The Democratic debate

September 12, 2019 • 7:34 pm

Another tedious evening is in store. The opening statements were lame, especially Andrew Yang’s attempt to buy the public by offering 20 families $12,000 per year if they entered a competition on his website during the debate. Warren and Sanders (who has turned quite red and looks unhealthy, or terminally angry) are standing by their Medicare-For-All programs, which I think will hurt them with voters.

At any rate, this promises to be a long night with nothing new.  Put your own views below as the debate progresses.

My own choices remain the same: if I could wish a candidate into office at this point, it would be Elizabeth Warren. But I see her as substantially less electable than Biden. A friend I talked to this week, who is fiercely smart and politically astute, said that Warren’s image, including her personality, will count against her. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t, but we’ve seen it happen before.

At any rate, barring a really dark horse, I will be voting for one of these people in 14 months.

I gotta go: Bernie’s about to explode.

Oh, and I hate it when the candidates doge the questions asked by the moderators.

Update: No Democrat has expressed any view that would counteract the impression, however false, that the party favors completely open immigration. After all, if you follow Warren’s mantra that “immigration only makes us stronger,” then we should have no restrictions at all. The only courageous statement I’ve heard was Beto O’Rourke’s assertion that he would institute a program to ban (presumably through mandatory buybacks) assault weapons.

38 thoughts on “The Democratic debate

  1. Sadly yes, Warren does not have the type of presence that will win over undecideds. I would of course vote for her, but she doesn’t project an image of strength and confidence that works on people’s subconscious. It’s a shame that elections are decided on that, but it’s reality.

    1. “It’s a shame that elections are decided on that, but it’s reality.”

      The media talking heads made that abundantly clear. Is that a compliment to “Amuricun Exceptionalism”?

      During the pre-debate activities, the president of ABC News had to make two attempts to get the(rude and uncooperative, IMO) crowd to settle down so he could start the pre-debate activities. Then the series of bloviating speakers representing the university, the city, the state/national Dem functionaries, etc. It’s as if Houston hung the stars. To paraphrase the old hymn, “Praise Houston from whom all blessings flow!
      Praise all ye TEXANS here below!” I had to mute it several times, the intensity of the bloviating radiation reaching a toxic (if not lethal) level. (I was inclined to say, “Houston, YOU have a problem.”) Apparently stroking the collective human primate herd ego is what it takes.

      I was glad to hear that candidates would be docked time if they interrupted other candidates. That’s progress of a kind. I wonder what if any plan they had for dealing with interruptions from the herd assembled.

  2. Anybody on that stage could beat Trump. In the early polling so far, Trump has failed to get much over 40% against (or to beat) anybody in the Democratic field. That’s consistent with his approval ratings over his entire presidency. Biden beats Trump by about 15 points, but that’s primarily because of Biden’s greater name recognition.

    Trump has a ceiling of about 44% of the popular vote, maybe less, and in a two-candidate race, that won’t cut it.

    In the 2016 election, to use a Texas Hold ‘Em poker analogy, Trump sucked out an inside straight on fifth street against a wired-up three aces, by winning three key electoral-college states by a mere 77,000 combined votes. The chances of him doing that again, against ANY Democratic candidate (he did it the last time against the Democratic candidate with the lowest favorability ratings ever) is extremely slim.

    1. However, just like last time, the only candidate that appears to mobilise voters, especially younger ones, is Sanders. It would be foolish to ignore this yet again. Warren should team up with him as vice, and everyone could sleep well for a while.

    2. I think you are probably right, but you have to be careful. Trump’s MO has always been to take out the opposition one at a time. At the moment, he hasn’t got a clear target, but the second one of these people accepts the Democratic Party’s nomination, they are going to be subjected to a Trump/Russian smear campaign the like of which we have not seen before – or since 2016 at least.

      Hopefully, it won’t work because the alternative is Trump and a shoe full of excrement would be better than him.

    1. They croaked in Chicago ’68, with Hubert Humphrey, Richard Daley (and his rioting cops), Frank Rizzo, George Meany and the rest of the OG Party bosses.

  3. Yeah, Yang’s giveaway idea is probably not the best approach he could have taken. I still think he’s the best candidate to beat Trump though. And I’m still unclear on the argument for Biden being more electable. Is it because if he’s the nominee, people who would have voted for Trump over another candidate will vote for Biden instead? Where’s the evidence of this? Or is it that people who are going to stay home if another candidate is the nominee are going to go out and vote if Biden is the nominee? Or is it something else? I’d lhonestky like to know what the thinking is.

    1. My argument for Biden is simply that, of the candidates who have a chance at the nomination, he’s the centrist. If you look at the polling regarding the policies Warren and Sanders have put forth and compare them to Biden’s positions, Biden is miles ahead of them in terms of electability.

      Furthermore, he’s a known and respected name from an administration that has high favorability among the public (the most recent poll for the Obama administration I can find is from 2017 and he had a 59% positive rating. These ratings tend to continue going up as we become farther removed from the President’s term in office).

    2. BTW, while I don’t necessarily agree that Yang is the best candidate to beat Trump, he is my favorite candidate. When you watch interviews with him where he sits down and talks policy for and hour or two, it’s clear he has an incredible amount of knowledge, is extremely nuanced in his thinking and proposals, and has reams of good and coherent policies he would like to see enacted. He’s just very impressive. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll never get close to a nomination, probably in some part for the positive qualities I just mentioned 😛

      1. Okay, but being a centrist is only the first step toward being electable – you still have to say where exactly are these extra voters coming from who would not be there for one of the “less electable” candidates.

        And regarding Yang not having a chance to become the nominee, keep in mind that there is no downside to voting for your favorite in the primary. Worst case is that person loses, and then you just vote in the general for whomever is the nominee against Trump. You don’t get a prize for having “picked the winner” in the primary.

        1. “And regarding Yang not having a chance to become the nominee, keep in mind that there is no downside to voting for your favorite in the primary.”

          Definitely! I’ll be voting for him. It’s just a shame that people don’t care about the things I mentioned when it comes to the candidates they choose.

          Regarding Biden: the independents are the ones who matter. The “swing voters.” They’re the ones who decide the elections, and they very much do not like what Warren and Sanders have proposed, while they do very much like Joe Biden.

        2. Oh wait, I just remembered I can’t vote in the Dem primary because I’m not registered with any party and, in my state, you can only vote in a party’s primary if you’re registered with it. But I would vote for Yang if I could 🙂

          1. Thanks for clarifying; I do think some people have some muddled thinking on this, along the lines of “I don’t think he can win the primary so it would be wasting my vote to vote for him, which I think is (almost) completely invalid.

            As far as party registration… there may still be time to fix that!

    3. Biden is hugely popular! They found out by asking to call in over the landline at Saturday 7:30 to 8:30. Almost everybody would vote for him. The next most common was mistaking the answering machine for a grandchild. But going with Biden looks like surefire bet. What could possibly go wrong?

      Admittedly, this Democrat plan has one big flaw: the popularity of afternoon Bingo. Voters might not make it out of the retirement home in time to vote for him.

      Other than that. Biden 2020.

      1. What could possibly go wrong?

        He could forget his own name in the presidential debates. I think Trump’s liable to do that too, but Biden is definitely showing signs of his age. He’s too old and so is Sanders btw.

        1. People don’t go senile at the at the same rate and Biden is clearly the least sharp among the 70+ bracket of candidates despite being middle of the pack in terms of age. And he’s still vastly more lucid than Trump who’s a year younger and can’t even play with markers unsupervised.

              1. But that is just an arbitrary classification. The septuagenarians are not being accorded any special privileges are they? I know they happen to be the front runners, but the fact that they are all in their 70’s is surely a coincidence.

              2. The septuagenarians are not being accorded any special privileges are they?

                I think they get half off on the early bird special at Denny’s. If that doesn’t qualify somebody to be leader of the free world, I dunno what does. 🙂

        2. Do you think the U.S. constitution should be amended to include a maximum age, beyond which one is no longer qualified to run for office?

          1. Yes, I think there should. I think 76 at the time of inauguration would be a reasonable limit (so you stop being president at 80).

            I also think that supreme court justices should have a mandatory retirement age or be term limited.

            1. Yes, you’d have put some limit like age, even though you’d risk eliminating qualified fossils. Neither the supremes nor the president would sit still to solve IQ puzzles.

            2. Similarly, do you think that attainment of some minimum formal education (bachelor’s degree?) should be required?

              (I’m reminded that former high government officials are apparently qualified to teach at the university level, but would not be qualified to teach in K-12 public schools.)

              1. I’m going to say no on that one. What qualification would it be? Would a physics major be qualified? Ideally some experience in government might be a good idea but how much and at what level?

              2. I concur, especially when contemplating the intellectually curious autodidact A. Lincoln (as compared to Wharton School grad Donald Trump and Yale legacy grad and Harvard MBA George W. Bush).

  4. I only saw a few minutes…by chance. And Beto spoke.

    He quoted various statistics, and one of them had to do with healthcare results of women who are white compared to women who are black, and black women’s were about 4 times more likely to be worse.

    I think I read that study and one of the factors involved may have been obesity, but Beto left that out. And also I think Hispanic women also have results close to that of white women, that too was left out.

    He repeated the NYTimes 1619 hypothesis about its being the real founding date of the United States.

    This is the longest extended, kind of, view that I have had of him, and he struck me as an entitled demagogue, especially given that atrocious Vanity Fair interview and the immortal “I want to be in it. Man, I’m just born to be in it.”

    Warren strikes me as strongest. Build her up, don’t tear her down with all that stuff that used to go under the ditzy category of “Being Presidential”.

  5. Random thoughts:

    Watching the surrounding coverage of the debate, I have a new buzz phrase complaint: “We shouldn’t be using right wing talking points” as a response to valid questions. Of course criticism is going to come more sharply from your opponents than your supporters – that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it all simply because of where it comes from. In fact just the opposite – it’s one’s opponents and detractors who are going to analyze flaws in your position the most rigorously, because they are motivated to do so and not bound by politeness and being a supportive team player.

    Watching Castro come off as (to my mind) jerky while attacking Biden, it occurred to me that Trump would not have nearly the ammunition against Biden that he did against Clinton. People took schadenfreude-ian glee in watching that kind of thing with Hillary (I think because she represented elitism or cronyism to many people, whether fairly or not.) With Biden, I think the gut reaction is “Hey, what the heck are you doing?! Don’t be a jerk.” when people go after him.

    I am probably in the minority in that I think Warren and Sanders stronger point is likability, their weaker point is policy. To my mind they come off as just a little nutty in a true believer kind of way – but that sets them apart from the “calculating politician” stereotype that becomes so tiresome after awhile. Whatever else you think of them, I think there is little doubt that they mean what they say, wholeheartedly. That’s refreshing.

    1. Regarding your first paragraph: I agree completely. Another similar thing I really hate is when people say, “well, who’s going to do all the work Americans don’t want to do” any time people ask about immigration policy. Bill Maher does this all the time, to raucous applause. That’s not an answer. You need to give an actual position and solutions to the border/immigration issue, not jokes and platitudes.

      “I am probably in the minority in that I think Warren and Sanders stronger point is likability, their weaker point is policy. To my mind they come off as just a little nutty in a true believer kind of way…”

      I said the exact same thing to my mother last night about how they come off as “radical” (my words) when they talk about their policies. They speak with such confidence and conviction when they talk about abolishing private insurance or basically legalizing illegally crossing the border. They seem overzealous and inflexible.

  6. Most Americans are not ready for Medicare For All.” Its time has not yet come. Trump will label Bernie or Elizabeth as “A Socialist! A Socialist! A Socialist!” (He always says the same thing three times when he thinks it’s important.)
    Unfortunately, Joe Biden’s time may have come and gone, and Trump would emphatically make that point. The question then becomes, how can any of the second tier candidates leap ahead of these three front runners? As bad as Trump is, I don’t see a clear path to victory for the Democrats. And that’s frightening!

  7. Medicare-for-all is supported by the population, provided spin and reframing works in its favour. (I.e., described merely as to content.) I don’t know to overcome the poisoning the well here.

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