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
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.