The Democratic Debates, Part 10: Goin’ to Carolina

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Before things got ugly

W.J. Astore

Last night’s debate from South Carolina had much sound and fury, signifying nothing.  Early on, the moderators lost control, and the candidates (or “contestants,” as Bloomberg called them) interrupted and shouted over each other most of the night.  The overall impression was a Democratic Party without a core message; the overall winner was Donald Trump, who was hardly criticized (and indeed he was praised by Bloomberg for allegedly rebuilding the military).

As usual, the mainstream media (MSM), this time CBS, came off poorly.  As an old friend quipped to me, the MSM is clearly a Russian asset.  The usual “gotcha” questions were aimed at Bernie: Why does Russia support you; Why do you criticize Israel — the implication being that Bernie is a self-hating Jew; Will your programs bankrupt America; Is America ready to elect a socialist; and so on.

The so-called moderates like Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg were given plenty of time to make their case, and no “gotcha” questions were aimed at them.  Still, no candidate stood out in a positive light, which overall is a win for the front-runner, Bernie Sanders.

In fact, Bernie had a moment of courage (at least for this crowd) when he dared to criticize American foreign policy for its one-sided support of Israel as well as past interventions on the behalf of authoritarian dictators in places like Chile in 1973 as well as Iran in 1953.  Naturally, he had little time to make his points, and his critique of the Saudis and their authoritarian record was drowned out.  But, again, he alone of the candidates on that stage was willing to speak some unpopular truths to the American people, so kudos to him.

All night long, Bernie’s fellow “contestants” tried to paint him as a radical red.  But, as Bernie himself said, what’s so radical about single-payer health care, a higher minimum wage, and free college tuition in state schools?  It’s not like Bernie is calling for a government takeover of the means of production, i.e. real socialism.  However, the debate moderators were not about to make any fine distinctions, or any distinctions at all, between Bernie’s sensible calls for moderate reforms to crony capitalism and rabid communism.  And so the debate went nowhere.

Anyway, here’s a quick take on the seven candidates contestants:

Joe Biden: Once again, Biden came off as angry.  His message, such as it is, was that we need to return to the good old days of Obama.

Mike Bloomberg: Smug, arrogant, and dishonest, Bloomberg almost blurted out that he’d bought the new 2018 Democratic class in Congress.  It was his most honest moment of the night.

Pete Buttigieg: Smug, arrogant, and dishonest, Mayor Pete is a fresh-faced Ted Cruz.  Lyin’ Ted — meet Lyin’ Pete.

Amy Klobuchar: She said the biggest misconception about her was that she’s boring.  I’m not sure that’s a misconception.

Bernie Sanders: Passionate as ever, you can tell Bernie is fed up with these so-called debates.

Tom Steyer: The billionaire with a heart — compared to Bloomberg, at least.  Steyer tried to attack Trump and mentioned climate change, but issues didn’t matter in this sad debate.

Elizabeth Warren: Once again, she nailed Bloomberg for his racism, sexism, and his failure to disclose his tax returns.  She tried to position herself as the reasonable alternative to Bernie for progressive-minded Democrats, but it’s hard to see her surviving Super Tuesday.

If you missed this “debate,” count yourself fortunate.

20 thoughts on “The Democratic Debates, Part 10: Goin’ to Carolina

  1. With respect to booing at the debate, especially of Bernie, here’s a revealing factoid:

    “Bernie Sanders found himself on the receiving end of raucous booing, too, when he challenged Mayor Bloomberg throughout the night, including when he was criticizing Bloomberg’s relationship with China.

    It didn’t take long before rumors about Bloomberg purchasing the audience started spreading around. So much so that one of Bloomberg’s top staffers had to inform Josh Lederman of NBC news that the Bloomberg campaign “did not pay people to attend the debate and cheer for Bloomberg”.

    Perhaps not. Still, a few Google searches later we quickly discovered that the price of tickets to the South Carolina debate ranged between $1,750 and $3,200. And while this does not mean these individuals were paid by Bloomberg to cheer for him, it does mean that the audience members were most likely in a financial position to oppose candidates like Warren and Sanders, who would likely raise their taxes.

    So it may be the case that Bloomberg had no need to purchase support in the South Carolina debate when the system established by the Democratic party created the conditions under which only the wealthiest people in South Carolina could attend and, subsequently, cheer on the oligarch who would ensure their taxes would not go up.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/26/who-won-the-democratic-debate-our-panelists-verdict

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  2. These debates have been useless for decades – when the purpose became spectacle rather than to inform the voters. The League of Women Voters ran the debates up until 1984. They pulled out in 1988 after pressure from both political parties; the League stated they would not participate in the fraud the parties wanted. Sounds like new low was reached in which the local audience is now purchased.

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  3. Having watched it all, I wonder about two things:
    Whether Warren – realising she won’t manage to become the frontrunner – decided to rather aim at becoming Bernie’s VP : ‘Bernie’s ideas are great, but I’d be better at planning and implementing them’. What better CV for such a position and she has my blessing among the other candidats.
    Whether the DNC’s strategy to defeat Bernie might shif from wanting to winnow the field of competitors in order not to waste votes and delegates by spreading them thin.
    In the face of no one of the others wanting to drop out and no guarantee that any of them would manage to beat Bernie in a one-on-one battle, might they actually want many to continue, so that Bernie cannot get over the 50+ % treshold and then can be ‘terminated’ by the super delegates? Were it only as not representing ‘true Dem values’.

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  4. Thanks for the summary, Bill! I once again had no means to monitor the circus in real time. Why would I have bothered if I could have? Well, we as a nation are in desperate need of replacing the incumbent POTUS (has anyone else noticed this?!). We should operate on assumption that one of these folks will be on the ballot in November, though a dark horse riding to the “rescue” (or final death of the Dems, depending on the candidate!) could still materialize. Bill Clinton, you doing anything for the next four years? You got plans booked? (I’m only being about half-facetious, believe it or not.) Has Bloomberg stated publicly he will follow Trump’s example of not revealing his tax returns? I had not heard this in the news.

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    1. Bloomberg seemed to say he’d release his returns sometime after Super Tuesday — a convenient delay. Steyer, the other billionaire, said it shouldn’t take that long … the moderators just let it go.

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      1. I would think ‘Little Mike’ could legitimately claim 2018’s tax documents (i.e. for calendar year 2018) are the most recent he could present, anyway. These billionaire types have whole batteries of accountants and lawyers working on this stuff and it takes a while to complete the massive job. So many loopholes for the rich to still exploit!! ‘Red Bernie’ and ‘Pink’ (?) Elizabeth have plans to eliminate some more of those loopholes.

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    2. Hey, I voted for “the man from Hope” twice and might again in the absence of The Bern, who I fully expect to get aced-out of the nomination by the DNC. Compared to the current occupant of the Oval Office, Big Bill comes off as almost-if-not-quite wholesome. As long as he doesn’t bring along She Who Can’t Be Named as VP, he’d likely get my vote a third time.
      Bernie has the intelligence, the integrity, and the humanity which the remaining approved candidates lack, but when was the last time those qualities resonated with the electorate?
      Come April 15, Abraham Lincoln will have been dead & gone these 155 years. It’s not wrong to continue to hope or search for his current incarnation, but it is perhaps fanciful to believe his/her presence would be welcomed by anyone, save (possibly) some of the readers of Bracing Views.

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      1. ‘Honest Abe.’ Ahhh, the nostalgia! Truly a legendary figure, which means some of what we’ve been taught about him is sheer BS!! One thing we weren’t taught in elementary school where I grew up was Abe’s suspension of Habeas Corpus and some other civil liberties during the war. But then, the country was truly in a C-R-I-S-I-S, wasn’t it? Washington DC was crawling with Confederate agents, as Abe and the nation learned on that fateful evening at the theater. Among the stacks of books I’ve bought over the decades (no exaggeration!) is one about Lincoln’s draconian measures during the war. Don’t even recall the name of the book now, but if I live long enough I WILL get to it!!

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  5. Instead of facing the voters, running away!!!
    MUST WATCH….

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    1. Amazing. He runs away — like he’s under fire.

      Or, as we used to say as kids, “He slinks away like a whipped dog, bringing shame and fear to his loved ones.”

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      1. I reckon this was a demonstration of Pete’s integrity (guffaw!!) and commitment to the “underclass,” eh?!? Hmmm, this should BOLSTER his standing with the Dem. Party Establishment, don’tcha think?!?

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        1. Sorry Comrades, this will be spun as an attack on Wine Cellar Pete by ANGRY, ANGRY Bernie Bots. See how ANGRY these Bernie Bots are. We must for the sake of the Democratic Party go all in for Corporate Joe he will calm these young hooligans down with soothing words and reach across the aisle, blah, blah, blah and more Blah. (Please Note this Satire on my part.)

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          1. Uncle Joe will utter the magic, soothing mantra “O-bam-a,” right?! Life was so much better during that Obama/Biden Golden Age…unless you were collateral damage in drone attacks or the victim of local highly militarized police departments.

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  6. Watching Jimmy Dore show live stream coverage of the debate, and Bloomberg starts right off red-baiting Bernie Sanders. And what does Sanders do? He immediately starts trying to out-threaten the Russians. “Let me tell you this Vladimir Putin” blah blah blah. He’s painted himself into a corner and at the same time undercuts his own position while bolstering that of his cheap-shot tormentors. Bernie legitimized their red-baitng. He gave credence to it. They’re never going to stop egging him on since he falls for it every time. Better to say nothing than this . . .

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    1. By coincidence, Mike, my wife and I are watching JD too. Totally agree. Bernie missed a chance to laugh in Bloomberg’s face. It’s one of Bernie’s weaknesses. He tries always to be reasonable. Remember how he dismissed Hillary’s emails as a non-issue? For that, Hillary rewarded him by continuing to insult him and red-bait him.

      He needs to be tougher.

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  7. Snippets from today’s news:

    1. Warren says she’ll stay in the race until the convention. To me, that suggests a secret DNC deal. If Bernie is cheated (likely), I see Biden being elevated as president with Warren as VP. The establishment will then argue progressives should be satisfied with Warren on the ticket.

    2. Biden is arguing that any Democrat who can’t attract the Black vote should get out now. Here’s looking at you, Mayor Pete and Amy K. (Bloomberg is not included since he can buy votes of all colors.)

    3. CNN is arguing Bernie will cost Democrats the House if he’s the nominee. People just hate his “radical” agenda. You know, much better and more affordable health care, higher wages, etc.

    4. Biden says the American people don’t want a “political revolution.” Sure thing, Uncle Joe.

    5. Warren fully supports the super-delegates going against the will of the voters.

    And there you have it …

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    1. Current (but already 5 hours old) headline at NY Times online: “Democratic Leaders Willing to Risk Party Damage to Stop Sanders.” Like I said the other day, the Dem. Establishment is now in Full Panic Mode! This is getting genuinely entertaining!!

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