4:08 PM: Anticipating a busy evening, I get this post set up in advance. Unlike last night, I know who nearly all of these people are, and also unlike last night, there are only about one and a half of them on stage who I am even slightly interested in seeing as President. Maybe two, if Buttigieg and Gillibrand count as half each. At least two of them, Williamson and Yang, don’t belong up there at all, and three are also-rans of the Delaney/Ryan type. I enjoyed last night’s debate; I do not expect to enjoy this one.
Talk amongst yourselves for the next few hours, if you like. I’ll be back.
5:58: So, thinking about this a bit more: prior to it actually happening, last night’s debate was kind of widely panned as the B team plus Warren, and it was really interesting to me how 1) Castro and Booker, certainly, and probably also Klobuchar showed themselves to be ready for prime time and 2) absolutely everyone on stage was noticeably deferring to Elizabeth Warren for the duration of the debate.
This debate is going to have a very different feel, I think; there is not anyone out there who is going to hold back in attacking Sanders and Biden if they get a chance, and of the four A-tier candidates (Sanders, Biden, Harris, and Buttigieg) three of them have either seen serious drops in their poll numbers or have taken a hell of a beating in the press lately or both. There’s blood in the water at this debate in a way there really wasn’t last night; it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.
For the record, I think Kamala should be able to mop the floor with most of these bozos. It’ll be interesting to see how Buttigieg does; I kind of feel like he’s the wild card tonight but he’s had a seriously rough couple of weeks and I won’t be surprised if he’s way off his game.
8:43: I put on my Jackass wristband.
8:44: In addition, I have an honest-to-God bottle of an alcoholic substance at hand, because I don’t think I can get through this without it. It will likely go unfinished, but still.
8:48: I find a selection of pictures to liven the post up with.
8:55: The debate has not started yet and somehow I am already aware that Andrew Yang decided this wasn’t worth putting on a fucking tie for.
8:57: The closed captions are on and I don’t know how to turn them off. They were not on last night and I haven’t changed anything.
9:00: I see that Jesus didn’t give Chuck Todd throat polyps overnight like I asked him to. That guy never does anything I want.
9:02: Mr. Orange Tie has made some bad decisions.
9:03: First question out of the box is to Bernie: “Will you raise taxes on the middle class?” C’mon, now. He’s not gonna answer that. They give him 10 seconds to try again and he actually says they’ll pay more tax but they’ll get better health care as a result.
9:04: One of the people who doesn’t belong up there tries to interrupt. Already? Sit down.
9:06: Biden gets asked about his “nothing will change” statement and makes no attempt at all to answer the question.
9:08: Kamala points out that no one ever asks Republicans how they’re gonna pay for stuff. Hickenlooper starts yapping about how we don’t want Republicans to call us socialists. They’re gonna do that anyway, no matter what we do.
9:09: Ah, so Hickenlooper is gonna be the Inslee tonight.
9:10: Bernie says the way to beat the shitgibbon is to “expose him for the fraud he is.” Good man.
9:11: Did Gillibrand actually get asked a question or was that an interrupt?
9:12: Why does Bennet get to talk before Buttigieg? And why isn’t he paying enough attention to know he’s being talked to? He goes straight after Sanders– like I said, tonight’s gonna be more combative.
9:13: OF COURSE BUTTIGIEG IS THE FIRST TO SPEAK SPANISH.
9:14: Swalwell jumps in to point out that he is also young. Andrew Yang looks weirdly pissy. He gets asked about his UBI proposal and literally acts like he didn’t hear the question at all. He’s talking way too fast and I’m pretty sure a lot of his numbers are voodoo.
9:16: Somebody online already pointed out that Swalwell looks like a televangelist and they are absolutely right. He uses Biden’s words from thirty years ago against him and starts repeating “pass the torch” over and over again. Biden gets a rebuttal and literally says he’s keeping the torch.
9:18: Oh Bernie I dare you to wag a finger in Kamala and Kirsten’s direction. You’re not getting that finger back. And bam, Kamala’s the adult and shuts the whole goddamn stage down.
9:20: “No American should have to have more than one job to put a roof over their head and food on the table.” Harris won the last 30 seconds.
9:21: You can tell Gillibrand’s a New Yorker. She takes no shit from anybody and shuts down Hickenlooper when he tries to talk over her.
9:22: Has Marianne Williamson said a single word? I mean, I don’t mind, but still. Also, his name is booty-judge, not buddha-jitch.
9:23: As someone who has been going through some similar calculus regarding his parents’ health recently, I am also extraordinarily grateful to Medicare for making sure I didn’t have to worry about bankruptcy on top of everything else. Good answer, Pete.
9:26: I’m actually genuinely surprised that Williamson hasn’t horned into a question yet. I wouldn’t even blame her.
9:27: yooman! yuge!
9:28: Williamson gets a question finally. She chides everyone for being superficial and then says that the person in the White House won by saying “Make America Great Again,” which is … literally a four-word superficial slogan.
9:30: Some nerd goes after Sanders again and I’m tired. Harris jumps in and just talks until he shuts up. Swalwell was absolutely taking notes from de Blasio last night.
9:32: The answer to “why would your government health care program cover undocumented immigrants” is “Because they’re people.” Biden took WAY too long to put his hand up.
9:34: …and then he immediately gets called out on it by the moderator. He points out that undocumented immigrants pay into Social Security but gain no benefits from it. And then, okay, I was typing, but it seems like he just … stops? Mid-sentence?
9:38: And now let’s move into the immigration debate. Harris gets first shot at it. She takes a minute but gets around to “what will you do about asylum seekers” eventually. And then knocks it the fuck out of the park. I love this lady.
9:40: Hickenlooper gets a question and Williamson starts to answer it. I think she genuinely thought it was for her. Is there something going on with the mics again? This isn’t the first time it’s happened.
9:41: Williamson has this energy going where if I’m just listening to her I like what she’s saying, mostly– and I’m halfway through typing that sentence and she goes off on a crazy-lady tangent about how no one is talking about Latin American foreign policy when the immigration section of the debate just started like 30 seconds ago. Anyway, the point was she probably comes off better in print?
9:43: We need to abolish for-profit prisons, period. End of conversation.
9:44: Buttigieg smoothly takes over the stage after another hand-raise question and nobody tries to talk over him. He goes straight to his liberal Christianity and sticks a shiv in the religious right. He’s the first candidate to mention God on stage, and I think that includes last night.
9:46: Did the Obama/Biden administration deport three million Americans?
9:47: I am halfway through my hard lemonade.
9:48: I note that they are talking about Central American foreign policy, but Sanders gives credit to Biden for it. Hmmm. I note that I can’t figure out who at least one of the white guys on stage is. The guy standing next to Swal … well? Is that his name? Does the guy who looks like a preacher have a name that sounds like Falwell? Goddammit get these folks off the stage.
9:49: Harris stumbles a bit with the beginning of this answer. By the end she warms up and gets back on stride.
9:50: Can we not do the one-word answer thing again? Oh, that guy’s name is Bennet.
9:52: He did a lot of yelling while I was looking for that picture and I didn’t hear most of it but I suspect I’d have thought it was crazy talk if I did.
9:54: Buttigieg is doing a good job. He’s staying out of the scrum for the most part and being his typical self when he gets to talk.
9:57: Second commercial break. They’re gonna bring that nitwit on now. One thing about tonight so far: no one is impressing me who I didn’t expect to impress me.
9:59: It would be cool if Chuck Todd’s mic stopped working but not anyone else’s.
10:00: Ooooh shit, Rachel Maddow goes straight at Buttigieg about Eric Logan. I was wondering if this would happen. She asks how the police force is still only 6% black and he answers, simply, “I didn’t get it done.”
10:02: We know the answer to that, Mr. Hickenlooper. It’s racism. Swalwell hollers at him about firing the police chief– the current one! — and holy shit the daggers in Buttigieg’s look back at him.
10:05: Harris demands to get to talk about race as the only black person on stage and goes directly at Biden about his comments about palling up with segregationists. Harris gets one of the biggest rounds of applause of the night.
10:06: Biden basically says he’s okay on race because he had a black boss.
10:06: I really think Swalwell needs to watch his back on the way home tonight. Pete’s gonna cut him.
10:07: Kamala’s basically bathing in Biden’s blood right now.
10:08: Wait, are we asking the guy from Vermont about diversity?
10:09: Oh, hi, Kirsten! Still up there, huh?
10:11: Wait, I think Chuck Todd just asked a good question. Unfortunately Bennet is answering it.
10:12: Biden is shook, y’all. He’s bragging about raising taxes. (Also, I don’t understand why we talk about “permanent” tax cuts or increases. We have the word “indefinite’ for a reason!)
10:16: Took me a minute to find this. Kamala Harris:
10:17: Okay I’m paying attention again.
10:19: Kamala Harris comes from the Hillary Clinton school of An Anecdote for Every Question.
10:20: I am not sure that the question Todd just asked Buttigieg is completely coherent but at this point he ought to be able to answer a climate change question half-asleep. He uses the 1000-year and 500-year flood story again. Bernie is waving his Taunting Finger around but Maddow calls on Hickenlooper instead.
10:22: How, exactly, is Hickenlooper a scientist?
10:23: I hadn’t noticed it until now, and I’m not sure if it’s been ongoing, but Biden is really slurring his words a lot. Is that just how he talks or has something changed in the last twenty minutes or so?
10:25: Williamson and Swalwell sniping at each other is something I can get behind. She says “included” really weirdly.
10:27: Chuck really thought he was gonna get two-word answers from these folks?
10:28: Audible laughter in the audience when Yang talks about his UBI program again. Williamson doesn’t even try to answer the question.
10:31: Commercial. It’s muggy in here. Or maybe it’s the alcomohol. I don’t drink, like, ever, so one bottle is actually gonna Do a Thing for me.
10:32: *checks thermostat* I think it’s me.
10:34: Maddow tries to go to somebody in the audience and it doesn’t and then has a serious womp-womp moment as she tries to joke about it. Nah, we were watching last night and you don’t get to joke about tech issues now.
10:35: Oh, wait, shit, that’s why Swalwell is wearing an orange tie and the orange ribbon: gun violence. I take back the tie criticism.
10:36: Sanders accuses Maddow of mischaracterizing his gun record and she immediately claps back that she’d just read a quote from him. Oops!
10:37: Swalwell goes after Sanders’ record on guns and comes off ahead for it. Good man.
10:38: “If more guns made us safer, we’d be the safest country on Earth.” YOU GO MAYOR PETE.
10:39: Biden claims to have banned “number of magazines sold.” He’s still kinda stammery. And now we’re to Lester in the audience again. The question is “How are you gonna fix the fact that the shitgibbon fucked everything up?”
10:41: NO MORE FUCKING DOWN-THE-LINES, CHUCK. GODDAMMIT.
10:43: The best answer is Buttigieg’s, who says that he can’t predict who he’d call first because we don’t know who the Current Occupant will have pissed off most recently. Williamson has already said that she’s calling New Zealand first earlier tonight (and out of nowhere, for no clear reason) but does not mention them when asked specifically who she’d call first.
10:49: I feel like I might like Eric Swalwell if he wasn’t Eric Swalwell. Unfortunately I think he’s probably pretty committed to being Eric Swalwell.
10:50: My feed goes nuts while Williamson is talking and I’m okay with that. She’s radiating homeless lady crazy energy right now in a major way.
10:51: Bennet has the ability to make simple things incoherent.
10:52: Hickenlooper is apparently also a small-business owner in addition to being a scientist. He abruptly ends his 45 seconds by warning everyone against the dangers of socialism. God, shut up.
10:53: Gillibrand made less of an impression on me than I was expecting her to. And I just finished my hard lemonade. Woo.
10:54: The rich tech businessman is not a good example that anyone can become President. Frankly, Buttigieg and Harris are both better exemplars of that.
10:55: Harris/Warren or Warren/Harris. I don’t even care which. I love her.
10:56: Buttigieg is about to mention the word “again,” watch. (EDIT: Wrong!)
10:57: Bernie, who has been in Congress forever and has no accomplishments whatsoever to his name, should not be giving the closing speech he is giving right now. You’ve had plenty of time to have guts, Bernie, and there’s no damn legislation with your name on it anywhere.
10:58: It is not true at all that the shitgibbon is the only white supremacist ever to occupy the White House, Mr. Biden. Not remotely close.
10:59: Whoooooa Biden has a hell of a bald spot going back there.
11:00: Well, I think Harris walked away with that, with Buttigieg close behind, which is pretty much exactly what I thought would happen. Biden got his ass slapped around hard, by multiple candidates; it’s too bad that it’s so early that it won’t make much difference.
11:01: I interrupt myself to point out that Biden is talking to the moderators while everyone else is in the crowd or still talking to each other.
11:02: Actually maybe I was done. Williamson, Swalwell, Bennet, Hickenlooper and Yang can all go away now. We’ll see how the rest of them sort themselves back out over the next couple of weeks.
11:05: Probably not a good sign for Gillibrand that she made so little impact on me that I forgot to include her on the list of folks who should head for the door. I was looking forward to hearing from her, too. Too bad.