Now that the first debate of the Democratic presidential primary of 2020 has wrapped up, what are we to make of it? How do we interpret such a complex unfolding of ideas, personalities, policies, and interactions? We need to proceed carefully because the analysis is difficult and fraught with danger.
And the Winner is…!
Our process must look like this: each debate must be analyzed in its own right and then the two taken together. Everyone and her aunt’s pet orangutan wants to know who won the debate. We want to be able to declare a winner because our minds are lazy. It would be the epitome of illusory explanation if we could just say Marianne Williamson was the winner of the debate and forget it about it and go back to streaming Stranger Things and ordering take out in between our Uber driving shifts.
Do you think that Uber and Lyft drivers have to sign non-compete pledges before they can drive for either company? They certainly should be making their drivers sign no-murder agreements, amirite? Seriously when you get into a non-licensed stranger’s car for a drive somewhere, you should at least be assured that the person has committed in writing to not murdering, raping, and robbing you or your home. Am I being unreasonable here? Seriously, let me know in the comments. I haven’t lived in North America for 25 years now. I’m way out of touch with these things.
But, we can’t do that — um… declare a winner and go back to watching the Women’s World Cup or whatever it is we’re doing nowadays as the hip and cool people we are and not the Uber-Lyft driver pledge thing — so, we have to have some method of analysis. The basis of my ultimate analysis is who helped themselves in the race for the nomination? That’s a difficult question, and regular readers know that that means we’ll really be answering an easier question, who looked presidential?
Castro Won the First Heat
We’ve analyzed the first day of debate or the first heat of debaters, if you will. And, we concluded that Julian Castro helped himself the most. If he don’t see a bounce, even a baby jiggle of his moobs, then I am not a political prognosticator and must a master political debater, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Man, it really helps to do this after having a 50 cl wine lunch and two coffees. The snarky, sarcasticky, and profaney commentary just flows under those circumstances.
At worst, Warren won’t slip any in the polls. At best, she’ll continue improving. Booker can make the same claims. Everyone else from day one just do us all a favor and drop out now. They ain’t making it. In fact, that is the easy conclusion from day two, too. Anyone not named Harris, Buttigieg, Gillibrand, and the legacy candidates of Sanders and Biden should just drop out, too. Seriously, save us all the tedium of ignoring your political adds and political pundits the lassitude of writing something about your candidacy.
Seriously, we should all sign a blood oath to never speak of Marianne Williamson’s debate performance, again. Literally, I had nightmares of meeting her on the field of battle and all I had to harness was my sad profaney snarky sarcasm against her love and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s fear. It was like Charge of the Light Brigade meets the charge of the Dothraki in the battle for Winterfell and Frodo and Sam crossing the plains of Mordor. Not a pretty picture at all. I can show on the doll where Marianne grabbed the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, too. In my dreams, he still hasn’t recovered, either. Permanently scared, he is.
If day one’s debate was focused on policy and agreement, day two’s, raucous argumentativeness with frequent chaotic moments where everything threatened to spin out of control as everyone talked at once and Kamala Harris had to flex her mom voice! Who knew THAT was her superpower?
If we look at the final ten with an eye to who improved their chances of winning the nomination or at least moving up in the polls or being taken as a more serious contender, then the “winners” are clear: Harris and Buttigieg fer sure. Gillibrand we have to throw in there, too. You can see why people had had some thought that she might’ve been a serious contender under ideal circumstances. There is no universe, though, in which Gillibrand gets to run under ideal circumstances. The only other person, as far as I can tell, and feel free to argue amongst yourselves in the comments, is Bennett.
Because Harris had such a spectacular impact on the debate, let’s talk Buttigieg first. He didn’t embarrass himself. In fact, he acquitted himself quite well, especially when Maddow called him out on being such a epic fail at integrating the South Bend police force. It was one of those amazing moments in squalid frivolous political debate hysteria. She asked him why he hadn’t improved the representations of the black community on the police force from 6% black to be more like the 26% black population of South Bend during his two terms as mayor. Probably, the best question of any candidate ever in a political debate.
His answer, bless his heart, and I mean that in the most Southern way possible, was that he couldn’t get it done. It is rare to see such unmitigated perplexity etched into a politician’s face. It is clear that he was playing for the Rev. Al Sharpton’s latte liberals and not the black community when he answered that question that way. Between the ashen shaken-to-his-core response he had after his town hall in South Bend and his answer to this question during the debate, two things are clear: (1) he has no idea how to respond to this crisis. And (2) he is so accustomed to knowing the right answer and being able to Ivy League his way through any objection or over any doubt that when he doesn’t have “the answer” in the white male privilege sense of the word, he is not only at an utter loss for what to do, he is shaken to his core.
Make no mistake, latte liberals loved his answer. It is that warm tingling feeling you get after downing your favorite Starbucks coffee concoction and being able to feel like you are contributing to making the world a better place because the barista just chatted you up about racial inequality, you didn’t use a plastic straw, and you had a recycled hot cup insulator. Ooh, all those #Resistance folks could feel like he had faced up to his shadow self and bared his soul and owned his failure on national TV and how much gut it took and how much healing and how much risk and what a sensitive risk-taking gutty Renaissance man he is. I’m sure a half dozen men and women all orgasmed simultaneously across the country, but it was as much of a con as any the Ol’ Pussy Grabber has laid on us.
Real brutal honesty would be to own his white male privilege-based imposter syndrome and internalized implicit racism and admit to what is painfully obvious to any observer: he has a real problem authentically relating to black people. Then, he should just drop out of the race so he can work on understanding all of the communities that make up the Democratic coalition. He and Sanders and Biden should form themselves some kinda white male privileged retreat for front-runners and work on it in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico outside of Santa Fe.
Sorry, I got no time for white boy pretenders and no apologies, either.
Moving on to Harris before I give myself a hernia or a pulled groin or something. As predicted, she took it to Trump and Biden. In fact, she destroyed Biden. I’d be surprised if she didn’t do lasting damage not only to his candidacy, but to him as a person. The image of his overly make-upped long face blinking with rapid uncertainty into the camera until he was reduced to surrendering by calling time on himself will be forever etched into my psyche. It is every white boys worst nightmare, ain’t I right Buttigieg?
Seriously, after he stood there looking at his intestine splayed across the debate stage and a little piece hanging out of Marianne Williamson’s mouth and that odd guilty-proud look she had on her wild crazed face, I’m sure he was questioning the life choices that had brought him to that place.
The torch was passed but not to Eric Swalwell. He, very wisely, didn’t ask her for it, either.
That was her most effective and clearest moment of speaking truth to power. It was one perhaps the crowning achievement of civil rights that a new standard bearer could turn to an old standard bearer and on national TV demand an apology for his own internalized implicit racist mistakes. It didn’t matter whether he had the wherewithal to actually do it or not. Witnessing it, empowered us all to demand the same from ourselves, our peers, and our forebears.
It wouldnta killed Handsome Joe to have looked at her and said, Yeah, you’re right. It was hard back then to know what to do, but I did the best that I could. Looking back at it, though, it wasn’t enough, and I’m sorry for perpetuating a system that hurt so many. Let me play a further role in making it right in your administration.
Would thata killed him? No, well, at least not physically. It mighta killed him psychically since he’s got more than just a little narcissism in him.
Systemic Implicit Internalized Racism
That moment in which Kamala Harris called him out defines what is wrong with our culture. It is what is wrong with Buttigieg and most of white liberals: we aren’t willing to face up our own racial issues or discuss them or appear weak over them or anything. That is the epitome of white privilege and when we add sexism and misogyny into the mix, white male privilege.
Harris Brings It!
Luckily, Harris isn’t a one-trick pony. She’s more than just the only black person on stage. She consistently answered assertively with the morally correct liberal response. She is not afraid to adhere to the law and let everyone else know that she expects them to, too. She’s not afraid to say that this right and that’s what we’re doing no matter how difficult it is. Like her very first response to her very first question.
GUTHRIE: Do you think that Democrats have a responsibility to explain how they will pay for every proposal they make along those lines.
HARRIS: Well, let me tell you something. I—I hear that question, but where was that question when the Republicans and Donald Trump passed a tax bill that — that benefits the top 1 percent and — (APPLAUSE) — the biggest corporations in the — this country, contributing at least a — $1 trillion to the debt of America, which middle-class families will pay for one way or another. Working families need support and need to be lifted up, and frankly this economy is not working or working people.
And, with that response if there was anyone on that stage, in the audience, or watching from home that didn’t know Harris had done her homework, brought receipts, and had the silver platter that she would gladly hand you your ass on, then they were just fooling themselves.
To use debate parlance, Biden was invoked, so we’ll give him some further consideration. As I said in the live blog, (a) as the front-runner on the stage, this was Biden’s debate to lose and (b) given his history of stepping in dog shit whenever he’s within ten meters of it, you could be sure that Biden would blow his fucking lead. All Biden had to do was not fuck up. All he had to do was stick to safe I’m Handsome Joe VP to Obama, Senator and all round nice guy. He woulda done it, too, but outta the gate, folks were gunning for him.
Swalwell demanded that he pass the torch because he saw the senator speak when Swalwell was six. Was that nice? Contrasting their ages like that? Was that nice? Was it necessary? You know, people are living longer nowadays, especially old white guys who have excellent insurance benefits because of their old job. But, it didn’t stop there.
He had the ACA to defend, his “boy” comment and opposition to busing to defend, Obama’s deportations, voting for the Iraq war. What’s a politician who only ever wanted to remain popular to say when his record comes up? Every time a new topic came up, someone had dug something up about he had dealt with it back in the day before it was ever a thing. How is that even fair?
He’s the Obama legacy candidate. He’s been given front-runner status because he was the former VP of the last Democratic president. He’s popular and well liked for the same reasons the Kardashians are. They look good and they pop up into the public eye just often enough to get everyone to think about them again.
Biden did a good job of reminding us of many of the things he accomplished and stood for. He was angry about his record being questioned, too. In the end, he looked old, out of touch, and tired. He did himself serious damage by running.
Sanders is the other legacy candidate. He’s running the same campaign as 2016 without the advantage of having only one person running against him and being a largely unknown quantity. He’s the Dire Straits to Biden’s Beatles cover band.
He does his one hit well. It sounds exactly the same every time he does it. And, even on the thousandths time you’ve heard it, you can remember why you liked it way back when, but honestly, why are you going to buy the mp3 of the album that you have in vinyl and downloaded the bootlegged digital copy of?
After the revolution succeeds and people are talking about single payer healthcare, forgiving student debt, making university free, a $15.00 minimum wage, transitioning off of fossil fuels, and whatever else he was running on last time, you can’t pound the podium with your shoe and shout about how we have to have the courage to talk about all the things we’ve been talking about for the past three years since you brought it up so successfully then.
Sanders looked old and wrung out of ideas, too. If he could run as the elder statesman who could bridge the gap to these revolutionary ideas cum mainstream, which sounds a lot like Biden’s platform, he might have a chance. But, when all you can do is revolt, but the Overton window has passed you by, then you look like an aging hippy at the Occupy Wall Street rally celebrating the Parkland kids.
Gillibrand and the Also Rans
After these four, all we have is a sea of white, cliched, tropey, mediocrity and Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrew Yang, and Marianne Williamson. Like I said in the live blog, what the fuck is Gillibrand bringing to the race that other people aren’t bringing but better and more of except for maybe Klobuchar? Seriously, if she weren’t a woman specializing in sexual assault and reproductive health issues, how would she be any different from Bennett, Hickenlooper, Swalwell, Inslee, Delaney, De Blasio, Ryan, Mouton, Bolluck, and Sestak? She’s just another white face in a sea of undifferentiated whiteness. At least Tulsi Gabbard is from Hawaii, has black hair and a tan, and is a fully funded Russian subsidiary a la Jill Stein. I mean, Gabbard has something that makes her stick out and seem to have a purpose in the race.
In other words, she’s in the Veep sweepstakes because she ticks the I’m-a-woman box that a ticket might need if say Booker or Castro were to some how get the nomination. She should work on maneuvering for Democratic majority-minority leader after Schumer leaves. God knows, she couldn’t do any worse than Schumer has.
Conferring Social Status
In this debate, we saw some angry white guys. Did any of them have any social status conferred upon them because of it? Bennett? Swalwell? Biden? Sanders? I don’t think so. I think they had already punched that ticket and have milked white male privilege for everything they can.
Did Buttigieg have any social status conferred upon him for appearing contrite and sad because he can’t relate to black people and hadn’t bothered to try until it blew up in his face? Latte liberals certainly liked him better because of it, but as we know by now, likeability does wrangle votes. It might get you some poll bounce, but few actual votes when you need them.
Harris and Gillibrand seemed passionate and well informed, but I’m willing to bet only Gillibrand got any conferral of social status out of it. Already today, there are tweets and other social media postings about Harris being too too. She’s the scary black person intimidating poor scared little white privileged liberals and conservatives a like. We’ll see if she can overcome the stigma and get the nomination and then the White House.
The other thing that is clear from social media and Harris, though, is that many people have visions of Harris eviscerating the Ol’ Pussy Grabber the way she handed Biden his dick. So, maybe that will carry her to nomination and, if she does gut him, maybe to the White House.