Tag Archives: Democratic debate

Men need not apply for Biden’s VP slot?

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Joseph R. Biden Jr. made some serious news Sunday night.

He did so with a clear, concise and deftly inserted pledge: He said he would name a woman to run with him if he wins the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

There. It’s done. The former vice president effectively eliminated by roughly half the number of candidates he might consider running with him.

That doesn’t mean he’s got a short list. Oh, no! It means only that he has made what sounded to me like an ironclad pledge to select a woman as his running mate. He also seemed to suggest that a woman who debated him on the 2020 primary stage would have an advantage in the selection process.

Whoa! Not so fast, Mr. Vice President.

The nation is chock full of women who could serve today as president. They are governors, former governors, former senators, former House members, in addition to current officeholders. The field is full. I do not want him to limit his choices, even though he’s done so with the remarkable pledge he made on that debate stage with Bernie Sanders.

So … Joe Biden has just made a big splash.


‘Yes!’ on presidential debates without audiences

I hereby endorse the notion that all joint appearances with presidential candidates occur without audiences.

Tonight we heard from former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. They went after each other at times with vigor and even a bit of annoyance at what the other guy was saying.

However, there was none of the cheering, jeering, hooting and hollering we hear too often from audiences. CNN, which played host to the debate, shunned the audience. The network moved the debate from Arizona to its New York studio; the change was made because of the coronavirus pandemic and the threat of potential exposure to audience members.

In the process, CNN has served the cause of serious discussion among presidential candidates. Biden and Sanders didn’t fire off applause lines … because there was no one in the room to applaud.

The debate focused on issues. How would they deal with the pandemic? How would they deal with climate change? How would they provide health care insurance for Americans? How would they govern? How do feel about autocratic governments around the world?

So there. No audience to distract us from the issues or to distract the candidates from the matters that should concern them.

Let’s have more of these kinds of political events.

Tulsi Gabbard thinks better of boycott

I generally detest boycotts. They don’t work. They are mostly counterproductive, especially when a political candidate who needs public exposure seeks to “boycott” an event where he or she would get the exposure needed for political success.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii had planned to boycott Tuesday night’s joint appearance with 11 other Democratic presidential candidates. Then she thought better of it.

Gabbard had said the Democratic National Committee was “rigging” the primary season to favor other candidates and that, by golly, she was having none of it.

Oh, but wait a second! Gabbard is languishing in the very low single digits in public approval among the Democrats vying to run against Donald Trump in November 2020. So, were she to “boycott” the joint appearance, she would do her already struggling candidacy more harm.

She’s changed her mind. She’ll show up on the stage in Ohio and will have her say among the still large field of Democrats.

Gabbard has some important things to say. She is being overshadowed by all the coverage of the front rank of Democrats — Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg come to mind.

I am glad she’ll be on that stage. A boycott would have sunk her even farther than she already stands among the crowd of Democratic contenders/pretenders.

Who knows? There might be a breakout moment in store for Rep. Gabbard. The only way it can happen is if she’s standing alongside her foes going toe-to-toe on the issues of the day.

Beto breaks the ice … but why?

Beto O’Rourke managed to stand out from the crowd of 10 Democrats running for president of the United States.

The former congressman from El Paso, though, did so in one of the stranger manners I’ve seen.

O’Rourke took part in that NBC/MSNBC debate with half of a large slate of Democrats running for president. He took a question about whether he would support taxing rich Americans as much as 70 percent. He started to provide an answer in English — and then spoke Spanish for several moments.

I sat there in front of my TV here in Princeton, Texas, wondering: What in the world did he just say? 

To this very moment I don’t know whether O’Rourke favors increasing the tax rate or whether he opposes it. His answer in Spanish, I am going to presume, was meant to endear him to the Latino population throughout the nation that likely will play an important role in nominating the next Democratic candidate for president and then deciding on whether than nominee deserves to be elected in November 2020 to the presidency.

But what about the rest of us, Beto? What did you say?

As some commentators have noted already, Beto’s Spanish-language riff seemed a bit contrived and a tad too gimmicky.

I am inclined to give the young man another chance. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me. I just want to be kept in the loop on the messages that our presidential candidates are trying to deliver.

Beto had me … and then he lost me.

Yep, the biggest threat to the nation is its president

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee drew the biggest round of cheers tonight with what might have come off as a quip, but which — the more I think about it — now sounds like the brutal truth.

He and the nine other Democratic presidential candidates gathered on the debate stage in Miami were asked to name the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States: Inslee said it is Donald John Trump.

Not Russia. Nor the People’s Republic of China. Or Iran. Or terrorist organizations. Or even climate change, which happens to be Inslee’s signature campaign issue.

He said the biggest threat is the president of the United States of America. I agree with him.

Donald Trump is systematically destroying our alliances with Europe, with Asia, with Latin America. He’s gone after Australia and Canada, for crying out loud!

Donald Trump has isolated the nation from the rest of a shrinking world. He cozies up to tyrants — Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin being the most notable. He challenges the nation’s intelligence network’s findings. He makes foreign and domestic policy pronouncements via Twitter, without advising his senior policy  advisers.

Trump has burned through two national security advisers. He is talking openly about possible war with Iran without a defense secretary on board. He is reportedly losing patience with his third White House chief of staff.

Yes, Gov. Inslee was right. Donald Trump has become the greatest existential threat to the very nation he was elected to govern.


Democrats looking, sounding more like Republicans


I’m listening to Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders “debate” each other as I write this blog post.

My takeaway is this: These two individuals are sounding more and more like their Republican colleagues.

Now it sounds as if all five presidential candidates are holding their opponents with seemingly equal amounts of contempt.

It must be true that “familiarity breeds contempt” if you compare the tone and tenor of Clinton’s and Sanders’s remarks to the nicey-nicey tone of their initial debate appearances.

Who’s winning this latest tussle? That beats the heck out of me. I’ve already stated my view that Sanders’s one-note sermon has gotten old and, frankly, boring. Clinton’s own message — such as it is — relies on her mantra that she’s able to “get things done.”

The two Democrats, though, have sharpened their attacks on each in a way that ought to make the Republicans envious.

I will add only that the Republicans managed to turn their disagreements into late-night comics’ joke material. The remaining Democratic candidate at least are disagreeing with each other on policy statements.

But, man oh man. They have unsheathed the long knives.

I’ve been talking about how much I expect to have watching the Republicans cut each other up at their convention this summer in Cleveland. I’m beginning based on what I’ve heard tonight to think — based on what I’ve heard tonight — that the Democratic convention in Philadelphia might rival the GOP bloodbath in its own fun factor.


I’d rather listen to Lennon’s music tonight


I’m proud of myself.

I had a chance tonight to watch three Democrats debate each other over which of them should be their party’s presidential nominee.

Instead, I turned away. I’m watching an American Movie Classics musical tribute to someone who means more to me at this moment than any presidential candidate in either party.

I’ll get back to you folks in a few days. I promise.

The late John Lennon would have turned 75 on Oct. 9. AMC aired a special tonight with some damn good musicians playing many of the songs John made famous — as a solo artist and when he played in that pretty good rock band, The Beatles.

I’ll read about the Democrats’ debate in the morning. Tonight, I’m chillin’ out to some music from a guy who helped raise me.

I still miss him.

Rest in peace, John.


Ratings tank for Democratic debate … who knew?

debate stage

Why is anyone surprised that the TV ratings for the Democratic Party presidential debate headed for the tank?

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley duked it out in Des Moines, Iowa. CBS carried it and by many accounts, the big winner of the event was John Dickerson, host of “Face the Nation” and the moderator of the debate.

I’ll offer a couple of theories on the ratings tumble.

First, the identity of the eventual Democratic nominee is pretty well known. It’s likely to be Clinton, the former first lady/U.S. senator/secretary of state. She stumbled a couple of times in Des Moines, but she did very little to harm her status as the prohibitive favorite to face whomever the Republicans nominate next summer.

Second, and this is probably the more telling reason, the debate was up against some late-night college football games.

I hate to acknowledge this, but a football game between two competitive teams is far more exciting than watching three politicians try to out-insult each other.

(A point of personal privilege here: I was in and out of the debate, tuning in finally to the final quarter of the Oregon-Stanford game that Fox was broadcasting. Oh yeah: the Ducks won it with a last-second defensive play in their own end zone. Go Ducks!)

Sure, the debate shed some light on important policy positions.

But there were no surprises. There was even less drama.

Hey, if it had been Republicans debating opposite those football games — even with their carnival atmosphere — I’m pretty sure football would have won those ratings, too.





Biggest loser at Dem debate? The guy who wasn’t there


The pundits, analysts and partisan strategists are right: Vice President Joe Biden likely saw the end of his hopes of ever becoming president while he watched the Democratic candidates’ joint appearance on CNN.

Why? Hillary Rodham Clinton has assumed the role of prohibitive front runner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Thus, with a strengthened Clinton getting ready to reassert her place, there becomes a shrinking opportunity for the vice president to jump into the primary race to “save the party” from nominating someone with cumbersome political baggage.

My hunch just a day after the debate is that no one will need to persuade the VP that a 2016 presidential campaign is futile. He’ll know it. I suspect that he knows it today.

The vice president has had a long career of public service. He can be proud of what he’s done — as a member of the U.S. Senate and as vice president of the United States for two terms.

Yes, there have been the occasional hiccups, gaffes and blunders along the way. Hey, no one is perfect.

Clinton’s performance has gone a long way toward cementing her front runner status.

I expect former Sen. Jim Webb to drop out soon, along with former Govs. Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee. No one today is taking about their debate performances.

All eyes and ears turned to Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Of the two, Clinton emerged as the stronger candidate.

That means, Mr. Vice President, your hopes are likely dashed.

Forever, I’m saddened to say.