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Nate Jackson / Nov. 21, 2019

Demo Debate: What Are They Offering?

The fifth presidential debate yielded nothing new — Trump hate and massive government.

“I’m leaving the fifth Democratic debate now,” says a campaign fundraising email signed by Joe Biden. “I hope I made you proud out there and I hope I made it clear to the world why our campaign is so important.” Except, oops! His campaign sent that email Wednesday afternoon, hours before the debate in Atlanta. And in a nutshell, the goof typifies the gaffe-prone campaign of the former vice president, who turned 77 on Wednesday.

There were 10 candidates on stage last night for round five (the seventh night) of Democrat presidential debates. In order of average poll standing, the ones who made the cut were Joe Biden (27%), Elizabeth Warren (20.3%), Bernie Sanders (18.8%), Pete Buttigieg (8.3%), Kamala Harris (4.8%), Andrew Yang (3%), Cory Booker (1.8%), Amy Klobuchar (1.8%), Tulsi Gabbard (1.3%), and Tom Steyer (1%). While the Democrat-controlled House was busy with its impeachment circus, these 10 Democrats duked it out for the right to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020 after Democrats inevitably fail to remove him from office.

Here are a few of the, er, highlights:

“We cannot simply be consumed by Donald Trump,” Bernie Sanders warned, “because if you are you’re going to lose the election.” Every Democrat struggled with that dilemma last night. Trump usually does take up most of the oxygen in the room, and Democrats struggled to explain why they had anything to offer besides hating Trump.

One of those plans is the disastrous Medicare for All, which Sanders reminded everyone — again — was his idea, yelling, “I wrote the damn bill!” That’s a pretty tired line already, and it’s not a terribly popular policy.

On other policy, billionaire Tom Steyer promised to “declare a state of emergency on day one” of his presidency to tackle climate change. We’ve warned about this expansive view of executive power; don’t be surprised if the next Democrat president doesn’t, in fact, attempt it.

There was infighting. Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker attacked Elizabeth Warren over healthcare and her punitive wealth tax. Kamala Harris went after Tulsi Gabbard for working with Republicans, including — gasp — Donald Trump. Harris then immediately proceeded to tell viewers that she will bring America together. The cognitive dissonance was apparently lost on her.

Gabbard attacked … well, every Democrat. For example, she observed yet again that Hillary Clinton is the “personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.” She added, “Our Democratic Party is unfortunately not the party that is of, by, and for the people.” Gabbard’s sole claim to fame has been the Democrat running against the Democrat Party. Her poll standing shows that strategy isn’t going to win her the party’s nomination, and this was likely her last debate.

Harris bragged about her role in opposition the nominations of three men … who were confirmed by the Senate anyway. “I believe we have to have the ability to not only have a nominee who can go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump,” she said. “And I have taken on Jeff Sessions. I have taken on Bill Barr. I have taken on Brett Kavanaugh. I know I have the ability to do that.” And lose.

Predictably, there was plenty of identity politics to go around. Amy Klobuchar complained about how mistreated women are. Several candidates seem to assert that they are the best option to keep more than 90% of blacks voting Democrat. For example, Cory Booker vacuously asserted, “I’ve had a lot of experience with black voters. … I’ve been one since I was 18.” Not to be outdone, Biden insisted, “I’m part of that Obama coalition. I come out of a black community in terms of my support.”

Arguably the most bizarre claim of the night was this one boast from Klobuchar: “I raised $17,000 from ex-boyfriends.” How’s that for a 2020 slogan?

On a final note, Buttigieg actually uttered what might be the most interesting and compelling line of the night: “I know that from the perspective of Washington, what goes on in my city [South Bend, Indiana] might look small. But frankly, where we live, the infighting on Capitol Hill is what looks small.” That doesn’t mean the mediocre mayor of a town of 100,000 is qualified to be president of the United States, but it does serve as a reminder that what goes on inside the Beltway isn’t usually the most important thing on the average American’s mind. Nor should it be. Yet Democrats continue to run on and expand that very platform at every opportunity.

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