February 10, 2020

Democratic Debate

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Last Friday, the Democratic candidates debated in New Hampshire.

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of Buttigieg and Biden and praises Klobuchar and Sanders.

“At some point soon, establishment Democrats will have to face the reality that Biden, for all his personal virtues, probably doesn’t have what it takes to win the nomination in 2020. Sure, this dire verdict may be premature. For the moment, Biden is holding onto his African American support in the February 29 South Carolina primary and leading in most national polls. But those numbers may look different next week if Biden limps home in fourth or even fifth in New Hampshire. In politics, universally known and liked former vice presidents don’t win by losing badly in both Iowa and New Hampshire.”
Walter Shapiro, New Republic

“While Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren all had good moments, this debate belonged to Klobuchar. For once, she hit all her marks, whether attacking one of the others, joking with Bernie Sanders about a bill they had co-sponsored, or — again and again — turning each answer into an attack on Trump… Will it matter? Unlikely.”
Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg

“Despite questions about socialism and the viability of Medicare for All, Sanders was steady and commanding. While candidates talked about uniting the party, no other frontrunner can claim to have the economic, ethnic and ideological diversity [of] Sanders, who has the most people of color and lowest [median neighborhood income] in his donor base and success attracting independents…

“Contrasting Buttigieg, who seems to believe billionaires are mere constituents and not a part of a power structure that siphons wealth from everyday Americans, Sanders staked his allegiance assertively with the working class. He warned that none of the progressive policies being promoted can pass if corporate and billionaire donors have undue influence on candidates, and he is the only candidate who doesn’t have billionaire financing in his campaign coffers. Talk is cheap, and few but Sanders seem like they will prioritize people over billionaire patrons when it’s time to deliver.”
Malaika Jabali, The Guardian

Buttigieg dodged questions on his healthcare plan and he dodged a question on a troubling history of police racism during his tenure as the Mayor of South Bend. He was heavy on niceties, light on specifics. He made lots of calls for unity, specifically in his attacks on the Senators to his left, but he did not have much to say about what Americans should unify around, or how to persuade them [to] do so. His answers sounded more like marketing copy for a nefarious tech start up than like statements of political principle. He looked, more than anything, like a man who has not relaxed since he was a child.”
Moira Donegan, The Guardian

Regarding the healthcare debate, “It’s not just that the Canadian and British governments finance health care that’s free at point of service for all citizens, they do it while spending less than our government does even if you completely ignore America’s enormous private sector health spending…

“Warren, who had a brand as the woman with a thousand plans, was expected to draw up a specific plan to make her health care vision work… Sanders is free of a wonk reputation or a need to worry about his left flank, so he doesn’t try to offer a specific health care financing vision — which, if he did it, would inevitably end up featuring some unpleasant tradeoffs. Instead, he just makes the basic compelling point… [that] America’s health care system is bizarrely terrible, providing less coverage at greater cost than what we see in comparable countries. This is not an adequate basis for actually enacting Medicare-for-all, but it’s a good political answer that explains his big picture view of health care without falling into nasty political traps.”
Matthew Yglesias, Vox

Regarding Pelosi, “[her] talents have always lain in the less glamorous, less public side of politics: she is good at whipping up votes in her caucus and she is good at disciplining dissenters. She is good at offering incentives and punishments to get Democratic members of Congress to do what she wants them to do… To rip up the speech on television was a bit of theatricality, sure – a ploy designed to get attention. It also worked. The day after Trump made a long speech full of misinformation that tried to make a case for his re-election, no one is talking about him. Instead we are talking about the speaker of the House. That, too, is a skill, one that Pelosi seems to be honing.”
Moira Donegan, The Guardian

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 thinks Klobuchar had a successful debate and criticizes the candidates’ positions on the issues.

From the Right

The right thinks Klobuchar had a successful debate and criticizes the candidates’ positions on the issues.

“The New Hampshire contest was Klobuchar’s best debate overall. She was poised and collected, and it was smart from her perspective to hit Buttigieg, whose supporters overlap the most with hers. Her attacks on Buttigieg certainly didn’t seem to be powerful enough to send Buttigieg tumbling downward the way Chris Christie’s attack on Marco Rubio did at the 2016 GOP debate. But was it a strong-enough debate performance for Klobuchar to leapfrog Buttigieg in New Hampshire and become a real contender for the nomination? We’ll know soon enough.”
John McCormack, National Review

But “Klobuchar is Jon Huntsman circa 2012. She’s the candidate who naturally appeals in demeanor and policy (by being slightly less objectionable) to the other side. The problem for Klobuchar is that the other side is irrelevant. She finished 5th in Iowa and is currently polling around 5% in New Hampshire… Klobuchar seemed the most well spoken last night. Jeb Bush was also a lot more well spoken than Donald Trump in 2016. It doesn’t matter. What matters is who actually aligns with the voting base of their party. Klobuchar simply doesn’t do that in comparison to the field.”
Bonchie, RedState

“One by one, the candidates echoed the message that ‘systemic racism’ characterizes America… It’s one thing to trash Trump, which they did as they always do. It’s one thing to blame him for all kinds of stuff. It’s another to spend an evening trashing the United States of America as a systematically unjust and even evil place whose rot reaches its very foundations. You don’t win the presidency by telling a majority of voters — some of whom are the very voters you need to flip to win — that the system is unfairly rigged in their favor.”
John Podhoretz, New York Post

“Does the public still make at least some assumptions based on race? Of course. Some of those assumptions are far less malignant than others, and they aren’t merely the province of whites against blacks. Does some of the public discriminate based on racial prejudice? Yes. Should such attitudes be anathema? Absolutely. But the public is sick and tired of being hectored, of being told they are racist and evil without any acknowledgment of how far this nation has come in combating racism, both public and private… the more Democrats go down this path for the sake of primary votes, the more they will hurt themselves for the fall general election.”
Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner

Furthermore, “not one of [the candidates] would have made the call to help Soleimani shuffle off this mortal coil. Mayor Pete at least went so far as to say that Soleimani was ‘a bad guy.’ But he then claimed that ‘taking out a bad guy is a bad idea if you do not know what you’re doing.’ Oh, really? Seems to me that our military knew precisely what they were doing. They knew where Soleimani was, where he was heading and took him out with a single drone shot. And the collateral damage was minimal…

“You’ll also recall that Joe Biden disagreed with Barack Obama about the raid to take out Osama bin Laden. Sounds like bad guys around the world should sleep well at night if Joe Biden is elected.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“Effective counterterrorism and the broader stability of international order do not rest on the back of nice rules and polite discussions at the United Nations. They rest on the balancing beam of deterrence and destruction — on nations knowing that they will be held to account for what they do to America, our allies, or to innocent peoples. Absent our ability to position a credible threat at the heart of their calculation, our enemies will try to get away with as much mayhem as possible.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

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

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