I haven’t seen the news on television, and of course missed last night’s debate in Charleston as I was asleep in Paris. But I gather from today’s New York Times that it was somewhat of a messy pile-on, with the targets being Bernie Sanders (of course) and Michael Bloomberg (who’s already effectively gone).
Some NYT summary:
The Democratic presidential candidates delivered a barrage of criticism against their party’s emerging front-runner, Senator Bernie Sanders, at a debate on Tuesday night, casting him as a divisive figure with unrealistic ideas, even as they continued to batter Michael R. Bloomberg for his extreme wealth, his record on policing and his alleged behavior toward women.
Mr. Sanders, in his first debate since a smashing victory in the Nevada caucuses last weekend, cut a combative but perhaps not a commanding figure, firmly defending his left-wing agenda on subjects like health care and foreign policy against attacks from all sides. The forum plunged repeatedly into an unsightly spectacle of flailing hands and raised voices, and even outright chaos, with candidates talking over one another and the moderators struggling and failing at times to direct an orderly argument.
But Mr. Sanders said little that seemed intended to ease the concerns of Democrats who do not share his views or who worry that such stances could be politically damaging to the party. And the debate underscored vulnerabilities that are likely to shadow him for as long as the race lasts, and perhaps into a general election against President Trump.
. . . But it was not clear by the end of the debate that any one opponent stood apart from the pack as the most successful rival to Mr. Sanders, and time is running short for anyone to do so. If Mr. Biden is counting on a surge of support from black voters in South Carolina this weekend to propel him back into contention nationally, the rest of the contenders have even less certain paths forward.
The pile-on atop Sanders is of course understandable, even as we would like the Democrats to unite; but that is a futile hope when each candidate seeks to separate themselves from the pack.
With Bernie as front-runner, the best way to do that is to attack him for everything, and so we get a taste of what the GOP has in store should Sanders wind up the Democratic nominee. The other Dems apparently went after The Bern for his past praise of Cuba and, in the case of Biden, for Sanders’s past opposition to the Brady Bill’s 5-day waiting period for gun purchases, though Sanders said he’s modified those views. (Don’t worry, the G.O.P. will find a way to go after Sanders for whatever views he’s expressed on gun control).
Can you imagine Democrats attacking other Democrats for stuff like that? This is exactly what the G.O.P. wants them to do, and will do in spades themselves. There’s no doubt that Bernie will be painted not just as a socialist, but as a Communist bent on destroying American capitalism.
Even Elizabeth Warren, who professed again to share Sanders’s views, said she would make a better President, though I couldn’t find out how from the news report—apart from her self-praise for attacking Wall Street. Warren, like the others, is desperate, but is as yet unwilling to jettison some of her more far-left views. She was once my favorite candidate but I find her hectoring desperation distressing.
The NYT also fact-checked some of the candidate’s assertions. Nobody came off unscathed, including Sanders for saying that all studies show that his “Medicare for All” plan—which I support only as a public option among other health plans—will save money. From the NYT:
WHAT MR. SANDERS [SAID]:
“What every study out there, conservative or progressive says: ‘Medicare for all’ will save money.”
False. There have been several analyses of Mr. Sanders’s Medicare for all health care proposal, which would provide every American with generous government-funded health insurance benefits. Those studies have shown a range of potential costs, including several that estimate that the plan would cost substantially more than what the country would otherwise spend on health care.
The NYT published a variety of analyses last October, and, as the paper said yesterday, the results varied, with many studies showing that “Medicare for All” would increase the government’s share of healthcare costs, which of course would have to be made up for in tax increases. It’s still not clear how The Bern will pay for his plan.
But I digress. Since I didn’t hear the debate, and still don’t have a favorite Democratic candidate (but will vote for whoever the Dems nominate), the rest of you are welcome to discuss the debate, recognizing that it’s still early and that Super Tuesday hasn’t yet arrived.
But do answer two questions for me (people don’t seem to like these polls much, though I find them interesting as a gauge of reader sentiment).
And of course leave your comments below.