Saturday, September 14, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 37

One week in politics can seem like an eternity these days. There was a story that broke on Saturday evening after I published my last political post that may  not even get that much discussion on tomorrow's talk shows.

Donald Trump announced, via Twitter of course, that he had called off plans to meet with the Taliban this upcoming week at Camp David, after the Taliban had killed another American service member. What? Mark this one down in the "Had Barack Obama done this" or "Imagine if the Democrats talked about doing this in their debates...." Yet, Trump apologists largely shrugged.

Trump wants us to believe that he has always been opposed to the war in Afghanistan which began in 2001. On that, he is definitely out of the mainstream. Just about everybody in the country supported going in there in the fall of 2001 after the Taliban, which then controlled the country, refused to hand over Osama bin Laden. Now, the longest war in American history still lingers and it is an understandable but completely separate debate as to what the role of America should be there moving forward. Many Americans lost their lives though over all these years, as Afghanistan has established a democratic government, however imperfect. The Taliban exist as a non-governmental terrorist organization that is committed to killing Americans.

And Trump wanted to meet with them.. at Camp David.. on practically the anniversary of 9/11... without anything already hammered out as to a "deal." Yes, this was eventually cancelled, thankfully, but Trump insisted this week it was still the right to do to. He simply wanted a 9/11/19 photo-op so he could falsely claim that he brought peace to the conflict in Afghanistan. Even after it was cancelled, I cannot believe they went public about all this.

I do not believe America should ever "negotiate" with the Taliban. If that's for anyone, it's for the Afghans to do, but even if one might think we have to do a very distasteful thing to try to bring about peace, that can be done by the U.S. government at initial stages well below any President, and certainly not involving bringing the Taliban on our own planes of course, to Camp David or the White House. If we are to be bringing the Taliban to any American-owned property, it should be Guantanamo Bay.

Now, we move on to somewhat briefly discuss Thursday night's Democrat debate from Houston, Texas, which lasted nearly three hours and was broadcast on the ABC television network, making this the first non-cable debate of the cycle.

Ten candidates participated and the quickest way I can think of covering this is to just mention all of them in relation to the debate, starting from the lowest poll position to the highest.

Perhaps nobody made more news or potentially harmed their candidacy more than Julian Castro, He clearly entered the debate looking to challenge front-runner Joe Biden. This came somewhat early on during a discussion of healthcare plans where Castro accused Biden of not mentioning a detail of his plan, and indeed contradicting something he had said "two minutes earlier." As it turns out, Biden did not... at least this time, but Castro was insistent along the lines of "how can you forget what you just said!" Clearly, his intent was obvious. Democrats in the hall and on stage and many others watching did not like the former HUD Secretary echoing the number one Trump talking point on Biden. The former Vice President seemed to turn to Bernie Sanders to ask sheepishly if he forgot what he had said.The anti-Biden forces in the party liked that Castro tried to take Biden down, but many others reacted viscerally and quite negatively towards Castro.

On a stage, where almost everyone was running to her ideological left, Amy Klobuchar came across as a bit different from the rest. I actually think this was a fairly impressive performance for her. For one thing, she seemed to effectively defend her past as a prosecutor in a way that Kamala Harris has struggled. Will it really matter for Klobuchar at this point though? She seems to be around just in case Biden stumbles and the party panics.

The other candidates all seemed to praise Beto O'Rourke for the way he spoke out after the shootings this summer in his hometown of El Paso. They do not seem to be very worried about him politically at this point. In this debate O'Rourke managed to avoid profanity and looked a little less deer in the headlights as he did in the earlier debates, but came across as extremely angry and very far to the left. He held nothing back in calling Trump a racist and confirmed "hell yes" he wanted the federal government to take away certain guns that the left classifies as "assault weapons." The crowd on the college campus roared in approval and pro-gun Republicans are certain to be pointing to this moment throughout the rest of the campaign for what they see as the danger in electing any Democrat.

The next in ascending poll position was Cory Booker. He came across as forceful and passionate as he usually is in the debates, but did not seem to make much news beyond that. By the next day, he was perhaps the only other candidate defending Castro's hit on Biden saying that there are "concerns" about the 76 year old frontrunner. The former college Tight End used a football analogy in saying there was a risk that Biden could "fumble the ball" as the party's nominee.

In what should be considered a bit of an amazing fact, Andrew Yang has been running ahead of everyone talked about so far. He promised to do something that has never been done before in a Presidential debate (besides being a male going sans necktie.) Some speculated this could involve crowd-surfing, but instead the candidate who wants to give money to every American citizen as President promised to as a candidate give a hefty cash give away to randomly selected Americans who signed up for some sort of lottery. Many are asking, "is this legal?" I do not know if it is or not, but there is a guy in Chicago named Willie Wilson, who frequently runs for office, and who literally hands out wads of cash to people. Yang seemed practically invisible for the rest of the debate, although he was the one Democrat on stage to defend the concept of charter schools.

It was a somewhat low-key debate from what I remember from Pete Buttigieg. As  usual, he spoke calmly and seemed to have some intellectual gravitas beyond his young age. He is nowhere near the political phenom that many considered him to be a few months ago. He was quick to interject into the Castro-Biden exchange in an attempt to shame Castro and curry favor with the crowd. He also went along with a contention that all Trump voters are at least somewhat racist by association.

Kamala Harris had some one-liners that went flat and seemed to be far  more of an after-thought as compared to the first debate series where she was standing right next to Joe Biden.That evening propelled her to near rock-star status, but it has been a gradual downhill slide for her in the polls since. A lot of liberals simply do not trust her, based on the fact that she used to prosecute criminals (as if that is a bad thing to do) and being caught up in identity politics and beholden to a party that is so far to the left, Harris does not seem to know how to get around this. There is still time to go though and she might be heard from some more.

Bernie Sanders was the oldest candidate on the stage and easily looked it. That might be related to a make-up or lack thereof issue though. As usual, he was highly energized in his angry rants. The first portion of the debate was dominated by the merits or problems related to the "damn bill" Sanders wrote introducing "Medicare for All" and those somewhat less socialist candidates who only want Medicare for all who want it. I do not think it was a strong night for Sanders. He did far better when it was just him on stage as the sole contrast to Hillary Clinton (which might have helped Trump too in hindsight), and when there are many other people on there, he sort of also fades into the background.

The more Sanders falters, the more it will benefit Elizabeth Warren. Thus far, the two candidates have not gone after each other. Will that ever change? Sanders may find himself with no choice if he actually wants to win and Warren may realize that Sanders being in the race is all that is keeping her from leading Joe Biden pretty much everywhere. In this debate, Warren kind of approached things as a frontrunner herself. She did not seem to start a fight with anyone and nobody went after her either. There was not much memorable but she remains able to know how to scratch those itches that the base or her party suffers from.

That leaves us with Joe Biden. He looked pretty decent physically and seemed to manage to not visibly tire over the three hours. Whenever someone tried to take issue with him, he was able to gamely push back against them. However, he simply misspeaks nearly every time he opens his mouth. It is a chronic thing. To be fair, he is usually able to recognize that he misspeaks right away and changes it, but still I have never seen a politician to which this problem visits itself so frequently.

Biden did not come across as liberal as some of the other candidates, but still is nowhere near the "centrist" that some might want to think he is. There was one portion where he said he did not want prison time for any non-violent offender. He may have just been talking about drug offenses (which is an issue itself) but did not frame it that way. What would that mean for crooked politicians and business executives? No prison for white-collar crooks?

The other candidates all seemed to walk back their past strategy of attacking Obama as a way to criticize Biden, so Obama was given some laudatory compliments across the board perhaps due to the backlash. Biden still finds himself in the position though of trying to take credit for what Democrats like about Obama while distancing himself as the mere number two on matters that Democrats have some problems with.

For me, the most memorable part of Biden's performance was that he referenced "record players" in saying that parents should leave them on at night for kids so they learn more words. There is a whole lot that can be discussed regarding this answer and many liberals are quite incensed he answered a question about racism this way as if he needed to lecture parents. Record players though? He first said leave the television on at night and then changed it to record players and then appeared to want to say "phonograph" as further clarification.  I could get behind Making America The 1980s Again (at least the early 80s in this case.) Those who defend Biden by saying he is a woke vinyl loving hipster should ask for him to transform his hair plugs into a manbun.


Post a Comment

<< Home