Your take on the debate

January 15, 2020 • 8:45 am

I’m on my way to the airport, and, as I mentioned, didn’t watch the Democratic debate last night. But if you did—and I”m suspecting many did—please write your take briefly in the comments, and you can also note your “dream ticket”, including your vice-presidential favorite.

Oh, hell, let’s have some polls, too.

Who do you think “won” the debate?

And would you like to be the Democratic nominee for President? (I’ve added Bloomberg but space would not permit me to add an “other” option. You can name an “other” in the comments.)



90 thoughts on “Your take on the debate

  1. What we should probably admit is that all these debates are pretty much worthless. I also doubt they have much impact on how people in Iowa or any other state will vote. How do you have a debate between 6 or 10 people with one minute answers. Idiotic. Also, the questions are simply a joke. Oh, candidate number one, how do you feel about candidate number three? That is about how much effort the news people put into this junk event.

    Just a sample of the stupidity. News questioner asked, what do you think about medicare for all? The answer should be that question is not relevant. Ask something that the president could actually impact. New question – Are you going to press for changes and improvement in the health care in this country. The stupidity of the question should be understood immediately. Maybe ask what are the odds that a president could put the country on medicare for all? One in a million would be a good answer. So why are we spending all this time on such a ridiculous question?

    Bernie, did you once say a woman could not get elected president? I rest my case.

    1. I’m a bit mystified by the reaction of many to medicare of all. For example, we all have medicare for all in Belgium, and the contributions for it are small, and largely compensated by the lower prices you pay for medicines. But you still are free to go to a private hospital (they exist in most countries in Europe) and choose to go to them for hospitalization and care. But you are out of your mind if you would do this, they are not comparable to the hospitals that operate on the national health systems. In Belgium even small towns have nuclear magnetic resonance machines, I landed in one of them immediately for pains in my legs (pinched nerves in my vertebral column) and I don’t remember a big bill. In France, the government pays cancer treatment completely, for anybody.

        1. I think it is a pretty good bet that very few people in many countries in Europe and the Far East can understand what is going on in the United States. I was just reading the other day about the health care system in Taiwan that they have been on since 1996. It is also very much like Medicare for all system.

      1. Agreed, from the French point of view. Altho the extreme center government here is trying to underfund public hospitals to the point where everybody will be forced to go to the increasing number of private ones. That’s pure capitalist politics and nothing to due with flaws in the system.

        Yes, medicare for all. It shouldn’t bother anyone who already has a good private one.

      2. In some places, including the UK, New Zealand, and Poland, people want to go to private facilities because the waits for nonemergency procedures can be very long and sometimes the private facilities are better. I doubt that every reader living in such countries, or Canada, would say that private medical care is useless and superfluous.

        1. That is a good point but is it not more a reason for change and improvement in the current system than to simply force those who can afford private care to go elsewhere? After all, that is why our current system is no good, millions of people without any insurance and thousands going bankrupt due to medical problems. Is the top 10 percent of our population who the healthcare system should be designed for?

        2. Except…. I’m on Medicare and I go to private facilities all the time. Medicare for all is not about government taking over medical facilities, it is all about how we pay for it. It replaces (most) private insurance with government controlled payment and coverage. It has nothing to do with making doctors into government employees or government taking over hospitals.

          1. I think you may be making a false assumption here. The healthcare systems in the U.K. and other places is not like our current medicare system. In fact, this medicare for all idea here is not like our current medicare system. It is easy to confuse all of this and many are do so. Like they say, it’s complicated.

            1. I don’t think any of the candidates are talking about a government takeover of hospitals and other medical facilities. This is all about fixing our catastrophic insurance system.

              I’m open to viewing evidence that I’m wrong.

              1. You are correct but also must note, if we have a single payer system it will have big effects on doctors and hospitals. Look at your current medicare. Look at private insurance companies. They determine payment to doctors, to hospitals for everything. They kind of call the shots. If they are not paying enough, which may be the case in some of these Europe examples, that can cause the kind of problems PCC is talking about.

              2. Not paying enough is a separate issue. We already pay FAR more for health coverage in the USA than anyone else does, for poor overall results. There’s no shortage of money available if there’s a commitment to using it sensibly.

          2. Medicare has stringent asset limits(2K for a single person, 3K for couples), which, to me is a big drawback – that doesn’t get you much these days; they’ve got you over a barrel, and there are procedures they will not approve. Are there similar regulations in the UK and elsewhere?

            1. When I use the term “Medicare” I’m including supplemental insurance that covers the rest and also I’m using it as shorthand for “also Medicaid”. This is, perhaps, sloppy. But the point is that providing all of these things to everyone would replace insurance companies, not hospitals and doctors. (And, note, private insurance all has limits. Bad/cheap plans that are the favorites of Republican politicians, are more limited than Medicare (in my usage of the term) is.

          3. Yes, I really wish the Dem candidates would come together and send out the single message that “medicare for all” INCLUDES “medicare option” as a component. They aren’t conflicting notions of health care.

            But, I guess, we must distinguish ourselves from our competition somehow, huh?

    2. The debates are like the first round of a golf tournament. You can’t win the tournament in the first round, but you can lose it.

    3. I agree with you that these debates are almost worthless due to the questions the candidates are asked. Again, there was an inane discussion of the health care plans, particularly medicare for all. Klobuchar pointed out what others (including myself) have stated before: there is zero chance that such a plan will pass into law, despite whatever merits it may have. Klobuchar and most of the others more realistically proposed improvements to Obamacare. But, reality didn’t dissuade Bernie. Being the ideologue he is, he kept touting his fantasy proposal. Nevertheless, if he should get the nomination, I will be voting for him (or any other person nominated) without a second’s thought.

      As of now, I am leaning to Klobuchar. She seems to be advocating sensible programs that at least have a chance of being enacted by Congress. I think also that she would have a good chance of winning since she comes from a mid-western state (Minnesota) and has a winning track record. But, I am playing pundit here, which means I am expressing an opinion and nothing more. Of course, the media has hundreds of pundits, whose opinions are worth nothing more than those expressed by the millions of people who follow closely American politics. As should be expected, these opinions vary widely. After each debate, the NYT publishes the opinions of their stable of pundits. As always, I find these opinions, based on nothing but feelings, totally worthless. But, as I’ve stated several times before, being a pundit is a great job: you gain some notoriety, have the opportunity to express opinions based on nothing, and there is no penalty for being wrong.

    4. Agreed: the format and the content of the debate questions are pathetic. I wonder how we can change the rules and/or the officers of the Democratic party, so that they will not agree with news organizations to arrange such awful events. I suspect we’re caught in some kind of Catch-22 there.

  2. Tom Steyer who?

    I feel terrible for saying this, as it should not be this way. But it makes no sense for Elizabeth Warren to push Bernie about what he may or may not have said. Just continuing to elevate the issue about the viability of a woman candidate does damage to her.

    1. Plus using what was said in a private conversation is a low move of desperation on Warren’s part. Assuming Bernie said it, it was a reasonable subject for academic discussion between two supposed friends. It’s doubtful he meant that a woman shouldn’t run or that a woman couldn’t be a capable president, though Warren knows that some voters will undoubtedly make those interpretations.

      1. I have read nothing on expert views about this, so grain of salt… I had expected she is doing this with the view that it would help erode Bernies’ support within their shared niche among democratic voters. I assume this is a strategy on her part, as politicians have to always think that way.

        1. Yeah, I think you’re right. Still, it’s very disappointing she took that route, and she didn’t seem to consider that many will look at her as someone lacking integrity.

  3. I watched the debate last night, at least until my attention wandered off to the book I’m reading. Even then, I kept it playing in the background in case there were any fireworks, which there weren’t. Whole thing was kinda bor-ring, with no clear “winner,” the way I saw it.

    As far as a personal favorite, I haven’t one yet, although I could gladly get behind Amy or Liz or Boy Pete or settle for Uncle Joe. I don’t think Bernie would make the best Democratic standard bearer this time around, and I’d as soon eschew a rich, well-meaning political dilettante like Tom Steyer.

    But whatever Democrat eventually secures the Party’s nomination — be it any of the six on stage last night, or Andrew Yang or Deval Patrick or Michael Bloomberg or Michael Bennett or anyone else still left in the race — I intend to jump on his or her bandwagon with both feet hard enough to risk fracturing a metatarsal. This nation cannot endure a second term of Donald Trump.

    1. On that note, Nancy Pelosi just announced the 7 managers who will take the impeachment to the Senate for trial. In any case, for those of you who may have thought Pelosi is wasting our time, that time is now over. A great deal of additional evidence has come out during this “delay” and it will also go over to the Senate.

      1. Including the insane, inculpatory documents disclosed to the House intelligence committee by the lawyer for Ukrainian-American crimer Lev Parnas, which were made public last night.

        Rudy Giuliani has been weirdly wired going back to his days at the Justice Department. He had a good run during his first term as NYC mayor, but wore out his welcome during his second, until he was vaulted into the role of “America’s mayor” by the 9/11 attacks (an Icarian height from which he eventually fell as his wings of wax were melted by a swelter of public scandal and personal venality). In his desperate bid to regain relevancy through Donald Trump, he’s become the loosest cannon in American political life today.

        1. Yes, who is this Robert Hyde character who was communicating with Lev Parnas, a Giuliani associate, about the U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. If any of that stuff is real, what is going on?

          1. It looked like he was spying on her as a part of the plot to oust her. Maybe trying to find dirt or make it up like they did with Biden? Either way, it’s more evidence of corruption as far as I can see.

            1. “it’s more evidence of corruption as far as I can see”

              Indeed. It’s evidence of corruption as far as the I, or the eye, can see.

          2. Hyde is the lunatic congressional candidate from Connecticut that even the Trumpist GOP renounced after he tweeted out something so vile and vulgar about Kamala Harris that Twitter dare not re-speak its name.

            His text messages with Lev Parnas are authentic, although it’s unclear whether the underlying plot — at least to surveil, maybe to maim, and possibly even to kill US Ukrainian ambassador Masha Yovanovitch — was real.

  4. I, on the other hand, was cheered by the intelligence of all the candidates, although miss Cory Booker. I think the moderators’ even asking the question about whether or not Bernie had said that a woman could not be elected president was really stupid. The local moderator with all the red lipstick was terrible. I would happily vote for any of these candidates, most happily for Pete, least happily for Elizabeth. A friend recently likened Warren’s manner to a 7th Grade Social Studies teacher.

    1. Yeah, that sure was some bright red lipstick. Last time I saw that hue, it was on a ’65 Mustang convertible. 🙂

  5. I did not watch because I’ve already decided to vote for Yang.

    Very strange how people still don’t take him seriously. Yes, he has no political background. But he’s a smart, rational person who genuinely wants to make the works a better place – that should be the definition of what it takes to lead one if the world’s most powerful countries!

    As a bonus, he’s not too far left or right, and it seems clear to me that he’s the best choice to beat Trump. As I may have mentioned before, my logic is that _all_ Democrats will vote for him over Trump, plus he has demonstrated support of some Republicans and Independents who are literally changing their registrations to Democrat to vote for him. It might not be a large number, but can Biden, Warren, or Bernie say they even have _any_ of those?

    I’m open to an argument against this logic but I have yet to hear one.

    1. Yang got the endorsement of Dave Chappelle yesterday. That might not count for much in stodgy political circles but it got my attention. (Got my attention, but didn’t necessarily change my mind about the race.)

    2. Good points. Undecided but I like Yang too. He seems to grasp the economic dynamics of where we are headed in future decades like a digital native, with more subtlety than old guys like me. I love Bernie and think his economic ideas are still applicable today, but Yang is the wave of the future. Also, as you say, Yang is a personable guy, not trapped in ideology or identity politics or the “say anything” desperation that drives some candidates.

    3. I’m Australian so I have not dog in this fight but watching from the sidelines I kinda like Yang as well. The rest seem too establishment or too near death.

  6. I didn’t watch. There seemed to be far more important stuff being reported about the release of materials from Lev Parnas detailing yet more sinister tRumpian behavior.

  7. I think Amy and Pete did well. Biden held his position. Warren and Sanders came in last. Steyer I like but has no general appeal as a candidate.

    Those pushing Medicare for all still have not made their case that it would work in the US. Cannot see it getting through congress.

    My general impression is that the younger candidates looked and sounded better.

  8. Watched most of it and think the “who won?” question is another stupid media trick. I didn’t see anyone fumble, bumble or stumble, so nobody “lost”. The harsh comments by the post-debate panel of talking heads boiled down to their disappointment at the lack of blood on the floor – they wanted a cage fight and got balanced rational responses instead. The questioners also seemed to be aiming to provoke an angry response. The best I can say about them is that they did not allow overflow responses. I first thought their cutting off the candidates’ answers was rude, but they all knew the rules and I assume there were count-down clocks visible to the candidates.
    Outside the debate Elizabeth Warren’s attack on Sanders for an old “woman can’t win” remark brought her down in my opinion – if you go low on anyone but Trump, you can go home. Also, if I recall correctly, Bernie Sanders responded well to that dig on the debate stage. Tom Steyer did well with the extra time afforded by fewer candidates. Amy Klobuchar gave her usual solid performance. Mayor Pete and Uncle Joe did fine. All-in-all, no fireworks; just the facts. It had a beat, you can dance to it. Grade: B+.
    I did not vote to your polls because nobody lost and I have no favorite. I’ll vote for any Democrat – even the donkey.

    1. Bloomberg seems to be playing the role of a white knight rescuing the party from candidates with known defects (or a dark horse, take your pick).

      1. I think Bloomberg entered this race because he looked at it as an investment; he’s greedy. If one of the progressives wins, he will probably be taxed out of more money than he’s spending on buying his way into becoming POTUS. His tactic won’t work though; like Steyer, old white billionaires do not inspire the Democratic base. And who wants to replace one (probably fake) billionaire with another.

  9. Sanders won the debate. He got a big fund-raising boost from it, which I think is a pretty objective measure, and he was already leading the money race.

    Warren I think lost due to her attack on him regarding whether she could win due to her gender.

    A fair few Clinton supporters placed the blame for Hillary’s loss on sexism, if Sanders wanted to make that argument he could have, and he elected not to.

    Warren scored an own goal there. Even if Sanders had said it in private, making it public wasn’t going to hurt him more than it hurt her.

    The rest I’d say didn’t really move the needle much.

  10. I’ve had a hard time giving a flying ficus about these debates. Ultimately, they’re not a part of public discourse, but a disingenuous method for ginning up ad revenue. It’s the commodification of the electoral process, writ large. In the end, what matters is finding a candidate who can beat DJ Trump, and that will be decided largely by people who don’t pay any attention to this sort of thing. It’s a matter of the most politically activated choosing a candidate who will appeal to the least engaged voters, which is a difficult trick to pull off.

  11. I liked what Warren said about getting combat troops home, and her point about the generals always wanting more troops and more time. I suppose that is their job, to think about how they can win. That us the reason the president and congress were put in charge when the constitution was written, to provide for civilian control.

    1. I like the part about taking tons of money away from defense. That is an absolute that must be done in this country before we can go anywhere.

  12. Information for those who might care:

    Tonight on Maddlow’s show – Lev Parnas and his lawyer. That would be MSNBC at 8 central time.

    1. On a related note, Washington Post reporter, Ashley Parker, summarizes a new book about Trump by two other Post reporters, Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig. According to Parker, the book portrays Trump as a total moron. He didn’t even know what Pearl Harbor was about. But, his cult couldn’t care less.

      1. I’ve long doubted that Donald Trump could conduct even the most rudimentary off-the-cuff discussion about any of the signal historical events that have shaped our modern world (things like, say, the Versailles Treaty or the Yalta Conference), including about events that have occurred in this country during his own lifetime. But I had no idea the depth of his ignorance was quite so profound.

        He knows less of the world than any reasonably bright middle-schooler.

        1. Not a lack of intelligence, which is probably a bit better than average. It would be accounted for by total self absorption which begets total incuriosity about everything outside his personal scope.

            1. I think he’s hard to assess because of his personality disorders. Historically, presidents IQ estimates run from 125 to 150. Trump may well have an IQ that on a abstract test would show him in the normal range for the overall population. I base that simply on his ability to entertain a crowd, run a large business enterprise (even if he’s not considered very effective at business) and jerk his way into the presidency.

              1. Maybe but it is hard to imagine him doing well on an intelligence test. Is being really good at looking out for #1 intelligence? I’d give it to him in exchange for him resigning the presidency.

              2. A broad based test of general knowledge would show him very weak indeed, but the abstract intelligence test just requires that you be able to match patterns quickly, etc. Here he’d probably do OK. I’d love to see his high school and college exams and grades.

              3. Don’t you think the fact that he hides them mean they aren’t so good? If he had any academic plaudits at all, he would have tweeted them hundreds of times by now.

              4. I’m not saying he’s a genius, just IQ = 101. If you compare his grades to Obama’s, I think you’d find a gulf a mile wide. Yet, it seems he graduated, even iff $$$ helped his final scores. Someday those grades are going to leak. I think he hopes he’ll be dead already. Otherwise he might die of humiliation.

              5. Here’s a germane quote from Michael Cohen during his trial.

                “When I say conman, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores,” he said.

              6. There’s a reason Donald Trump had his fixer, Michael Cohen, write letters threatening the Wharton school, Fordham U, and the private military high school he attended not to release any academic information regarding him.

                That reason wasn’t humility over how high his class rank and grade-point average had been.

            2. Donald Trump isn’t stupid. He has a keen instinct for separating marks from their money and bending weaker men to his will.

              He also has an innate sense for sussing out where the clout and leverage lie in any power structure.

              But he is an arrant ignoramus about (because he has no interest whatsoever in) anything that doesn’t involve self-enrichment or self-aggrandizement — including the two subject crucial to effective performance in the office he holds: public policy and the functioning of our federal government.

              1. I think that about nails it. He has skills, but not the kind you’d want in a human being.

  13. I’m still undecided and I didn’t watch this or any of the other debates. Since I’ll be voting for any Democrat who gets the nomination, I’m a bit indifferent; I think this is how most people who loathe Trump feel. Either way, I always read and listen to the debate “highlights” and it’s interesting to read the comments here.

  14. I will happily support, work and vote for ABT. (Anybody But Trump.)

    Pretty sure it won’t matter though, as a) billionaires control most everything, b) it’s easy enough to stonewall a Democratic President, and c) most of our citizens don’t have the will to participate in large, continuing protests that would be needed to force change.

  15. I also didn’t watch the debates. For me, the choice for at least this and possibly the next several elections is very simple: Vote for the democrat, at all levels of government. The GOP has gone through the refiner’s fire, and emerged nothing but slag.

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