I actually managed to watch the full debate last night without once trying to punch my computer or throw it across the room. In fact, there were several points at which I laughed aloud, causing the girls to look at me in awe, for it is a sound they don’t often hear coming from me these days. Typically, I think the value of the debates is far over-rated by the pundits, but it is an opportunity to see the candidates speak for themselves, see how they handle pressure under fire. But, if I want to know what their platform is, I will go to OnTheIssues.org which is the best place I have found over the years to get all the candidates’ platforms in one place.
What follows is only my takeaway from last night’s debate. I have no doubt that others will have different opinions, but since I gave up two hours of my life that I can never get back, I thought the least I could do is opine just a bit.
There are six democratic candidates left from the 20+ that entered the race:
- Bernie Sanders
- Elizabeth Warren
- Joe Biden
- Pete Buttigieg
- Amy Klobuchar
- Michael Bloomberg
The main reason I watched this debate last night … the first one I watched all the way through … was that I wanted to see how Mike Bloomberg handled the pressure of the questions he was inevitably going to get regarding his racist profiling in the stop-and-frisk policy he implemented in New York City, and the reports of sexist behaviour toward women in his businesses. So, let me start with my take on Bloomberg’s performance last night.
The first word that comes to mind here is: arrogant. His body language and facial expressions said: I’m above all of this, I’m far above all these others, why am I even here? Not one time did he actually smile, not once did he engage in any form of camaraderie with the others, and he rolled his eyes several times when asked a question that he felt unfair, or when critiqued by another candidate. I sometimes think that body language and facial expressions tell as much as the words that come out of a person’s mouth.
But going beyond that, Mr. Bloomberg’s responses were unsatisfying, at best. He seemed to defend his stop-and-frisk policy, though he has apologized for it. But an apology is just words, and as they say, actions speak louder than words. His defense of the reasons he started the policy was a turn-off for me. Then there was the little matter of the treatment of women in his company. Much of what women have alleged, Bloomberg denies, and yet … and yet, those women have been made to sign non-disclosure agreements. One must ask why. Elizabeth Warren called on Bloomberg to release the women from the agreements so the public could hear their allegations, but Bloomberg flatly refused. According to much of what I have read, Bloomberg’s attitudes toward women, his vulgar language and crass remarks, are no better than Donald Trump’s. If he wants transparency, what better place to start?
There were two candidates whose fire and genuine passion stood out last night: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The media have declared Sanders the winner of the debate, but in my humble opinion, while they were both great, I’d give Warren the prize. Perhaps this is a slight prejudice on my part, for I frankly think the time has come for us to steer away from the old, white, male image of the presidency. Nonetheless, Warren showed us what she’s made of, and I liked it.
Joe Biden. Sigh. Poor Joe … by most standards, and judging by history, Joe Biden should be the #1 frontrunner. He has the most applicable experience, he understands foreign policy in a way that not a single one of the others do, and he has good ideas. What he lacks, though, is the persona. He simply hasn’t got the passion, seems to have lost his way somewhere along the line. Perhaps it is still the effects of his son’s death that have turned his world to grey, or perhaps it is the constant barrage of mindless accusations by Donald Trump that have taken the wind out of his sails. Either way, he just wasn’t quite … there.
I like Pete Buttigieg, though perhaps not quite as much as I did in the beginning. A few things stood out last night, but the biggest one was his almost continual attacks on Amy Klobuchar, some of which seemed unfair, to say the least. The media, and Pete, have made much of the fact that when asked the name of the president of Mexico last week, she couldn’t remember. It has been blown far out of proportion, and Buttigieg seized on it last night … unrelentingly. Heck, there are days that I cannot remember my own name, let alone the president of Mexico’s! Buttigieg does his homework, but it would have shown humanity to have let it drop. He disappointed me in his attacks on Klobuchar. Buttigieg has a few things in his favour with me, though, and one is that while the other five have a net worth in the millions, or in Bloomberg’s case, billions, Pete Buttigieg’s net worth is approximately $100,000. This impresses me far more than Bloomberg’s $63 billion.
I thought Amy handled the stress of Pete’s attacks fairly well, but a few times she did seem overly emotional, such as when she said, “Are you trying to say that I’m dumb?” Far too much has been made over a bit of momentary forgetfulness, I think. Overall, I was impressed with Ms. Klobuchar’s heart. I believe she cares very much about people and would be a strong advocate for human rights, but I have to wonder if she’s a bit too emotional and too thin-skinned for the job of president, for more than once it seemed as if she was near tears.
As for the debate itself … two main takeaways. First, while climate change and the environment was briefly discussed, it was altogether too brief. When the DNC refused to hold a debate focused solely on climate change, they made a huge mistake, in my book, for this is the single most crucial issue on the ballot. While each candidate said one of their first moves as president would be to re-join the Paris Accords, that’s about all we learned. I want to know details! I want to know more than the 5 minutes or so that climate change was discussed last night provided.
Secondly, I was put off and rather disgusted by the structure of the debate. Candidates had small bits of time to answer a question, then when time was up they kept on talking, while all the others on stage were rudely interrupting, and with six people plus the moderators all talking at once, the closed captioning was useless and it was impossible to discern what anybody was saying. I don’t know what the answer to this is for future debates, but I do wish somebody would come up with one. It would have been far more helpful if all the candidates had stuck with giving their opinions of the issues rather than their opinions of their opponents.
Overall, I was glad I watched for I got a bit of a feel for the personas of the candidates, but as I said in the beginning, if I want to know their platforms and ideologies, I’ll turn to another venue. Unfortunately, the infighting is doing nobody any good, and it is almost certain that no single candidate will end up with a clear majority by the time of the nominating convention in mid-July, which opens a whole ‘nother can of worms. Sigh.