After two nights and twenty contenders the results are in. The debate winners, the debate losers and the ones that would be doing us all a favor by debating from the couch or some pundits chair for the third debate in September. Ranked in order from best to worst…
THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Elizabeth Warren—Elizabeth Warren came out with another strong performance and was the clear winner(of both nights). She was attacked off the break and clearly had a plan for it because she left the stage with at least one body in tow. She was forceful and fearless in the face of Omni-directional attacks with none of them sticking. Expect her to get another post debate bump. She’s the real deal.
Line of the night: “I don’t know why anyone goes to the trouble to run for president to talk about what we can’t do and what we won’t fight for”
Bernie Sanders—Like Warren, Bernie came under a lot of “friendly fire” and likeWarren he was ready. His counter punches were Floyd Mayweather like. And again like Warren he left with a body. Actually he left with a Zombie since he essentially killed the same dude that was previously murdered by his tag team partner.
Line of the night: “By the way, the healthcare industry will be advertising tonight on this program” (to modarator Jake Tapper)
Marianne Williamson— Marianne had a far less eccentric debate than her first. Her presence amounted to a breath of fresh air for a stale and long stagnant body politic. She brought a much needed spiritual element to the race and one that would be wise of the others to incorporate into their daily diatribes on the stump. She made it crystal clear (to anyone with a third eye) that in addition to the partisan wars afoot there is a spiritual war to be fought and that we had better gear up for that battle in this asymmetric war for the soul of this nation. While everyone and their mamma knows that she will not come close to winning the nomination, her infusing the process with some much needed spiritual enlightenment can only be a boon for the party. When she does finally drop out her endorsement will be significant.
Line of the night: “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,”
Pete Buttige— Mayor Pete had a decent debate. He managed to parlay his Rhode Scholar education and his above average oratory skills into a decent debate performance. I don’t know that it is enough to lift him from the basement where he’s currently polling but it definitely will keep the corporate dollars coming so count on seeing more Mayor Pete.
Line of the night: “It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say. It is true if we embrace a far-left agenda, they are going to say we are a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. So let’s just stand up for the right policy and go out there and defend it.”
Steve Bullock— The Montana governor in his first and possibly last debate showing did not do awful, but he did not do great that great either. His very worthy mission to remove dark money from politics is laudable but next to impossible because its too much dark money drowning him out his message. And I’m not even talking about the swampy dark money in the Trumpublican party and RNC–I’m talking about the dark money flowing some of the very same candidates he was sharing the stage with.
Line of the night: I honestly can’t remeber
Beto O’Rourke— The good news is unlike the last debate and unlike your boy Waldo there was at least a Beto sighting. He was lively and had a few good moments. The bad news is he did nothing to revive his campaign that’s basically on life support. There’s a US Senate seat up for grabs in Texas. He should probably aim a little lower than he is right now.
Line of the night: “There is a new battleground state: Texas, and it has 38 Electoral College votes”
Amy Klobuchar— Iv’e never in my life met an Amy that was extraordinary or memorable in any discernible way. In fact every Amy that I’ve ever encountered has been borderline mediocre. Night one of debate number two did little to change this salient fact (no offense to anyone named Amy).
Line of the night: People named Amy don’t have lines of the night. They just breath loud.
John Hickenlooper— Johnny Boy did not have very many good moments in the night one debate. In fact by my count he had exactly zero. If I were to put on my conspiracy theory hat I would say that he’s running in this race not so much to win but to play part of the inorganic consensus being pushed by the establishment that most voters don’t want radical progressive changes. I don’t know that he helped that cause either.
Line of the night: “This notion that you’re going to take away private insurance for 180 million Americans, who — many of them don’t want to give it up, many of them do want to get rid of it but some don’t, many don’t — or you’re going to with the Green New Deal make sure every American is guaranteed the government job that they want. That is a disaster at ballot box. You might as well FedEx the election to Donald Trump.”
Tim Ryan— Timmy turned in another underwhelming performance. He did manage to get more talk time in during the second debate. The bad news is nobody was listening. Even worse he had flashbacks of that time he ran across his geriatric neighbors freshly manicured lawn.
Line of the night: “I know, I wrote the damn bill!”
John Delany– John like the John Hickenlooper before him (and Timmy before that) were placed in this contest for one reason and one reason only. To be the great white
hope dope in waiting just in case the preferred great white hope falters in the contest. I have reason to believe that all three failed in their commissioned goals so it is less than likely that you will see any of them in the next round of debates
Line of the night: Who the fuck cares?
THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Julián Castro— Julian had a very good debate performance and made good use of his limited talk time. With the success that Kamala had in debate number one the strategy was obvious–Go at the former vice presidents neck and for the most part that’s what most of them did. The difference however between how Castro went about taking down the perceived front runner and how the rest of the field went about it is the difference between organic matter and inorganic matter.
When the news shows and talking heads report on Julián’s “attack” on Biden they normally start the clip at the point when he verbally smacks him making it seem premeditated (as many of the other attacks against him and his record). The truth is Julián was on the stage minding his own business selling his own ideas when Biden thought it prudent to come for him. Now we can agree or disagree with his assertion that crossing the border should be decriminalized but I’m guessing Biden wishes that he would have silently disagreed.
Julian Castro to no one in particular: “‘Open borders’ is a right-wing talking point, And frankly, I’m disappointed that some folks, including some folks on this stage, have taken the bait.”
Colorado Senator Mike Bennett gave him the shaken head white man universal disapproval gesture while pivoting to his own immigration talking points followed by Kirsten Gillabrand and Kamala Harris. Biden decides he wants to circle back to Castro’s quip.
Joe Biden: “Julián, excuse me, the secretary, We sat together in many meetings. I never heard him talk about any of this when he was the secretary.” Joe Biden:
Line of the night: “Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past. One of us hasn’t What we need are politicians who have some guts on this issue”
Cory Booker--Cory came into the contest in desperate need of a break out moment and while he indeed got that moment (a few actually), it came about far more inorganically than Castro’s or even some of the others that made it to the winners circle on night two. He had been sparing with back and forth with the former Vice President for the weeks leading up to the debate so it came as no surprise that he was going to come for Biden which he did. For the most part his punches landed. Biden got in a few good ones on him but for the most part Cory stayed on message which was mostly that positive and happy go lucky talk about bringing the country together. I mean ain’t no body believing all that kumbaya bullshit but he did do well enough to come in second place for night two
Line of the night: “Mr. Vice President, you can’t have it both ways, You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign. You can’t do it when it’s convenient and then dodge it when it’s not.”
Andrew Yang–Andrew had a decent showing. He got off a few good lines and lets be real, most of ya’ll signed up to get that $125 from the Equifax breach knowing your credit unworthiness makes you least likely to be hacked. Who would not want $1,000 per month free and clear no questions or strings attached? Sign me up!
Line of the night: “We need to do the opposite of much of what we’re doing right now, and the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math”
Tulsi Gabbard– Tulsi is another low percenter that finally had her moment. She came at Kamala pretty hard on her criminal justice record. It was not earth shattering but for the fact that Kamala had no response to the attack she would not be part of the winning circle (or at least further down).
Line of the night:
“When you were in a position to make a difference and an impact in these people’s lives, you did not, There’s no excuse for that and the people who suffered under your reign as a prosecutor, you owe them an apology.”
Bill Deblasio– Bill DeBlasio, also known as the 4th moderator, made it to the winners circle if for no other reason his persistence. If I was not Brooklyn born and bred I’d say something like “Bill is the typical annoying ass New Yorker(that does not mean you should not state the obvious). And while he is just that, his performance warrants some merit because they were so heavily issue oriented in an otherwise low brow debate devoid of true substance. At least in a contextual sense. It was a lot of surface speak. Even when threatened by his fellow moderators that his time would be cut short for be interrupting they would often come back to him to allow him to reiterate the talking points that he just got off on the next persons watch so it really is hard to call him a loser on that night. Even if most New Yorkers believe him to be just that.
Line of the night: “For all the American citizens out there who feel you’re falling behind, who feel the American dream is not working for you, the immigrants didn’t do that to you,” The big corporations did that to you. The 1 percent did that to you.”
Micheal Bennett– Senator Michael Bennett had a fairly decent performance and made good use of the time allotted. While he did not do much to get him in the top tier, he did bring some much needed clarity and relevance to the vapid busing back and forth between the two top tier candidates that he shared the stage with.
Line of the night: “This is the fourth debate that we have had, and the second time that we have been debating what people did 50 years ago with busing, when our schools are as segregated as they were 50 years ago,We need a conversation about what’s happening now, and when there’s a group of kids in this country that don’t get preschool through no fault of their own and another group does—equal is not equal..We’ve got a group of K–12 schools that are good because families can spend a million bucks, and you got the Detroit public schools that are as segregated as they were.” —Equal is not equal.
Kirsten Gillibrand–Kirsten has been searching for that magic moment in this campaign since her Al Franken false start. Debate number two did not change that fact.
Line of the night: “So, the first thing that I’m going to do when I’m president is I’m going to Clorox the Oval Office” (I know. Corny AF)
Jay Inslee— Colorado Governor Jay Inslee had for the most part an uneventful debate. With his pet issue being attacking climate change, there’s no great loss to that cause as it has unanimously been adopted by the entire field.
Line of the night: Does it really matter???
Joe Biden–If you listen to the arm chair Monday morning pundits you would walk away believing that Biden had a half way decent performance. And in their defense it was a half way decent performance given the bar was set so low for the supposed front runner and best equipped candidate to take on Trump that all he had to do was not fall asleep on stage to get good press clippings the following day. If however you believe your lying eyes and ears over the Morning Joe set you’d come away with a similar conclusion. In Biden’s defense virtually everyone on stage had their sights trained on him and most of them got off at least one good dinger. To his credit he at least tried to hit back this time and actually landed a few good ones. But overall his performance was very poor. On at least three occasions he could not finish his thoughts while in mid-sentence. Cory Booker rightly called him out for hiding behind the Obama legacy for all things good but running away when anything even remotely controversial or in need of deeper analysis was on the docket. Even worse he and his team in the mainstream media have created a post debate narrative that all of the contenders shooting daggers at him are really shooting daggers at Obama as a way to inoculate himself from a credible critique of his questionable policies of the past and present.
Line of the night: “Go Easy on my kid”
Kamala Harris— Senator Kamala Harris had a really bad night. She actually performed better than Joe Biden and at least a couple of the others that were ranked higher on this list. She gets last place because for at least the last week or so Tulsi Gabbart had been telling anyone that would lend her their ear that she was coming for Kamala. Jake Tapper knew, Bashar Al Assad knew and even the Russian bots who normally traffic in falsehoods knew that Tulsi was bringing some smoke for Kamala. Jake Tapper being the messy shit starter that he is set Tulsi up perfectly for the kill and she went in. Kamala gave a weak response and referee Jake Tapper threw it back to Tulsi to pile on even more. Kamala was given another chance to respond and she basically said she’d rather speak on Biden.
“That is simply not true.”
To quickly summarize the two debates night one was Greco Roman Wrestling while night two was straight WWE. The two top tier candidates were well versed, well prepared and obviously practiced what they were going to preach. The two top tier candidates from night two were winging it and by all objective measures they failed miserably.