5:00 p.m. …Here we are America, another fucking debate. I know you are all staying home Friday night just to watch a New Hampshire debate in February.
5:05 p.m. …First question to Joe Biden about why he’s more electable than Bernie Sanders or Pete Buttigieg. I do believe he is, but Biden has to downplay these comments since the Iowa wing nuts (who have only picked a winner that went on to win the general election ONCE since 1972) picked Bernie and Pete, and we have to pretend they’re right. Even though it’s a freezing caucus state in February where 90% didn’t vote at all.
5:09 …while Bernie explains why he’s electable (adorable), it’s a good time to mention that Iowa wing nuts in the Democratic Party voted against Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992. They were also wrong about every Republican President except Bush in 2000–who actually might’ve lost to Al Gore had the Supreme Court not stepped in to rig it for him. Soooo…that’s a pretty terrible fucking record at predicting.
5:10 …Amy Klobuchar is the only one who takes the bait against Bernie Sanders by saying she’s worried about nominating a Democratic Socialist.
5:11 …Of course, Tom Steyer tries to refashion himself as a Civil Rights hero. “I am winning blacks” in South Carolina. Yes Tom, soul brother…
5:13 …Andrew Yang talks. Good time to use the bathroom.
5:14 …Elizabeth Warren is (once again) asked to distinguish herself from Bernie Sanders. And she (once again) does so by saying EXACTLY what he’s been saying for decades.
5:15 …Pete Buttigieg takes a real swipe at Bernie Sanders. This should be good…
5:16 …Bernie vs. Pete, don’t think we’ve seen this one before. It’s clear Pete is ready to knock out what he considers his biggest competitor.
5:17 …Bernie says the same shit he’s been saying for decades in rebuttal to Pete. He’s not taking the bait, and not getting off his stump speech.
5:19 …Oh God, another debate on how much Medicare for All will cost. Biden and Bernie will bat numbers around for about 5 minutes I guess.
5:23 …Amy Klobuchar jumps into the fracas. I’ve long thought she was a stalking horse for Biden, and is really running to be his Vice President, and–sure enough–she goes after Warren, Buttigieg, and Sanders, but not Biden. It also gets him out of the frying pan and redirects the heat.
5:25 …Pete Buttigieg and Biden go back and forth about experience. Buttigieg “If you want the President who has the most inside Washington experience, that’s not me.”
5:27 …The most insider President is actually exactly what I want. Democrats keep electing “outsider” President that struggle to get things done…The last time we actually got something done was during LBJ’s tenure, and he was the ultimate insider.
5:29 …A genuinely interesting argument between Klobuchar and Pete about experience gets derailed by Bernie’s same old tired shit. I don’t think there’s a person alive in the United States that doesn’t know his feelings on the same 5 topics.
5:31 …Tom Steyer, shut the fuck up. “We need somebody who has the experience to take down Trump,” Tom Steyer is the only candidate who has no government experience.
5:33 …Pete is really taking some lumps tonight, and he is holding up admirably.
5:39 …Watching this debate you can actually see the problem. There are still 8 major candidates (if you include Bloomberg) and even ones that have no chance (like Tom Steyer) are going full-force tonight like they do.
5:43 …Fun new drinking game tonight: every time Tom Steyer mentions his dad prosecuted Nazis at Nuremberg or Elizabeth Warren says she has three brothers (and one is a Democrat), ROLL YOUR EYES so hard that you spill your drink.
5:44 …Pete–to his credit–defended Biden, saying “we aren’t going to let the President change the subject from his own corruption to Joe Biden or Hunter Biden.”
5:45 …Joe Biden scores a major applause line by supporting Colonel Vindman, who Trump had escorted out today. He encourages the audience to stand up and give him a round of applause. Excellent
5:46 …As I said in my last podcast episode, Trump is an excellent showman (the razzle dazzle of the state of the union may be disgraceful to pundits but that stuff really works to “low information” voters, who are most of the swing voters), and Biden may be the only candidate who can match him.
5:47 …A question about how likable Bernie is gets Klobuchar to say nice things about him, and Biden gives him a big hug.
5:48 …Klobuchar very subtly says that Bernie won’t win over Republicans. She should’ve said this explicitly, and maybe scared some of these New Hampshire voters. Because Lord knows Iowa has too much corn in their ears to know what’s electable.
5:51 …Buttigieg is asked if he would’ve killed Qassem Suleimani. A good chance for Buttigieg to brag about his military service (as an officer in the Navy Reserves), something America hasn’t really cared about in a POTUS for quite a while actually.
5:52 …Biden may not be the media’s favorite or the “Twitter candidate” but he is clearly best equipped on foreign policy. His answers have depth, and you know his experience informs it.
5:53 …I’d also like to mention that I watched all 8 of the CNN Town Halls, and his answers were thoughtful, considering, and moving. [That woman crying her eyes out during his answer on stuttering really didn’t feel forced the way some of these “emotional” moments do.]
5:54 …Bernie is asked about foreign policy, which is clearly not his favorite subject or focus. That is kind-of a problems since that’s actually what the American President has the most control over.
5:57 …Elizabeth Warren’s answers are facile and shallow. Sorry, but the “policy wonk” candidate isn’t really thrilling me with her supposedly detailed plans.
6 p.m. …I like Pete Buttigieg more than a lot of Twitter does (apparently, given some of the tweets I’m seeing), but he keeps using his brief time as a an officer in the Naval Reserves to explain why he’s the best to command America’s foreign policy. That’s a little bit like saying “I worked at a bank once, I’m think I’m ready to be the Federal Reserve Chairman.”
6:05 p.m. …Tom Steyer needs to shut the fuck up. The man with no government, military, or foreign policy experience whatsoever is going after Joe Biden on foreign policy.
6:07 p.m. …Finally, a commercial break.
6:11 p.m. …Buttigieg talking about mental health. Seems like he’s on the right track
6:13 p.m. …Andrew Yang is asked how he can make it mandatory for the mentally ill to go to treatment when there is a huge shortage of spaces at mental health facilities?
6:15 p.m. …Andrew Yang always looks like he can’t wait to run away whenever someone asks him a real question. He’s barely said a word at tonight’s debate, and even he looks surprised he’s still there.
6:17 p.m. …Someone asks Amy Klobuchar if she feels guilty about prosecuting people with mental illness. If she ever has, she’s sure not admitting tonight.
6:19 p.m. …Bernie is asked about his record on voting for guns. Guns are the single weakest issue Democrats own, and I’m glad Beto “hell yes, we’re going to take your guns away” O’Rourke is gone. Polls show people in blue states are freaked out by guns, but those same people are Democratic voters anyway, and don’t really prioritize it. But purple state MEN absolutely do vote on guns.
6:21 p.m. …Same old debate between Bernie and Biden about guns. They’ve only done this about 10 times. This and the healthcare numbers debate are things I can do without ever seeing again.
6:25 p.m. …Are there really any “undecided” New Hampshire voters left? I keep seeing them, but I’m skeptical their minds aren’t already made up. I get that not everyone follows politics like I do, but how could you not have seen them give these answers before?
6:27 p.m. …Questions about abortion and the courts. Why do court questions exclusively revolve around the question of abortion? Republicans have had a majority on the court for 50 years and haven’t reversed Roe v. Wade, but they have gone about hammering economic rights.
6:29 p.m. …Pete and Biden are asked about expanding the court. Actually, you don’t have to do either of those things if you just take Gorsuch and Kavanaugh off the court.
6:30 p.m. …How do you take them off? Prove (as I suspect) that Trump was never really elected, and it invalidates their position on there. “But that’s never been done!” Never had a President win office through help with a hostile foreign government before.
6:34 p.m. …Tom Steyer is really getting on my fucking nerves by pretending to care about black people just to siphon votes away from Biden in South Carolina.
6:36 p.m. …Buttigieg is asked why black marijuana arrests during his mayorship went up. He’s not answering this question at all.
6:38 p.m. …Elizabeth Warren is asked “was that a substantial answer from Pete Buttigieg?” “No.” When Warren says your answers aren’t substantive, that’s pretty rich.
6:41 p.m. …Warren talks about changing laws to benefit black people, yes!
6:43 p.m. …Andrew Yang interrupts her to talk nonsense. And then Tom Steyer also interrupts to talk nonsense about how you can basically pay racism to go away.
6:45 p.m. …Warren is right that the ONLY way to protect black people’s rights is by changing the laws, not hoping more money will magically make people less racist. In my son’s case, we literally could do nothing legally to his corrupt, racist private school, and of course that emboldened them.
6:47 p.m. …Joe Biden makes the point that black students need more black teachers. [My son has had very few.] Yang/Steyer are wrong that the wealthier you make white people, the less racist they become. In podcast episode 53, I’m talking about some of the wealthiest white people in Los Angeles.
6:49 p.m. …Strong points are made by Bernie and Amy that black women’s healthcare is vastly worse than white women’s. Surprised Klobuchar is even making this point though, never seen her really even pretend that white, working-class “Minn-e-soooo-tahns” aren’t here target demo.
6:52 p.m. …Clearly, the actual politicians seem to be more correct on the issue of changing the law vs. the non-politicians who think money makes all the difference.
6:54 p.m. …Warren says other politicians aren’t sincere about really wanting to help black people. ….Uhhh, I’ve never known Warren to really do a lot specifically for Civil Rights besides talk about it.
6:56 p.m. …”Woke” Steyer is really getting on my fucking nerves. It’s just so hard to not see his newfound race-focus as cynically based on the election because the only state he’s polling well in is South Carolina. It’s just so clearly a tactic to peel votes away from Biden.
6:58 p.m. …They ask about Michael Bloomberg and why they think they’re better to beat Donald Trump than he is.
6:59 p.m. …First answer should’ve been “because we’re here.”
7 p.m. …Bloomberg is not even at the debate and the media thinks he’s more electable.
7:01 p.m. …Warren, Klobuchar, and Bernie are all giving answers that should be easy: “we’re here, and Bloomberg isn’t.” And they make it overcomplicated.
7:02 p.m. …Damn, why won’t ABC have more commercials?
7:03 p.m. …These debates always feel more like an endurance test than something anyone could enjoy.
7:06 p.m. …They need to limit these debates to two hours because audiences start zoning out after that.
7:08 p.m. …Tom Steyer once again lectures people who actually belong on that stage. What an asshole
7:09 p.m. …Hallelujah! A commercial break!
7:10 p.m. …In the age of streaming and DVRs, I never again though it’d be grateful to watch commercials.
7:14 p.m. …Why do they bother asking Andrew Yang questions? Just have a mannequin with “Freedom Dividend” stamped on its head, and a MATH button placed on his chest.
7:16 p.m. …Buttigieg correctly points out that Trump’s only measure of economic success is the stock market.
7:19 p.m. …Warren talks more, because we don’t know her stance on economic issues.
7:20 p.m. …Biden gives a moving, thoughtful, emotional answer…that the media will not cover at all.
7:23 p.m. …Bernie goes into his stump speech. We’ve heard this 10,000 times in the last 5 years. It’s not “wrong” at all, but it just feels too easy for him to bring up the same 10 statistics with almost no real connection to it.
7:25 p.m. …Amy Klobuchar makes the same “emotional” points she’s been making for months (“I didn’t know FDR but FDR knew me”). Real spontaneous and sincere…
And then Tom Steyer…
Welp, that’s it for the debate, thank God. I know there’s still at least two more scheduled, but is there really anything these candidates could do that we haven’t seen?