Brief impressions of the Democratic debate

I watched most of the nearly three hours of the debate involving the ten remaining Democratic primary candidates who qualified for the third round. In watching and listening to them, one is struck by how far superior everyone of them is to Donald Trump merely in terms of the coherence of their thoughts and words. Trump’s policies of course are utterly execrable.

All of them were supporters of increasing healthcare coverage for everyone in some form of single-payer such as Medicare for All, differing only in details. All of them lambasted Trump for being a white supremacist and that we need to address systemic racism in the US.

Those who I thought gained from the debate: Cory Booker (who said that we should not to wait for gun violence to affect us personally before we take strong stands against guns), Pete Buttigieg (strong criticism of Trump’s racism), Beto O’Rourke (unequivocal on the need to get rid of private ownership AR-15, AK-47, and similar weapons and the need for the registration of guns and the licensing of users), Elizabeth Warren (very strong answer on why troops need to be pulled out of Afghanistan and her advocacy of other socialist policies), and Bernie Sanders (for his consistency of the issues he cares about). Warren and Sanders disagreed on whether to end the filibuster (she wants to, he doesn’t),

Those who I thought lost ground: Kamal Harris (seemed a little tired) and she and Amy Klobuchar were put on the defensive about their past records on crime and the police mistreatment of people, especially people of color, Julian Castro (too many shallow attacks on Joe Biden), Andrew Yang (he got little time and his proposal to give ten people $1,000 per month for a year as an example of his plans for the entire nation seemed a little gimmicky), and Joe Biden (he had a hard time defending his record as senator and vice-president.)

The moderators seemed pretty decent this time but I really hate the “What is the one thing you would you do on your first day in office as president?” question, which they seem to love. I know that this really is about what the candidates prioritize but any good candidate would and should have multiple priorities and asking them to pick one as more important than the rest is just silly.


  1. brucegee1962 says

    I thought Harris did pretty well. Her personality came through more than for the other speakers, and she seemed warm and did a better job sharing who she was as a person than the other candidates. Warren did a good job relating to the education issues.

    I thought the younger candidates, particularly Buttegieg, O’Rourke, Booker, and Klobuchar, seemed to be much better speakers than the older ones. Sanders looked like, if you took away his podium, he would just totter forward into the audience. Biden seemed to get more and more tired throughout the night, and his “record player” comment seemed from another era, as well as being somewhat incomprehensible. Castro probably hurt both Biden and himself by picking on him.

    Overall, I think Warren and Harris have been running the most effective campaigns, although I disagree with them on a number of issues. I wish Yang and Buttigieg would get a few years of seasoning at some other position — congress, governor, or cabinet — before taking a shot at the big job. We’ve seen what happens when a total outsider sits down at the desk, and that should show us that we shouldn’t imitate it.

  2. anat says

    Biden and the record player -- he was trying to refer to the finding that children from low income homes hear significantly fewer spoken words before entering school compared to children in middle class homes. Offering a gimmicky, unstudied fix that places the onus on parents (have the children listen to recorded voice) rather than a structural change of making it so parents will have more time to spend with their kids (by increasing their income, at the very least) combined with support programs (education in child development for parents, access to well-stocked public libraries, etc).

    Castro -- someone on 538 said he was running for the role of Warren’s VP. Classic ‘attack dog’ role, together with being the most progressive among the lower tier of surviving candidates.

  3. says

    Increasing health care coverage does not make sense without also talking about regulating costs and services. When democrats talk about health care they are as unserious as republicans; they are just plowing a different line of bullshit. I wish someone could just tell the American people the truth: if you want the crazy health care to stop you are going to have to make a few tough decisions. This “have your cake, eat it too, and we’ll subsidize the cake!” routine is bad comedy.

  4. says

    I managed to hold my nose and vote for Clinton. If they run Biden I’m going to sit it out and it’s the democrats’ own fault if Trump wins a second term; they’d do better wheeling out for another try -- it’s still her turn.

  5. anat says

    Marcus, a key demographic that is keeping Biden ahead are black democrats, especially older ones among them. It is entirely possible that they don’t trust white people to vote for anyone who isn’t a white man anymore.

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