Live-Blogging the CNN Debate–Night 2

By | July 31, 2019

7:00–7:15…The same opening fifteen minutes of filler. Now is a good time to mention that the talk of last night’s Yahoo Comments section (a notorious dumping ground for conservative, corporate-bots) was that the debate stage didn’t have an American flag on it.

It ABSOLUTELY DOES have a flag on it…a gigantic video screen flag visible during the pledge in addition to red, white, and blue themed colors all over the stage. So that’s another non-sense critique from conservatives obsessed with the same tokenism they accuse liberals of.

7:00–7:15…Also during the first 15 minutes, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the first to take the stage, and Biden tells her “go easy on me kid,” only confirming what a lousy candidates he is. Do you think Trump will go easy on you sir?

7:16–De Blasio gives his opening remarks and goes after Biden and Harris. You have to wonder what the long game is for someone like De Blasio since he doesn’t appear to be interested in being a cabinet head.

7:17–Colorado Senator Michael Bennett has a voice that could put a hurricane sleep, but he seems much more reasonable than corporate-stooge Hickenlooper. So the battle for “which Colorado politician is least awful” is pretty easy.

7:19–Jay Inslee says the Democrats on stage are humanity’s last best hope for survival in the face of climate crisis…and he’s right. Finally, someone is ringing the alarm.

7:20–Kristen Gillibrand says…something, but it isn’t an apology to Al Franken, so I can’t hear it.

7:22–Tulsi Gabbard…sucks. While being forced to go after her boyfriend Trump, you can tell she doesn’t really believe it.

7:23–Julian Castro had a great first debate, but he really should quit.

7:24–Andrew Yang is already going better tonight than he did in the entire first debate. One of the very few politicians who will attack Trump AND Amazon.

7:25–Corey Booker’s opener is interrupted by some assholes chanting something…They have to throw them out, and Booker looks patient and somewhat terrified. Booker isn’t the best in spontaneous moments.

7:27–Kamala Harris leans heavily into civil rights.

7:29–Joe Biden clearly learned from last debate, leaning heavily into the night’s diversity. I’m not sure he totally believes that, but he’s ready to drape himself in it.

7:31–Kamala and Joe Biden face off over her healthcare plan…for several minutes. I can almost hear time stopping.

7:36–Now De Blasio is shitting on Harris and Biden again over their healthcare remarks.

7:37–Now Gillibrand is being asked what she thinks of Kamala calling her plan “Medicare for All” when it isn’t…Wow, this is “Get Kamala” night I see.

7:38–They’re asking Corey Booker to go after various healthcare plans, and he focuses on Trump. “Always keep your eyes on the prize.” Well said Corey

7:39–Since Booker wasn’t able to pit progressives against moderates, they go to Gabbard–who has no problem shitting on both. She immediately brings up Kamala Harris.

7:42–Now Michael Bennet is going after Kamala Harris…what the hell is this, “Get Kamala Harris night?” Half of these people have NO chance at the nomination, and the other half can’t win a general. How about putting country before your own ego? If you can’t win, don’t fuck it up for someone who can on your way out the door.

7:44–Michael Bennet finally told us (accidentally) why Colorado has TWO politicians running: to voice the Chamber of Commerce’s opinion. And Bennett (who sounds like a South Park character) looks/sounds pretty damn ridiculous doing it.

7:48–Biden says progressive healthcare plans are “malarkey” and talks about “California math” and “New York math.” Uhhh..this guy (who sounds like Ted Cruz in 2016 “New York values”) is the one Democrats think will inspire turn-out?

7:52–Uh oh, they’re talking immigration…get ready for unattainable promises…

7:55–Kamala tells a personal story about trying to visit an immigration detainment center. “They did not let members of congress enter.” Going after transparency is a much, much better answer than (essentially) advocating open borders. There is something shadowy about these private detainment centers, and you can grab people that way.

7:57–While Joe Biden is trying to tear into Julian Castro flip-flopping on immigration, protesters interrupt him too.

7:58–Man, CNN’s going to have to get some crowd control in there. And I guess I agree with several people who wondered why there’s an audience there at all? This isn’t dollar-beer night at Mike’s Tavern.

8:02–Andrew Yang is doing much, much better tonight. Whoever his debate coach is has earned their Universal Income.

8:05–8:18…Biden and Booker are going at it, gently and with grace, but you can tell Booker is looking for a “break out” moment like Harris had during the first debate. Biden even accidentally called him “the president here, or the future president.”

8:19–It seems like the candidates are going after each on a personal level much more so than last night, which seemed like deep ideological differences. Tonight, it’s more personal mistakes.

8:22–Since Booker and De Blasio are going after Biden on immigration, the crime bill, and police brutality, Kamala Harris seems content to disappear.

8:25–Looks like I spoke too soon, because she’s roaring back. During a question about whether she’s right to criticize him for school busing, she says “If it were up to those same segregationists, I would not be in the United States Senate, Corey Booker would not be in the United States Senate, and Barack Obama would not have been in a position to have appointed him to the position he now holds.” This is true and stinging since Biden keeps saying he can’t possibly be faulty on civil rights or Obama would not have appointed him Vice President.

8:29–Jake Tapper keeps going to Tulsi Gabbard every time he needs somebody to shit on Kamala Harris.

8:31–Tapper (evil genius) goes to Booker to shit on Biden, then Biden to shit on Harris, then Harris to shit on Biden, then Tulsi Gabbard to shit on Harris.

8:33–Michael Bennet says something correct: “Our schools are as segregated today as they were 50 years ago.” Which is WHY Biden’s stance on this matters, because black/bi-racial families need help on this. Just this year, my black/bi-racial son was harassed out of his private school…in kindergarten.

8:35–Jay Inslee seems pretty fucking Presidential to me.

8:39–Kristin Gillibrand (who has never shown the slightest bit of interest in confronting white privilege or engaging on race) says she is the one who can most explain white privilege to wealthy white suburban moms. Uhhhh…well, since you’re there getting their donations anyway, you might as well try.

8:40–Inslee talking about climate crisis is something I could listen to for the rest of the debate.

8:52–Biden is asked “are your policies ambitious enough to energize progressives?” Answer: No

8:53–Gillibrand is asked why she’s the one who could beat Trump, and I’m surprised people didn’t start laughing.

8:54–Andrew Yang is asked why he’s a better-bet to beat Trump than Biden, goes out of his way to avoid criticizing the Vice President. Okay, so he might be looking for a cabinet post…

8:56–Gabbard is asked the same question, this should be good…

It was. She equates the war in Afghanistan with why we can’t afford to pay to clean up Flint, Michigan. Uhhhh…blatantly not true. We have the money to fix Flint tomorrow, but the political will doesn’t exist.

8:57–Corey Booker gives a shout out to black women, and talks about the fight to end voter suppression. Huge cheers, Corey’s doing better tonight too.

8:58–Kamala Harris points out that most of Trump’s proposals have hurt the very people he said he wanted to help (like soy bean farmers getting pounded by his trade war and unionized auto workers).

9:02–After the commercial break, Castro is asked how he can guarantee raising taxes won’t hurt the economy. Probably because Trickle Down Economics is bullshit that has been disproven over and over.

9:04–Tulsi Gabbard on trade: “Whatever Putin wants–I mean, uhhhh…”

9:06–Biden doesn’t want to come out and say he would support TPP, but he does. And, honestly, he might be right. TPP wasn’t NAFTA, it was a mechanism to mediate trade disputes in Asia…and the second we pulled out of that, China created their own deal with the same countries.

9:07–Does Michael Bennet always talk that way? Off the top of my head, I can’t remember a major politician with a goofier speaking voice.

9:10–Andrew Yang (a former tech executive and venture capitalist) is asked if employers should be fined to achieve gender equality. He leads it into Universal Basic Income…uhhh, you fix gender inequality by giving women a $1000 a month? [Which men also get.] Uhhh…sure

9:11–“President Yang, North Korea is about to blow us up!” “Give them $1000 a month!” Actually, that’s a bad example, because we’ve kind-of already been doing that.

Sidenote: I live in Los Angeles, and I don’t know what Andrew Yang thinks you can buy for $1000 a month. You can’t be homeless in LA for $1000 a month. And if you give it to everyone, how will that solve racism and sexism since there will just be a new floor?

9:12–Gillibrand quotes Biden saying that women shouldn’t work because it leads to the deterioration of the family in an op-ed years ago. She asks him point-blank what he meant, and he won’t answer her.

9:14–Biden lists his accomplishments on gender, and says Gillibrand is now coming after him only because “she’s running for President.” Since I don’t particularly like Biden or Gillibrand, this is one of the few face-offs I can support.

9:15–He doesn’t answer her. But the fact that a Presidential candidate in 2019 can be found making comments on women working is why we don’t need a nominee with SO MUCH BAGGAGE.

9:20–Yang and Inslee are asked about foreign policy, and even though it’s clearly not their specialty, they do okay.

9:21–Biden is asked about his Iraq War vote. Man, this is John Kerry and Hillary Clinton all over again…It’s like we don’t learn a damn thing.

A nominee getting asked questions about school busing, and the Iraq War, and if he still believes women shouldn’t work is downright embarrassing. There’s a strong argument for a nominee with less baggage.

9:22–A genuinely good debate about whether the House should move forward with impeachment proceedings.

9:25–Booker seems to be the most for it, and Bennet the most against it. Castro is also for it. [But I know Gabbard doesn’t believe in it either.]

9:27–Castro makes a great case that Trump will say “if they really thought I did something, they would’ve try to impeach me. Whereas if Mitch McConnell refuses to look into impeachment, we can say ‘he did something wrong but Moscow Mitch let him off the hook.'”

9:28–Lots of points to Julian Castro for using Moscow Mitch while making a great case for impeachment.

9:35–Closing statements, De Blasio leads off…I don’t dislike him as much as some other people do (borderline irrational, in my opinion), but I’d be surprised if he made the next round of debates.

9:36–Michael Bennet’s closing statement encourages people to go to his website…which is the last place you’ll be able to see him before he drops out.

9:37–Jay Inslee focuses on climate crisis in his closing statement. As far as one-issue candidates go, Inslee is actually talking about the one thing that needs to be the top issue.

9:39–Kristin Gillibrand says she “knows how to beat Donald Trump.” Surprisingly, there’s no audible laughter. In my honest opinion, Marianne Williamson would have a better chance of beating him, and Gillibrand is probably one of the few candidates who would lose.

9:40–Tulsi gives her closing statement…Lord, I hope this is the last we see of her.

By contrasting Inslee’s fantastic mission, Tulsi’s one-issue appears to be…going back in time to never fight the Cold War?

9:42–Julian Castro encourages the audience to “say adios” to Donald Trump.

9:44–Yang calls out the shallow media for focusing on him not wearing a tie, and thinks it’s no wonder we ended up with a reality TV show President since the process is like a reality show.

9:46–Corey Booker had a better performance tonight, but he mostly seemed relaxed and happy he was going to make the next debate in September. [He cleared the threshold a few days ago.]

9:47–Kamala Harris gives an impassioned speech. To me, this seemed to be “get Kamala” night as Biden, Gabbard, and even CNN seemed to be going after her pretty hard.

9:49–Biden’s closing statements are good. A much better debate performance for him, but I’m still thinking he’d be a terrible nominee. I’m pretty sure he said “go to Biden 3-0-3-0.”

9:50–Whew, what a slog! An Avengers movie would be shorter…let’s review and rank the debaters though! Overall, it was a much stronger group than last night’s debate, where Warren and Bernie pretty much ran the table.

10. Tulsi Gabbard…Sure, I don’t like her at all, and that will probably color this ranking, but it’s hard to imagine she won over any new fans by repeatedly using her time to go after Kamala Harris. It seems like a bizarre use of her time since Kamala isn’t the front-runner, and most of her attacks didn’t land at all. If Tulsi’s main problem is with war-mongering politicians, there were much better targets on stage…so it seems this is more Putin/Trump’s bidding than something that really makes sense for her campaign. Grade: F

9. Michael Bennet…I can’t remember a goofier sounding politician. It’s hard to focus on much of what he says. That may also be because he’s not sure if he wants to be a total corporate sell-out like his home-state Governor Hickenlooper or a renegade challenging the establishment candidates. Grade: D+

8. Bill De Blasio…I like him much, much more than most people do, and I liked that he finally took it to Biden. Too aggressive and annoying to probably make the next debate, but at least he got out there. Grade: C

7. Kamala Harris…I hate ranking her so low, I really do. It was a very tough night for her because the entire first thirty minutes of the debate were attacks on her. She had to hold steady, but it’s clear the former prosecutor is more of an offensive player than a defensive one. Grade: C+

6. Joe Biden…Much, much better night for him. But Biden is fighting like he’s down in the polls, rather than rising above some of the criticisms. Grade: B-

5. Kristin Gillibrand…I hate to admit it, but she did much better tonight. Sure, some of her answers were ridiculous (“I’m the one who can convince suburban moms white privilege exists”), but she’s fighting for survival, and may have gotten there. Grade: B

4. Corey Booker…Everybody says he won the debate, and he definitely displayed charm missing in some of the others. But I’m still having a hard time really remembering some of his answers. I can’t totally remember most of the things he said. Grade: B+

3. Andrew Yang…Wow, a dramatically improved debate performance. I don’t know what he did differently, but it was like a different person out there. I still think Yang’s answers are too one-issue (at point or another, he said Universal Basic Income would fix sexism, racism, or climate crisis). Grade: A-

2. Julian Castro…Strong, credible answers on things that we haven’t heard from him before. He made the single most persuasive argument I’ve heard for impeachment–and even included Trump’s spin of it if they don’t pursue the case, which is important. You have to know what he’ll do so you can anticipate it and out-strategize him. [Bonus points for “Moscow Mitch.”] Grade: A

Winner: Jay Inslee…I’ll admit that part of this is because I love his single-issue and actually do think climate crisis is the one thing we should be talking about. But I absolutely believe he would beat the pants off Donald Trump if he were the nominee…which he won’t be, but he was looking awfully Presidential in a lot of his answers. [It’s hard for me to feel that way about Corey Booker since he just doesn’t seem to have the gravitas.] Grade: A

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