DEMOCRATIC DEBATE DOGPILE NUMBER 2
Hello and welcome to night two of the Democratic Hand Raising and Shout Time. The round two energy was shouty, but winners and losers were much more obvious here. We have the combined wisdom of Bernie and Joe (all 153 years of it) at center stage, with Biden flanked by Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Bernie flanked by Kamala Harris, who spoiler alert WON THE NIGHT AND EVERYTHING. Then things got weirder and weirder on the fringes. You’ve got your Andrew “I don’t even own a tie, man” Yang, of the Internet and Universal Basic Income. You’ve got your Colorado contingent John “I love oil” Hickenlooper and Michael “Tiny Mouth” Bennet. You’ve got your Eric “Human Torch” Swalwell and Kristin “I demand to see a manager” Gillibrand. Last but certainly weirdest, you’ve got your Marianne “Too weird for a nickname” Williamson. I literally had not heard ANYTHING about this woman but now I suspect that she is the late Margot Kidder and/or a Thetan and/or a fairie come to trick us all. I honestly don’t know.
An early surprise was the prevalence of robot talk and the relative lack of Spanish (Mayor Pete, poly-lingual fellow that he is, did un poquito Espanol.) Robots: they’re coming for your jobs and Andrew Yang is here with his UBI and his utter love of truck drivers. He wants to give everyone over eighteen $1000 a month. Everyone. That’s so when robots take our jobs, we’ll still have money. This is basically Star Trek. Andrew Yang: It’s Star Trek Time should be his new slogan. $1000 worth of Star Trek walking around money. Basically, he wants to fulfil Gene Roddenberry’s promises of a UBI Federation. Beam him up immediately.
Swalwell (my phone thinks I mean Swallow) came out swinging at Uncle Joe, talking about how Joe promised to pass the torch 32 years ago. Swalwell, like Pepsi, is the choice of a new generation. Joe will never pass a torch, so fucking forget it, Pepsi. We get the first of many split screens during that exchange, and then Bernie perks up and says, we have all the torches because baby boomer greatness, shut up before I box your ears. Lots of people talk about free community college, insuring that my job will not yet be taken by a robot. Mayor Pete takes a weird tack about education, trying to pit it against the $15 minimum wage, but then that’s it.
Everyone starts shouting. Kristin Gillibrand is a blonde nightmare. I joked about Amy Kloubchard being the mean aunt, but that was before I ran into the real mean aunt, KG. She’s demanding to see everyone’s manager, and speaking as a white woman, that is energy you must work to turn aside. She is all but snapping her fingers indignantly. Luckily, Kamala Harris is here to put this courtroom back in order. She has a damned good line about Americans not needing food fights but ways to put food on the table, and it was brilliant and the crowd went wild. (The moderators repeatedly tried to silence this audience, but these Florida ruffians would have none of that.)
Lester “Show of Hands” Holt insists on a healthcare show of hands. Only Bernie and Kamala raise their hands to say that they will abolish private insurance. And we kick off the healthcare section. The rest of the field is reluctant to get rid of private insurance, and they keep talking about letting people who like their insurance keep it. Here is my question: who likes their insurance? Do you? I don’t. I’m a state employee and every raise I get is obliterated by rising premiums. No joke: I got a 4% cost of living raise this year and on July 1st, my insurance premiums are going up 5%. I’m making less money now. Even the simplest procedure can run easily into the thousands. I had to pay $400 for a flu test. I’m just saying: fuck insurance.
Joe Biden says he will fight anyone who tries to scrap Obamacare because it’s a big fucking deal. Bernie basically says that insurance companies run on profit and lies and he doesn’t need plans because he is a fighter and he will also fight. Marianne Willamson also hates plans and insists we have “not a healthcare system but a sickness care system.” What even is that?
The next show of hands is about providing healthcare to undocumented immigrants. Everyone does, indeed, raise their hands, although Biden does this half raise thing that will surely be in all the papers. This kicks off the section on immigration, and the candidates do a fine job explaining why they would provide healthcare to undocumented people. Mayor Pete and Biden make some sound points: Pete says that undocumented people pay into the system and are essential to our economy, and Biden says that they lengthened the life of Social Security. Here, here! I say. They talk about first day issues in regard to the child concentration camps we are currently running, and it takes some (Kamala, in particular) too many words to get to: close the camps. That’s the first thing you say! Hickenlooper wants to reform ICE, which, bitch! Read an article some time. They get into whether unauthorized border crossing should be a criminal offense or a civil one, and all agree it should be civil.
Kamala and Biden mix it up over the Obama era deportation policy, and Biden comes out looking weaksauce. The theme of the night was Biden Bash, and Kamala was the queen of that maneuver. She did it with a passionate energy that did not come off as mean, but rather, honest. The other theme of the night was OLDNESS. Both Biden and Bernie aged twenty years over the course of the debate, with Biden actually cupping his hand around his ear to hear a question. That is like #1 Old Man Gesture. Bernie always has powerful Get Off My Lawn Energy. Marianne Williamson reiterated that the camps are BAD and CHILD ABUSE and KIDNAPPING (which is what they call it in Colorado, cool cool.) She’s not wrong, but lord a’mighty is she a kookoo banana.
I just got done talking with my mother, the ranching Clinton Democrat turned Republican, and she feels like the winner was Mayor Pete. “His eyes are so soft,” she said. “He has such a sweet and honest way about him.” This is, indeed, true. Pete delivers a number of beautiful moments, calling out Republicans’ Christian hypocrisy for praising Jesus and putting children in camps with no toothbrushes at the same time. He talks about SOYBEANS, which is of particular interest to me, and speaks a little about agriculture in general. He also handles a real gotcha question about the recent police shooting of a black man in South Bend. “I didn’t get it done,” he says, and I swear to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that I gasped at that. How unusual to hear someone take real responsibility. Even when pressed, by known turd Swalwell, Pete stood his ground and delivered a moving message. That kicked off the race talk, and our dear Rachel Maddow made her own gaffe after she let Pete and Joe talk about race and then tried to cut Kamala off. “As the only black woman here, I’d like to speak,” she says, and oooh it was something.
Kamala pivots to take Biden to task for his hobnobbing with segregationists. But even more skillfully, she goes after his voting record of opposing bussing. I really felt like the heavens opened up on this one, and I could hear an angelic choir (I’m sorry--Pete got me in the spirit). Watching this woman, I was blown away. The compassion, the regular passion, the honesty. I’m swooning. And Joe, good old Joe, stood his dumb and old ground. “State’s rights,” he sputtered. Not a good look, Joe. Kamala insists that history has proven that the states do not preserve civil rights, and Biden starts to answer and then. Just. stops. Talking. I’m sure his debate prep team breathed a huge sigh of relief when he finally stopped.
Bernie decides he’s had enough of the nonsense and spends the next round telling Chuck Todd to go fuck himself, and also GUTS. Bernie loves GUTS. We don’t need plans, we need GUTS. Technically, this is true: if we didn’t have GUTS we would all die, and then what? Squids become sentient and get their shot at fucking up the planet? GUTS are necessary. Chuck Todd pulls one of his patented one word answer questions, but this group is not as good at counting as the first group, and say thirty to five hundred words a piece. (Fuck yo question, which is what Bernie basically says, is the closest anyone comes.) We also get a sort of weird question about what they would do if Roe has already been struck down by the time they come into office, and Bernie basically says Medicare for All is Abortion, Rachel.
Apparently Kristin Gillibrand started acting up at this point, and my notes say: KG shut up--you are no Julian Castro. You’re not even Joaquin Castro. (Who I am sure is great but shut up KG.) Kamala says she supports the Green New Deal and I’m like YAY! And Pete talks about rural America as the solution, not the problem and I say YAY and also SAY SOYBEANS AGAIN, YOU ANGEL. He doesn’t say soybeans but he does say SOIL and I say YAYAYAY! Hickenlooper loves oil so much he wants to marry it. Get out, oil lover. Go back to your marijuana, with your weird little lobster claw hands.
They’re asked about first day priorities, and but Chuck Todd phrases it like a hit on the Obama administration. Biden promptly offers to fight anyone to the death who disses his best friend in the whole world, Barack. Marianne Williamson says the first thing she’s going to do is call the prime minister of New Zealand and tell her she sucks. IT IS FUCKING WILD, YA’LL. Of all the things in the world, an attack on New Zealand is not what I expected! Crazy people hate the Southern Hemisphere, apparently. Maybe because the toilet flush backwards? IDK. Swalwell says guns, and we enter the gun part of the evening. Remember yesterday when I said that no Dem was going to say that they were going to take guns away. Guess what? Torchy Swalwell is here to take all your guns and laugh straight in your face about it. I think Swalwell is a fucking joke, but he is right about the things we do because gun violence has invaded our lives. Memorizing our children’s clothing in the morning, eyeing the fire exits at the movies--all of that is real. Pete says if guns made us safer, we’d be the safest country in the world, and that’s a great point too. Biden says he’ll take guns and then give everyone smart guns, which is great when your husband shoots you with his smart gun.
Chuck one words a question about a relationship reset with a foreign country, which is a dumb and bad question that illicits a lot of dumb answers. Pete adorably says he doesn’t know because Trump will have pissed off someone else by the time he gets into office. It’s real cute. There’s some scrapping between Biden and Bernie about the Iraq war, and Bernie makes it clear that no one hates wars more than he does, and Biden loves wars so much.
AT LAST, we get to the closing statements. Here we go:
Swalwell: old people suck, I AM A FATHER, diaper joke
Marianne Williamson: I have delved into Donald Trump’s psyche and he loves fear but I love love and will harness it? (This is WILD.)
Bennet (I have written literally nothing about him, but I will say that he hates the fuck out of MItch McConnell, so that’s cool): generational mobility/broad collation
Hickenlooper: small business, Colorado loves weed, Socialism is bad
Gillibrand: I am a rude pyromaniac and I demand to see the manager
Yang: thanks, Internet and Joe Rogan. UBI and also not left or right but forward (and always twirling, twirling towards freedom.)
Harris is here to prosecute the case against Trump and she’s wonderful and she has a website.
Pete: I’m a gay married vet and I’m just a cute little baby who will fix everything.
Biden: Trump is a racist and we’ve never had a racist for president before (WRONG!) Trump is corrupt and we’ve never had presidents who’ve embraced dictators (WRONG).
(We’ve had those things, just not all at the same time!) Also God and Troops.
There you have it, folks. Winners: Kamala and Pete. Losers: Biden, Colorado. Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson may be Kodos and Kang here to infiltrate our country. I can’t wait to see Elizabeth Warren on a stage with these people. Smooches!