The Biden/Sanders debate: weigh in

I was too dispirited last night to watch the Biden/Sanders debate, and I haven’t watched many of the Democratic debates anyway. I had called several of my friends, who were also dispirited, and decided to have half a bottle of cava and the leftover carnitas I ate for lunch on Saturday. If there’s one silver lining in this pandemic, it’s that Trump’s hamhanded reaction seems to have made his reelection less likely. Or so I hope.

The New York Times did it’s usual “what’s-the-debate-take-of-our-columnists” article, and, to my surprise, Biden was declared the winner by a narrow margin. You can read the story by clicking on the screenshot.

Last night the average score of Biden (on a 10-point scale of increasing performance quality) was 7.6; that of Sanders was 7.1.  Apparently Biden said he intends to name a woman as his vice-presidential candidate, which I think is fantastic. That, according to the Times columnists, boosted his score. Plus Biden didn’t commit any gaffes, reassuring people that he’s not demented.

A few words from the Times, and the history of the candidates’ scores (Bernie has generally been ahead):

Throughout the long Democratic primary process, Opinion columnists and contributors have ranked each candidate’s debate performances. Now, after the 13th and potentially final Democratic debate, we’re presenting the results.

Overall, Bernie Sanders had the most consistent performance, according to our columnists and contributors, winning one contest and scoring 7 out of 10 overall. Joe Biden fared worse than Mr. Sanders in most debates, but he finally placed first in our rankings with Sunday’s debate.

And three opinions on each candidate (the article gives many other takes):

Biden

Nicole Hemmer (9/10) — The smartest move Biden made in the debate — other than committing to a female running mate — was tying revolution to disruption. At a moment when the world’s been turned upside down, he offered to flip it right side up, not shake it up more. His reassurances send a powerful general-election message — and why he won the debate.

Peter Wehner (8/10) — In a shrewd political move, Biden ensured that the only thing people will remember about this debate is his promise to pick a woman as vice president. It was also his best political debate. He was fairly sharp and focused, empathetic and crucially he didn’t fade. Biden should have focused a lot more on Trump and a lot less on his record, Sanders and the 1980s. Still, from coast to coast, Democrats are breathing a huge sigh of relief.

Mimi Swartz (7/10) — Who knew? Joe Biden saved the Western world while he was V.P.! Yes, he was substantially better debating one person instead of a basketball team. He was as usual better at the beginning than the end, and convincing and calming on his plan to fight the coronavirus. His tack to the left was less convincing. Promising to put a woman on the ticket was a good move. “Results, not revolution” will be the mantra until the convention, whenever that will be.

Sanders

Elizabeth Bruenig (8/10) — What’s odd about Sanders is that he’s simultaneously the ideas candidate — unlike Biden, he has a philosophical brief against the excesses of American individualism — and the practical, materially focused candidate, worrying over how low-wage workers will survive this crisis financially. That breadth of interests came through strongly in this debate, and the no-audience format suited him well.

Jamelle Bouie (8/10) — If Biden tried at every turn to make the debate a question about what to do now, Sanders tried to turn the conversation to structural problems — to the larger dynamics that have produced the present crisis, whether it’s the devastating effects of coronavirus or climate change. It’s his most favorable terrain and he was strongest on that ground. Also, he seems much more vibrant than Biden, despite being a little older.

Gail Collins (7/10) — If you like Bernie Sanders, he was just fine. But he didn’t do what he’d promised: to set up a progressive ideological standard that Joe Biden couldn’t match. I suspect most voters who were listening thought these guys were pretty much on the same wavelength. But one has already been vice president. So that’s a huge win for Biden.

Now is the part where you weigh in. Did Biden look as if he were compos mentis? Were you reassured by his performance? Did you change your mind?

And, of course, who do you think will be the female v.p.? I’d like Elizabeth Warren, as it would give her a springboard to the Presidency, but she’s also needed in the Senate. I like Stacey Abrams but her experience is limited. And of course there’s Amy Klobuchar. . . . also in the Senate. If there’s a woman on the VP slate, which one would you prefer?

154 Comments

  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    My only question after this debate is – why is Bernie still in the race? Please tell us the point Bern.

    • GBJames
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      I think the point, or I hope the point, is to allow his many followers time for a gradual transition from “we’re going to get our revolution” to “we need to unify”. This process will take some time. There’s no need for Biden-folk to push it.

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        +1, well said. From your keyboard straight to Hank‘s ear.

      • Taz
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Also, the Sanders’ camp has as many questions about Biden’s mental state as everyone else. If Biden came off as senile, there would be tremendous pressure on him to step aside, leaving Bernie in a commanding position.

        • Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          This would be true of any candidate.

          If anyone’s been road-tested over the last 40 years, Biden has. We know his dents and rust spots.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

            We know his dents and rust spots.

            Bondo Joe” Biden? 🙂

          • Mark R.
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

            Yes, he’s a known factor, and during times of uncertainty, that’s a big plus; this is why Bernie’s revolution rhetoric isn’t playing well at this time.

      • sugould
        Posted March 17, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

        +1

    • eric
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      I agree with GBJames.

      I also think it’s valuable to force moderate dems to seriously consider, talk about, and debate the merits of more progressive ideas. I’m a moderate. I prefer Biden. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing to push him a bit more left on health care (as just one example), given his current position is something like “Obamacare, fixed.” If Bernie staying in the race all the way to the convention pushes that conversation a bit more leftward, more power to him.

      I really dislike this idea that having two Dems debate policy all the way to the convention is going to turn off liberal voters or cause antipathy between the moderates and progressives. I know that happens, but I don’t really understand why. A vigorous disagreement over the nuances of public policy is good, not bad. Let’s have more of it, not less. I guess emotions run high in such contests, but I’d rather they didn’t lead to self-destructive outcomes like not voting in protest. Let them debate (both literally and figuratively – i.e. let them keep exchanging ideas in public), and if your guy loses, show up and vote anyway. It shouldn’t be that emotionally difficult.

  2. Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Best described as “Battle of the Seniles,” showing us once again the rationale for term limits.

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Term limits are already in place for POTUS.

      Otherwise? I don’t want others telling me whom I can vote for. If a group wants a certain elected official out, then field a better candidate. Let the local voters decide.

      I’m OK with local voters imposing term limits on their own elected positions (only).

      I think term limits make sense for executive positions (governors, POTUS, maybe mayors). These positions, if extended, these rhyme too well with autocracy. (Der Drumpfenfuhrer certainly thinks so.)

    • Filippo
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      As there are already POTUS term limits, would you care to suggest a constitutional amendment setting a maximum age limit for POTUS and, if so, what specific age?

      (I remember in 1980 the chattering class questioning Reagan’s fitness for office, as he was heading into his 68th year.)

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        I support the Minimum Presidential IQ Amendment.

        • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

          😀

        • rickflick
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          You could still get a crazy with IQ=250. We might have to add something about approval by an unbiased panel of psychiatrists. 😎

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Term limits are needed and yes age limits would be helpful for all offices. Seventy year max at election or this nation will become as senile as Biden and Bernie.

  3. BJ
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I have been worried for weeks about Biden’s state of mind, so he really shocked me last night. He was composed, sharp, and prepared.

    I found many of Bernie’s answers rather disheartening, if not disconcerting. He constantly talked about how he would take on “the corporations,” “the special interests,” “the oil companies,” “Wall Street,” etc., but he never really said how. His shtick is getting old. He just kept repeating the same vague things over and over. He once again failed to explain how, exactly, he would pay for the programs he has mentioned, except by saying that he would “tax the billionaires” and the rich and the corporations.

    I thought Biden won by a large margin, particularly because he dispelled for me any questions about his mental acuity and answered questions with more specifics than Bernie did, along with providing more specifics about policy ideas.

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      What you say about Biden is somewhat encouraging. I was concerned that he might make Trump look good in the presidential debates.

  4. DrBrydon
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    If there are no essential differences between the sexes or the races, why is it important to have a mixed ticket?

    • EdwardM
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      *phew* Finally, a political question I can answer with some confidence that I might be right.

      Votes. If you want to win an election you need to get more votes than the other candidate.

      • sugould
        Posted March 17, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        +1

    • eric
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      There’s no essential biological differences. There can be big differences in experience, outlook, and understanding of others’ perspectives.

      Not that there has to be that difference. Empathy, understanding, different perspectives on an issue; these things can certainly be learned. But as we’re talking three 70-year-old white men vying for the Presidency, I’d say there’s a pretty good chance that their formative years didn’t necessarily equip them very well to walk a mile in a minority woman’s shoes. Thus, if they want to understand social problems from that perspective, it would be a good idea for them to select an advisor or running-mate that can help them understand that perspective.

      ***

      I’m guessing Biden won’t pick Warren; I don’t see her as pulling in many votes he wouldn’t already get. Selecting her also basically puts a Dem majority in the Senate out of reach, as she’d be replaced by a GOP senator (her Governor is GOP). Klobuchar would IMO be a good choice, as she might be able to deliver some of the midwest Obama-Trump states. But she never really got a foothold with minority voters.

      I have no idea who he’ll pick. My guess is ‘nobody who is on anyone’s radar at the moment.’

      • Miquel
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        Michelle? That would be a blast

        • sugould
          Posted March 17, 2020 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

          Now *that* would be fun!

  5. Rita Prangle
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I like Bernie, but I think Biden will have the nomination. I would love to see Kamala Harris as VP. Though it would be a loss in the senate. Klobuchar would not be a good choice, as she’s too establishment. Biden needs to pick a progressive.

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      In what world is Kamala Harris a progressive? He record on incarcerating people of color is abysmal. She did though go easy on the financial institutions responsible for the 2008 debacle.

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        “Biden needs to pick a progressive.”

        How exactly is a moderate plus a progressive going to pull in the Independents and Republicans who don’t want to vote for Trump? To those voters Biden IS a progressive. I’d say we need someone to the RIGHT of Biden. We don’t need to worry about losing progressive Democrats as not one of them is going to vote for Trump. And if the Bernie progressives are going to stay home out of spite, no veep pick is going to be progressive enough to get them to the polls.

        • GBJames
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

          What do you mean, “we”?

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

          If never-Trump conservatives are going to vote Biden, I think they’ll do so regardless of Biden’s running mate.

          If Biden’s pick for the bottom half of the ticket has any import (which often a veep pick doesn’t, although this time it well may), it will be to generate enthusiasm (and, consequently, voting-day turnout) by specific geographic or demographic elements of the potential Democratic base.

          We’re talking here about increasing turnout by women and/or minorities and/or Democrats in a specific state.

          • Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

            Yes, these states: MI, WI, PA, OH, VA, FL, and perhaps: MN, IA, IN, CO.

            • Nicolaas Stempels
              Posted March 16, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

              And NC? we should not forget Ms Clinton won the exit polls there and that the discrepancy with the actual count was well outside the margins of error. Is there a mechanism in place to prevent counting fraud?

          • Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

            Many I talk to seem to think the veep pick particularly matters this time as they are quite likely to become president!

            • Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

              Yes, more so that in almost all other elections for POTUS, the numbers say it’s much more likely with either Biden or Bernie.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I had called several of my friends, who were also dispirited, and decided to have half a bottle of cava …

    Whoa, for a second there I thought you were talking about “kava”, the psychoactive drink of Pacific Islanders, described by that Dutch-American fella Maarten Troost in his classic travelogue/memoir Getting Stoned with Savages.

    And I thought, well, ol’ Jer won’t be staying “dispirited” for long. 🙂

  7. wonderer
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    “If there’s one silver lining in this pandemic, it’s that Trump’s hamhanded reaction seems to have made his reelection less likely. Or so I hope.”

    I worry that if there are a substantial number of coronavirus deaths in the US, the deaths will be predominately in urban areas, and predominately Democrats.

    I’d be happy to hear an argument against this hypothesis.

    • GBJames
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      On the other hand, it seems Republicans are not taking the problem seriously and are, thus, more at risk.

    • eric
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      I worry that the public will have forgotten the economic and health screw-ups of March-April by the time November rolls around.

      I’d like to see whomever wins the nomination hammer Trump on the fact that his plan to “…health insurance industry who have agreed to waive all co-payments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments…” is essentially a single payer model. He’s using a medicare for all approach to treat the virus. Point this out. Point out to the public the benefits of this. Point out that when the stuff hits the fan, the GOP recognized and used such a system.

      Health care is already one of the top two or three issues in which the Dems are in line with the public. Pointing out the GOP’s hypocrisy on the subject (single-payer when we could get the virus, but not otherwise for thee) could be a game-changer.

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        “I worry that the public will have forgotten the economic and health screw-ups of March-April by the time November rolls around.”

        Unfortunately, I think the economic impact will last much beyond Nov 2020.

        About the only thing der Dumpfenfuhrer had going for him was a strong economy. That is out the window now. (I thought, if markets stabilized today, it might be a shorter term downturn. No luck there.)

        That, combined with his insane speech last Wednesday night, I think has doomed his reelection hopes.

        Rod Dreher, The American Conservative on Trump’s 11-March-2020 COVID-19 Speech

        • Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          But, there’s more! Latest rumor: Trump is planning to declare martial law. That’s one way to stay in office.

  8. Lawrence Tanner
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    He’s going to select crooked Hilary as VP.

  9. Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I think Kamala Harris.

    Geographical diversity and most other sorts (the only issue would be two “coastal” people).

    I think she checks every important box.

    She’s seems very solid to me. Does anyone know any negatives for her?

    • GBJames
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      Some of her prosecutorial history is objectionable to many in the African-American community.

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        This is what I have vaguely heard. Can you please point me to details?

        Seems to me anyone ever involved in law enforcement will face this — because there are many prosecutions of African Americans.

        Seems like around here (Minneapolis/St. Paul MN) anything short of let ’em all go won’t cut it.

        • GBJames
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          “Can you please point me to details?”

          Not without doing a bunch of googling. And there’s no reason for me to deny you the pleasure of that!

          (I’m just reporting the objection. I’m not arguing the case.)

          • Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink

            Thanks, I was hoping to avoid the Googling! 🙂

            • Taz
              Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

              I’m not sure if people are upset because she took skin color into account when prosecuting criminals, or because she DIDN’T take skin color into account when prosecuting criminals.

        • eric
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

          My quick google turned up this article as a write-up of the issue. It’s old and it’s Vox, so caveat emptor.

          • Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

            Thanks eric!

          • Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

            (I’m supposed to be actually working from home.)

            • Filippo
              Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

              How does anyone know you didn’t respond from the lavatory?

  10. Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Biden focus on bandaids and half measures–especially on health care and climate change–did nothing to assure Bernie’s core supporters that he will make the structural changes they feel are needed. He couldn’t find a way to express that for each of us, our own well-being is dependent on everybody having good healthcare.

    There is a big group that are willing to live with four more years of Trump so that things get bad enough that the need for the deep structural changes will become more readily apparent. Biden needs this group of young progressives and independents to vote for him if he wishes to beat Trump.

    • EdwardM
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Appalling, but if true it says a great deal, all I need to know in fact, about the moral character of Bernie supporters.

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Yep: Burn it all down! Revolution! Antifa! Punch a Nazi (and I’ll define who the Nazis are!) Say something I don’t agree with: I’m going to beat you.

        I have confidence that the vast majority of the DP wants der Drumpfenfuhrer out and a decent, stable nation.

        • GBJames
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

          There are Sanders supporters like that. And there are Sanders supporters who aren’t. The burden is on moderates like you to figure out ways to bridge the gap so that fewer of them stay home in November. IMO that starts with acknowledging the legitimacy of the issues they are most concerned with. And it would help to stop painting them all as insane antifa types.

          • Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

            RGB isn’t going to last five more years.

            Four more years of Trump and all the things they care about will be down the toilet.

            If that’s what they want, they may be able to bring it.

            Latest rumor: Trump to declare martial law … That’s one way to stay in office!

          • eric
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

            The burden is on moderates like you to figure out ways to bridge the gap so that fewer of them stay home in November. IMO that starts with acknowledging the legitimacy of the issues they are most concerned with.

            That seems both narcissistic and dumb.

            Narcissistic because they’re basically saying if Biden doesn’t pay attention to them, they’ll step away and let Trump win.

            Dumb because clearly the moderate wing is acknowledging their issues. It’s not like Biden goes around saying “what health care issue? I don’t see a problem” or “what immigration problem? Dreamers? What are those?” True, moderates like Biden might not agree with the progressive’s preferred solutions (or he might, but think its impractical), but they certainly acknowledge such issues. Unless a progressive thinks that “acknowledgement” must include agreement to be real, it seems ridiculous to me that anyone could claim any of the moderate candidates (Biden, Buttigeig, Klobuchar, etc.) don’t acknowledge these issues. They clearly did. They spent hours debating them. They include them in their written platforms. And so on, and so on.

            • GBJames
              Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

              You’re missing the point. This is a political problem. To solve it you need to build bridges. All you’re doing is emphasizing divisions. There’s precisely zero value in that.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      There is a big group that are willing to live with four more years of Trump so that things get bad enough that the need for the deep structural changes will become more readily apparent.

      In Marxist-Leninist-Maoist terms that’s called as “accelerating the contradictions.”

      Dunno that that’s worked out so well so far.

      • Jon Gallant
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        Well, it didn’t work out so swimmingly in
        Weimar Germany. But, who knows?, maybe the bold acolytes of this approach feel lucky, and that it will work out better this time.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        I doubt indeed whether that has ever worked. Most revolutions take place when the iron grip is somewhat relaxed (French Revolution, Russian/Soviet Revolution). Maybe Historian can fill us in?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, and speaking of the Russian/Soviet revolution, it was also the case, I’d say, moving in the opposite direction w/r/t the fall of the Iron Curtain.

  11. Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    It surprises you that the NYT would assert Biden comes out ahead? Now that surprises me. Biden is like Trump in that regard. He can say almost anything and the partisan media will kindly ignore it when it is not helping him.

    Here’s a KO clip.

    Sanders: May I ask you a question, Joe […] you were in the Senate for a few years. Time and time again talking about the necessity — with pride — about cutting social security, about cutting Medicare, cutting veterans programs …
    Biden: No!
    Sanders: You never said that!?
    Biden: No.
    Sanders: You’re an honest guy, why don’t you just tell the truth here. We all make mistakes.
    Biden: I am telling the truth.
    Sanders: Let me repeat it again, I want you just to be straight with the American people. [repeats question about cutting programs]
    Biden: No that’s not true.
    Sanders: That’s not true!?
    Biden: No that’s not true. Everything was on the table, I did not support any of those cuts in Social Security, or in Veteran’s benefits.
    Sanders: whow whow whow. “everything was on the table” alright you just said it. Including in your judgment, cuts to Social security and veterans …
    Biden: — in order to get the kinds of changes we need on other things
    Sanders: okay, Joe, then you just…
    Biden: — but we did not cut it.
    Sanders: I know because people like me stopped that!

    That’s being caught pants down with, with a red hand in the cookies jar.

    What does Joe want and stand for, aside of representing prison cooperations and insurance companies? It seems he stands for “anything” and offers a huge projection area for people who have been told by the media that Sanders is too radical (he isn’t), which they also tried in this debate.

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Certainly, no compromise, no discussion is the way to get things done, right?

  12. Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I don’t know what it has to do with compromise. Where’s the “give and take” for the majority of the people, then? That’s not a thing which is painfully obvious to everyone else in the first world.

    In the USA it’s always: poor people and workers can always be made more destitute, work more jobs or move into a cardboard. But just like that — snap — Wall Street gets 1.5 trillions.

    Here Biden was asked a question. He denied it, but then eventually was forced to admit that he’s the guy to make poor people poorer.

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Sorry. Was supposed to be a reply under 11.

    • eric
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      That’s it? That’s the big reveal? A politician says he’s going to go into a negotiation with the other party and put “all things on the table” and you think that means he’s happily willing to make poor people poorer?

      Politicians use such rhetoric all the time. It signals they’re approaching the negotiation as an honest attempt to come to an agreement rather than treating it as a pro forma meeting with no real intent to negotiate.

      Moreover, anyone who thinks a Bernie or Biden is going to push through significant tax, health, social service, or education reform without compromising in some big way is wildly mistaken. To the tune of 53 Senators mistaken. There are going to be things in their legislation that progressives are going to consider abandoment of principle. Unacceptable compromises. Failure to live up to promises. Get used to that idea, because no bill helping the needy, or sick, or immigrants, etc. is getting out of the Senate in 2021 without GOP approval – regardless of who is in the White House.

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        +1 well said.

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        What big reveal? Biden was asked whether he wanted to cut social security, medicaid and veteran’s benefits and he disputed that.

        Now there are indeed clips of him where he advocated for it, and with some verve. He was caught lying.

        Pressed further, he eventually admitted that yes, he wanted to cut these things. The point was: did he, or did he not cut these programs. Indeed, he wanted to. It means: he’s not concerned with people he is now appealing to and they should not vote for him.

        Now your point: but did he get something out of it? He would be pretty stupid had he offered to cut these programs without wanting something in return from the Republicans.

        • Posted March 16, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          What he “revealed” was that he had voted against the bills because of other things the bills contained. Not the same thing.

          • Posted March 17, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

            Look, Biden wanted to sell his children to the sausage factory. Bernie Sanders and I are appalled by that. You, however, make the point that Biden would get good money for the kids and you think that makes him a great businessman (analogical to politician).

            What’s clearly different are our values. But that’s why I would never vote for Biden. I am not American, so the issue doesn’t arise, but I think there are also Americans who think the same way. The dilemma is that Biden should lose, and Americans really would deserve it, but alas, everyone else would suffer too and it’s getting critical with combating Climate Change.

            • GBJames
              Posted March 17, 2020 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

              “…why I would never vote for Biden”

              This reflects a profound misunderstanding of the nature of elections. Elections are always a choice between two (or more) options. Without specifying that the alternative choice is, it is a (sorry to say this) really dumb, dumb, dumb viewpoint.

              From before the pandemic:

              Man walks into a restaurant. The waiter says “We have food options and we have shit”. The man responds, “If you don’t serve my favorite food then I’ll have the shit”.

            • Posted March 17, 2020 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

              Does “sell his children to the sausage factory” mean something special in your country? Taken literally, it sounds like Pizzagate revisited.

  13. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I had the debate on the tube last night, though my attention kept wandering back to the book I’m reading.

    From what I caught, Biden held his own, going toe-to-toe for two hours against the Bern (who’s a much smarter and tougher, if much less dirty, customer than the Donald). Bernie went after him hard, but kept his blows above the belt. Biden made no major gaffes, had no bad stumbles, which is all he really needed to accomplish, given the state of the race.

    Bernie sees the handwriting on the wall and his goal now seems to be to use his time until the nominating convention to nudge his “good friend Joe” a bit to his Left on a few key issues. In any event, by late tomorrow night — once the results come rolling in from the Florida, Arizona, Illinois, and Ohio primaries — the race will be all but over, save for the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth from the hardest of hardcore Berniacs.

    Moreover, if the coronavirus numbers keep heading north and the national economy south, the Donald may go full meltdown. Old Uncle Joe could end up creaming him come November.

    • Mark R.
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      I think declaring Martial Law would be a disaster for Trump or any POTUS. My take-away from the article: “…even martial law won’t cancel the election.”

      • Filippo
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        Martial Law v. Amuricun Individualism.

  14. Jon Gallant
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Some insiders talk about Gretchen Whitmer as a good VP candidate. She is governor of
    Michigan (thus differing from Stacy Abrams in actually being a governor) and is said
    to be sharp and popular in her state.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      I like Whitmer. But given her lack of national name recognition, if she gets the nod for the veep slot on the ticket, it means Camp Biden has decided that Michigan — the closest of the swing states in the last election (lost by Hillary by less than 11,000 votes) — is THE KEY to a 2020 electoral college victory by Biden.

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        Yep, never heard of her …

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        There’s no one key; but a small group of keys (which I’m sure is part of what your comment is about).

  15. Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I watched the whole thing, pretty much anyway. I would consider it a tie which really means Bernie lost. He was clearly holding out for some major Biden stumble going into Super Tuesday III tomorrow. I’m hoping he gets trounced solidly enough that he drops out of the race for the good of the party and the country. We need a clear six months of Sanders convincing his Bernie Bros to throw in the towel and vote for Biden. Trump needs to go down with the biggest loss by an incumbent president ever.

  16. Simon Hayward
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t watch, but did listen to the NPR and 538 podcast summaries while driving this morning. Consensus seemed to be the Biden did well and probably won. Going in the only thing he needed to achieve was not to lose badly. So successful from his end.

    Barring a major unforeseen event, the primary race is essentially over. Biden is listed as having a 99% chance of winning a clean majority and a rather greater chance than that of being the nominee (those odds are likely to get better on the margins after tomorrow’s primaries), so the question becomes can Bernie learn to help him beat trump rather than just trying to wreck the process?

    Do we think Trump will agree to debate Biden?

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Trump can’t wait to get Biden in the ring.

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        If by “ring” you mean slamming him on Twitter, then that’s already started. I doubt Trump will submit to debates with Biden. If you think otherwise, I would be interested in hearing your reasoning.

        • Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          Because Dunning-Kruger Trump thinks he can make slow-witted Biden look bad, and he needs that if he is to win re-election.

          • Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

            Yes, it could happen. As another commenter mentioned, if Trump is losing in the polls going into November, he’ll be desperate. On the other hand, as President, he has lots of other things he can do, some legal and some not. He’ll have more control over these things than a debate where the “fake news” telling voters who won.

            • Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

              But Faux news will say that Trump won, and that is all that he and his supporters will hear.

              • Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

                Yes, but in the scenario we’re talking about Trump is desperate so he’ll need to expand his appeal beyond Faux News watchers. This will be much harder than it was in 2016 when the MSM aided and abetted his run by giving him so much coverage. They’ll give him lots of coverage this time too but I’m hoping they’ll be much quicker to point out Trump’s inevitable lies.

      • sugould
        Posted March 17, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        Why bother? He’s on TV/Twitter 24/7 and can snipe away without ever having to *share* the cameras time with anyone.

        You saw how Trump clenched his teeth to keeps from interrupting Pence’s debut as virus spokesman. It’s all Trump all the time now. And he has the power to keep it that way.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Do we think Trump will agree to debate Biden?

      We do.

      If Biden is ahead in the polls (as I expect he will be) Trump will have no choice but to try to make up lost ground.

      And, in the unlikely event Trump is leading in the polls, I doubt he’d be able to stand everyone saying that his refusal to debate makes him look “weak.”

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        At this point, how could a dead rat not be ahead of Trump in the polls? A decomposed dead rat?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

          Prolly smell better, too.

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Yes, as I heard over the weekend: Famous Presidential quotes:

      “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
      Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 4-Mar-1933

      “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
      John F. Kennedy, 20-Jan-1961

      “No, I don’t take responsibility at all …” Donald Trump, 13-Mar-2020

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        In April 1961, even though much of the actual blame lay with his predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower (and with Eisenhower’s VP Dick Nixon), and with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and — especially! — with the Central Intelligence Agency, newly inaugurated president John F. Kennedy made a public speech “accept[ing] sole responsibility” for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

        Compare THAT to Donald Trump’s “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

        Of course, JFK had served in combat in WWII, as the skipper of a PT boat that had been rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, so he knew a little something about the importance of a leader taking responsibility over a situation.

        When Donald Trump was draft-aged, his big accomplishment was (as he has since bragged) dodging a dose of the clap.

        Is any of this any wonder?

        • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          I got the FDR quote wrong, “… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      in the comment section there is a brilliant video:

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        Oops, forgot to cut the ‘https://’, my apologies.

        • Mark R.
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          That was great. Thanks.

  17. Helen Flores
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Woman VP choice – Katie Porter, California Congresswoman, and brilliant mind. She is less well-known to the country, which means less baggage and pre-formed opinions. Check her out as she takes on the forces who need to provide FREE medical help during the COVID 19 pandemic.
    There are other qualified women, but this one will wow the country, tenaciously and very politely.

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      There’s no free. Everything gets paid for somehow.

      I just want the payment to be made explicitly in public. Whatever the means that is chosen to relieve citizens of huge costs (and delays).

      There is no free (for anything of value). There are only methods of payment.

      • GBJames
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        Come on, James. You know perfectly well that this comment was about “free to the person who needs testing and treatment”.

        • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          Well, one might interpret it that way; but, ” takes on the forces who need to provide FREE medical help” makes me think otherwise.

          What “forces” are these? The companies that research, develop, manufacture, and distribute (at great cost) the vaccines (we wish), tests, PPE, etc.?

          The company I work for is distributing a lot of material for free now. But free isn’t a workable long-term model. (The company happens to have inventories of some of the things needed, such as masks, gloves, goggles, etc., which are maintained as part of doing their normal business: Needed for procedures, training, testing, etc., etc.)

          If there’s a commitment from the governments (fed, states) to cover costs, then I am certain every company will step up.

          • GBJames
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

            Did you see Katie Porter in the recent congressional hearing? I’m guessing not, because your comments seem not to recognize something important that has happened.

            This time I’ll google it for you. Here.

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        So you fundamentally agree with Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

        • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          Absolutely not. Trump has (IMO) doomed his reelection prospects by his fumbling and stupidity Re: COVID-19.

          People saying anything is “free” is misleading.

          Say: We need to pass legislation that no one need pay out of packet for X. It will come out of (the general budget, whatever it is).

          Not as snappy as “free” but more honest.

      • Helen Flores
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        Ok, Katie Porter negotiated an agreement to help those who have limited resources get access to medical treatment for this pandemic. And “free” is a usually misnomer – somebody pays for everything. I totally support using taxpayer funds for this expense, also for food, housing, and other necessities for every citizen. Government IS us all, ideally we band together and agree about what WE pay for. Not stupid walls, vacations for the first family, and grafting golf excursions that we currently fund.
        Pharmaceutical companies expend funds for research. Companies, scientists and technicians deserve to profit as a result. However, the slimy guy who raised prices on insulin so high and so many others overpaid executives do not.

    • GBJames
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Yes to Katie Porter!

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        Ditto. She would be a great choice.

        • John Dentinger
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

          I third the suggestion–would love to see her debate our esteemed religious fanatic VP

      • Mark R.
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Love that woman!

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        I’ll have to listen to the videos; but I will provisionally take your word for her suitability.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        I saw a video where she basically forced Dr Redfield to commit to testing USians, regardless of insurance. Very impressive.
        http://www.vogue.com/article/katie-porter-coronavirus-cdc

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      I did not watch the debate.

      I live in Oregon, where Bernieites in 2016 decided not to vote for the Democratic candidate since it wasn’t Bernie. And, many of the Bernie signs stayed up all four years.
      I find it appalling that there are Dems who will not vote if they can’t have Bernie.

      Bernie may say he can conduct and achieve a revolutions, but doesn’t share with his public how he plans to do it. Magic, I guess.

      Helen: You beat me to it suggesting Katie Porter. If not Katy, Amy Klobuchar.

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        >I find it appalling that there are Dems who will not vote if they can’t have Bernie.

        You may be living under an illusion that Bernie supporters are tried and true Democrats. Most aren’t. They are independents, progressive libertarians and many that have never had any other political affiliation. This group has no loyalty to the Democratic party, some than the the “True Blue” can’t seem to fathom.

        • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          And, N.B.: Bernie is not now, nor has he ever been, a member of the Democrat Party.

        • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

          You make a good point. Without going back and researching it, I think Bernie, like Trump (as well as other politicians) have run in whatever party will have them. Bernie may truly be an Independent, whereas some politicians who have done this seem not to believe in anything but themselves.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      I love Katie Porter and think she has a brilliant political future in front of her. But I’m not sure that she’d bring to the ticket what Joe Biden is looking for, other than fulfilling his promise to nominate a woman.

  18. Helen Flores
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    And another thing – FYI, there are Democrats who say they would vote for Trump if Bernie were the nominee. So quit knocking Bernie supporters. All but a few of us will vote blue no matter who. But we want to see the Democratic Party change, not just swing the pendulum back a notch.
    Bernie’s ideas made Hillary a better candidate in 2016, and she lost because of the powerful 20-year anti-Hillary campaign and her own baggage.
    Those of us who support Bernie (I am 77-years-old) recognize how very far to the right the country has gone since Reagan made government and taxation the enemy. The last debate was useful – Biden liked Warren’s plans; he acknowledged the need for change. Bernie and Elizabeth made Joe a better candidate.
    Revolutions are not always bloody. We need to see reforms and course corrections in this country.

    • tomh
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Well said.

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Biden’s main mission will be to finally help the at-risk, downtrodden and marginalised insurance companies. After that, the party will have successfully turned younger voters away from politics.

      With Biden, Trump should win once more. If you just can’t convince a toddler to not touch the stove, you may let him touch it and feel it. But alas, the stove is melting-steel hot, and nobody in their right mind would want to teach the toddler through that pain.

      That’s the dilemma. Biden must lose. But he cannot lose when the well-being of the rest of the planet depends on it (I don’t care if Americans suffer, as they bring it on themselves).

      • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        I’m afraid Bernie, self-proclaimed Socialist, cannot win in the states that matter: MI (Biden won every county), WI, PA, VA (Biden won big), FL.

        The deep-red states are not in play. The big coastal liberal states are not in play.

        We got Trump by 77,000 votes distributed in MI, WI, and PA, in an historic squeaker election in 2016.

        I live in the Midwest. I am hearing an amazingly consistent (I’ve been following politics since the 60s, when I was a kid) chorus of: “I hate Trump, give me a Dem I can vote for. Bernie and Warren are not that; too far Left.” This from Dems, Independents, even “Life-long GOP voters”. The results so far in the Midwest bear this out.

        And the predicted wave of young and first-time voters for Bernie hasn’t materialized.

        MN went big for Bernie in 2016. In 2020, Biden easily beat him (39% to 30%, which the spokesperson for the Bernie campaign called a “slim margin”. You’ve got to be kidding…). This is the pattern we are seeing in 2020.

        Turnouts have been big as well, bigger than 2016. (About 5X in MN; but 2016 was caucuses and 2020 a primary, so a bigger turnout was expected; but nevertheless, many more showed up to express their preference.)

        • GBJames
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          James, the primaries are effectively over. It is time to stop campaigning against Sanders and figuring out how to appeal to his supporters. Banging on about how he’s a Socialist contributes little beyond personal venting.

    • EdwardM
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Agreed but it does no good nudging Biden to the left if not enough show up to vote out of stupid, petty, spite-your-face sore loser nonsense. Electorally, we’ve been down this road before; Nader voters cost us Bush II.

      • GBJames
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        I think you mean Nader votes gave us Bush II.

        This is correct. Counterfactuals are, of course, a bit silly, but it is possible that the 2000 election might have turned out differently had the “moderate” wing of the party made an effort to bring in those Naderites.

        I don’t know who I’m more frustrated by. Sanders supporters who say they won’t vote for Biden in November, or moderate democrats who refuse to seriously pay attention to the concerns of the Sanders supporters. Both are engaged in mutual attempted suicide.

        • Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

          What are the “concerns” of Sanders supporters not addressed by Biden? Off the top of my head, they cover the same subjects but just have different solutions. Sanders solutions tend to throw everything out and start afresh (“revolution”) whereas Biden is much more conservative. Sanders supporters need to understand that even if Bernie was president, his solutions would undergo radical change to have any chance of becoming law, thereby turning them into Biden policies in effect. On the other hand, Biden needs to assure voters that his leftward moves during the primaries are not going to be conveniently forgotten or diluted after he becomes POTUS.

          • GBJames
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

            The Sanders electorate is instant that structural changes are needed to address, for example, climate change. In this case, Biden needs to make a convincing case that he intends to do much more than return to pre-tRump status quo, rejoining the Paris accord and such.

            Biden is not going to scare any moderate or conservative (never-thumpers) voters regardless of what he says. His challenge is to figure out a way to get younger voters to not stay home. They’re the future of the country and at this point he’s not doing well in that segment of the population.

          • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

            Well, Biden has said that he would veto M4A if it ever made it through congress and the senate, so where is this compromise you’re talking about?

            Its no compromise if he’d veto a victory. May as well vote for a Republican in that case.

            And yes, Sanders supporters do understand that Sanders’ policies would undergo major revisions and changes before getting enacted, very likely in a barely recognisable form.

            That’s part of why “How you going to pay for that” is so unconvincing to Sanders’ supporters, they don’t expect him to deliver on his promises, they expect him to try – and by trying deliver better than what you’ve got right now.

            And here is another thing they understand, Biden’s policies would undergo exactly the same pressures and processes that Sanders would. So if Congress and the Senate would grind Sanders policies down to being basically Biden’s, then what would happen to Biden’s policies?

            • Posted March 16, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

              According to Politifact, Biden’s answer on the hypothetical M4A question was not as clear as you and others make out:

              https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/10/facebook-posts/when-biden-was-asked-if-he-would-veto-medicare-all/

              which quotes Biden as saying,

              “Look, my opposition isn’t to the principle that you should have Medicare. Health care should be a right in America. My opposition relates to whether or not a) it’s doable, 2) what the cost is and what consequences for the rest of budget are. How are you going to find $35 trillion over the next 10 years without having profound impacts on everything from taxes for middle class and working class people as well as the impact on the rest of the budget?”

              • Posted March 17, 2020 at 1:48 am | Permalink

                That is just him giving his reasoning for the veto, he’d still veto it if it passed – thus what he is offering isn’t a compromise.

                He doesn’t just think M4A wouldn’t pass, he opposes it. Why would somebody who supports Sanders because of M4A as their single issue, vote for Biden?

              • GBJames
                Posted March 17, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

                “he’d still veto it if it passed”

                And you know this how?

            • GBJames
              Posted March 16, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

              The “Biden would veto M4A” meme is simply propaganda. His objection is that it can’t get through Congress.

              Biden’s problem is not being more clear on this, so that this meme is clearly extinguished.

              The Sanders supporters, however, who push this meme need to get a grip and stop poisoning the well.

              • Posted March 16, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

                For a brief shining moment Obama/Biden had an opportunity to do the right thing controlling the house and senate. Instead they came up with ‘Obamacare’ which has not turned out as well as they hoped, but has kept the vested corporations awash in profits.

                Now, right after the election the Supreme Court will give Obamacare it’s coup de gras and a putative Biden presidency will have nothing to offer as even restoring the status quo will be beyond his reach.

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      “FYI, there are Democrats who say they would vote for Trump if Bernie were the nominee.”

      I have met none of these Democrats. Doesn’t mean they don’t exist. But, the ones who would vote for Trump if Bernie weren’t the nominee are as bad as the Democrats who will not vote for anyone but Bernie.

      The “Revolution” could not be achieved by Bernie in one term or two. If done, it will be done incrementally. In addition, there’s been so much damage done to our government by Republican presidents such as Reagan and Trump that needs to be undone or redone ASAP. Like what happened re pandemic coordination and preparation. Taxes as well as the social network have been severely damaged. When Reagan was governor in California, he closed mental hospitals.

      Not to wish ill on anyone, but Trump, Biden, and Bernie are in age ranges for which Coronavirus is particularly dangerous, as are a great many of us.

  19. Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I just hope that the Dems are already organising postal voting systems in as many places as possible. The worse this virus story gets, the less likely it becomes that any election will be held at all.

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      Registration for voting when signing up for driving licenses AND vote by mail. It’s harder for those processes to be messed via computer by Russians, Chinese or others.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      The nation (at least the part of it that had remained loyal) managed to hold an election during the Civil War, so I think it can manage to do so during a pandemic, too.

      Should Donald Trump try to cancel the next election, aside from the coronavirus, there’ll be revolution in the air, and plenty of us protesters maintaining our safe “social distancing” on the street.

      • Posted March 17, 2020 at 3:33 am | Permalink

        Obviously, I’m not in the US and am generally quite ignorant, but…. I just hope the Democrats are already mapping out the various scenarios that the Republicans are already considering. (Unless of course they already know they have the numbers or can get them, and aren’t worried at all — which I also wouldn’t discount.)

  20. Filippo
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Elizabeth Bruenig (8/10)”. . . Sanders . . . and the no-audience format suited him well.”

    Why would the “no-audience format” not suit anyone well? Who needs a caterwauling, interrupting audience, especially as evidenced by the late February circus (debate)?

    Jamelle Bouie (8/10) — “. . . Sanders . . . seems much more vibrant than Biden, despite being a little older.”

    What does “vibrant” mean in this context? How can Bouie tell – backward double somersaults? Breathless, unctuous declamations? (Well, this is opinion after all.) Another one of these “white noise” locutions (except in, e.g., physics). I see the word used in NY Times news stories. E.g., “vibrant” economy – what does that mean?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Who needs a caterwauling, interrupting audience …?

      Donald Trump?

      Trump without an audience is like Casey Jones without a choo-choo.

  21. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Mitch McConnell — a political hardball realist if ever a one there was — is urging older federal judges to retire so he can ram young’uns on the bench ASAP, which seems a signal he doesn’t expect Republicans to retain control of the presidency and/or the senate after the next election.

    So that’s encouraging.

    • Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      Wouldn’t that be a good strategy for McConnell and the GOP regardless of whether they lose power or not?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

        I know of no other senate majority leader with a president of the same party facing reelection who has ever said anything of this sort.

        It’s unheard of for a senate majority leader to urge federal judges appointed by his own party to retire. Their concern is always with replacing judges appointed by the other party.

        If McConnell had any confidence at all that Trump were going to be reelected and Republicans were going to retain control of the senate, he’d want Republican appointees to remain on the bench for possible replacement during Trump’s second term.

        • Posted March 17, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

          I really meant normal for McConnell. In this situation, a normal Majority Leader might hope that older judges retire early but they wouldn’t go so far as to ask them to do so. That said, I hope you are right that this indicates that the GOP is worried about losing the Senate. I certainly hope they do.

    • Filippo
      Posted March 17, 2020 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      “Mitch McConnell — a political hardball realist if ever a one there was — is urging older federal judges to retire so he can ram young’uns on the bench ASAP . . . .”

      I take it that, for retirement purposes, McConnell is no less an older federal legislator.

  22. Mark R.
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Would Michelle Obama help Joe? I believe if she ran as Joe’s V.P., the Presidency would be in the bag and the Nation/world saved. I wonder, I wonder. And I really and truly love the Obamas, esp. My Michelle. 🥰

  23. Jon Gallant
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    One comment above hopes Sanders supporters will “get a grip and stop poisoning the well”. Poisoning of the well is already under way, mainly from regions to the
    left (by conventional geometry) of Sanders and the Democratic Party. Truthout currently runs a piece with analyses like these:

    “After centrist Joe Biden scored his first primary win, the DNC consolidated the Democratic Party establishment around him. …The party bosses likely wanted to ensure that Sanders would not upend the corporate order. …Aided and abetted by the corporate media, the centrists in the Democratic Party are doing their best to ensure that Sanders is not the Democratic candidate. … Biden, who was instrumental in securing congressional approval for Bush’s Iraq War, will be a good steward of the empire.”

    The piece, by Marjorie Cohn of the National Lawyers Guild (of course), still laments the failure of Henry Wallace to become president of the US. That happy event, it explains, would have avoided the use of the atom bomb, the cold war with the USSR, the arms race, and every other evil that the US inflicted on the universe after FDR dropped Wallace as VP.
    Marjorie & Co. at Truthout inhabit a time capsule that has evidently remained unchanged
    since the 1948 “Progressive Party” fiasco.

    • Helen Flores
      Posted March 17, 2020 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      As usual, Democrats continue to expend much time and effort reliving past elections and analyzing the warts of every possible candidate. At this point we have perfectly viable and qualified opponents who are immensely better than the Doofus in office. Neither Biden nor Bernie is perfect.
      The last Bernie/Biden debate was civil, thoughtful and productive – thanks in great part to none of us or other noisy fans being there. (Let’s continue that in the future).
      No matter which of these guys gets the nomination, these last primaries and policy discussions are intended to provide the party with valuable information. Personally, I appreciate continued attention to the issues, like income inequality, health care, education, and needed change. I want primary votes and candidate positions to shape the platform significantly.
      We are the Electorate, and we get to send a message about the direction of the country. A small number (including many who were NEVER Democrats or interested in politics before) are personally gung-ho for their candidate. They may or may not turn out if the other one is chosen. However, most of us will vote blue no matter who.
      Finally, this presidential election won’t be the end of the need for political activism. Lots of work to do, much to fix. Eternal vigilance … and all that.

  24. Doubting Thomas
    Posted March 18, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    “Apparently Biden said he intends to name a woman as his vice-presidential candidate, which I think is fantastic.”

    How disgustingly sexist.

    Until the dems understand that identity politics are toxic they are doomed to failure. I look forward to watching the party cannibalize itself in an orgy of self hatred.


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