5:55 p.m.–No offense to some strong contenders last night (like Julian Castro and, uh…Julian Castro), but four of the top five pollers are debating tonight: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and my favorite Kamala Harris.
I would bet money the eventual nominee comes out of tonight’s group.
5:58 p.m.–Not to put too fine a point on it, but America is about to meet its next President: Kamala Harris.
6:02 p.m.–No introduction of the candidates. Just going right into the first question for Bernie Sanders…the candidate everyone has already seen debate.
6:03 p.m.–Sanders says pretty much exactly what he said in 2016. Seriously questioning beginning the debate with the one candidate everybody has already seen debate.
6:04 p.m.–Joe Biden says healthcare is too expensive. True, true, true, but that’s not really what they asked him.
6:05 p.m.–Kamala Harris gets her first question about healthcare. She points out that the only time people bring up cost is on things like healthcare, and nobody asked Donald Trump how he would pay for his tax cut. Thunderous applause
6:07 p.m.–John Hickenlooper’s first question is not–shockingly—“Why in the fuck are you running?”
Nobody has yet answered why Colorado needs two candidates: Hickenlooper and Michael Bennett
6:10 p.m.–Kristin Gillibrand defends corporate profits. It’s hard to hear her with all the Wall Street cash falling out of her mouth.
6:11–Michael Bennet seems surprised they asked him a question.
6:11–Kristin Gillibrand interrupts (again) to shit on Bernie Sanders’s socialism. Already a feistier night than yesterday.
It’s become clear the establishment hates Sanders, and Sandernistas hate the establishment. Kamala Harris is the only one to bridge that divide.
6:13–They ask Pete Buttigieg about college debt…He talks about raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour…uhhhh, okay.
6:15–Eric Swawell cuts in to talk about student debt. He seems credible on this, and offers a great argument to let millennials take a bigger role in the country…cough, Biden, cough, Sanders, cough, Warren.
6:19–Not five minutes after I said Harris is the one to bridge the divide between Sandernistas and the establishment, she LITERALLY moderates a bitch-fest between Gillibrand and Sanders. “Americans don’t want to see a food fight. They want to see how America puts food on the table.”
6:25–Joe Biden and Bernie (mildly) disagree over healthcare, although you get the sense Biden disagrees with Bernie a lot more than he’s letting on. So far, Biden appears to be trying to downplay his image as a moderate compromiser.
6:26–Even though I’m not a huge Bernie fan, he (credibly) makes the case for “Medicare for All,” and it’s amazing that he’s been able to almost-singlehandedly move the party on this issue.
6:27–They ask Marianne Williamson her first question. Oh boy…
Surprisingly, she does not embarrass herself. You can sense NBC’s disappointment. “We’re only calling on you for embarrassing memes that will go viral.”
6:30–Kamala Harris talks about healthcare in a way that must have the Martin Skirelli’s of the world shitting themselves. AND as a prosecutor she could actually do it.
6:33–They ask Joe Biden a question, and he asks them to repeat it in a way that showcases his age. They also ask if he raised his hand if illegal immigrants should get government health insurance, and there’s confusion on that as well. I hate to see what happens towards the end of the debate “I like jello, on that we can all agree.”
6:35–During the first commercial break, NBC executives give a note to Marianne Williamson “You better dial up the kookiness or we’re going to quit calling on you. You’re only here instead of Steve Bullock because we want you to really bring the ‘nut.'”
6:38–Kamala Harris talks immigration with passion and conviction. Easy to contrast that with Pete “Gee Whiz Mister” Buttigieg.
Mayor Howdy Doody would get spanked by Trump.
6:41–Marianne Williamson talks…uhhh, she’s definitely not qualified to be there, but she’s still not really delivering the “nuts” factor we’re paying for.
6:44–Pete Buttigieg badly wants his “Rudy” moment against Trump. “Put me in coach, I’m ready!” But he’d get decapitated against Trump on a debate stage.
6:46–Joe Biden delivers passion and conviction in saying kids shouldn’t be in cages. As does Bernie Sanders…hard to fuck up on this issue though.
6:47–The moderator corners Eric Swawell into an unrealistic position on immigration, basically saying he would not enforce immigration laws by refusing to deport anyone that hasn’t committed a crime.
6:48–Oh boy, they’re getting others to say it too. It would absolutely not be possible to refuse to deport anyone who has entered the country illegally, and all these candidates know it. Yet they’ll be held to this if elected anywhere outside a Democratic primary.
6:50–Lester Holt brings up China. Michael Bennet badly stumbles on this question.
6:51–Andrew Yang looks a little sketchy on specifics here. Both he and Bennet seem a little uncomfortable to even be asked about this.
6:53–Pete Buttigieg gives his best answer yet when talking of how worried America should be about China. “The President seems exclusively worried about the export tax on dish washers” in dealing with China rather than the massive educational, technological, and geopolitical threat.
6:59–Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd step in as debate moderators for the second half. Sadly, there is no microphone fuck up this time.
7 p.m.–The first question of the second half is Rachel Maddow grilling Mayor Pete about police shootings in South Bend, Indiana, and racist policing in general. You just know he’s like “oh shit…”
7:02–After listening to three lily-white people talk about race, Kamala Harris says “I would like to talk about race,” and steals the spotlight–and America’s heart. She’s going for it in a major, major way.
7:05–She talks about white kids not wanting to play with her as a kid, and after the drama my black/bi-racial son has experienced at his school this year (being bullied by the school itself and excluded by some of the students in 2019), it’s hard not to tear up.
7:05–She also pointedly goes after Joe Biden on his record on various issues like school busing.
7:06–Biden gets visibly pissed talking about this. And finishes his answer yelling in a way that isn’t totally becoming.
7:08–Bernie goes back to talking of income inequality, and several candidates breathe a sigh of relief to be off the topic of race.
7:11–Biden is yelling again, this time he and Michael Bennet (of all people) are into about…something. Not really even sure Biden is still alive after Kamala Harris just murdered him.
7:15–Bernie Sanders asked about abortion–IF the courts have already overturned it, what would he do. He doesn’t really answer it both times Maddow asks him. Sanders is vehemently pro-choice, but doesn’t say at all what he would do if it’s already overturned.
7:16–Gillibrand is trying so hard to distinguish herself here, but still didn’t say what she would do if the court had already overturned it.
7:17–The first question on climate crisis goes to Kamala Harris. Very credible answer
7:20–The worst climate crisis answer BY FAR goes to John Hickenlooper, who says his work as a “scientist” lets him know how big a deal this is. His work as a scientist was as a geologist for an oil company. Not sure that’s really good climate crisis-fighting bona fides.
7:24–Eric Swawell talks about letting millennials lead on this issue. And since half of baby boomers don’t believe climate crisis is real, he’s probably got a great point.
7:26–Deciding that not enough people made fun of him last night, Chuck Todd tries his “one word answer” gambit again. Not one candidate sticks to it, predictably.
But it does let single-issue candidates like Andrew Yang (Universal Basic Income) answer something they may actually want to answer.
7:33–We come back from commercial, and the moderators seem disappointed.
7:34–Eric Swawell is asked about guns. Light on specifics except “take the assault rifles.”
7:35–Bernie is asked about guns, and gives mostly the same answer he did in 2016.
I’m wondering if Bernie is actually at this debate or just represented by a hologram of himself from 2016.
7:37–Kamala, Mayor Pete, and Joe Biden asked about guns.
I know it’s an unpopular opinion within Democratic circles, but I resent any time spent talking about guns with so many bigger problems (education, unaffordable rent, pollution, contaminated water, etc.) not being mentioned and unlikely to be in the final minutes.
7:41–Andrew Yang doesn’t seem like he wants to be there.
7:43–Last question for Joe Biden–who has had a pretty rough night. He’s asked about his Iraq War vote.
I really don’t think the nominee should be able to be asked about their Iraq War vote, and have one more Democrat die on that hill (John Kerry, Hillary).
7:45–Bernie essentially resurrects his attack on Hillary “I didn’t vote for Iraq War.” I’m telling you: hologram
7:50–During the last question of the night, each candidate talks about their pet issues and semi-introduces themselves to America. This probably should’ve come at the beginning of the debate.
Eric Swawell: guns
Marianne Williamson: says she will harness the power of love to defeat Trump. It sounds even worse when she says it than it reads.
Michael Bennet: I don’t know what he said. I fall asleep every time they cut to him.
John Hickenlooper: Still not answering why Colorado needs two candidates.
Kristen Gillibrand: Women’s issues…Poll shows women prefer literally any other candidate.
Kamala Harris: had a very, very good night. And yes, I was supporting her before, but even people that weren’t are saying she nailed it.
Pete Buttigieg: “Did I mention I was gay? So before you think I’m another lame white guy, you should know…I’m a lame gay white guy.”
Bernie Sanders: Gives a full-throated embrace of capitalism–just kidding, same old shit.
Joe Biden: Gives a message of unity that is one of his best answers of the night.
7:59–That’s all she wrote! The next debates will be on CNN in late July.
Overall, it was a very bad night for Joe Biden.
Andrew Yang, Hickenlooper, Bennet, Marianne Williamson, and Gillibrand did not give a compelling reason why they shouldn’t drop out tomorrow.
Eric Swawell tried his best to distinguish himself, and did a much better job than last night’s representatives.
I’m half-convinced Bernie Sanders died sometime between now and 2016.
Pete Buttigieg doesn’t have it, but enough people on Twitter seem convinced he did better than I think, so it’s hard to say he didn’t have a good night.
Kamala Harris for the win! She and Julian Castro did themselves the most favors from these debates, and have now entered the top tier (as if there was any doubt).
I’ve been pushing for Kamala since Trump was elected, and tomorrow I’m going to be insufferable because she had the night all her fans knew she would.