The ninth Democratic presidential candidates’ debate last Wednesday night in Las Vegas was everything that the previous eight were not. It was contentious, entertaining, and, at times, chaotic. The knives were out. Politeness and gentility were nowhere to be found. On many occasions, the candidates were interrupting and talking over each other. After a while, the squabbling became excessive and detrimental to the process. In my opinion, there were several sidebars, which I will discuss below, but the overriding result was the devastation of Bloomberg’s candidacy and, with it, the Dem Party’s Plan B for the nomination.
Can he recover? History shows that nine months is a very long time in politics, so it’s possible. But, at the moment it is hard to see how.
There were several minor skirmishes, such as Buttigieg criticizing Klobuchar for misremembering the name of the president of Mexico and Klobuchar retorting “are you calling me dumb? Are you mocking me?” It seems like those two have real issues with each other. Evidently, they realize that they are both running in the same lane, moderate (relatively) Midwesterner, and only one of them can survive. However, the main event featured the absolute annihilation of Michael Bloomberg. In previous blogs, I had asserted that Bloomberg was a poor debater, and it showed.
All the others ganged up on Bloomberg who, for the most part, was unable to defend himself adequately. He just stood there passively, like a deer in the headlights, seemingly too stunned to come up with any retort. I don’t know if he was inadequately prepared by his advisors or if he just “froze.”
He was attacked for various policies, but the most damaging were (1) his “stop and frisk” policy, (2) his hostility toward women, and (3) his attempt to “buy” the election. There were many “zingers,” but the most telling and memorable was Warren’s characterizing him as “a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians.” That’s the kind of line that will resonate and be remembered. I don’t know if that represented truth or hyperbole, or a combination of the two, but it probably doesn’t matter, and Bloomberg did not deny it.
Additionally, she scored points against him for his various non-disclosure agreements that many women had signed. She challenged him to disclose them, but he refused. Again, he had no effective retort. It got to the point where one almost felt sorry for him.. Almost.
In the aftermath, the liberal media was relentless in its criticism. Even the airheads at CNN and MSNBC were brutal in their assessment of Bloomberg’s performance and depressed as to its meaning. The following is a sampling of some of the more memorable comments: (1) they “tore the skin off him;” and (2) Bloomberg “was the Titanic to Warren’s iceberg;” Viewers of “Morning Joe” were treated to the site of Joe Scarborough trying to calm down a “panicking” Danny Deutsch who was lamenting that Sanders was “running away ” with the nomination. The general consensus was that the real winner of the evening was Donald Trump, and I would agree.
How did the Dems get into this mess? How has it developed that an admitted Socialist appears to be the runaway favorite for the nomination? More importantly, how do they extricate themselves from this mess?
As to the former, there are a lot of theories, but I believe that the primary reason is the weak competition. Sanders has his hard core of supporters, but it is nowhere near a majority. He has been thriving against a weak, timid, divided field that is devoid of a strong moderate. No one has been willing to stand up for “traditional” moderate Democrat policies. They’re all deathly afraid of the twitter crowd, which, due to its aggressiveness, wields considerably more power than its numbers would suggest. They don’t seem to realize that the twitter crowd’s opinions reflect merely a small slice of the electorate, not the majority. The anti-Sanders crowd has to coalesce behind a moderate alternative with the courage to speak out. I think a majority of the Dem voters are waiting for such a person. Where is he or she?
As I and many others have been predicting the Dems are likely headed for a brokered convention. Since it appears that no one candidate will have secured a majority of delegates the power brokers will probably have to decide the matter in the proverbial “smoke-filled room.” So much for transparency.
Who will emerge as the candidate? Your guess is as good as mine. It could be anyone. Hillary? Patrick Leahy? Biden? Bloomberg? Someone else? I believe three things are certain: (1) It will NOT be Sanders. (2) His supporters will not react well to being “screwed” twice in a row.; and (3) The “winner” will lose to Trump, possibly in a landslide.