September 13, 2019

Dems Debate

Thursday night was the third Democratic primary debate, hosted by ABC News. YouTube

See past issues

From the Left

The left focused foremost on Joe Biden and gave mixed reviews.

“Former vice president Joe Biden, still the front-runner, needed to show that his shaky debate performance in June was a fluke and that he has the stamina to go for three hours. He started strongly, ably defending the public option and indignantly insisting his plan would protect anyone with cancer… His weakest moment ironically was on Afghanistan and Iraq, where he tried to explain his vote for the use of force in Iraq and suggested he was for a partition of Afghanistan. (His plan was to soft-partition Iraq.) But two hours into the debate, it’s not clear how many voters were watching or picked up on the point.”
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

“The moderator Linsey Davis noted that Biden had told a reporter in 1975 that he did not feel responsible for what people did 300 years ago. ‘As you stand here tonight, what responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?’ Davis asked. That phrasing was actually a gift—a chance for Biden to pivot away from the sticky specifics of busing and make a lofty statement about race. But Biden didn’t take it. Instead, he offered a bizarre, rambling, and incoherent answer that barely responded to Davis, mixing racial justice, education policy, and a healthy dose of who-knows-what… Each individual component made some sense in isolation, even the line about playing the radio or TV: Experts say it’s useful for children to hear spoken language to help them develop their own. But the way Biden phrased it, complete with an archaic mention of record players, just reinforced the overall incoherence and randomness of his response.”
David A. Graham, The Atlantic

Yet “through hours of sometimes exciting and sometimes tedious arguing, no candidate laid a real hand on the frontrunner. And what’s particularly striking is that barely anybody tried… Julián Castro [was] the exception that proves the rule… The dynamic is an eerie echo of the scenario that played out in the 2016 Republican primary. It seems absurd to compare a loudmouth reality television host to the former vice president. But in both cases a candidate with a base of older working class voters leapt out to an early lead. And today Biden’s main Democratic rivals — just like Trump’s four years ago — are acting like his campaign will collapse on its ownand they do not need to take him on… If these dynamics hold, Biden could easily cruise to victory.”
Matthew Yglesias, Vox

While “[Senator Elizabeth Warren] was not dominant, she had the best performance and, more importantly, the fewest tough moments. Warren seems to come into these debates with a clear game-plan, lots of ideas and — somewhat inexplicably — seems almost impossible for her opponents to attack. If that continues to be the case, she reaps the rewards from Biden and Bernie Sanders taking hits. She’s also the only candidate with sustained upward momentum in this race. It’s difficult to see how that doesn’t continue after this.”
Aaron Blake, Washington Post

From the Right

The right believes the debate is unlikely to change many voters’ minds.

The right believes the debate is unlikely to change many voters’ minds.

“I don’t think this #DemDebate will change a single primary vote – so, it was a Biden victory as he gets another month as the clear frontrunner.”
Frank Luntz, Twitter

“There’s an old joke often expressed well into banquets and conferences, where a speaker says, ‘We’re at the point where everything that needs to be said has been said, but not everyone has said it.’ We’re already at that point with the Democratic primary debates. Tonight was a three-hour ordeal, and candidates largely repeated the arguments they made in the previous two debates.There’s not much reason to expect tonight will generate any dramatic swings in the polling in the coming days or weeks…

“Reports of the dramatic reinvention or relaunch of Beto O’Rourke are greatly exaggerated. Everything he says sounds like a pander, including ‘good evening.’ He is still clumsily answering in Spanish. His pledge, ‘Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15s’ ensures he’ll never get elected statewide in Texas. For almost every issue, he shares an all-too-perfect anecdote about someone he met on the trail. This was the sort of rhetorical maneuver that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did smoothly and convincingly. With O’Rourke, you can always see the strings.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“It was easy to misunderstand Biden, whose undeniable energy was not matched by clarity. He gave an answer on Afghanistan and Iran that was so confusing Bernie Sanders accused him of opposing the surge in Iraq when he was talking about the surge in Afghanistan. Biden didn’t object to Sanders’ mischaracterization because he might have gotten lost in his own weeds. So did Elizabeth Warren, whose words, sentence by sentence, were perfectly clear but whose meaning was not. In a lengthy attack on Trump’s tariffs, she defended Trump’s tariffs. In another assault on Trump’s Afghanistan policy she basically said everything that Trump has said about Afghanistan…

“The best performance of the night was probably from Cory Booker, who made a couple of good jokes and seemed passionate and calm at the same time, which is what you want from a debate. But it wasn’t the kind of thing that changes the trajectory of a race.”
John Podhoretz, New York Post

“Based on what I saw tonight, it’s a two-horse race for the nomination, notwithstanding decent performances by several of the no-hopers — e.g. Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke, whom everyone praised (a sure sign that he’s a no-hoper)… The race, almost surely, is between Biden and Warren. Biden, though his bizarre answer on Iraq could have gotten him into trouble, came through the first two hours tonight in good shape, I think. Warren was her usual polished, assured, articulate self. She has her script down. Corporate America is the cause of everything that ails the country. That’s her story and she’s sticking to it.”
Paul Mirengoff, Power Line Blog

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