The Corner

Politics & Policy

Debatable

Candidates onstage before the start of the Democratic presidential debate in Charleston, S.C., February 25, 2020 (Randall Hill / Reuters)

I know that America calls out for more debate commentary, so I will do my part. Here are some thoughts, as they occurred to me last night, during that food fight in South Carolina.

• CBS has some sweeping, important-sounding music. Fit for purpose, as I believe the British say.

• Nothing beats The Mission, written by John Williams for NBC News in the mid 1980s.

• Does Tom Steyer really have to be there? At this stage, when things are serious? Is he any more than an appendage, with a fetching Scots tie?

• If Warren concentrated her fire on Bernie rather than Bloomie, she might get ahead in this race. She and Bernie share a “lane.” They are competing for the same voters. Is Warren running to be Bernie’s running mate? What odd behavior. She is loath to lay a glove on Bernie. Bloomie is her bogey.

• She is a really talented talker, Warren is. One of the best I have ever seen or heard in politics. Highly articulate. Interesting she’s not getting more votes.

• And man, can she dominate the time. It seems like she talks 50 percent more than any other candidate in every debate.

• “Kill it.” That’s what Warren accuses Bloomberg of saying to a pregnant employee of his. “Kill”? “It”? What’s “it”? A baby? Something living to kill? This could have been the springboard for an interesting discussion of abortion . . .

• Bloomie starts to say that he “bought” Democratic congressmen elected in 2018 — then catches himself. Funny.

• Bernie seems to have one tone, one volume: union-hall harangue. There is virtually no modulation in him. He talks as though unaware he is miked.

• In general, the Left now says “progressive” rather than “liberal” — which is a mercy. For too long, the word “liberal” was mangled in America (and “conservative,” sadly, is now having its turn).

• The moderators have a tough job — but it still needs to be done, and they’re not doing it. Feisty and freewheeling is one thing; a Lord of the Flies mess is another.

• For decades now, the color of the Left has been blue, and the Right’s, red. That was always a mistake, and a tragic one. But it is particularly cracked in this Year of Bernie.

• His support of Communist regimes — will it hurt him in the primaries?

• Pete comes up with a good phrase: “looking on the bright side of the Castro regime.”

• Speaking of Pete: I can’t help thinking that his sanity and self-control are liabilities — both in the primaries and, theoretically, in a general. We’re in a bread-and-circuses time.

• A superficial remark (my specialty): Pete suffers from a Nixonian sweat problem.

• Bloomie says that marijuana is not necessarily peaches-and-cream. I consider that a gutsy statement, in our present environment. And millions of people know it’s true — parents, young people, teachers, coaches, cops, employers. Lots of people.

• It’s interesting that Lindsey Graham is now a bogeyman for the Left. Two seconds ago, he was a bogeyman for the Right. (Trust me.) Same with Mitch McConnell. Now they are #MAGA heroes. Funny ol’ world.

• I think of what Herbert Hoover called FDR: “a chameleon on plaid.”

• All politicians boast, especially while campaigning. It’s baked into the profession. (“Profession”?) But Biden boasts in such a wild, bombastic way that it’s exhausting. When he was first elected to the Senate, I was eight. He has been bragging all my life. I’m a little tired. He isn’t.

• Phil Gramm had Dickey Flatt; Amy Klobuchar has her uncle Dick in his deer stand.

• Relatedly: In 2012, Romney would say, Before keeping a federal program, I will apply this test: Is it worth borrowing money from China to pay for?

• What ever happened to Mitt Romney, anyway? (He was a Left bogeyman; now he is a Right bogeyman.)

• Over and over, before Obamacare came in, Barney Frank would say, A public option is the best pathway to single-payer. Interesting to think that America may skip over a public option altogether and go straight to single-payer health care . . .

• Biden’s Catholic-schoolboy line is wonderful. He steps on it, however, by proceeding to whine about the moderating. He is tetchy in his whining. IMO, he should try to be bigger than the food fight around him.

• In 2016, a political pro told me, “It’s not the debate that matters — it’s the reaction to it, the chatter about it. That’s what influences people.” Yeah. One might complain about it — tetchily or otherwise — but it’s true . . .

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