The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Democrats' Debates

Rich Galen

Friday June 28, 2019

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  • Here is the list of candidates who will not, as a result of the two nights of debates, be the Democratic nominee:

  • Nah. It's too long.

  • On the first night the winner was Sen. Elizabeth Warren under the rule: Primum non nocere - First, do no harm. She got, I believe, three questions in the first 20 minutes of the debate, she made her points, then went into a crouch and waited until the final statements when someone flipped the "ON" switch.

  • The candidate that most improved his/her position was former HUD Secretary Julian Castro who was forceful without being aggressive except when he spanked fellow Texan Beto O'Rourke over existing immigration law. His problem - like the vast majority of the candidates on stage in Debate 1a - is how far up he's looking to see the leaders.

  • Speaking of O'Rourke, he gets my vote for the debater who had the most to lose, and who succeeded in reaching that mark. I don't think O'Rourke can even formulate an answer in 60 seconds much less express it, and his deflation in the polls will continue.

  • Sen. Cory Booker worked hard to be a factor and did pretty well, but I'm not certain there is room, at this point, for him among the top tier candidates. He did well enough to claim success.

  • In the early going I thought Rep. Tulsi Gabbard might be this cycle's Carly Fiorina. In 2016, most Republican voters had no idea who Fiorina was (CEO of Hewlett-Packard), but she was so surprisingly good during the debates, she became a player.

  • Alas, Gabbard started strong, but answered every one of the few questions she was asked with a re-telling of her military service; admirable, but not enough to carry the debate. Her one unplanned interaction was her getting into a sub-debate with Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio) over U.S. troops in Afghanistan in which again she reminded us she is a Major the Hawaii Army National Guard.

  • In the varsity game, the four major players going in were assumed to be (in order of polling) Former VP Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

  • The question was: Who, if anyone, will knock - or try to knock - Joe Biden out of the lead. The most common answer was: Biden.

  • Shortly into the debate it became clear that these candidates had "gone to school" on the previous night's activity. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, for instance, recognized that if she just started talking whenever she wanted, she wouldn't have to wait to be called on. She didn't seem strong. She seemed like a pest.

  • On the other hand, Sen. Kamala Harris used her skills as a prosecutor making her case to a jury. On immigration and health care, she was steady, seemed sincere, and used her time wisely. I wanted to like her, and I did.

  • The best back-and-forth was between Harris and Biden. Harris came after Biden on his record (including his awkward mentions of the Southern segregationist Senators a few weeks back), Biden took it, and fired back with his Senate record.

  • That was the "all in" moment in this debate. Harris kept throwing inside strikes. Biden kept fouling them off. They played to a tie, but Biden is in the lead and I'm not sure ties keep him there.

  • If Joe Biden is last century; Bernie Sanders is last millenium. His stage presence seemed like he was bored. It seemed to me that Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg recognized that Bernie is not between them and Biden, Elizabeth Warren is.

  • Warren wasn't on the stage and they didn't waste any intellectual ammunition on Sanders.

  • The winners in the second debate were Buttigieg and Harris. Sanders was a net minus. Biden will still be leading the pack; he did well enough.

  • After the first round I think the next round of polling - for what it's worth - will show it Biden, Warren, Bernie, Harris, and Buttigieg in that order.

  • You know how excellent I am on predictions.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring Page today: The Wikipedia entry for "First, do no harm," and to the bios of Tulsi Gabbard and Kamala Harris.

    The Mullfoto is typical of a car titled in Maryland.

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