Thursday night’s Democratic show (it wasn’t a “debate;” none of these things are) was at least more interesting than Wednesday’s if for no other reason than it featured more candidates who had poll numbers high enough that it would take more than the fingers of one hand to count them (listening to the math on display, I assume that’s how these Democrats count.) It was also more intense because with frontrunner Joe Biden there, the other candidates had reason to go after one of their own, and Kamala Harris was the most aggressive at that.
Quick impressions: overall, Harris probably did herself the most good. She used her prosecutor’s chops to take down Biden, and she was pretty effective. But all the candidates seemed to go after Biden and each other, with the result that the moderators were slammed for letting it devolve into a “food fight” at times.
Harris’ attack on Biden for opposing federal court-ordered school busing in Delaware decades ago was lauded by the media, but it was a typical tactic of the modern left: pulling something historical out of context. I’m not defending Biden’s ancient stance on busing because I don’t know what he thought. But adults can hold more than one idea in their minds at the same time. Many people back then of all races opposed segregation but thought that forcing kids to spend 90 minutes a day in dangerous traffic, going to schools miles from their homes just to achieve some arbitrary racial balance was stupid, counterproductive and even racist itself. As Biden suggested, many also thought it should have been remedied by local school boards, not federal courts. But to the 2019 “progressive” “mind,” if you disagree with their solution, no matter how bad you think it is, that means you’re in favor of the problem. And a racist.
Biden did a pretty good job of defending himself and remained standing. But he absorbed so many blows that by the end, he looked like a fighter desperate for the bell to ring. His problem is that defending the quaint notion of even talking to, much less compromising with, people who disagree with you is totally out of the step with today’s totalitarian leftist mindset. If you don’t agree with the current "progressive" dogma 100%, you not only shouldn’t be talked to, you shouldn’t be allowed to talk at all.
Back when Bernie Sanders was facing only Hillary Clinton, he couldn’t help looking better than he really was, even if he was a septuagenarian socialist who sounded like Larry David from “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Three years older and against nearly two dozen alternatives, he no longer looks like your lovably eccentric uncle. He now comes across like Arthur Spooner, the angry, 1950s-relic socialist father-in-law played by Jerry Stiller on “The King of Queens” who would fly into a rage over any perceived sleight. I think his supporters’ enthusiasm is starting to be curbed.
Pete Buttigieg earned points for humility by admitting that he just “didn’t get it done” when it came to hiring more minority police. But admitting you can’t even get things done in South Bend, Indiana, is hardly an argument for making you President. Besides, being a “progressive” means never admitting you were wrong, but telling everyone else that they’re wrong (see "AOC.") And I can’t be the only one who’s tired of his pious lectures to Christians about how we must separate religion from government, then telling us that God would condemn our immigration policies.
It also wasn’t a big confidence builder in his management abilities to learn that Buttigieg, at age 37, still has six figures’ worth of student loan debt.
At times, it was actually loopier than Wednesday’s reality show, thanks to spiritual guru Marianne Williamson. She spoke about how she would use the presidency to “harness love for political purposes” and that the first thing she’d do as President would be to call the leader of New Zealand to say that America is a better place to raise children, “girlfriend.” I kept thinking of Ross Perot’s running mate, Admiral James Stockdale, who famously asked in a debate, “Who am I? Why am I here?!”
As on Wednesday, you could tell who had no chance of being the nominee by who tried to bring any measure of common sense to the table. For instance, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet was cut off when he tried to bring up the fact that Bernie’s home state of Vermont started to introduce single payer health care but aborted it when costs “unexpectedly” spiraled out of control (that was the only abortion that didn’t get cheers.) Bennet was also the only Democrat who didn’t raise his hand when asked who wants to decriminalize entering the US illegally. I think we can safely scratch him off the contender list.
Meanwhile, all ten raised their hands when asked if they would give free health care to illegal immigrants. President Trump weighed in on that on Twitter, calling it “the end of that race.”
Overall, both of these debates provided frightening evidence of just how far left the Democratic Party has veered in a very short time. I doubt that even Barack Obama could win the Party's nomination now. Indeed, many of the “heartless, immoral,” “putting children in cages” and “mass deportation” accusations the candidates leveled at Trump were actually Obama policies.
The candidates painted a relentlessly negative portrait of a dystopian America of starving, oppressed workers that’s actually doing awfully well right now. Is that a winning campaign strategy: “Your life is terrible so elect me to fix it!” Compare their dark, grim vision of a racist, sexist, homophobic, unemployed and oppressed America that needs to be fundamentally transformed with the Trump rallies that celebrate American greatness and exceptionalism, record low unemployment and rising wages. Would you rather ride on his bandwagon or in their funeral procession?
And of course, they are battling to see who can stake out a position furthest to the left:
Free health care! Decriminalize illegal immigration! I’ll see that and raise you “free health care for illegal immigrants!” Free college! Cancel student loan debt (especially mine)! $93 trillion Green New Deal! Raise tax rates to 70% to take money out of “the wrong hands” (those who’ve earned it) and give it to people who vote for us! Seize guns! Break up corporations! Repeal the Second Amendment! Abolish the Electoral College! Improve health care by making research into new drugs unprofitable! And provide taxpayer-paid abortions up to and beyond the moment of birth, even for men who identify as pregnant women! (Because they still have to cover up the ugly truth of abortion with an ever-changing string of euphemisms, they now call this “reproductive justice.” If they think that executing innocent children is “justice,” then keep them far away from the court system.)
I speak to a lot of people across America, many of them rank-and-file, working class Democrats. I can’t imagine they actually want this sort of big government, open borders, socialist lunacy as the future of America for their children and grandchildren. That’s why so many analysts said the big winner of both of these debates – and I have to agree -- was Donald Trump.
Friday is my daughter Sarah’s last day on the job as White House Press Secretary. Here’s what she had to say about that unique honor and experience before clocking out, and what her bosses had to say about her.