I watched the first hour of the Democratic debate last night, but turned it off because the whole thing was too depressing, both questions and, for the most part, the answers. So I’m basing this on what I saw last night and a transcript I read this morning.
1/ Joe Biden’s campaign is dead.
Can anything revive it after last night? I had no idea what he was saying most of the time. I did catch this part below live and it was far worse than it appears here.
I would eliminate the capital gains tax — I would raise the capital gains tax to the highest rate, of 39.5 percent. I would double it, because guess what? Why in God’s name should someone who’s clipping coupons in the stock market make — in fact, pay a lower tax rate than someone who, in fact, is — like I said — the — a schoolteacher and a firefighter? It’s ridiculous. And they pay a lower tax. Secondly, the idea that we, in fact, engage in this notion that there are — there’s $1,640,000,000,000 in tax loopholes. You can’t justify a minimum $600 billion of that. We could eliminate it all. I could go into detail had I the time.
On paper one can ultimately understand what he’s saying, which isn’t bad, but if you were listening live you had no clue. A Biden-Donald Trump debate would be the only positive thing coming out of his winning the nomination.
Also, Biden thinks firemen and school teachers are making $100,000 a year? Where?
2/ Tulsi Gabbard.
I have a number of major problems with Tulsi, but her being in the debates at least makes them more interesting because she’s talking about regime change, sanctions, and the advisability of endless wars. She also is one of the few candidates who doesn’t appear to be a consultant-driven robot. Another good reason to have her around: She annoys Josh Marhsall, who responded with this horrendous tweet.
3/ Elizabeth Warren.
Warren says a lot of the right things but it’s hard to take her seriously. Last night she said she would withdraw U.S. troops from the Middle East but she voted for Trump’s defense budgets in 2018 and 2017. The latter included funding for military operations in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. She says she’s running a grassroots campaign but she’s taken in a lot of money from traditional big donors.
And she does a lot of bobbing and weaving about health care, which does make her look evasive, for example, whenever she’s asked about paying for Medicare for All. “I have made clear what my principles are here, and that is costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations, and for hard-working middle-class families, costs will go down,” she said last night.
Yeah, but taxes are going to go up to pay for it and not just on the 1 percent, and that’s fine to admit because, yes, overall costs go down.
4/ Bernie Sanders.
Sanders addressed this obvious point. “I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up,” he said. “They’re going to go up significantly for the wealthy. And for virtually everybody, the tax increase they pay will be substantially less.” But he laid out the broader point: “Premiums are gone. Co-payments are gone. Deductibles are gone. All out-of-pocket expenses are gone…The overwhelming majority of people will save money on their health care bills.”
The most amusing moment of the evening was after the debate when CNN anchor John King asked whether Sanders’s endorsement by Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib, as reported by The Washington Post, might be seen as “too urban.”
5/ The search for an acceptable “moderate.”
With Biden apparently going down and Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke and other possible “moderate” alternatives having flamed out, the search is on for for someone who can prevent Sanders or Warren from winning the nomination. The pundit class seems to have settled for the moment on Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.
Buttigieg “showed genuine edge and passion, wrote David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s one-time senior adviser,” and brought “an A, for Alpha, game to address the stature gap that has been a barrier to his progress.” Meanwhile, Klobuchar “had a very strong night just when she absolutely needed it. Flirting with elimination from the November debate due to poor poll numbers and laggard fundraising, Klobuchar more aggressively reached to claim the centrist mantle she has sought from the beginning.”
Neither Buttgieg let alone Klobuchar, has a chance to win the nomination so in the end — I think — it’s going to come down to Warren or Sanders. There just aren’t that many alternatives at the moment so the pundits and political class will have to pick one or the other, and their clear preference is Warren.