Grading Dem Debate #3
Part 1. Grading the moderators and CNN.
To me, last night's Democratic debate was far from satisfying, to put it mildly.
The format and the moderators were poorly chosen - 1 minute per answer, 30 second rebuttal are not sufficient time for thoughtful, important answers.
But the commentators were not seeking those.
Jay Tapper #shameonyou.
The questions seemed pulled from a Republican playbook.
Or as the Poyter Institute of Journalism said,
“If the point of Tuesday night's Democratic debate was for the candidates to fight each other, CNN's trio of moderators supplied them with boxing gloves.
Jake Tapper, Dana Bash and Don Lemon — especially Tapper — spent much of the night posing questions that called for the candidates to disagree with one another. Specifically, the moderators drew a figurative line that had Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on one side and the rest of the candidates on the other."
But I think what also became clear is that the squabbles the CNN moderators created were beside the point. Who was more Left and who more Centrist, which details about how which policies should be adopted and implemented - who cares at this moment!
Like the Mueller Hearings, these debates are a chance for Americans to be informed about THE BIG ISSUES - about what Democrats as well as a the candidates.
This is what America needs to hear. In Broad Strokes. In Neon.
All the Democratic Presidential contenders stand for:
healthcare as a right
education as a right
a living wage
women's rights incl.right to choose
rule of law
We didn't hear this last night.
This is what America needs to hear. In Broad Strokes. In Neon.
There is an unindicted criminal in the White House...a cruel, racist, misogynistic, greedy, narcissistic, treasonous, reckless and dangerous man who endangers our Democracy and our citizens and economy - a man who faces indictment when he leaves the White House.
We didn't hear this last night.
Where were the questions about what we learned from the Mueller hearings and his report?
Where were the questions about the Russians interfering in our election?
The rest, at a profound level at this point in our history, is just Static.
CNN produced what I will now think of as the #DistractionDebate. They distracted us.
Usually Trump distracts us. Even his disgusting racism distracted us.
CNN did his work.
We deserve better.
Our Democratic candidates deserve better.
Democracy deserves better.
An aside, And then, there is the question of why the Democratic National Committee chose CNN as the sole distributor of the two debates this week. While they provided a workaround for people who have no cable, this choice of CNN as sole distributordid not support easy access for the largest possible group of Americans.
Part 2 - Grading the Democratic Candidates.
“I took on giant banks and I beat them. I took on Wall Street, and CEOs, and their lobbyists and their lawyers, and I beat them. I took on a popular Republican incumbent senator, and I beat him. I remember when people said Barack Obama couldn't get elected. Shoot, I remember when people said Donald Trump couldn't get elected.
But here's where we are. I get it. There is a lot at stake, and people are scared. But we can't choose a candidate we don't believe in just because we're too scared to do anything else. And we can't ask other people to vote for a candidate we don't believe in. Democrats win when we figure out what is right and we get out there and fight for it. I am not afraid, and for Democrats to win, you can't be afraid either.
She then faced Muleney negativity which could have come from a GOP mouth (“I think Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not empty promises".)
She answered,"I don't understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running to be the president of the United States to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for.
I don't get it."
Hats off to Elizabeth Warren.
Two further kudos -
Kudos #1- this to Pete Buttigieg who also pulled us to think about our higher selves and our ambition as a nation. Here are two Mayor Pete gems:
Pete gem #1. “This is] the conversation that we have been having for the last 20 years. Of course we need to get money out of politics, but when I propose the actual structural democratic reforms that might make a difference — end the Electoral College, amend the Constitution if necessary to clear up Citizens United, have DC actually be a state, and depoliticize the Supreme Court with structural reform — people look at me funny, as if this country was incapable of structural reform.
This is a country that once changed its Constitution so you couldn't drink and changed it back because we changed our minds, and you're telling me we can't reform our democracy in our time. We have to or we will be having the same argument 20 years from now.
Pete gem #2. “It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say.If we embrace a far-left agenda, they are gonna say we're a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they're gonna do? They're going to say we're a bunch of crazy socialists. So let's just stand up for the right policy, go out there, and defend it."
And then there was Marianne Williamson! Kudos #2.
Dana Milbank used his Washington Post column to point out how she lifted the conversation. I couldn't agree more. She is not my candidate, nor his, but she deserves our admiration and her comments deserve our attention.
Marianne Williamson won't be president. But her competitors should take note.
Marianne Williamson for president!
It is perhaps not the best sign for Democratic prospects in the 2020 election that on a stage packed with senators, governors and the odd congressman and mayor, the one who repeatedly soared above the others Tuesday night was the New Age author and spiritual adviser to Cher.
But, again and again, this impossibly youthful 67-year-old with a comical patrician accent broke through with a cut-the-crap sensibility. She kept pushing her higher-profile competitors to think, and talk, in deeper perspective and sweeping context.Goaded by CNN's Jake Tapper, the candidates spent the first half hour of the debate — the only part of the 2.5-hour extravaganza many will have seen — arguing angrily about their competing health plans. It was desultory, and about as practical as debating how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.
Then came Williamson. "Everything that we're talking about here tonight is what's wrong with American politics," she said. "When it — when we're talking about health care, we need to talk about more than just the health-care plan." She advised against getting hung up committing to a Medicare-for-all plan, "because if that's our big fight, then the Republicans will so shut us down on everything else."
The other nine on the stage resumed their squabbles, making big deals of small differences, until fairness required a question be directed at Williamson — as chance would have it, about the Flint, Mich., water crisis. She drew applause for saying this "would not have happened in Grosse Pointe," a wealthy Michigan enclave, then brought this back to her theme: "This is part of the dark underbelly of American society, the racism, the bigotry. And the entire conversation that we're having here tonight — if you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I'm afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days."
Williamson went on: "We need to say it like it is. It's bigger than Flint. It's all over this country, it's particularly people of color. It's particularly people who do not have the money to fight back. And if the Democrats don't start saying it, then why would those people feel that they're there for us? And if those people don't feel it, they won't vote for us, and Donald Trump will win."
Bingo. She seemed to grasp what others on the stage didn't as they argued over small differences. As Trump proved in 2016, voters don't much care about 10-point policy plans — what Williamson calls "wonkiness" — nor even about whether a politician's promises are realistic. They like candidates who speak plainly and passionately.The other nine on the stage resumed their squabbles, making big deals of small differences, until fairness required a question be directed at Williamson — as chance would have it, about the Flint, Mich., water crisis. She drew applause for saying this "would not have happened in Grosse Pointe," a wealthy Michigan enclave, then brought this back to her theme: "This is part of the dark underbelly of American society, the racism, the bigotry. And the entire conversation that we're having here tonight — if you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I'm afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days."
Her ideas are, often, utterly impractical. On guns, she blithely proposed a constitutional amendment. Otherwise, "it's just the same old, same old." On slavery reparations, she said, "anything less than a hundred billion dollars is an insult and $200 billion to $500 billion is politically feasible."
But she's right about one big thing, which she returned to in the closing moments of the debate. "Our problem is not just that we need to defeat Donald Trump," she said. "We need a plan to solve institutionalized hatred, collectivized hatred and white nationalism. And in order to do that, we need more than political insider game and wonkiness and intellectual argument."
Williamson will not be the Democratic nominee. But hopefully the one who will be is taking note.
Dana Milbank is an op-ed columnist for The Washington Post, and this column above appeared on July 31, 2019.
Get ready for Debate #4.
Get ready for Dem Debate #4. Where. When.Who. How to watch.
When: 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday, July 31
Where: The Fox Theatre in Detroit
The debate is expected to last two hours.
Who: Here are the candidates who will appear.
How to watch: Through an agreement with the Democratic National Committee, CNN has exclusive rights to both nights of the debates and if you want to watch, you'll have to watch there. If you don't have cable or a streaming service that provides CNN, you're not necessarily out of luck: It will be streamed live on CNN.com for free and without requiring a cable provider login.
(Source, USA Today)
July 31, 2019
Voices4America America Post Script. This is my commentary on last night's debate. I hope you will read and let me know what you think. I also hope you will share. #DetractionDebate #DemDebates
Yes, there was more to say too. #WhiteNight #WomensNight #Beto4Senate