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July 31, 2019


A couple of paragraphs from Michael Tomasky's latest:

But nobody said a single memorable thing about Trump! Not one. Here we’re coming off a two-week period when he’s been more openly racist than ever before. He’s tearing the country to pieces. Those poor kids are still in cages (which was mentioned by someone, or maybe two someones, but just in a way that kind of ticked the box).

We’re seeing now, in this last week or 10 days, for the first time during his presidency, stories in newspapers about some of his core voters beginning to peel away from him. His poll numbers are down among white working-class women. More generally, suburban women of all classes are souring on him.

Monday, he made a joke about a platform collapsing to 9/11 survivors and first responders. Tuesday morning, he made certifiable comments about the African-American community calling the White House to tell him how much they love him. His raging inappropriateness to the office has been on display lately on an hourly basis.

"None of that came up. Why did I not hear Elijah Cummings’ name? They don’t want to fall into Trump’s trap of making Democrats synonymous with the Squad, right? Well, here was a pretty good chance to make the debate not Trump vs. the Squad but Trump vs. the universally respected Cummings. No one took it."

"Don’t get me wrong. Warren was really good. Bernie Sanders was much better than his unmemorable performance in the first debate. Pete Buttigieg said some very smart things. Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke had some moments, O’Rourke certainly improved over his shambolic first trip. Steve Bullock was good on a few things, though weak on others. Of the centrists, Tim Ryan was probably the best. And yes, Marianne Williamson had a couple for-real good moments, on race in particular."

But nobody really found an imaginative way to do what I think was job No. 1 tonight: say I’m the one to go beat Trump. I have this guy’s number. I guess a lot of you will say that’s not what tonight was about, or that’s not what the questions were about. But in response I’d say this.

It’s quite obvious that Democratic voters want to know who has the right stuff to beat Trump. They want to know that a lot more than they want to know whether somebody supports Medicare for everybody or Medicare for those over 50. As for the format and the questions, a great politician knows how to turn a question around and answer it however he or she wants to answer it. But nobody had the imagination (fault their staffs, too) to realize that the moment was perfect for an imperishable line about Trump’s unfitness for office. Such a line, or a short soliloquy even, would have made its speaker stand out and communicated to the TV audience that that person saw the big picture, saw the stakes."

I’m not saying that none of the people on the stage this night is electable. I actually think that if the ball bounces the right way, at least seven of them could beat Trump. I’m just saying that it’s disappointing and slightly worrisome to me that there was an opening here just sitting and waiting for them that none of them took. Somebody had a chance to emerge from this a real star, and no one did. It’s early, and maybe it’s not a big deal. But this is the big leagues. I’d like to see big league-level play, especially with the stakes as enormous as they are".

There is a pragmatic question about who can beat Trump which is often overlooked. How many points do you need to beat Trump by in order to win the election. Is two percent enough? Three? Four? There are indeed a few people who were on the stage last night who could beat Trump. But not all of them and not even some of the leading contenders. I very much doubt Bernie could. And, while I admire her policy chops, I have grave reservations about Warren's ability to beat Trump. The spread is not yet there for her.

It is amazing to me how many of these people are taking positions that are simply not popular with Democrats never mind Republicans.

I wonder what Vlad thought of the debate. He must be happy. Even if he somehow fails to get his boy in, if any of last nights candidates wins he shouldn't have any problem. He's got them all outgunned.

This will sound jaded but I wonder, at this stage, if they take those positions or dwell on them anyway because it goes to getting the donations they need from their more devoted fan base to build up their war chest.

Personally I wasn't that impressed with Eluzabeth Warren. She just said the same thing she always says about how the economy has been tipped in favor of the rich and big corporations. I don't remember her offering a workable plan about how to get her policies implemented. If she doesn't have that, the rest doesn't matter.

Bingo. The attacks from the left dismiss Biden as an old crank who just doesn't get that bipartisanship is history. Yet Biden still suggests this is possible. Does he, having served as VP under Obama really believe that it is true. Probably not. I am told then that he is lying to the public if he doesn't believe that. But it happens to be a message the vast majority of Americans hope is true. Which is why it worked twice for Obama.

Does this make Biden evil or even disigenous? Well not any more than the rest of the field, particularly on the left, who are pitching policies they have not the slightest hope of enacting without a degree of bipartisanship that hasn't existed since before Reagan. Who is lying here? Maybe the better question is who is telling the worst lie.

In your usual pity nutshell.

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