Thursday, August 01, 2019

Watching the Debates

For two nights I've dutifully watched the Democratic debates. I'm lucky to have a dog who will hang with me. My friend has two, and she told me both walked out on her while she sat there.

It was a pretty painful process, particularly during the second night. Joe Biden, the frontrunner, performed better last night than he did last month. It would've been difficult for him not to do that. Last month, he seemed to phone it in. He didn't care if he got cut off. It wasn't important for him to speak. He seemed like he wanted to get this thing over with so he could go home and watch TV.

This time, presumably after his staff told him just how badly he did last time, Joe tried to defend himself, and behaved as though he cared about what he was doing. I believe last night we saw him at his best. While it was a whole lot better than last month, it isn't good enough. He seems not to have read his own health plan. CNN says Harris is right. There's a hole in Joe's bucket, resulting in ten million uncovered Americans, and it kind of behooves him to know about it.

Biden seems not to be a bad guy, but this year he's a stand-in for Hillary, who failed to mobilize enough voters to stop Trump. Trump is now the incumbent, as opposed to a punch line. We need someone stronger than Biden. We need someone who will inspire the American people to get up off their asses and go to the polls. This is particularly true because Moscow Mitch and his goons are not going to do jack squat to improve voting accuracy or fight manipulation. In Florida the Trump-supporting governor and his pals have very cutely blocked a measure approved directly by voters to restore voting rights to felons.

It's discouraging to hear people like Warren and Sanders dismissed as far left. What exactly does it mean to be far left? In 2019, it means you support health care for all Americans. It means you want college to be affordable to all. It means you no longer want Americans to go bankrupt due to catastrophic medical emergency. It means you don't want young people entering the workforce with crushing student debt, and you no longer want them contemplating or committing suicide over it before their young lives even begin. It means you want Americans to have a living wage and the right to form union, as opposed to ineffectual rules that Walmart can easily sidestep. What a horror.

Of course, we've got Fox News and the GOP protecting us against any and all of the above, which they refer to as "socialism." There's a great limited series on Sbowtime called The Loudest Voice, which shows Roger Ailes forming Fox and gives you a great view of the thought process behind it. It's a very effective noise machine that's got a good portion of the country eating propaganda as though it were popcorn. You too can be part of the club to save America from the horrors of the "socialism" enumerated above. Better, evidently, to direct our money toward huge tax cuts for those who least need them.

I can't stand Cory Booker. His education positions are abhorrent, identical to those of Betsy DeVos, but last night he acquitted himself well, placing a human veneer over his corporate soul. Others whose numbers are as poor as his shined as well. I'm thinking of Insleee and Gillebrand. Gillebrand attacked Biden for his opposition to a tax credit for child care, which Biden claimed subsidized the  deterioration of the family. I haven't got a link, but there's an image of the piece that I've posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Kamala Harris was not as sharp as she was last time. Tulsi Gabbard bought herself some attention by attacking Harris's prosecutorial record, and the CNN hosts repeatedly pointed to Gabbard as the only person on the stage who'd served in the military, eliciting her opinion on this or that.  Harris needs to be a little sharper next time. I'm pretty sure she will. Someone is going to need to eviscerate Donald Trump in front of America. I'm not sure who that person will be, but I hope it isn't Biden. I don't think he's up for the task.

There were also a few candidates trotting out Hillary's old canard that we can't subsidize college because then gazillionaires would use it. That's ridiculous. For one thing, as long as there are gazillionaires, and as long as there is an Ivy League, the elite will patronize the elite. For another, it's like saying we need to keep rich people out of public K-12. The fact is a whole lot of them keep their kids out. That's why we've got a separate and unequal system of private schools. Do you think we'd have oversized classes if Mike Bloomberg had to send his kids to public schools? I don't.

It's important we trim the herd somehow. It's ridiculous to imagine we'll get substantive debates when we present the nation with a veritable clown car.

I don't think Trump would fare well against Warren, Sanders or Harris. There may be others, but they've yet to show themselves capable of much more than sound bytes. The election is a long way from now, but we still need at least half of these candidates to go away and stop wasting our time.
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