Debate 2, Day 1: It’s the “Who are you again, and why are you still running? SHOW!

I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for. Warren’s line could’ve been directed at just about any of the 17 people on the stage last night that weren’t named Warren, Sanders, or Buttigieg. I guess the answer is “I want a cabinet position”?

I thought several of the folks on stage could make a good secretary of something or other. Bullock and Higgenlooper improved their chances in the VP-stakes. The person to beat for VP at this point — that’s the operative phrase, isn’t it? It could change in the next year — is Buttigieg.

We’ll see if anyone — Booker, Castro, one of the nameless faceless white guys — breaks out on the VP track.

The Surprises

Bernie Sanders’ grooming — see the Sanders’ section — was one of the biggest surprises. He was pretty dapper in the first debate, but that coulda been a fluke, a one-off, a freak breeze that blew everything into place. But, two in a row. That’s a revolution.

Marianne Williamson actually made some cogent points. I’ll have more to say about her below, too. She still kept the new age woo-woo — It’s a little confusing because my French Canadian in-laws use woo-woo for the hoo-hoo, so sometimes I get them confused. Translation. How does it work, again? — Anywho, people are still talking about the dark psychic force of collectivized hatred and some of her other surprisingly resonant statements on major issues.

Delaney can talk. Who knew? For the next debate — if he appears at all in the next debate — he can work on coherence.

The incoherence of the masses. That is one thing that really stood out: the longer the debate went on, the more disjoint the responses of some of the candidates became. Standouts in my mind, the aforementioned Delaney, Higgenlooper, Ryan, and O’Rourke. The other rhetorical attention-getter was the clumsy pivot to talking points and stump speech material — I’m looking at Klobuchar. It was clear that she pulled an all nighter getting her I’m a winner, honest, guys, I am. I am I am I am. Stop laughing. I’m a winner lines down. She looked tired and drained and trying to cover it with pancake make up and Red Bull. Shoulda added some Jagermeister to that mix. It mighta helped her in the Joe Biden VP-stakes.

Healthcare. It wasn’t a surprise that healthcare was a question or issue during the debate. It rates as one of the most important issues to the electorate this time around, and the Dems have staked out every position and nanometer of difference between them that there could be.

The surprise was that CNN tried to use it as a wedge issue between the candidates. I guess with the prospect of losing insurance that “you like” even though you pay for it with lower wages, growing deductibles, and higher policy costs, and arguing about having a needed service denied and medical bankruptcy, many people don’t like Medicare-for-All. I think Steve Kornaki reported that in the wider American electorate it was opposed by 60+ percent. So, why not confuse the scene even more by getting each candidate to trot their policy out in 30 to 15 seconds of speaking time? It’s only one of the most complicated issues facing us during this election. That should help.

What I was hoping for in all of the “debate” over the issue was someone to say, We’ve got a lot of good ideas on how to fix healthcare and get to universal coverage. Everyone has a plan that has some merit. After we win the WH and Senate, we’ll be able to chart a path to universal coverage by cobbling together the best of each plan.

The Audience

I swear it seemed like more than half of the audience was sleeping through more than half of the debate. I wonder if there were some kind of buddy system where you could be woken up if something interesting happened. No one on the stage seemed to make more than a fleeting connection with the audience. Maybe it was just the acoustics of the theater — it seemed high ceilinged and hard-walled — Was that a Buddhist temple motif that they had going there? — so maybe the sound folks at CNN had a hard time in broadcasting the warm and fuzzies.

…the sound white bread smeared with mayo would make if it could talk…

If part of the reason for hosting the damn thing in Detroit was to connect with Black America, I’d say, someone shoulda clued the candidates and moderators in so they could at least make an effort.

Oh god. What if that was them making an effort.

Shit. This really was the white debate. Somewhere I compared the white guys in this debate to the sound white bread smeared with mayo would make if it could talk only less coherent because I was trying to type at the speed of thought. And other people have noted that all the candidates of color are on day 2 — luck of the draw… or is it?

Not only are all the candidates of color on day 2, all the white candidates — Joe Biden — who have any appeal to African American voters are on day 2. I guess Beto appeals to some Hispanic voters, but does Beto actually appeal to anyone right now? See my O’Rourke section below for more.

CF’ingNN and the F’ing Moderators

That could be the name of a band in any genre ranging from a rocking stringed quartet to punk to a bitchin bluegrass band. You knew as soon as CNN got involved it would be a bothsideism fest. In this case, it was why aren’t you more Repubeish? Those guys are cool and America really likes them. Seriously, Jake Tapper. I guess Dana Bash lived up to her name and bashed ’em with her vapid questions. That’s not to say that there weren’t some good questions in there. I liked the questions that were along the lines of You once stood for or said x, why should we trust you or why did you change? Bernie got one on guns — that was trite and a warmed over 2016 issue, but still. Luckily, Sanders wasn’t caught with his pants down on that one. Ugh, could you imagine? I try not to. And thanks to John Oliver, you don’t have to just imagine old man dick, he showed you during his #MoscowMitch commercial in 2014. Don’t go look it up. It was funny, but gruesome.

I hated the moderation and the questions, especially Jake Tapper. Jesus freaking hanging from the cross. Those weren’t questions, they were hand grenades. Are you going to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for M-4-A? Are you unwilling to fight for M-4-A? Would you continue the steel tariffs? Would giving undocumented people healthcare and education just encourage more undocumented immigration? — NO! People don’t walk 2,000 fucking miles with their children so they can get healthcare! They do it to save their lives. That was Dana Bash living up to her 2016 observation that people waiting in line for 10 hours to vote was democracy in action! The amount of vapidness in that line alone is enough to drown the nation and flush us down the shitter! People were waiting ten hours to vote because of Repube voter suppression! That is the opposite of democracy in action. That is democracy fighting for its fucking life.

You’d think that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber is right and they were just trying to punch up the conflict and strife to improve ratings when they covered the boring old Dem primary… jeez why doesn’t anyone ever think of the profits of the media? You’d almost think that between healthcare, education, news coverage, and holding government office, the profit motive doesn’t serve us best.

I guess CF’ingNN succeeded in protecting their ratings. Maybe Klobuchar was right, Some of us are so concerned with winning the argument, that we’ll lose the election or if applied to CNN, Some are so concerned with making a profit, that we’ll sell the country to fascists.

One thing I did like was giving many candidates a chance to respond to the question asked. It was nice to hear from each of the candidates and gave the lesser known a chance to contribute. Of course, CNN, being CNN, only gave the candidates 15 seconds to respond. So, after O’Rourke stammered something about bringing people together and visiting all of the counties in Texas, his time was up.

The Candidates

I’ll comment on some of the performances of the candidates. After the debate tonight, we’ll play the fun game: Who seems presidential? And pray to the gods to be merciful and convince some of these folks to wake up and smell the bare metal of their empty coffers and drop the fuck out so we can get on with the business of beating the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, #MoscowMitch, and the rest of the Repube authoritarians.

Elizabeth Warren

She was laid back and matter-of-fact in the last debate. She could afford to be. There weren’t any serious competitors on the stage tonight. The only serious competitor tonight was her good bud, Sanders, though. I guess CF’ingNN thought they were in danger of a snooze fest, so they decided to rile up the white masses of the center and see what fireworks would result. Unfortunately, when your prospects are Delaney, Higgenlooper, Ryan, and Klobuchar, you’re already playing with wet powder.

The problem with trying to force Delaney to play David to Warren’s Goliath is that Delaney isn’t so much of a David with a slingshot but a mosquito with malaria. If it ever bites, you might get malaria, but it has to bite you first. By my count, Delaney, Bullock, Higgenlooper, Klobuchar, and Ryan never came close to challenging the policies, plans, or ideas of Warren.

If the current election is a response to the previous election, then Warren’s call for big solutions and structural changes sounds like a winner. She was able to best all of the small ball players with it. And, when we look at all of the issues we face, making small incremental changes — which is just more of the same — does not seem like it’s gonna work.

Of course, I’m a dyed in the wool, true-blue Warren supporter, and right now public opinion may be against some of the plans such as losing insurance, decriminalizing undocumented entry into the country, and whatnot, but it doesn’t mean Warren can’t (a) adapt to the changing scenery as the election progresses and (b) convince voters to her side.

Her skills were on full display tonight as she parried and countered: she is charismatic; she can explain complex ideas clearly and succinctly; she can connect to the passions, concerns, and emotions of the audience; and she has a command of details of the issues. When she stands next to the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, she’ll shine like a beacon of light. His smears and attacks will appeal to his base, but not to anyone else, and he won’t be able to do much else.

My prediction: Warren continues her slow methodical rise in the polls. She came off as the calm, cool, collected, safe, and sane one in the room.

Bernie Sanders

Having joined the millionaire’s club has been good for the revolution. Sanders has a consistent haircut and comb. His lower dentures are clean, straight, and Polidented in — I’m sure he’s happy to have found an obscure supplier with his new found riches — I don’t think they slipped once! Maybe, he’ll even be able to afford some uppers and he can lose the gummy bulldog grimace. And, he was rocking the black “I’m serious about this revolution thing this time” suit.

For the first time since early in the 2016 primary, he had me going. Even though he got a few of his favorite numbers wrong — three people have as much wealth as the bottom 50% not 90% of the population; it’s hot under those klieg lights and the moderators and other debaters were coming at him and Warren pretty fast and furious — he can be forgiven. His passion and certainty were infectious. His thunderous bravado against the the depravities of corporate capitalism were inspiring.

He was in good form. He made a solid case, especially for universal healthcare not being a radical idea! Most of the developed world has universal healthcare, so how the fuck can it be a radical idea? The radical shit here is that we keep sacrificing our middle class and poor on the altar of the healthcare industry’s profits. That’s radical.

What’s even more fucking radical is that CF’ingNN kept trying to milk that dry teat.

My prediction: Sanders will maintain his standing in the polls. He won’t continue his slow slide. What’s interesting here is that Sanders’ and Warren’s polling numbers, when combined, are better than Biden’s. Of course, Biden will be helped when some of the white masses withdraw from the race, but given the volatile and erratic nature of the electorate, Sanders and Warren are just as likely to benefit.

Beto O’Rourke

O’Rourke would be wise to stop while there are still four or five people in his family who believe he has any political clout left. At this rate, he’ll won’t even make the short list for Warren’s or Harris’ VP. He looks less and less viable and less like he has anything to offer anyone, including his wife and raising their kids — Ha ha! It weren’t funny when he made the crack, and it ain’t funny when I’m making it now. That’s just how fucking sad his campaign has gotten to be.

Seriously, what could he bring to the ticket? Texas? Does anyone really believe that? Could he deliver it any better than Castro? Would he even make a good cabinet member? What would his portfolio be? Is it even too late for him to make a run for Cornyn’s seat? Can he even be a TV pundit after all of this is over? I don’t see an upside for him anywhere.

My prediction: He waits until late August when he doesn’t make the cut for the third debate to drop out, has spent all of his campaign funds, and has absolutely nothing to show for it to drop out. Then, he’ll slide into obscurity making a peep now and again about bringing people together and visiting all of the county’s in Texas.

Write a book and milk it while you still can, Beto.

Marianne Williamson

You know Williamson is working alone. She ain’t got much money. She’s using friends and neighbors and maybe Oprah for advisors — you could do much worse than Oprah, and some of those folks running are. So, you gotta be impressed by the major turn around Williamson made between debates 1 and 2.

Obviously, she has the wherewithal that few have to critique herself in the most unflinching terms, and make the changes that she needs to make. I guess that’s why she’s a self-help author: she can help herself. You gotta respect that.

Her coherence was up. Way up. She actually prepared lines for issues that would appeal to her audience in Detroit. Like everyone else, I loved her point about Flint and Gross Point. Well made, well directed, and easily understood. It woke the audience up — one of the few times that that happened. She did it again with that wild ride she led us on about the Dems not speaking to African American issues and, therefore, they won’t “feel it,” and if they don’t feel it, why would they support us, and if they don’t support us, they won’t vote for us, and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber wins.

It was a tour-de-force. Of course, it amounts to the swirling steam on the surface of your cup of tea, but let’s give credit where it is due: she caused excitement; she didn’t embarrass herself as much this time; and she has a chance to make the third debate, which is more than about five or more of the candidates on stage can say.

Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg continues to maintain his standing. He didn’t shine any more now than he did at any other time since his break out moment. He has a nice charismatic cerebral appeal that doesn’t quite reach Obama’s level. I guess that makes him a mid-western white man’s Obama. Is that enough to get the nomination? I don’t think so.

I loved his line of How does the Ol’ Pussy Grabber get within cheating distance of the White House? Man, that was a good line. Stellar. That alone makes him VP material. And, that’s pretty much what he is, Warren’s or Harris’ VP. Being gay isn’t enough to get him on the ticket of one of the higher placing men, Biden, Sanders, or Booker, if Booker can even still be considered in this ranking.

His moments when he need to electrify the world during the debate, fell flat. I didn’t get the zing in his zingers, I didn’t feel transported during his soaring rhetoric, I didn’t feel confident in Medicare-for-All-Those-Who-Want-It, I didn’t feel urgency in his dire warnings of impending disaster from climate change.

And, what is up with the brown shoes? I know he had a blue suit and brown shoes are kosher, but, who will take a short man seriously if he’s wearing brown shoes when only black ones will do? Come on Mayor Pete! I thought you were serious about this run. Chasten, you can’t let fashion faux pas like this continue if he’s going to be someone’s VP!

My prediction: He’ll continue to be popular among the white liberal class who is looking to maintain the status quo while alleviating their guilt about not being more radical and not wanting to look less liberal. He’s good for the white man’s burden. That’s the extent of his appeal. He may be able to bring some of the mid-western states, but the Ol’ Pussy Grabber is doing his best to (a) fritter them away with his broken promises and (b) enthuse the anti-Pussy Grabber vote by going full racist.

Steve Bullock

Bullock impressed with his steady delivery, confidence, and aw shucks country boy accent… until I saw his SHOES! What is this with these guys? Didn’t no one teach them nothing? Bullock was wearing brown shoes with a dark suit! I guess it was black, but it coulda been a navy blue. At least Higgenlooper had dark brown shoes with a dark blue suit and Ryan had two-tone shoes with his dark blue suit.

Jeez, Bullock for your first time on the big stage with all the big boys and girls, you go and wear brown shoes with a dark suit. Nothing says country bumpkin louder than that. You wanna be somebody’s VP, ya gotsta dress the part! Amirite? I’m right, right? Don’t you have to dress for the job you want? Ain’t no body going to be no brown shoe with a dark suit wearing VP.

Otherwise, Bullock turned heads with his I won re-election by getting 20 to 30% of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s voters. He’s right. That’s impressive. What’s also impressive is the Montana show your donors law that has pretty much stymied Koch Bros and other dark money super-PACs. Those two jactations really stood out for me. I paid attention and I remembered them.

My prediction: Too little too late to bump Buttigieg out of the top VP slot for Warren or Harris. It was a political miscalculation to get into the race so late. He might could make the third debate… maybe. He’s got his work cut out for him, though. He’s got to build some kinda organization… maybe Beto’s people will be available soon? He’s got to attract some donations. I just don’t see how he does anything. Maybe he’s hoping he can spin this into a successful run for Montana senator? Is Daines so vulnerable that Montana might could elect TWO Dem senators?

The White Stew

I guess the best thing you can say for everyone else is that we no longer doubt they can tie their own shoes. I was seriously worried about Delaney after the first debate, though. Ryan is too cocksure of himself to realize that he isn’t good VP material because of his towering height. It never will do to be that much taller than the presidential candidate and he’s too fucking arrogant. Neither Warren or Harris would want him. Neither of them are politically calculating enough for him to be on the ticket. Klobuchar has a better chance, even though she stole Warren’s look. Do you think Warren saw that and borrowed someone’s jacket? Higgenlooper is looking good for a cabinet position.

My prediction: None of these folks make to debate three and most will be out by mid-August. Look for Klobuchar to be out by next week or so. She looked to be running on fumes as it was. Ryan is too full of himself to drop out with any grace or dignity — if he had a sense of dignity or being in touch with reality, he wouldn’t’ve run in the first place. Higgenlooper’s and Delaney’s withdrawal announcements will be met with as much fanfare as their running announcements were. We’ll just wake up one morning and realize that they’re gone and not be sure when or where it happened.

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