And then there were ten

Moderates muscle in during a trimmed-down Dem debate

Joe Biden on pretty much any subject.

To a certain extent it was the revenge of the moderates. That was partly because they put Biden in the hyperbaric chamber before last night’s debate and he came out looking less senile than usual, and less like his skin is about to just flake off — and he apparently hogged the chamber so poor Bernie Sanders couldn’t get in; he sounded hoarse and looked red (physically red I mean) and querulous )more than usual even!). And the trimmer caucus — Buttigieg, Biden, Klobuchar, and to some extent Harris — more or less ganged up on him. It happened on health care, obviously (with Buttigieg saying Medicare for All “doesn't trust the American people” because it requires everyone to be involved; bitch, do you know what Medicare is), and it happened on trade because Sanders agitated for the workers who’ve been getting screwed “when a company shuts down in America and goes overseas” while Biden was content to say “labor” would be “at the table” instead of running the show — and focused on “taking on China,” as of anyone gave a shit about these old butch metaphors.

I should add Warren was good on trade too, talking about “using trade not to undermine American workers” but “to build a stronger economy.” And Booker wasn’t bad either — but on moderate terms; he too talked about “beating China” — to achieve good ends, true! Including environmentalism! — and argued against Trump as a bad and ego-crippled negotiator instead arguing for a more enlightened, pro-worker approach to trade in general. God knows they gotta get after Trump, but I think there are a lot of voters who want to be sure they’re not gonna get Creative Destruction Only Green out of this election.

I think Sanders’ physical weakness last night gave the trimmers a little bit of an edge — and, I hate to say it, but I think as good as Warren was at making the more-radical-I-know-it’s-not-really-radical-you-know-what-I-mean positions, it’s hard to hold the fort against several gooey-center moderates all by oneself, which is why the Warren-Sanders show has been so effective in the past. Warren’s strong enough to face Trump alone, God knows, but when she's telling the hard truth and three or four guys in her own party are going yeeeahh, well, how about we do a weaker version that won't work, and maybe throw in a little jingoism to spice it up — well, it replicates the usual situation where there’s one smart person (female as it happens) talking sense and a bunch of nicely-dressed people ignore that and go for the usual shit.

But I will say this: It’s a pleasure not to have that fucker John Delaney pursing his lips and acting like a chaperone no one is listening to. I fucking hate that asshole and remain outraged that I was made to endure him as long as I did. And the same with Marianne fucking Williamson and Tulsi fucking Gabbard. And nothing against Ryan and Swilwall or Walswell or Willwall or whatever his name is, but no one was going to vote for them, either.

Also, it was great to see candidates, even candidates I’m not keen on, taking the boxed subjects they were handed and wrenching them in a new direction to make the discussion relevant instead of pro forma. Like when they were fed “education,” Yang and Castro chose to talk about social determinants — what happens outside school, at home, in student health and social interactions. Even Biden tried to get in on that, in his ridiculous way, babbling “make sure the kids hear words!” Get down, Gramps!

Something is happening here — and maybe Warren and Sanders have forced it; candidates can’t just try and read the same bullshit better than the next guy; they have to go deeper, look for real solutions or at least be seen to do so. So while I’ll be disappointed if it isn’t one of my candidates that gets the nomination, and in some cases I’ll be very disappointed, whoever does get it will have had to work to get it and may even have in the effort come up with some solutions that contain more than the usual canned ham.

Final note: Kamala Harris sounds like a human being when she talks, and I think she just might go all the way. You heard it here seven thousand three hundred and thirty-first!

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