For progressives nothing last week was a bigger story than Wednesday and Thursday night’s debates on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo. If you want my opinions and observations please continue.
I will sum up Wednesday night by calling it ladies’ night; Thursday was a food fight. That is not to say that they both didn’t have elements of each. In the interest of relative brevity I will continue with the traditional winners and losers along with breakouts and a rather unique hanging in there to be followed by a memorable line and a word of caution.
Wednesday night’s winner was Elizabeth Warren. She entered as the frontrunner of that heat and left in the same position. Along the way she forced others to echo her platform positions. In pure political objectives that is a win.
If there was another winner behind a podium it was Amy Klobuchar. The Minnesota Senator has the resume and intelligence of a serious contender but has yet to break out. She may have come close to that Wednesday night. The weaker field (at the “top”) gave her an opportunity. Being on the first night hurt considering Americans’ (and in this case including the media) short political attention span. Viewers soon forget and the media jumps on the next hot thing.
Completing the ladies’ night theme were moderators Savannah Guthrie and Rachel Maddow. While I respect Lester Holt and Chuck Todd as journalists they proved to be lousy debate moderators. (Jose Diaz Belart was the best of the three males; remember that is when compared to Holt and Todd.) Thursday night wasn’t much better for the boys with Savannah and Rachel repeatedly “saving” their supposed peers.
Thursday the clear winner was Kamala Harris. She had a trap set for frontrunner Joe Biden and sprung it when race became the topic. I do not like people who jump in and there was plenty of that both nights from people who will end up being also rans. They were just trying to get air time. To my memory this was the only instance where Harris interjected her voice into the conversation and she scored huge points “justifying” the interruption in my opinion.
Cory Booker: Part of it was the bad luck of being in the Wednesday night round. He ended up with the most air time of anyone that evening and actually made a few good points (all of which I had heard before). On Thursday morning he actually received a decent amount of positive press but it was not enough to live until Friday. He has everything required to be if not the nominee, certainly someone who is there at the end. When is he going to break out? Will he ever get a better opportunity than he had Wednesday night?
We saw the battle of Texas on Wednesday night and Beto O’Rourke came out on the short end. The only thing that might save him is the voters’ political memory span. He better hope they forget that he was made to look like a fool by fellow Texan Julian Castro. He also lost the Spanish speaking contest he foolishly started when Booker showed that he was at least conversationally proficient in the language. A camera caught Booker staring at him when he started a foolish battle.
The highlight of Thursday’s debate was the butt kicking frontrunner and extremely talented debater Joe Biden took. I think Biden is too well liked and too far ahead at this point to have been knocked out, but he was severely stung. I’ll be interested to see the polling in about a week and see if he has lost much support among older African-Americans; a group that is an important part of his base at this point.
I consider myself to be a Bernie Sanders fan. For whatever reason I just like him personally (we have never really met and only been in the same room once.) I am probably closer to him on policy than any other candidate. While I have to compliment him on his consistency and convictions he has said virtually the same thing in every public appearance since at least 2015. Every one of his “answers” was a spin to a segment of his unchanged in years stump speech.
With the notable exception of the three I will mention below, much of the rest of the field never belonged there in the first place and proved it last week. One sounded like a fraud and a nutcase while another had me questioning what kind of Democrat he was. I think there were some hidden agendas on the fringes. I’m just not sure how much they helped themselves.
Wednesday night’s breakout was Castro. His performance should be strong enough to keep him around for a while. I don’t know what he is angling for. I don’t see him winning the nomination. There is no reason to believe he could carry Texas for the ticket so the Veep slot doesn’t seem logical. He has already been in the Cabinet so why would he be working so hard for a second opportunity? Bottom line is that he helped his cause Wednesday night; I just don’t know exactly what that cause really is.
Colorado Senator Mike Bennet really impressed me Thursday night. He is a rare low profile Senators who doesn’t garner much press and I couldn’t have picked out of a lineup six months ago. He has proven to be someone worth listening to when he does speak. I can’t see him winning it all but someone who can carry Colorado wouldn’t be a bad Veep pick. He may be looking for that or a Cabinet slot.
Hanging in there:
The old political operative in me will never be completely purged from my thinking. When I think of an optimal candidate I certainly don’t think of Pete Buttigieg! He is short, he is gay, most people can’t pronounce his surname and he is currently Mayor of a city (a position always full of problems even in the best of times) that has just had a white police officer fatally wound a black man. All those old school political negatives and he is well outperforming expectations!
Rachel Maddow hit him with a tough question when she asked him why his police force is only 6% black when his city is 26% black. His initial answer was to accept responsivity and admit failure. He is smart and honest. Would it be refreshing if that proved to be a winning combination in American politics? I don’t know what the future holds for Mayor Pete but he is going to stick around this race for some time yet and I think he has a bright future in elected (or very high appointed) public office.
The memorable line:
Americans love sound bites and Thursday’s debate produced one. Coming out of one of the numerous times “the boys” lost control Kamala Harris said, “Hey, guys, you know what? America doesn’t want to witness a food fight; they want to know how we’re going to put food on the table.”
Grain of salt:
I’ve put as much commentary and analysis into a way too long article as I can but here is one very big thing to keep in mind; I am a political junkie and follow this stuff very closely. The average American has yet to tune in. Let’s see what the polling looks like later this week to see what the voters think and what impact the two nights had on the people who count.
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