Then, there was the second Democratic debate on Thursday night. A spectacle. Quick impressions:
- A commenter on another blog compared Joe Biden's evening with Sonny Corleone's visit to the toll booth in The Godfather. It was a setup, for sure, especially the exchange with Kamala Harris regarding busing (more about that shortly). Biden has never done well running for president; he's an old back slapping politician who was past his sell-by date in 2008 and his status as the front-runner was always more about name recognition than anything else. He's not going to make it.
- I've never understood why people like Bernie Sanders, although I will say this -- he's the most honest totalitarian of the bunch. He's an instantly familiar type -- an angry old man railing against his lifelong enemies. His rhetoric is infused with sulfuric acid. He cannot understand why the world doesn't bend to his will. He's implacable. He's only happy when it rains. He had a moment in 2016 when his opponent was the odious careerist Hillary Clinton, but he's not going to make it out of a 20+ person field.
- Kamala Harris is really a nasty piece of work. She put the cap into Biden about busing, even though it's doubtful her story about being a second grader on a bus in Berkeley will check out (and I'm sure Biden's panicked staff is going full oppo on it). Her parents weren't sharecroppers or factory workers who were part of the Great Northern Migration; they were academics. Like Ted Cruz, she grew up in Canada, graduating from high school in Montreal. She is trying to position herself as a champion of the downtrodden, but as a career prosecutor she's going to receive flak for sins of omission and commission. She will certainly be in position to be the nominee, especially since the California primary is early on the schedule, but I expect the other campaigns are going to do everything they can to take her out tout de suite, as they say in Quebec.
- Pete "Mayor Pete" Buttigieg is a more polite demagogue than Harris or Bernie, but he's a demagogue nonetheless. His disquisition on Republicans and Christianity was particularly dishonest; while a Venn diagram of Christians and Republicans would show considerable overlap, Buttigieg purposely distorts cause and effect. Conservative Christians support Republicans because Republicans are not, in the main, as actively hostile to Christianity as the Democratic Party regularly reveals itself to be. Doing so isn't an abdication of values; rather, it's a tactical move to survive a party that would stomp out dissent. Mayor Pete is a clever guy who is really running for Vice President, but my guess is his smug style will begin to grate and some of the other candidates will use recent events in South Bend to send him back there.
- I've not seen "Election," the 1999 Reese Witherspoon vehicle, but the character she played in the movie, Tracy Flick, has become part of the culture -- the overweening high school steamroller who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Kirsten Gillibrand is like that. She was obnoxious on the debate stage and the recipient of dirty stares from just about every other participant. No one wants to deal with people like her, so she's not going to make it.
- The two Coloradans on the stage, John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, both tried to be moderate in varying ways. They aren't going to make it.
- There's something about Eric Swalwell's smarminess that causes a visceral reaction for me, so I'll have to tread carefully. He reminds me of the Greg Marmalard character in Animal House -- smug, phony, sneaky, the sort of guy who would stick a shiv in your back without blinking an eye. Fortunately, he's got no chance.
- Andrew Yang is the most interesting candidate in the field, by a long shot. Unsurprisingly, he got about 3 minutes to talk. His website is brimming with ideas, some daft, some quite good. I especially like his stance on data privacy: Consent should be informed and active – companies are responsible for ensuring that they collect a positive opt-in from each user before collecting any data, and this opt-in should be accompanied by a clear and easy-to-understand statement about what data is being collected, and how it is going to be used. You can waive these rights and opt in to sharing your data if you wish for the companies’ benefit and your own convenience – but then you should receive a share of the economic value generated from your data. I don't want Yang to be president, but once his campaign hits room temperature Donald Trump ought to adopt some of Yang's ideas for his own campaign.
- Marianne Williamson is your sophomore year college girlfriend. She wrote you a poem called "Mensch and Moonchild" and gave you a few mind-blowing memories behind the stadium, but ultimately you're grateful that she went on a field term to Ecuador in the second semester.
|Dear Lord Jesus, I do not often speak with you and ask for things, but now I really must insist that you help me win the election tomorrow because I deserve it and Joe Biden doesn't, as you well know.|