6 p.m.–This is clearly the “appetizer” debate as only one of the top five highest pollers (Elizabeth Warren) are tonight, with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris tomorrow night.
6:01 p.m.–What I’m watching for tonight: 1. Tulsi Gabbard giving an open signal to Putin. 2. If Corey Booker or Beto O’Rourke can pander harder. 3. Who will speak Spanish first: Beto or Julian Castro? 4. If Amy Klobuchar can put herself to sleep.
6:05 p.m.–Amy Klobuchar says she doesn’t believe in free college tuition (basically) but would support free community college. Hey, big spender, I have an Associate’s degree from my local community college, and it’s gotten me less work than a high school diploma.
6:07 p.m.–Beto O’Rourke is the first to speak Spanish! Castro didn’t even get a chance yet.
6:08 p.m.–My six year old son says Corey Booker “looks like a man with no eyebrows” because he talks for a minute straight without blinking.
6:10 p.m.–Elizabeth Warren, Castro, Tulsi Gabbard all give stock answers that are met with scattered applause. So far, candidates are more content to quickly introduce their background and then go after unspecified rich people than each other. That should change by the second hour.
6:13 p.m.–Bill De Blasio and John Delaney are asked to give contrasting answers to capitalism, but they mostly avoid going at it. Jay Inslee eventually talks and mentions labor unions.
6:15 p.m.–Tim Ryan talks specifically about how Trump screwed over his district in Ohio. He comes across nice and specific.
6:20 p.m.–The moment everyone’s been waiting for: Amy Klobuchar talking about healthcare. She attempts her first joke, saying Trump’s healthcare plan is “all foam, no beer.”
6:22 p.m.–Elizabeth Warren talks healthcare.
6:22 p.m.–Beto O’Rourke is asked a specific question about healthcare plans, and goes into an anecdote about a specific person. The moderator has to specifically ask him the question again.
6:24 p.m.–De Blasio goes after the private health care system and O’Rourke. Rather than defend himself, John Delaney defends O’Rourke.
6:28 p.m.–After Booker, Warren, and others weigh in on healthcare, Jay Inslee once again tries to differentiate himself as a governor by showing what he’s actually done vs. plans that have never been passed.
6:29 p.m.–Amy Klobuchar and Julian Castro try their damnedest to outflank each other on abortion. While Klobuchar takes it as a given that she’s fought harder for a woman’s right to choose because she’s a woman, Julian Castro tells more specifically what he would do to defend it.
6:31–Elizabeth Warren says it shouldn’t be up to the Supreme Court or state supreme courts to undermine abortion, but it should be federal law. That’s true, but that seems much harder to get through congress than even the loftiest spending plans.
6:32–Booker and O’Rourke talk about the prison boom and opioid epidemic. Right when Beto is on the verge of giving his first specific of the night, Lester Holt goes to a commercial break.
6:33–The debate’s first commercial says the fight against Alzheimer’s is a “purple” issue red and blue can agree on, but that’s not really true since “red” has blocked all efforts to use stem cell research to find a cure.
6:35–Immigration question…take a shot of alcohol every time a candidate says “kids in cages” and you’ll be out in 10 minutes.
6:37–Now Cory Booker’s speaking Spanish. Beto and Booker are cutting edge…where ultra-right wingers like Rubio and Ted Cruz were two years ago.
6:38–Bill De Blasio tries to outflank Castro and Booker on immigration…This should bump him up from %0.000001 to %0.00001 percent.
6:41–Beto’s speaking Spanish again. Subtle
6:42–Most Latinos really liked Trump, but not now that they’ve heard Booker and Beto speak Spanish.
6:44–Beto and Castro go at over immigration. It wouldn’t surprise me if Beto left during the next commercial break to go apologize for his last answer.
6:45–Amy Klobuchar is still talking like a senator. “Pass this bill,” “recommend this bill,” “put this bill in committee” as if congress is able to pass a lunch order.
6:46–Savannah asks Booker a direct question about what he would do for those kids in cages during his first day.
6:48–She moves onto Jay Inslee to get a direct answer to the same question.
6:50–John Delaney tries (again) to interrupt someone else’s answer. Lester Holt’s body language says it all “Shut up bitch! The adults are talking.”
6:50–He asks which candidates would rejoin the Iran Deal, and everybody but Cory Booker raises their hand. Even though it sure sounds like he’d want the same deal.
6:52–They ask Tulsi Gabbard about Iran, yet the (curiously) leave out she personally visited Iranian puppet, Syrian dictator Bashir Assad. That’s like debate moderator negligence.
6:57–At the halfway point for the debate, I have a horrible realization…
6:58–Don’t shoot the messenger, but live-blogging Democratic debates isn’t nearly as fun as Republican ones. All the Democrats are so earnest, and you realize that even the worst one (Russian puppet Tulsi Gabbard) would be better than Trump.
I hate myself for saying it, but to make live-blogging debates fun, you kind of need a villain. And nobody is even supplying anything close to Trump’s vulgar zest.
7 p.m.–The moderators change out (thank God) to Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow.
Right off the bat, there’s a snafu with the microphones that’s more exciting than anything that happened in the first hour. The pulse is quickening.
7:01 p.m.–They have to go to an unscheduled commercial break to fix the microphones. The first commercial is a blowhard-esque Russel Crowe as Faux News creator Roger Ailes for a new miniseries there is a zero percent chance I won’t watch.
7:06–After finally getting their shit, they return to talk gun control.
7:12–How come the only time anybody talks about education are school shootings? School shootings have happened in less than 1 in 10,000 schools, but every education topic gets rerouted to that. “My Civil Rights are being violated daily–‘let’s talk school shootings’…Public schools are dangerously underfunded and private schools have NO oversight or regulations–‘let’s talk guns.'”
7:14–John Delaney gets feisty again over his lack of time. I wish Chuck Todd would say “would you shut the fuck up? We’re trying to have a debate here!”
7:21–Rachel Maddow finally brings up climate change (for the first time tonight). She directs her question to Jay Inslee–the “climate change” candidate. Although NO ONE has brought it up yet tonight.
7:24–I’m not encouraged that they’re in a city that is literally sinking from climate crisis (Miami), and they waited until three-quarters of the way through the debate to talk about this. “Let’s get the transgender immigrant guns out of the way first, then the apocalypse.” It just feels like an afterthought.
7:25–Castro talks about rejoining the Paris Climate Accords as his big solution to fix climate crisis.
7:26–Think tanks and committees and studies and environmental research groups and Paris Climate Accords are all great to combat Climate Crisis…in the year 2161. BUT we NEED to ban false information on climate crisis today (like they did with cigarette advertising), and anything other than electric cars being made within five years.
7:29–Tim Ryan makes a zesty case that the Democrats need to stop being afraid to talk to rural America.
7:30–Tulsi Gabbard apologizes over her past comments against gay people, yet somehow finds a way to incorporate Iraq into this answer too.
7:31–Cory Booker says “it’s not enough” and he’s right. Not sure why all these candidates have let Gabbard slide so much except that she’s so low in the polls.
7:33–A question to Amy Klobuchar about what she’s done for black and Latino Americans could easily be summed up with “not a damn thing.”
7:34–Julian Castro answers the same question by talking about police shootings.
I’m starting to get the feeling liberal politicians (and many white liberals generally) love police shootings because they can avoid talking about things they’re complicit in.
7:38–Tim Ryan talks about something…and Tulsi Gabbard uses it to bring up that she was a soldier.
I hope the next debate has Seth Moulton and Tulsi Gabbard on the same debate night, so we can have a drinking game every time one of them mentions their service.
7:41–Chuck Todd forces the candidates to say “in one or two words” what the biggest threat to America is. Castro has the best answer with “China and climate change.”
7:43–John Delaney defends Nancy Pelosi’s decision not to pursue impeachment, even though Maddow’s question is about whether or not Trump should be imprisoned after he leaves office.
His answer makes NO fucking sense. Basically saying, “it’s not what the American people care most about.” Criminal prosecutions follow straw polls now?
7:45–I fucking hate whenever Democratic politicians say “I don’t get asked about Donald Trump, I get asked about healthcare.”
Why do they always say healthcare? Are they exclusively touring CVS parking lots and nursing homes?
7:50–John Delaney gives his last answer…hopefully for the last debate he’ll ever be on. His idea of wokeness is to mention his grandparents were (white) immigrants from Europe.
7:51–Bill De Blasio gives his last answer…touting some of his accomplishments. Unlike Delaney, he actually has some.
7:52–Tim Ryan gives his last answer…pretty good.
7:54–Tulsi Gabbard gives her last answer…difficult to hear her with Putin’s strings repeatedly getting in the way.
7:55–Julian Castro closes strong, and has truly been strong the whole night.
7:56–Amy Klobuchar ends with a whimper. If she has a second gear besides “sour faced teacher you don’t like,” now would be the time to show it. She just seems like somebody who’s got three years ’til retirement, and the principal is a buddy, so fuck it.
7:57–Cory Booker closes quickly. Something tells me he’s not happy with his performance.
7:58–Beto really didn’t do well at all. He looked as lost out there as he has the entire campaign.
7:59–Jay Inslee finishes on what turned out to be a good night for him.
Elizabeth Warren closes us out. It’s hard to see her performance tonight really convincing OR repelling people. You probably left with the same opinion you came in with.
AND that’s it!
Join me tomorrow night for the main event!
Although tonight’s debate only reinforced that there is very little policy difference between most of the candidates. 4/5ths should drop out tomorrow.