Connect with us

My Wordpress

There Are Only 5 Candidates Still Standing After the Latest Democratic Debate


Uncategorized

There Are Only 5 Candidates Still Standing After the Latest Democratic Debate

There Are Only 5 Candidates Still Standing After the Latest Democratic Debate

Only two of these three are still viable.
Photo: John Minchillo

Most weeks, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich speaks with contributor Alex Carp about the biggest stories in politics and culture. Today, what last night’s debate tells us about the Democratic field.

Last night was the first Democratic primary debate since Congress opened its official impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump.  Did that change anything?

The opening question, a softball about impeachment, allowed every last one of the 12 candidates on the overcrowded stage to tell us what we already know: They are all for it! So the advent of the impeachment inquiry per se didn’t change anything. But once we moved beyond that dull panorama of like-mindedness, this turned out to be a clarifying debate. By that I don’t mean it was an exciting debate, or an inspiring debate, or a debate that would draw in those Americans (most of them) who don’t want to think about 2020 politics before we get to 2020. But the shape of the Democratic field now seems crystal clear. Tuesday night seemed like a death knell for seven of the dozen candidacies on stage, including Joe Biden’s. It’s time for the actual contenders to go at it on a less cluttered field.

Among the seven also-rans, the low-hanging losers are Beto O’Rourke, Julián Castro, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, and Tom Steyer (we hardly knew ye), the billionaire vanity candidate whose main attribute is that at least he is not Howard Schultz. Their time to gain traction in this cycle has come and gone. Obviously O’Rourke and Castro are future prospects, though it may take a while for some Democrats to forgive O’Rourke for his vainglorious decision to run for president rather than to challenge the incumbent John Cornyn in next year’s Texas Senate race.

Cory Booker and Biden, two candidates who’ve always looked highly plausible in theory but repeatedly fail to deliver, are more complicated cases.

Booker is sunny and personable — as unobjectionable as an easy-listening radio host. His upbeat, why-can’t-we-all-get-along shtick is surely sincere, but it’s part of the reason why he’s never risen in the polls: It comes off as empty bombast — cheery bombast, to be sure, but no substitute for substance. In a dark time, voters are not looking for a “politics of joy,” to recall the thesis of Hubert Humphrey’s ill-fated campaign in 1968. And they aren’t looking for rage, a market that has been cornered by Trump in any event. What they are looking for is fight. Booker has yet to show that he has much of that, despite his periodic pumping up of his mellifluous voice to simulate fisticuffs.

In last night’s debate, he also revealed just how hard it is for him to depart from his over-polished prefab scripts. It was somewhat embarrassing when, in an obviously planned bit of grandstanding, he (politely) chastised his rivals for neglecting to talk about how much women’s reproductive rights are under attack — only moments after Kamala Harris had made the exact same point, and stirringly so. Booker’s attempt to concede that she’d upstaged him was awkward (a patronizing “God bless Kamala!”) as was his effort to draw a distinction by congratulating himself on being a man who cares about women’s reproductive rights. (It was just grating enough to recall his mortifying “I am Spartacus” gambit during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.) In another demonstration of his lack of intellectual agility, he glowingly quoted the former Trump defense secretary, Jim Mattis, while making no reference to Mattis’s recently much-discussed cowardice in failing to speak up about the White House horrors that are at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

Biden also lacks that intellectual agility. He didn’t repeat the viral glitches of the previous debates. But that’s a low bar to rise above. Like Booker, he seems incapable of the improvisational moves necessary to take on Trump. He ducked a question about why it was okay for Hunter Biden to trade on his name for cushy foreign paydays, however lawfully, and instead repeated an anodyne soundbite three times (“My son’s statement speaks for itself”). This was a lost opportunity because Biden might have joined other Democrats in denouncing the nepotistic follies of his hypocritical Republican critics, notably Donald Trump Jr., Rand Paul, and Liz Cheney. And he might have passionately lit into the criminal White House conspiracy to strongarm foreign governments to soil him and his son. After all, Trump’s assault on the Bidens is the best argument for his candidacy — it makes the case that Joe Biden is the candidate Trump fears the most. But unaccountably Biden has made only fitful use of this political gift horse in the weeks since the Ukraine scandal became front-page news — even as his campaign’s fundraising has wilted.

There were other examples of his lack of improvisational skills as well. After delivering a meaty tirade against the outrage of Trump’s surrender to Erdogan and Assad, he ducked the question of whether he’d send American troops back into the region. He couldn’t stop himself from repeating more than once his newly favored shtick (intended as a stab at Warren) trumpeting himself as the only candidate who’s gotten anything done. That claim is not only false, but is wielded as a dodge to avoid any treacherous policy question. Worse, it left him open to this memorable riposte from Bernie Sanders: “You got the disastrous war in Iraq done.” Sanders damaged Biden in a less explicit way as well. Post–heart attack, he seemed looser, sharper, and less programmed than he did pre–heart attack. He seems younger than Biden though in fact he’s two years his senior. Who would have ever imagined that Bernie Sanders could be a comeback kid?

Among the others still left standing, Kamala Harris remains an enigma. She’s a sharp and tireless prosecutor (as she never hesitates to remind us), capable of real fire when she’s passionate about the subject at hand. But she’s just as often studied and cautious, and you have to wonder about her political acuity when she marshals her considerable resources to push such a marginal, Bay Area–centric crusade as calling upon Twitter to suspend Trump’s account.

As nearly everyone has noted, the two who did themselves the most good last night were Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, who seized the initiative and poked holes in the best-laid Medicare for All plans of front-runner Elizabeth Warren. Their blows, respectful but firm, landed.

For the first time in a debate, Warren occasionally seemed defensive and misspoke. She will not be able to get away indefinitely with stonewalling Buttigieg’s “yes or no question” about whether her health plan mandates tax increases. At another point, she could be found self-righteously claiming that “everyone else on this stage” wants to protect billionaires even though, as Klobuchar pointed out, even the one billionaire onstage, Steyer, had come out against protecting billionaires.

As of now, Warren remains the best candidate the Democrats have, but she hasn’t closed the deal, and there are plausible alternatives. Talking heads at CNN and elsewhere relentlessly promoted last night’s debate as historic because it was the most presidential candidates ever on a debate stage. But only after a ruthless culling will the campaign finally begin in earnest and real history be made.

But what about Michael Bloomberg? He has begun to float the idea of entering the Democratic primary as a centrist option if Biden falters. Would he be a contender?

At 77, he would at last remedy a glaring shortcoming of the septuagenarian Democratic field by filling the age gap between Biden (76) and Sanders (78). And it would be highly gratifying to see a genuinely successful and accomplished New York billionaire go up against the fraud in the White House. He might drive Trump crazy — that is, crazier — and he could be self-financing to an extent.

The downside? Trump’s revenge, make no mistake about it, would be to further stoke anti-Semitism among his alt-right stormtroopers. And should either Buttigieg, Klobuchar, or Harris catch fire with Biden’s up-for-grabs constituency, a tardy Bloomberg candidacy would be fighting a two-front war against opponents both in the party’s center and on the left. If he really wants to get in when Biden falters, someone should tell him that that time has arrived.

Frank Rich: Only 5 Candidates Survived Last Night’s Debate

Promoted links by Taboola

3 mins agopresident trump

president trump
Read President Trump’s Bizarre Letter to Turkey’s President
By Benjamin Hart

“Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”

8 mins agopresident trump

president trump
Trump: Kurds Are ‘Not Angels.’ In Fact, They’re ‘Worse at Terror’ Than ISIS
By Eric Levitz

The president explains that the forces his own administration allied with against ISIS were actually worse than ISIS all along.

3:24 p.m.

An understandable sign of debate fatigue?

New: Fourth Dem debate (sponsored by @cnn/@nytimes) slips to 8.3 million viewers, lowest this cycle. Previous totals:9/12: 14.0 million (on ABC/Univision). July: Two nights averaged 9.7 million (CNN). June: Two nights avergd 16.8 million (NBC/MSNBC/Telemndo). CNN release: pic.twitter.com/BxHFRpcRf5
—@farhip

3:11 p.m.

Graham not shutting up about Syria, for now

Graham spitting fire on Syria. “ISIS will come back. It will put our nation at risk… The president’s decision here, I think, is the biggest mistake of his presidency. And I will not ever be quiet. I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security,” per @tedbarrettcnn
—@mkraju

2:54 p.m.

Trump is unlikely to care too much

WASHINGTON (AP) — House overwhelmingly voices bipartisan opposition to US troop pullback in Syria in rebuke of Trump.
—@ZekeJMiller

2:46 p.m.

Obama makes an endorsement (but not for the Demoratic primary)

I was proud to work with Justin Trudeau as President. He’s a hard-working, effective leader who takes on big issues like climate change. The world needs his progressive leadership now, and I hope our neighbors to the north support him for another term.
—@BarackObama

2:44 p.m.democratic primaries

democratic primaries
The Candidate Who Raised Only $5 and Other Third-Quarter Fundraising Facts
By Adam K. Raymond

Wayne Messam, what are you doing?

2:31 p.m.

Trump brushes back criticism from one of his pals

Asked about Sen. Graham’s statement that Trump will have blood on his hands if ISIS re-emerges in light of his decision, Trump says he “should focus on judiciary.”
—@kaitlancollins

2:16 p.m.the national circus

the national circus
Frank Rich: There Are 5 Candidates Still Standing After Latest Democratic Debate
By Frank Rich

Tuesday night seemed like a death knell for seven of the dozen candidacies onstage — including Joe Biden’s.

buyer’s market
Today Is Boss’s Day, But Don’t Go Buy Flowers or Anything
By Josh Barro

There is a small spike in gift-giving around this somewhat puzzling day of recognition. What gives?

spooky szn
How ‘Spooky Scary Skeletons’ Became the Internet’s Halloween Anthem
By Brian Feldman

Real Life. Real News. Real Voices

Help us tell more of the stories that matter

Become a founding member

The 23-year-old track, from the writer of the ‘Golden Girls’ theme song, has become a mainstay of the Skeleton War.

1:29 p.m.

Next year will be fun

Trump says of the 2016 election: “It was a corrupt election.” He says he thinks the corruption “goes right up to President Obama.” There is no evidence of this.
—@ddale8

1:22 p.m.

Great take, Mr. President

Trump: “The PKK, which is a part of the Kurds…is probably worse at terror, more of a terrorist threat in many ways, than ISIS.” (?)
—@ddale8

vision 2020
Beto O’Rourke 2020 Has Been Worse Than Useless
By Eric Levitz

He could have been a contender (in Texas). Instead, he’s run a dumb, needlessly divisive campaign.

12:55 p.m.

Cranky Joe

“Mr. President. Release your tax returns or shut up.” — Biden just now
—@samstein

debates
Julián Castro’s Perspective on Gun Violence and Policing Remains Essential
By Zak Cheney-Rice

“Police violence is also gun violence.”

11:56 a.m.

After a month-long strike, GM and UAW reach a tentative deal

Breaking: UAW officials say they have reached a tentative agreement with GM. But it stills needs approval from a union council before the strike is called off. And then it needs ratification from rank and file members.
—@jamieson

11:11 a.m.

A message to our allies from the president

Trump says the Kurds, who lost roughly 11,000 people in Syria during the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS, are “no angels” (via @justinsink)
—@Jordanfabian

trump taxes
Newly Uncovered Tax Documents Could Be Trouble for the Trump Organization
By Adam K. Raymond

The documents show the company gave one set of numbers to lenders and another to tax officials.

politics
Why Is Trump Helping an American Woman Evade British Justice?
By Sarah Jones

Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a U.S. diplomat, hit and killed a British teen with her car. Now Trump is resisting calls to make her return to the U.K.

9:35 a.m.

A reality-show star’s idea of how to attend to grieving parents
In an unrelenting quest for justice after their son was killed in a car crash and the driver who is a suspect in the case fled Britain for the United States, two Britons traveled all the way to the White House this week.There, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, the parents of Harry Dunn, 19, who was killed in the crash in August, met with President Trump on Tuesday. He had an unpleasant surprise for them, they later said.Anne Sacoolas, 42, the wife of an American diplomat and the driver involved in the crash that killed their son, was in an adjacent room, waiting to meet them. The police in England said she had fled the country while claiming immunity. Britain and the United States have been involved in a diplomatic tug of war ever since.Mr. Trump, a former reality television star well versed in the language of staging a spectacle for the cameras, had another surprise. Members of the White House press corps were in another room.

9:00 a.m.

The White House needs someone to blame for the impeachment inquiry (who isn’t the president)
President Trump has for weeks sought to unmask the whistle-blower who shed light on his Ukraine dealings. But instead aides have fixated on one another: Advisers began a fact-finding review that some fear is a hunt for a scapegoat, according to White House aides and other people familiar with it.Even as the impeachment inquiry intensifies in Congress, White House lawyers are leading their own review, the people said. They are seeking to understand White House officials’ actions around Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, which is central to the whistle-blower’s allegation that Mr. Trump abused his power.The lawyers’ inquiry centers on why one of their colleagues, the deputy White House counsel John A. Eisenberg, placed a rough transcript of the call in a computer system typically reserved for the country’s most closely guarded secrets. Mr. Trump later directed that a reconstructed transcript be released amid intensifying scrutiny from House Democrats.

6:00 a.m.universal basic income

universal basic income
Greg Just Tries Not to Think About the Bills and the Debt and His Bad Credit
By Bliss Broyard

How Stockton, California’s experiment in universal basic income helped a father of four.

6:00 a.m.universal basic income

universal basic income
Laura Just Wants to Retire With Dignity — And Visit Her New Great-Granddaughter
By Bliss Broyard

How Stockton, California’s experiment in universal basic income helped a 68-year-old woman trying to get by on Social Security and a small pension.

6:00 a.m.universal basic income

universal basic income
Phyllis Knows She’s More Than Her Circumstances
By Bliss Broyard

How Stockton, California’s experiment in universal basic income helped a family of three facing a cancer diagnosis.

6:00 a.m.universal basic income

universal basic income
Grace Has Too Many Big Plans to Settle for Just a Job
By Bliss Broyard

How Stockton, California’s experiment in universal basic income helped an aspiring entrepreneur.

6:00 a.m.universal basic income

universal basic income
Danielle Has Just One Goal: No Debt, No Debt, No Debt
By Bliss Broyard

How Stockton, California’s experiment in universal basic income helped a family of four facing $60,000 in debt.

rudy giuliani
Rudy Giuliani Pushed Trump to Remove Turkish Opposition Leader From U.S.: Report
By Matt Stieb

Giuliani reportedly pressured Trump to remove Fethullah Gülen in 2017, dating his effort to sway foreign policy to the administration’s early days.

1:28 a.m.democratic debates

democratic debates
Why Pete Buttigieg Came Out Swinging
By Gabriel Debenedetti

Mayor Pete’s aggressiveness in the fourth debate is part of his effort to position himself as the alternative to Joe Biden for moderate voters.

Subscribe to the newsletter news

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top Stories

To Top