Kamala Harris Rises, Joe Biden Falls in Night 2 of Democratic Debate

by John English

I skipped Night 1 of the debate. I went back and watched highlights but wasn’t really that enthused. Night 2 had more of the bigger guns (Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg), and they didn’t disappoint, at least as far as drama goes. My impressions of how they did, in order of how well they did.

1. KAMALA HARRIS – She has presence, which is very important in debate performances. She had commanding use of her time and had the best one-liners. She looked like she belonged. But why did she raise her hand for getting rid of private insurance if she didn’t mean it?

2. PETE BUTTIGIEG – His calmness through the entire night became more appealing with every shouting match engaged in by the others. He was measured without seeming like he was clinging to talking points. He was able to give solid responses to criticisms of the police shooting in South Bend. He’s still Parks & Roc’s Ben Wyatt, but at least he deserved to be there.

3. JOE BIDEN – Front-runners have to know that everyone on the debate stage will be coming for them, but as seasoned and experienced as Joe is, the onslaught appeared to take him by surprise. His experience calcified, his seasoning turned bland. He looked old up on stage, and the guy that befuddled Paul Ryan in 2012 with his vampiric grin was nowhere to be seen. Joe reminded me of Rick Perry’s debate performance in 2012 during that one month he was the front-runner. Joe didn’t have an “oops” moment, but it’s coming. So why is he in third? Because this won’t knock him out of the #1 spot. He needs a string of bad performances to have that happen.

4. MICHAEL BENNET – Of the candidates who are not in the top six or seven of any poll, I think Bennet did the best. Not enough to leapfrog too many people, but I see this getting him 2% or 3% in polls now instead of 1% or 0%.

5. BERNIE SANDERS – Bernie’s crumpled-suited curmudgeon plays different now than it did in 2016 when he was the only viable option to Hillary Clinton. He waved his arms whenever he spoke, he yelled a lot, and it seemed like any moment, two men in white lab coats would come to escort him off stage.

6. MARIANNE WILLIAMSON – No such thing as bad publicity, right? Well, no one heard of her before last night, and now they are going to. Her ethereal craziness entertained to no end. It was like watching the writers of Kate Hudson rom-coms create a loopy candidate for president that they think would actually win. Bless her heart.

7. ANDREW YANG – He’ll give every American $1000 a month. Other than that, he sat there as stoic as Tim Kang’s Det. Cho from The Mentalist. Or did he? Now he’s saying that NBC cut his mic off so he couldn’t jump into more frays.

8. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND – She was easy to lose in the crowd. She was helped by being next to Harris and therefore getting more time being on the right side of the screen. She was hurt by looking paler than Viserys Targaryen.

9. ERIC SWALWELL – He made me cringe more than once. He had the opposite problem of Yang. He constantly tried to interrupt and interject and was swallowed up by his own overeagerness.

10. JOHN HICKENLOOPER – The ex-governor should bow out now so Steve Bullock can get on stage.

Overall? We learned that the Democratic Party is indeed for open borders AND they want to guarantee health care for anyone who does cross, which means a dramatic increase in illegal border crossings from Central and South America, except it wouldn’t be illegal anymore, so…?

We learned that the vast majority of them are for Medicare For All or some kind of government healthcare that’ll kill private insurance.

How many of them could beat Trump in a debate? Half of them really, but as we learned from 2015-2016, general debates don’t matter that much. It’s the primary ones that’ll get you.

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