December 20, 2019

Democratic Debate

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

The sixth Democratic primary debate took place Thursday. Watch it here. RealClearPolitics

See past issues

From the Left

The left thinks Biden and Klobuchar had a good night, and calls attention to the tiff between Buttigieg and Warren.

Biden “wasn’t flawless, but he kept things on the rails, had flashes of good humor and was deft with tough moments he could see approaching, including about his age… He dealt particularly well with the toughest question he got, which was about a recent Washington Post report on how leaders, including those in the Obama administration, misled the country about the status of the war in Afghanistan. He said he argued against nation-building there and emphasized disagreements with the Pentagon about things such as the troops surge. And he’s got documents to back that up. He had previously struggled when asked to own particular elements of the Obama legacy, but he did not on Thursday.“
Aaron Blake, Washington Post

Many, however, argue that “Amy Klobuchar deserves a closer look from electability-minded Democrats… Back in 2012, Obama won 53 percent of the vote in Minnesota. Klobuchar won 65 percent. Back in 2006, Tim Pawlenty narrowly defeated his Democratic opponent for governor in a race that also saw a significant third party vote. Klobuchar won 58 percent of the vote in a landslide win…

“If [Biden’s] message appeals to you — and clearly it does appeal to a lot of Democrats — you owe it to yourself to ask if Klobuchar isn’t a more effective vehicle for that message. She’s younger. She doesn’t have the specific baggage of having supported the Iraq War. She doesn’t have the specific baggage of Hunter Biden. Her policy ideas are broadly continuous with Barack Obama’s, just like Biden’s, and her pitch is electability, just like Biden’s. But unlike Biden, she has a record of winning landslide elections in a Midwestern state. You could do a lot worse than that.”
Matthew Yglesias, Vox

Some note, “Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, both said many Americans are not happy with the economy… [But] polling shows that many Americans -- over 50 percent -- feel as though the economy is strong. Telling them they shouldn't feel good, when they do, is a really bad idea…

“Elizabeth Warren similarly made an argument in an earlier debate that she hasn't met anyone who liked their insurance company, when plenty of people clearly do. These sort of arguments aren't only condescending -- never a good strategy -- but they're also unnecessary. Democrats can and should talk about where the economy isn't working and where it could be working even better, but without essentially calling voters either liars or too dumb to know they aren't really as happy as they feel. That's in part how Trump won the first time.”
S.E. Cupp, CNN

At last night’s debate, Warren “called attention to a recent fundraiser Buttigieg held at a California wine cave. ‘The mayor just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900-a-bottle wine,’ the Massachusetts senator said…

Buttigieg responded with a slippery claim that he was the only one on stage who wasn’t a millionaire or billionaire. But that’s true only because of his youth. He’s likely to be quite wealthy when he’s the age of Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. In fact, as the child of two university professors, Buttigieg grew up wealthier than almost anyone on the stage. Further, pointing to his relative wealth did nothing to address the issue that his fundraising is coming from wealthy donors… If the goal of the other candidates was to sabotage Buttigieg’s campaign, they might have succeeded.”
Jeet Heer, The Nation

“The main question about the strike isn’t moral or even legal—it’s strategic. Soleimani was a supremely powerful leader of a state apparatus, with his own cult of personality, but he was not a terror kingpin. His death doesn’t decapitate anything. He had the blood of tens of thousands of people—overwhelmingly fellow Muslims—on his hands, but he was only the agent of a government policy that preceded him and will continue without him…The only reason to kill Soleimani is to enter a new war that the United States can win… [Yet] No one seems to have thought past the action itself…

“What would [a] war [with Iran] look like? How will Iran fight it? How will the U.S. respond? What credible allies will we have, after Trump’s trashing of the nuclear deal thoroughly alienated Europe? Who will believe any intelligence about Iran’s actions and intentions from an administration that can’t function without telling lies?…What is our war aim, and how can it be aligned with Trump’s obvious desire to be rid of any entanglement in the region? What will happen if Jerusalem becomes a target and Israel enters the conflict? What will the American people accept by way of sacrifice, when nothing has prepared them for this? There’s no sign that anyone in power, least of all the president, has even asked these questions, let alone knows how to answer them.”
George Packer, The Atlantic

“By declaring that the United States will respond with airstrikes to any attacks on American targets or assets, Mr. Trump is drawing a bright red line that Iran cannot cross. And yet, Iran relies on a network of proxy actors from Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Must they all respect Mr. Trump’s red line? There are plenty of hotheads in those proxy forces that will be incensed by the assassination, the same way young men with weapons and minimal discipline often are… Mr. Trump can’t keep an entire region from crossing his red line, making violent conflict all the more likely if the president holds to it…

“It is crucial that influential Republican senators like Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell remind Mr. Trump of his promise to keep America out of foreign quagmires and keep Mr. Trump from stumbling further into war with Iran.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right sees Biden as the winner of the debate, and criticizes the Democrats’ pessimistic view of the economy.

From the Right

The right sees Biden as the winner of the debate, and criticizes the Democrats’ pessimistic view of the economy.

Biden was funny and relaxed… Watching him in all previous debates has been like watching someone unsteady trying to manage a balance beam. The ex-veep just barely survived those performances, no matter what you thought about them, and kept his poll numbers. But last night, he owned the stage…

“Warren… was awful. It wasn’t just the contretemps with Buttigieg that she lost so badly. It was that once again she started playing Oprah with money she doesn’t have — saying she could provide free everything with a tax of just 2 cents more on the dollars of people with more than $50 million. It just isn’t credible, and the more she pushes it, the more she seems either deluded or knowingly mendacious.”
John Podhoretz, New York Post

“The less Biden speaks, the more likely it is that he’ll maintain his front-runner status. The former vice president is familiar and friendly, but he is also prone to gaffes that have opened him up to criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike… Biden’s campaign stands on its own. He hasn’t lost support since he entered the race, and it’s unlikely he will. What Biden needs to do now is avoid negative press attention, and the best way to do that is to show, not tell.”
Kaylee McGhee, Washington Examiner

“While people have been expecting and predicting a Biden collapse all year long, he’s still the national front runner, and still leads South Carolina and Nevada by healthy margins. Sanders is close to the lead in Iowa and currently leading New Hampshire. Buttigieg leads Iowa and is second in New Hampshire. Warren suffered a real slump, but she’s still coming out of Iowa with delegates and could come back in one or more of those other big four early states. The end result is a group of top tier candidates who feel comfortable with where they are… and maybe even a little complacent. The no-first-strike philosophy is probably a miscalculation by someone up on that stage; it’s hard to imagine a scenario where all four candidates feel terrific after New Hampshire.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“Buttigieg’s claim that the economy is not working for most Americans, especially those in the middle and working class, is strongly rebutted by most fiscal indicators. Since President Donald Trump’s tax cuts went into effect, wages have gone up, while unemployment has hit record lows. The impact has been most felt by blue-collar and low-skill workers, who have seen their wages grow by more than three percent in the last year alone. Meanwhile, the number of out of work Americans… is at the lowest point since the great recession in 2007. Likewise, the unemployment rate reached 3.5 percent in November—the lowest in 50 years.”
Haris Alic, Breitbart

“Listening to the Democratic candidates describe the US like it's in the throes of another Great Depression was laughable. When it comes to President Donald Trump's handling of the economy, 57% of Americans approve, according to a Gallup poll in November. Unemployment has fallen to 3.5%, the lowest rate in 50 years. The numbers look good among the major worker groups including adult men (3.2%), adult women (3.2%), teenagers (12.0%), Whites (3.2%), Blacks (5.5%), Asians (2.6%), and Hispanics (4.2%). How do Democrats expect to defeat President Trump when the vast majority of Americans are facing low unemployment rates?”
Scott Jennings, CNN

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

On the bright side...

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.