When you looked at today’s title I bet you thought I was omitting coverage of Thursday night’s debate. If you did you were incorrect. Let’s explore.

I didn’t watch the debate live and take copious notes as is my normal practice. Instead I attended my grandson’s high school soccer game. I recorded the debate and watched it Friday night. Earlier on Friday I happened to talk to a friend from Florida. During our conversation he asked me if I had watched the debate the previous night. We got into a little conversation about how the differences were really being overblown by the media and that all the viable candidates wanted to get to the same place although they might favor different routes. I used the sausage making analogy. The differences of opinion of presidential candidates mean little in the long run because the final product will be altered in the legislative process. Terry had a conclusion that I will take with me until the end. He said words to the effect that the sausage ends up tasting pretty good.

As I watched the taped debate instead of filling up many pages of a legal pad with notes I used one page. I will still have an abundance of observations to share with my readers and I was much less stressed.

ABC/Univision telecast the debate from the campus of Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. The moderators were George Stephanopoulos, David Muir and Linsey Davis along with Jorge Ramos of Univision. As in past debates the clock meant nothing because the moderators soon lost control of the candidates.

At least this time we were down to a single night but we still had ten candidates on the stage (Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang) which proved to be too many. The debate went on for three hours which is too long. The contestants were all asked the same final question which morphed into a closing statement; why not just call it what it is?

Once the opening statements were dispensed with the debate in earnest began with a discussion of health care. The networks’ goal was to get some sparks flying in the pursuit of ratings. This is not particularly an indictment of the ABC “family”; all the media outlets do the same thing. They are for-profit and live by viewers, clicks, listeners and readers. Pretty much next up was a robust discussion on climate change. I refuse to pick a single most important item but both are in my top tier, therefore I was glad to hear the prolonged discussion, I just wish it was a little more substantive. Time constraints, no matter how much they were violated, prevented that. How are you supposed to solve a major problem (in the case of climate change global) in a matter of a few seconds? That being said, the difference between any viable Democrat and Donald Trump was abundantly clear.

If you take into account that it is still early you have a top tier of five candidates. Joe Biden entered leading the polling and faced the most attacks of the evening. He looked energized and acquitted himself rather well in deflecting them. Elizabeth Warren turned in another solid, if not flashy, performance and didn’t hurt herself a bit. Bernie Sanders was Bernie Sanders. His policies are just a bit left of the field in general but really not by that much. He is totally predictable not having changed since he burst on the national scene last cycle. You either love him or you don’t. Kamala Harris did just enough to stay close enough to the leaders to remain a factor. Those who dismiss her do it way too prematurely. While I don’t see Pete Buttigieg being the nominee for a variety of reasons, he continues to impress and raise his “political stock price”.

Over the next few weeks Cory Booker is going to have to decide whether to go all in and hope for a Hail Mary pass to be completed or drop out of the race and run for reelection to his Senate seat. He had a solid debate again, displayed his intelligence and knowledge, but I’m afraid didn’t move the needle.

Julian Castro lost a lot of friends in the Democratic establishment with his thinly veiled age attack on Joe Biden; whether older Democrats are supporting Joe or not they like him. Castro might have gotten away with his antics but when the fact checkers proved him to be incorrect he became toast. He also lost the battle of Texas to Beto.

Speaking of O’Rourke, he had a good night riding what I have called the Beto bounce that El Paso provided him. To progressives, he won the gun portion of the debate. I still think he needs to run for John Cornyn’s Senate seat. Texas is much more gun loving than the United States in general and Beto’s mandatory buy back of assault weapons – while I and the majority of Americans support his position – may be too far left for Texas. His political future is perhaps the most interesting of any of the ten. The crystal ball is very cloudy on Beto at the moment and I’ll be watching this one closely and with keen interest.

Amy Klobuchar was one of my very early top tier candidates. It hasn’t worked out for her and she will not be the nominee. Her Senate seat is not up so she can hang in as long as she wants. She alternated between looking tired and being energized. My advice is to drop out in the near future and support the nominee like the good team player she is.

That leaves Andrew Yang. I bet he is a good poker player. He is obviously very intelligent and has that great poker face when he needs it. He is too outside the box to ever be president but he’d make a great member of the advisor team.

History teaches us that any improvements in health care will be incremental. Nothing positive will happen until Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the White House. I am becoming increasingly concerned that two of the leading candidates may not be able to win in the general because they have left themselves vulnerable to attacks from Trump that will have just enough believability to them to influence persuadables and motivatables to stay home. Remember Trump doesn’t have to win voters over as much as he has to get Democratic leaning voters to stay home. 2020 will be close and it will swing on turnout.

The “butcher shop” looks messy but if we win the sausage will taste as good as the Broadway Market kielbasa I miss so much from my Buffalo days.

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