July 31, 2019

On night two of the Democratic debate, it was all I could do not to lose patience with the entire process. There are too many candidates, too many questions framed in right-wing terms, and too much nonsense.

There were not many memorable moments, but again, I blame that mostly on the debate format and moderators. Any time one of the candidates actually tried to answer in a way that was meaningful, Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, or Don Lemon would interrupt them. It was absurd.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden were expected to be the main event, but it turned out that Cory Booker was the one who took a bite out of Biden, and on more than one occasion. At one point in the debate, Booker hit Biden on immigration, managing to get the words "shithole country" in his answer.

Julián Castro, on the other hand, turned in the best debate performance of the night by talking about policy, his accomplishments, and largely staying away from attacking any of the other candidates. For my money, he won the debate on the last question, clipped above, where he passionately argued for impeachment proceedings, because to do otherwise would be a gift to Trump. And "Moscow Mitch."

Andrew Yang has a passionate following, but he's really a one-trick pony. Universal Basic Income yesterday, today, and tomorrow. If there was a drinking game during this debate, it would have been whenever he mentioned the word "robots." He has a point. Automation will cause a huge shift in the economy and eliminate many jobs. But he cannot ever get beyond that one point. To be president, you have to do all the things, not just one.

Tulsi Gabbard came loaded for bear, armed with oppo research on Kamala Harris, which she dumped with aplomb. In a post-debate interview, Harris shrugged Gabbard off as a minor candidate, which she is.

Jay Inslee is another one with one message and it's an important one: Climate change is real, it's here, and we have to deal with it. But again, one note isn't enough for the symphony. Inslee should have a key role in the next president's cabinet, for sure.

Joe Biden mostly fended off attacks from everyone else, but didn't really paint much of a vision for what he imagined he could do for the country or even how he could beat Trump. He didn't lose ground but he also didn't gain much.

Kirsten Gillibrand whiffed on immigration, hit Biden on an old op-ed he wrote in the 90s about women working outside the home, and had one good answer about white privilege. She should go back to the Senate now, along with Michael Bennet, who played the role of centrist timid Democrat.

Bill DeBlasio was Bill DeBlustery. He didn't really offer much in the way of policy, but made some arguments for progressive values worth hearing.

Winner: Julián Castro
Runner-up: Cory Booker
Back for the next round: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Jay Inslee
Drop out now, please: Tulsi Gabbard, Bill DeBlasio, Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrew Yang, Michael Bennet

Loser: Coherent Health Care Debate. I swear, if one more of those CNN anchors asks about government "taking away" people's employer health plans with the big deductibles and co-pays, I will scream so loud you'll hear me in New York. Not only is it a right-wing frame, it assumes there is no other way to deliver health care that is as good or BETTER than what exists today. What an astounding lack of imagination. At least Cory Booker pointed out that Republicans would like to even take away what exists today -- for employer health insurance as well as individual plans.

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