was instinctively, reflexively unattractive, even to a very liberal person like me.

      I think there are two ways to assess the candidates’ performances: one is in terms of how they did in the debate, the other is how they came across to the broad sweep of voters. In the former sense Harris did very well…in the latter I think she did not.

      I’m hoping Mayor Pete pushes himself centre-stage next time. My hopes are pinned on his shoulders tbh. He’s rather too elegantly laconic at the moment; he needs to do what Harris did, seize the stage, only with the wit, warmth and charm that she is missing.

  14. The second slate was a mixed bag; as far as I’m concerned, it started with 4 non-starters and a bunch of question marks, and ended pretty much the same.

    Non-starters (for me) are Biden (plagiarism, lying about plagiarism, smartaleck/wiseacre remarks, demonization of Anita Hill, the “Creepy Joe” phenomenon, etc.), Sanders (failure on church/state separation (see below), Harris (off-the-wall bizarre behaviour during the Kavanaugh hearings (, and Williamson (religious and other woo woo). All went further downhill as far as I’m concerned; Sanders (giving the impression of an angry old man endlessly ranting about “the one percent”) and Harris (playing the race card, identity politics, and “privilege” simultaneously by asserting that she was the only one allowed to talk about racism) especially.

    Gillibrand’s constant talking (more like shouting) over the moderators, exasperated at the candidates going well over their allotted time, was a negative, as was Swallwell’s interruptions. Hickenlooper seemed to stumble in his responses several times. Yang seemed out of his depth, as did Bennett (especially right from the start).

    That leaves Buttigieg. He handled the issue of the recent events in South Bend about as well as possible. His remarks about religion seemed at first encouraging, but when considered carefully, only raise more questions. “we are committed to the separation of church and state, and we stand for people of any religion and people with no religion” doesn’t ring true and raises some questions. First, Sanders in particular has a history of violating church/state separation (while mayor of Burlington, VT); he permitted a sectarian religious symbol on public land, and when criticised, doubled down by allowing a twice-as-large symbol to be installed. When sued by the ACLU, he used taxpayer funds to fight the lawsuit. So the first part of that Buttigieg statement is demonstrably false (it should be noted that there are many other examples of Democrats violating church/state separation; the 1993 federal RFRA which has been used to promote discrimination on religious grounds was introduced by two Democrats (C. Schumer and “Ted” Kennedy) and signed by Democrat Bill Clinton; another example is the Florida bill requiring “God” language to be publicly displayed in public schools was introduced by Democrat Kimberly Daniels). Biden’s closing bootlicking remarks to the godbots was also a pathetic reminder of Democrats pandering to the religious. One wonders also about Buttigieg’s choice of wording, specifically “religion” rather than “belief” or “faith”. Could it be that, like many Christians, Buttigieg refuses to acknowledge lack of belief in deities, confusing “atheism” with “misotheism”. Buttigieg followed that remark with a series of “God Would” remarks, which appears to confirm a failure to recognize lack of belief.

  15. ABB: Anyone But Biden.Forget the bad things he did. Forget the good things too. His personality and mechanical speech are truly
    boring and uninspiring. Forget the also-rans (Hickenlooper, Bennett, Williamson). Gillibrand was too much a one-noter; being pro abortion is not enough. Harris tugged too hard at our heart strings. Please spare us Kamala! What is your platform? Sanders: we need him to push all the others on health care, which fortunately is now in the center as it should be; So who won? Buttegieg. This guy is smart! Articulate! Direct! Knows the issues! Too smart to be a politician maybe…
    but there is no doubt he is on the way up,if not in 2020 then in 2424. Right now my trifecta is Warren, Booker, Buttgieg, with Sanders ultimately getting behind one of them. Sadly climate change didn’t get the deserved focus it got on Wednesday. But it is still in play, right next to health care.

      1. “Buttebot v.3.0 wants your vote in 2424! Vote Buttebot for President of the United States of West China(formerly Trumpland, formerly USA)’

    1. ABT, I’d say. I’ll take Mr Biden a dozen times over Mr Trump, what am I saying, a 144 times.

  16. I didn’t mind Harris attacking Biden as he is the front runner. But she basically called him a racist (while saying “I am not calling you a racist but…”) over a 1970’s issue!

    Identity politics works for Trump as his block is larger and more united; it will not work for the D’s. The D’s need a coalition.

    Frankly, I think that Trump will be reelected. I sure hope that I am wrong.

    But there is too big of a crack in the D party, roughly between the wokes and the older generation.

    1. I think this wide spread of candidates isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s healthy. And while I didn’t particularly like the way Harris went about it, her approach to Biden was healthy too.
      Far better that the frontrunner’s weaknesses are exposed at as early a stage as possible. Then he can either adapt or die – either way the pool of candidates improves.

      This is what the debates are for after all. I personally don’t think Harris’s approach will go down well with the great mass of voters, and, like you, I found it unappealing, but she’s there to win and she went for it.

      I thought she laid some slightly cheap shots on Biden, but at the same time he’s got to respond better than that if he’s going to square up to Trump next year in what will be the political-debate equivalent of Thunderdome.

  17. While the vaudeville troupe of Democratic candidates was busy creating a show for the media bubble, the show overshadowed a crucial 5:4 ruling by the Bush-Nader/McConnell-Trump Supreme Court. In the consolidated cases of Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, the decision written by Chief Justice Roberts ruled that the judicial branch cannot do anything about the modern American rotten borough system, whereby fraudulent design of electoral districts prevents the outbreak of democracy.

    The original rotten borough system, which served the same purpose for the British landed aristocracy in the 18th century, was finally abolished by the Reform Act of 1832. The American system is thus close to two centuries years behind that of stodgy old Great Britain in regard to democracy in its legislative branch. [The electoral college presents its own hindrance to democracy in the executive branch.] I suppose it is worth noting that the 1832 Reform Act was passed by Parliament; thus it is now up to American legislatures, including that of the federal government, to authorize democratic representation in the same manner as prevails in other western counties.

    1. The decision in Rucho was an abdication of the Court’s constitutional duty, demonstrating again the Roberts Court’s indifference to voting discrimination. As I said in a comment yesterday on this topic:

      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 congressional redistricting is through a nonpartisan commission charged with drawing neutral lines.

      The cracking-and-packing that computer-assisted gerrymandering permits a majority to conduct is intolerable to a democracy dedicated to 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.

      The only even faintly bright lining to yesterday’s decision is that, for my money, Justice Elena Kagan did her best writing yet since taking the bench in the ringing dissent she wrote for herself and the three other liberal members of the Court.

      1. Yes Ken, I’d upvote that.
        I have some (small) consolation in the refusal by the SC to accept the citizenship question on the Census, at least for now.

        1. Yeah, I agree with you about the census case, Nicolaas. I’m surprised the four most conservative justices voted for including the citizenship question, even though incontrovertible evidence has been discovered, but not yet been made a part of the record before SCOTUS, demonstrating that the questions was added solely to advantage white, Republican voters by undercounting immigrants — and that the Trump administration point-blank lied to the courts about it throughout the course of the litigation.

          Chief Justice Roberts spared the Court embarrassment by siding with the liberals (and then assigned himself the drafting of the opinion, to make it as narrow as possible).

          1. Yes Kenneth (you may call me nicky in the intimate surroundings of WEIT). Made it as narrow as possible. And I definitively don’t like their ‘gerrymandering’ decision.
            I somehow just hope that Justice Roberts sees what is happening, an effort to turn the US into a dictatorship (well, I think it looks like it) and that he does not want is name attached to that.
            “During then weak and stacked Roberts Court, the Trump faction effectively succeeded to take over all executive and judicial power, and to shelve the Constitution, rendering the US a de facto dictatorship” or something like it in the 2048 history books, I can’t believe he would like that.

  18. That’s pretty much as I remember it. That business about “losing all claim to religious language”? The hidden assumption is that religious language is moral language. And are you serious that the religious left keeps it to themselves? While Pete’s up on a national stage spouting theology?

    1. My, you must have gone apocalyptic when Jimmy Carter won in 1976. Pete may very well believe that religious language is moral language. Who cares? He is not trying to foist his religious beliefs on others. That’s all that matters.

      You’re doing your best to alienate the religious left from the Democratic Party (which includes religious African-Americans). I hope you enjoy another four years of Trump.

      1. Nonsense.

        I didn’t say I dislike Pete. I didn’t say I wouldn’t support or vote for him. And it is absurd that I’m doing my best to alienate the religious left from the Democratic Party. )

        What I said was nothing more than the complaint I have against pretty much all “nice, liberal” believers. They legitimize faith which I am convinced is one of the most toxic features of human culture. And when they bring their faith into politics I’m going to point out how it is wrong to do so.

        I find it unfortunate when otherwise sensible non-believers give a pass to faith-based reasoning when it comes from a political ally.

        As it happens, I’m somewhat in the minority in thinking that Jimmy Carter was a pretty decent president.

    2. Buttigieg lost me when he came out in support of religious exemptions for vaccines, “if there’s no health crisis” — seemingly unaware that the purpose of vaccines is to prevent a health crisis. His handlers had to do damage control a few days later after criticism arose, saying he didn’t really mean it, he’s not really in favor of those exemptions.

  19. Major win:
    Buttigieg: Articulate, impassioned yet level-headed, able to address complex issues with clarity, thoughtfulness, and brevity. Came across as very mature for his years.

    Harris: Grabbed the reins of the debate when the mods had lost control. Executed a well-planned attack on Biden, smartly waiting for Swalwell to drive the first knife in. She went for the kill, a complete evisceration.

    She immediately jumps to front-runner. But will it prove a Pyrrhic victory? Middle America is tired of race card. What else does Harris have to offer them?

    Minor Loss:
    Gillibrand: She’s always focused on the feminist agenda, but last night also tried to brand herself as the campaign reform candidate. These are not enough to stand out. Also, she consistently overran her time, which never looks good.

    Going Nowhere Fast:

    Bennet: Ideas aren’t bad, but zero charisma.

    Hickenlooper: I was a governor … blah blah. Style is 30 years out of date.

    Swalwell. King of the oh-so-clever one-liners. Not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.

    Your 12 Minutes of Fame are Over:

    Yang: The $1,000 handout is his best idea, and it’s a dud. Bye.

    Williamson: It took 45 seconds to reveal yourself as a new-age chemtrail whack-job. Bye.

    Torn to Shreds a Pack of Hyenas:
    Biden. Started stumbling after the ‘pass the torch’ jab, completely unraveled following Harris’ nuclear strike. Yes, Joe: your time is up.

    Left by the Side of the Road to Die:
    Sanders. A rambling, cranky old man. Took no direct attacks, but plenty of splash damage from the ‘too old’ attacks on Biden. The socialist revolution spiel is not resonating. Starting to realize most of his popularity in 2016 was really dislike for Hillary. It’s ovah.

    Other Losers:
    Warren: In the short-term, she will gobble up the rest of Sanders’ support, which she’d already been siphoning off. But it’s now open season on old candidates, and she’s surely next on Harris’ hit list.

    The Democrats: The surviving front-runners will all be markedly to the left of the American people on many issues. The direct attacks on trump were much harsher and frequent than on the first night. In contrast, the winning strategy is to avoid directly attacking trump — and by extension ‘deplorables’ shaming — and instead focus on positives.

    1. If Gillibrand won the nomination, it would be a disaster from the very start. Remember this tweet?

      Can’t our future just be for everyone? I thought we want equality, not supremacy of the other sex as revenge.

      And intersectional? The vast majority of people don’t know what that means, but, when they find out what it’s associated with, they won’t like it.

      Gillibrand is the ultimate “woke” candidate.

      Regarding your last comment: The Democrats (and the media) seem to think Twitter/social media is representative of the political landscape. This is scary as all hell. Even the average Democratic voter doesn’t agree with most of Twitter politics. I don’t know if they think pandering to this segment is a way to get more exposure or what, but it’s terrible. The candidate that actually figures out what most voters want should be the one who wins and will be if anyone is paying attention.

      1. Gillibrand is going nowhere. She had to make an appeal to her narrow base with “I want to talk directly to America’s women and to the men who love them.” I think she should’ve just come right out and shared her First Hundred Days Honey-do list.

        <blockquoteThe Democrats (and the media) seem to think Twitter/social media is representative of the political landscape. This is scary as all hell. Even the average Democratic voter doesn’t agree with most of Twitter politics.

        The Illuminati are living in such a tiny bubble! Before the first night, NBC posted poll results on what topic voters wanted to be discussed in the debates. The economy/jobs was top at 40%, healthcare a close second. Immigration was at the bottom with 8%.

        Well, we got some healthcare, but mostly a lot of soaking the rich, how racist America still is, and all the many ways we need to bend over backwards to help illegal immigrants. (The leftist MSNBC crew played no small part in this focus.) These are all loser positions in the general election.

    2. My favorite comment so far. Had me belly laughing out loud. Sort of a George Carlin meets HL Mencken vibe.

    3. Warren a loser? LOL. Her numbers are growing, deservedly, and she will top Sanders soon. Why? She is running on ISSUES, not personality; her economio policies go to the heart of our inequality; she is incredibly experienced and knowledgeable about the political process; she has no ethical or moral baggage (the DNA thing will have no effect on her popularity; she comes across as stable, firm, articulate). If she continues her meteoric rise, then Sanders should bow out and endorse her…..not out of the question. As for Harris, she needs to do catch-up because so far she hasn’t given any clues about her positions on major issues and comes with baggage that will cling to her. Warren is running a smart steady issue based campaign, untainted by any “socialist” stain but still focused on economic reforms. My fear is the Democratic Party establishment and whether they will quietly try to squash her. Keep your eyes and ears open.

      1. Unfortunately, the skills necessary to win political campaigns are completely different from the skills necessary to be a good executive and administrator. In 2016 we saw a terrific campaigner and execrable executive, against a wooden uninspiring campaigner and perfect executive. And we see what we got.

        Buttigieg comes across as calm, informed, intelligent, organized and thoughtful. Exactly what won’t inspire voters, who will probably find Warren’s shrill one-size-fits-all approach to every issue appealing. The notion that every approach has drawbacks as well as advantages seems beyond the average voter, and Warren (probably wisely) pretends no drawbacks exist, even to untried programs.

        I doubt either one will populate the executive branch with corrupt toadies, but the damage being done to the judiciary will be beyond any new President’s control.

      2. Warren’s rise is coming out of Sanders’. She has little appeal outside the left wing of the party, and zero among moderate swing voters. She’s pandering to the woke elite and the pampered identity groups.

        Her pretendian obsession is a liability, and don’t doubt that it would be effectively weaponized against her.

        Warren actually does not have much political experience. Her only run for office was in a state where anyone with a (D) after their name is a shoe-in.

        Warren has already ensured a defeat for herself if she becomes a nominee.

        1. At 7 pm EST, 7-13 (tonight) on CNN, Buttigieg will be presenting some of his platform. Unlike the far left, he does NOT promise free goodies for everyone — he thinks they should be paid for. He’s all in favor of helping those who need it. As a red state Democrat, he understands what can and what can’t be done, and how to go about it.

          He also understands that as President, he’d have to deal with Republicans somehow. Obama tried compromising, even proposing legislation straight out of the Republican platform. They voted against him unanimously anyway! I wonder how Buttigieg might deal with this.

          1. I admire Buttegieg. He’s the most intelligent and clear-eyed of the lot. All else equal, I’d support him for the nomination, but all else isn’t equal. His odds of getting the nomination are low. He’ll probably fail in South Carolina. My pick for the D nomination is the person most likely to beat Trump, and I wish I knew who that is. Whoever it is, they have my vote.

            note: Using “they” in the singular, because his/her or her/his is awkward. English needs a singular, first-person, gender-neutral pronoun (besides “it”). “It has my vote” doesn’t sound right. 🙂

          2. Buttigieg’s pro- illegal immigrant positions, and comments on ‘systemic racism’, would be a considerable handicap for him in the general election.

            Obama had a Congressional ‘supermajority’ when he entered office, and used it to pass a private insurance scheme devised by the Heritage Foundation. He then lost the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.

            It’s a lot easier dealing with the GOP when they are in the minority.

            1. Strange, I hear Buttigieg saying that our current immigration policies are the source of much of our troubles. I take it you would regard a change in policies (more asylum judges, better conditions, higher quotas, even smarter foreign policy toward Central American conditions) as being pro-illegals. Personally, I think our current policies are as anti-immigrant as possible, and deliberately so for political reasons. One doesn’t need to be blindly pro-immigrant to see that almost any change would be an improvement.

              As for systemic racism, you probably have a good point. Of course there IS systemic racism. Blacks are four times as likely to be incarcerated as whites for exactly the same offense. And that’s one of countless examples. But SAYING this is going to make him unpopular, because people don’t like to admit that they might be bigots. Everyone is a bigot except me and thee, right?

              Whether Obama’s healthcare program was what cost him control of Congress is problematic. Perhaps so, since it was an enormous something-for-everyone omnibus package, corrupted by the inevitable political process, undermined by SCOTUS, and subject to a wide range of (often unpopular) interpretations. Definitely a camel designed by a committee.

              1. Of course there IS systemic racism. Blacks are four times as likely to be incarcerated as whites for exactly the same offense.

                We’ve been over this before. That is false; blacks are 3x more likely to be incarcerated than whites because they commit crimes as 3x the rate.

                There was no ‘political process’ for obamacare; Obama crafted the bill in April, 2009 behind closed doors with the insurance lobby, then sent it to Congress where it underwent but trivial revision.

              2. And you remain wrong, for reasons I couldn’t guess. If you are denying systemic racism, I cannot open your eyes, so you are welcome to consider me a fool. I simply can’t believe anyone could equate arrest rates with crime rates. Only a very small percentage of black males reach the age of 25 without a single arrest. Do you suppose they are genetically criminal or what? Maybe their mamas raised them all wrong?

                As for Obamacare, I agree that Obama solicited and included a great deal of conservative Republican input, from the Heritage Society and from insurance lobbyists. I contend he did this because he realized such a program would swim upstream against a strong current if he didn’t get a lot of bipartisan buy-in. He didn’t seem to grasp that Republicans didn’t care about healthcare, they cared that one of ‘them’ would get credit. Here in Alabama, you couldn’t help but sense the shock, dismay, disgust and desperation that a Negro was President!

                As my neighbor said to me, “it’s the White House in Washington, not the Black House.” But of course, there’s no systemic racism, right?

              3. I contend he did this because he realized such a program would swim upstream against a strong current if he didn’t get a lot of bipartisan buy-in.

                1) In 2009, 3/4 of Americans favored universal healthcare;

                2) With the ‘supermajority’, obama didn’t need a single Republican to ‘buy-in’.

              4. What he needed and what he wanted were two different things. He understood that if he got NO Republican buy-in, he would have an uphill battle for many years to come, and he was right. Maybe 3/4 of the people wanted universal healthcare, but as I recall there was a lot of political posturing – that nobody knew how the program would work, that people would lose their family doctors, that it was socialism, that people who didn’t need insurance would be forced to buy it, that the program wasn’t affordable, and on and on.

                When one political party is unanimously against anything, and uses their power and their voice to fight it, misrepresent it, foment fear about it, the result won’t be smooth sailing for that program.

                So I’m not so dumbfounded that the Republicans won control of both House and Senate in the next midterms, DESPITE “3/4 of
                Americans favoring” universal healthcare, and DESPITE healthcare being the single major accomplishment of Obama’s first 2 years in office when Dems controlled Congress. Going by the voters, people overwhelmingly rejected subsidized healthcare. I don’t quite understand how voters would so resoundingly reject what a supermajority of them wanted.

              5. If you are denying systemic racism, I cannot open your eyes….

                From your source:

                The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that … 38% [of state prisoners] are black.…[compared to] the overall general population (where …13% are black….)

                The BJS and UCR data show that blacks commit crimes at 3x the rate of whites, and
                3x 13% = 39%. QED.

                Your source also notes that 3/4 of the racial disparity is attributable “poverty, employment, housing, and family differences”. Mandatory minimum sentences is also cited as a factor. The greatest disparity is found in drug-related crimes. Your source, however, neglects to report that extenuating circumstances, which automatically trigger harsher sentencing, are far more prevalent in the inner-city drug crimes overwhelmingly committed by blacks. Indeed, these sentencing laws were called for by black community leaders.

                The remaining fraction remains unexplained, though implicit bias is proffered as a cause. Yet implicit bias has been debunked as pseudoscience.

                So, while certain elements of the judicial system do produce some racial disparity, no evidence exists of overt racial bias.

                I think we’re done here.

              6. Here is a useful reference:

                This looks at some interesting points: Rates of arrest by race AND by seriousness of offense. Discretion after arrest. Comparison of prison populations to arrest populations (i.e. if blacks are 3 times as likely to be arrested, they should be 3 times as likely to be jailed, not 20 times more likely.)

                Anyway, this material is worth reading. Hopefully, you will note that you didn’t address my claim. I said blacks were far more likely to be jailed than whites for the same offense. You responded that blacks commit more crimes per capita, which I never disputed. I said triple the crime rate should result in triple the jail rate, and this simply isn’t so.

            2. “illegal immigrant positions”

              Seriously? He’s in favor of illegal immigration? Somehow, I doubt that.

              1. You would be right. Immigration reform is NOT open borders. Affordable health care is NOT free healthcare for everyone. Sensible college subsidies are NOT free college for everyone. A living wage is not a handout to deadbeats. A workable safety net is NOT socialism.

                And let’s be clear here: If all illegals were magically sent away overnight, this would be a crushing blow to the American economy. To some of us, a viable path to citizenship for people who wish to be Americans, who work hard and see a future for their children, are desirable people to accept (and even attract). To others among us, just coming in makes them criminals, before they even get around to the rapes and murders they are sure to commit!

  20. I just love how the media always decides who won the debate for us. Isn’t it great? Most people don’t even watch the debate, and the few that do usually forget about it after a week of the media telling them who won. It’s nice to always have such coherent narratives from all the different outlets that seem to have an “interest” in the debates. If there is one thing the media should be for, it’s for telling us what our opinions should be. Facts are for suckers.

      1. Of course, this is true of all of us. Female candidates poll best among women, black candidates do well among blacks, New York commentators like the New York types, people with college educations like Buttigieg, while blacks for some reason are generally anti-gay.

        As things shake out, I predict we’ll see the advantages of immediate name recognition gradually overcome by the advantages of money. Money buys exposure, organization, skilled management.

          1. I wonder if our unbiased journalists are as objective as our unbiased objective judiciary? I fear the advent of Trump has polarized us all, to the point that even should some paragon of objectivity appear, he/she would be regarded by both sides as hopelessly biased toward the other.

              1. My understanding of the SC’s history is a bit different. Yes, Presidents tend to nominate people more congenial to their preferences, but in the past there has still been a bias toward outstanding legal credentials. Party-line decisions haven’t always been so common. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were nominated because they are ideological extremists, and were confirmed in the Senate along party lines. In the past, justices were confirmed nearly unanimously in the Senate. Merrick Garland was no liberal (another of Obama’s hopeless attempts to reach across the aisle).

                I think John Roberts is the first Chief Justice to express concern that the SC is increasingly viewed as a mini-Senate, voting along straight party lines in important cases. I suspect he is seeking conservative reasons to sometimes side with the liberals to protect the reputations of both himself and the Court.

                Trump is not the cause of polarization, but he delights in taking that social knob and cranking it up to 11. I believe a sane President can crank it back down.

  21. Regardless of which (D) candidate prevails, I’d crawl naked through a mile of broken glass to vote for him/her against Trump.

    1. I’m not so sure I can go along with that. If it comes down to choosing between the Joke and the Woke, I might have to go with the former for sheer entertainment value. I voted for Dubya over Gore for pretty much the same reason: I preferred someone who talked like an idiot over someone who talked to me like I was an idiot.

      1. How’d you like that 2003 invasion of Iraq based on those bogus weapons-of-mass destruction claims, Gary?

        For all his insufferableness, I don’t think Gore would’ve gone that route. Wouldn’t surprise me if there’re a lot of dead and maimed GIs, and orders-of-magnitude more dead and maimed Iraqis who’d agree.

        Elections, as they say, have consequences. And that was one of them.

  22. My preference at this point is for Warren. But I also thought the debates were not really helpful and were poorly controlled.

    However, I am going to vote for the Democratic candidate, no matter who it turns out to be. If we don’t beat Trump, the nation is toast.

  23. Ugh. Joe Biden.

    But if he’s the candidate opposing president pussygrabber’s re-election, I’d stand in a line for 8 hours in a hailstorm to vote for him.

    1. I like your attitude. No candidate is perfect. In fact, the candidate we vote for may be quite imperfect. It is a realization that purism only helps the candidate we really don’t like. It is not hyperbole to state that the fate of the Republic and perhaps the planet means getting rid of Trump. There are a myriad of reasons why the moral monster must go, but certainly the need to address climate change is near the top of the list.

    1. I’m not sure that making undocumented entry a civil offense equates with “Open Borders”.
      – They want asylum seekers to get a proper hearing.
      – they do not want asylum seekers and illegal immigrants separated from their children, and want them to be treated as humans
      – they want a path to citizenship for the ‘dreamers’.
      – They oppose a ‘wall’ as opposed to a comprehensive reform of immigration policy.
      How does that equate with open borders?
      Sadly only one obliquely mentioned Mr Obama’s highly successful Family Case Management Program.

      1. Getting caught crossing illegally will be just like getting a traffic ticket. You promise to appear in court or pay the fine, and on your way you go. But the illegals after being let loose will just disappear. And if they get into California, they’ll receive a driver’s license and free healthcare and stay forever.

        The net effect of repealing Section 1325 is an open border.


      1. Except that “open borders” as used by Matt above is simply a scare-tactic talking point used by Trump and the Republicans.

        1. As is ‘abolishing ICE’. That’s a phrase Fox News uses all the time to terrify their quaking geriatric viewers.

          The fact that ICE is a modern invention, the fact that America managed perfectly well without ICE up until fairly recently, and that getting rid of it would still mean immigration working as it always has, is ignored by the right completely.

          1. The same people who get the howling fantoids every time someone mentions “abolishing ICE” didn’t flinch when a passel of Republican presidential candidates, including current Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, wanted to abolish numerous federal agencies including the Department of Commerce, the Department of Education, and … er … that other one — what was its name? — oh, yeah, the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. Oops!

      2. The EU had open borders among its member states — until Merkel wrecked the Schengen Agreement by throwing open the external borders.

  24. Biden may have accomplished a lot of good in the past, but this is a new era, defined by new and extremely urgent issues.

    A lot of the problems we are facing now (income inequality, corporate corruption, election fraud, global warming, etc.) were developing under his watch. And it’s abundantly clear that the Repugnicans can’t be negotiated with. They have no productive policies whatsoever. They know damn well that global warming is occurring and that we are causing it (Exxon has known about this for decades and decided to go the route of Big Tobacco to cover it up).

    Repugnicans just don’t care that we are driving ourselves to extinction! All they care about- indeed, all they have ever cared about- is amplifying their wealth and power at the expense of the rest of us, the environment, and democracy itself. They must be stopped.

    For that purpose, I’m inclined toward Warren + Harris, or + Castro, or + Pete. Since there is a lot of overlap in the candidates’ positions this year (thanks to Bernie!), it won’t matter all that much who ends up the winner, except that whoever it is,they must decisively beat Trump and then go on to neutralize the Repugs before it’s too late.

    1. “All they (Republicans) care about—indeed, all they have ever cared about—is amplifying their wealth and power at the expense of the rest of us, the environment, and democracy itself. They must be stopped.”

      I worry that this rhetoric is outdated. The Republican Party, which for decades indeed represented Wall Street interests, increasingly represents mainly white rural Americans. So when you re-frame your observation to read “All white rural Americans care about—indeed all they have ever cared about—is amplifying their wealth and power at the expense of the rest of us, etc.,” you can, I hope, see what I mean.

      To stop the enemy, you first need to know who they are.

      1. The Republicans seem to have two constituencies: the religious (who do tend to be rural and white), and the large-donor class. To pacify the first, they promise anti-abortion justices, and nothing else matters. To pacify the second, they pass a 1+ trillion dollar tax break that applies almost exclusively to the big donors.

        And their political power is engineered and preserved by big donations, by vote suppression, by gerrymandering, and by constant mind-numbing misrepresentation.

        Whether the Democrats are countering this enemy isn’t clear.

      2. There are, with both parties, substantial difference in the views of who votes for them vs. what the party positions actually are. So, saying “Republicans hold X” or “Democrats want Y” are ambiguous.

  25. We’ve seen two democratic debates now.
    – I think Ms Warren did well, and she will take over ole Bernie, who looked indeed like an old crackpot (exit Bernie, although he did tell dome truths)
    – Mr Castro is a bigmouth, but did very, very well. As did Mr Booker, on both accounts.
    – I agree with some others that Mr Bennet was surprisingly good, but he’s plagued by a complete and total lack of charisma. If he can overcome that somehow he’d be a front runner in my books.
    – Ms Harris was outstanding, scoring points in the debate, but, sadly, not really giving a ‘presidential’ outlook. And was weak on global warming near the end. A bit strident ( 🙂 ) If she won’t be the next POTUS, at least she would make the greatest AG ever, I’d guess.
    – Major Pete did excessively well. He addressed a question about racial composition of his police force with an honest “I could not do it”, so refreshing. He got the most directly difficult questions and was superb.
    I think he’s the best candidate, hands down. The fact he’s gay gives me the heebeedeebies though, can he possibly carry the African American and Hispanic vote?
    – cAnd then my favourite Mr Inslee. Did not do badly, but didn’t stick out as he should have.
    – Mr Yang is a bit of an outlier, but was solid about the few questions outside his basic income for everybody, I think we heard way too little from him. He’s a 2032 candidate I guess, ahead of his time.

    A Warren-Inslee ticket? A Buttigieg-Harris one?
    I fully agree with allison at 22.

    1. I thought it was heebeegeebees 🙂 However, agreed in that even though I like Pete a lot, I don’t think that there is any way a gay person can be elected in 2020. Nor a woman.

  26. Four years ago a friend in the US sent me a link to Hillary Clinton’s ad announcing she was running for president. My friend said she’d been moved to tears by it.

    Then she got involved in the Bernie campaign and wound up hating Hillary so much that I had to coax her into voting at all.

    I don’t see any way out of this permanent election campaign the US has been sucked into. I’ve never seen a country more in thrall to its politicians. There must be a kind of Godwin’s Law of politics that says the more attention you pay to your politicians the worse they get.

    It’s another year and a half before the freaking election, for god’s sake — it must be utterly exhausting. I don’t know how anyone can put up with it.

    The stupid thing is that half the country knows it will vote for whoever the Democrats put up, but they will nevertheless be subjected to a year or more of pathetic bickering about who gets to be the anointed one and cash in on the hatred of Trump; the other half doesn’t give a hoot and will vote for Trump again and will also have far more energy for for campaigning — Dems will all have exhausted themselves and hate each other again.

    My guess is that many Dems — present company here excepted! — will be using it all to distract themselves from the reality that Trump is president now and won’t be going anywhere in 2021.

    (I appreciate the occasional coverage here and sensible commentary. Apologies for my ranting, but it drives me nuts.)

    1. Well, I think the candidates did quite well in mostly avoiding the ‘circular firing squad’.
      Any of these candidates will beat Trump, if they concentrate on the swing states.
      As of now, the battle for the Senate should be top of the agenda.

      1. Hell, the airing of disagreements over policy issues is salubrious for the Democratic body politic.

        Plus, it’s good for the eventual nominee to stay in fighting trim by sparring with top-notch opponents before taking on Trump — the way Ali did with Larry Holmes before heading to Zaire to reclaim his title from another lumbering pretender to the crown, George Foreman.

    2. “The stupid thing is that half the country knows it will vote for whoever the Democrats put up, but they will nevertheless be subjected to a year or more of pathetic bickering about who gets to be the anointed one and cash in on the hatred of Trump; the other half doesn’t give a hoot and will vote for Trump again and will also have far more energy for for campaigning — Dems will all have exhausted themselves and hate each other again.”

      The thing the Dems don’t seem to realize is that it isn’t 50/50. There’s usually about 10% of voters who are “undecided,” and they decide the election (well, the ones in the swing states do). Those people are generally moderate. Those are the people you need to talk to if you want to win. The people who voted for Obama but then switched to Trump because they were desperate for something to change and Hillary felt like not just the same as usual, but a robot who could perfectly replicate the same as usual. Trump was just a giant wildcard, and if you throw in enough economic insecurity, lack of hope, stagnant wages or unemployment, seeing people in your community die from opiate overdoses, etc., you might just go for the wildcard, you might just roll the dice and see what happens.

      There will be more attention on this Presidential election than any in recent memory. The Dems need to figure out soon that Twitter politics is not the politics of America, and definitely not the politics of the voters they need to win. They need to start talking to those people.

      1. I think it’s part of Buttigieg’s stump speech that, much as we may look nostalgically back at Obama, people simply weren’t happy. There was plenty of evidence for anyone who cared to look that Trump was a scam artist, a con man, a business failure, a liar and a cheat — not to mention a predator on women. And despite this, and despite Hillary looking like Obama 2.0, people voted, as Buttigieg said, to burn the house down. And have succeeded at that beyond their wildest (and for many, their worst) dreams.

        As Wiley (of Non Sequitur fame) said, it is much easier to fool the people than to convince them they’ve been fooled. The Democrats’ primary job is to get tens of thousands of people in key states to admit they got scammed. I’ve seen too many interviews with midwestern farmers complaining that the tariffs are killing them, and they hope voting for Trump in 2020 will solve that problem!

  27. Harris appears to have the instincts of a stone-cold killer. I’d like to see her go after Trump and his criminal gang.

    She’s a woman, she’s mixed-race, and she’s a PROSECUTOR! Those features favor her nomination.

      1. I agree, she’d vapourise him.

        Unfortunately it’s not the same thing as winning over the public, as Hillary demonstrated.

    1. Josh Marshall noted that Harris had the best composure under pressure, the most “adult in the room” vibe. One interesting comment, for which I have no data or links, was that while there was a lot of talking-over of other candidates, there was much less if any talking-over of Harris, even from moderators. She took command of the room like no others did.

      1. Well, the talking heads seemed to love Harris, because she is newsworthy, and knows how to pack her speeches with juicy sound bites. But “the adult in the room”? Seriously? For many, Harris came across as brassy, pushy, loud, argumentative, and whiny. And played the race card repeatedly.

        Now, if instead you’re interested in someone who is quiet, dignified, doesn’t join the food fight, is scary smart and thoughtful yet immediately likeable, and proposes practical policies rather than free everything for everyone, there was one of those.

  28. Enjoyed Harris’s appeal to her colleagues about avoiding a foodfight when everyone was talking at once😂

  29. As a foreign observer, I would say that Trump has absolutely nothing to fear from this sorry bunch of Dem candidates. Four more years of Trump, sorry to say.

    1. Yes, if the race is truly to the bottom, Trump cannot be beat. But I find it hard to lump such a wide range of people – black and white, straight and gay, old and young, male and female, experienced and neophyte, into a single “sorry bunch.” It would be nearly impossible to find anyone who had nothing in common with at least some of these candidates. Who would you suggest?

  30. I’m old, so it’s especially depressing to see (so many of) The Left pushing for a return to ‘deserving’ – even ‘asking for’ – assault because of where one goes, or what one wears (see: Covington).

    And there’s a ring of Domestic Abuser language (“I didn’t hit, I only slapped”) in “It was only a milkshake.”

    And racism isn’t wrong anymore, so long as it’s directed at those bad-skin-color people. Sexism isn’t wrong either, as long as it’s directed at the inferior sex.

    Sigh. We worked so hard to get away from all that. 🙁

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