October 27, 2022

PA Senate Debate

“More than five months after experiencing a stroke, Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman struggled at times to explain his positions and often spoke haltingly throughout a highly anticipated debate against Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz as they vie for a critical Senate seat.” AP News

Here’s our prior coverage of the race. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left criticizes Oz’s policy stances and argues that Fetterman remains the best candidate for Senate.

“Fetterman’s debate’s presentation was halting at times. But he took clear stands in favor of increasing the minimum wage, protecting Social Security, and treating health care as ‘a basic, fundamental right.’ Oz was far more evasive, delivering convoluted responses that frequently led the moderators to repeat the question in hopes of getting an actual answer. On the question of abortion rights, however, Oz got specific. Unfortunately for the celebrity physician and TV host, that specificity is likely to haunt him through the final two weeks of the critical contest for the seat.”

John Nichols, The Nation

“The good doctor has, um, evolved since he was dispensing medical advice on TV. He was slightly vague but apparently pro-choice back then. Once he became an ambitious Republican politician, he discovered he was ‘100 percent pro-life.’ Now that he’s running in a general election, he’s trying to jump back to the old between-a-woman-and-her-doctor territory. Sort of. On stage this week, he called for a decision made by ‘women, doctors, local political leaders …’ Hmm, how many of you want to bring the local political leaders into this? May I see a show of hands?…

“[At the same time] On occasion, it was a little hard to tell whether Fetterman’s answers constituted normal political evasion or stroke-induced confusion. For instance, he’d once said he’d never support the very lucrative fracking industry, which many Pennsylvania workers love and virtually all Pennsylvania environmentalists hate. Then he changed his mind. On Tuesday, he said: ‘I do support fracking. And I don’t, I don’t. I support fracking, and I stand, and I do, support fracking.’”

Gail Collins, New York Times

“There’s no question that Fetterman, who had a stroke in May, struggled mightily to make his points throughout the proceedings. While his campaign has insisted that he is on the road to recovery and that his auditory processing issues are temporary, it was hard to watch the debate without seeing a candidate struggling badly to keep up… Had Oz not made the abortion flub, the only story coming out of the debate [Monday] night would be Fetterman’s deeply uneven performance.”

Chris Cillizza, CNN

"The nationalization of politics, the sorting of the parties into homogeneous caucuses, and the threat posed by the MAGA movement mean that assessing candidates as individuals, rather than as avatars of parties, is harder and harder to do. Those choices are made at the primary level: You decide whether you want Oz or David McCormick, or whether you want Fetterman or Lamb. Come November, you’re voting for a party…

“The result in Pennsylvania could determine which party controls the Senate, with huge implications not only for the next two years of policy but even for the future of democracy in the United States. That such a weighty matter could come down to the randomness of a blood clot in one man’s brain feels unthinkable: For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost; for want of a clear blood vessel, no one knows what might happen… This is not a functional system, but voters in Pennsylvania have no alternative, and much rests on their decision.”

David A. Graham, The Atlantic

From the Right

The right argues that Fetterman is clearly unfit to serve in the Senate and criticizes the media.

The right argues that Fetterman is clearly unfit to serve in the Senate and criticizes the media.

“Pennsylvanians will not have a problem with John Fetterman because he had a stroke. They will have a problem with John Fetterman because he, his wife, his campaign, and his party were not honest with the state’s voters about his true condition and recovery until it could no longer be hidden last night…

“When Pennsylvania Democrats insist that a candidate who suffered a life-threatening stroke in May is recovering well and ‘has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office,’ that candidate must look and sound fine to prove they’re telling the truth. Last night, in the lone debate in the Pennsylvania Senate race, John Fetterman looked and sounded very, very far from fine… [His] ability to hear, understand, process information, and speak appears to still be severely impacted by his stroke.”

Jim Geraghty, National Review

“What is stunning about all of this is that it could have been avoided. Fetterman’s stroke came before his Senate primary election was decided, and given the weak performance of the rather nutty GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano (the primarily Skype-based candidate trails his opponent Josh Shapiro in fundraising by a mere $45 million), there is an absolute possibility that someone like Democratic representative Conor Lamb could be winning at this moment. But Fetterman held on, with assurances from those around him to Democratic voters that he would be capable of performing come the fall…

“This has been backed up more recently by the complicit leftist media, which dogpiled NBC News reporter Dasha Burns for daring to suggest that Fetterman had difficulty with questions and struggled to understand small talk in her recent interview. Rebecca Traister of New York magazine, Kara Swisher of a million podcasts, Molly Jong-Fast… they all claimed that Fetterman was fine, just fine, and maybe it was Burns who had problems with small talk. They all now look like useful idiots — and there’s no defense for this level of partisan spin.”

Ben Domenech, Spectator World

“Pennsylvania began sending out mail-in ballots in September, more than 45 days before the actual election. Thus far, tens if not hundreds of thousands of those ballots have already been sent in…

“How many of those people decided they might as well fill out their ballot and send it back in when it showed up in the mail? How many among that group voted for John Fetterman because he had a ‘D’ after his name but either watched the debate last night or saw the blooper reels from it this morning and are now smacking themselves on the forehead…

“This is the underlying issue with all of the massive mail-in voting schemes that showed up along with the pandemic and have now been embraced as permanent fixtures, primarily by Democrats. There is always the possibility that new information might arrive at any point in the cycle right up until election day. Yes, we should always view ‘October surprises’ with a critical eye and careful scrutiny, but some of that information still turns out to be valid. And the earlier you vote, the more you isolate yourself from taking in additional information that could impact your final decision.”

Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

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