Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Death match debate
On Your Right
Another week, another Democratic presidential candidate debate. At least “Live from Las Vegas” wasn’t boring.
The knives were definitely out last Wednesday as the socialist frontrunner tried to retain his position while the newcomer in the “capitalist pig” lane got stabbed more times than Caesar on the Senate floor. Joe Biden alternated between sleeping with his eyes open and shouting inarticulately about his concern for the little guy, Elizabeth Warren continued her “free stuff” pitch, and the also-ran candidates tried desperately to revive campaigns circling the drain through a series of insults, pokes and feigned indignation. Now, that’s entertainment.
I didn’t know Michael Bloomberg was a Beatles fan, but he was humming that Lennon/McCartney tune “Can’t Buy Me Love” for most of the show. He was right to do so: His $400-million-plus advertising blitz and promises of rich tribute to the Democratic National Committee bought him a spot on the podium, but money can’t make a person more well-informed, smarter or quicker on their feet. That said, he did get in one of the better one-liners of the debate when he remarked of his opponent Bernie Sanders that “… the best known socialist in the country is a millionaire with three houses.” Is this a great country or what?
Saint Elizabeth the Wannabe had a decent night going after Mikey B. She attacked him immediately and personally in her first statement and didn’t let up, berating him particularly for all those nasty things he did to all those women on his staff that we don’t know about because he made them sign nondisclosure agreements. The senator either doesn’t know or doesn’t care how nondisclosure agreements are used in business, but in the age of #MeToo, the damage was done when the accusation was made. It’s “burn the witch” time in the party of the enlightenment, so Warren’s slap hurt.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar had a tiff that did neither much good: He accused her of not knowing the name of Mexico’s president and of belittling his work as mayor, and she accused him of ignoring her work in Washington and insinuating she was dumb. The exchange became so heated that Warren and moderator Chuck Todd intervened. Attention, children: If you are put off by this level of dismissiveness, neither of you are ready to debate President Donald Trump. Better luck next time.
There were old, tired lies so transparent one could see through them from space. Joe, the American people are not “getting clobbered” financially. Bernie, 500,000 people a year are not going bankrupt because of medical bills. No matter how often you both insist they are. And Pete, when you say your health care plan allows everyone to keep their old plan if they like, well some of us remember when that phrase was used to sell “Obamacare” like the snake oil it was. Bad turn of phrase.
The rumble in Las Vegas only served to underline the conundrum into which the Democratic Party has placed itself in its obsession with defeating Trump, and damn the price. Two great hopes for forestalling Sanders —Biden and Buttigieg — are becoming irrelevant, the former because he can’t seem to speak to the time and place in which he finds himself and the latter because America will not elect him president. Not out of homophobia, but out of concern that if a gay man gains control of the executive, we will witness the state embracing the sort of activism against the private preferences and beliefs of a vast majority of citizens that Urvashi Vaid advocates in “The Nation,” thus ending the Western tradition of private life in America.
Which leaves Democrats with three equally unpalatable prospects: one of two far-left socialists, neither of whom seem to have a problem with using state power to compel “appropriate” behavior from citizens, a man wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice for whom the term “elitist” seems to have been personally tailored, and an apparently fragile senator from a fairly staid Midwestern state. July’s convention is shaping up to be a brawl.
It might be possible for the eventual victor of a brokered process to have success against Trump, but not without party unity. So will the Bernie Bros and Warrenites accept a latecomer who parachutes in on a canopy of cash without bothering with the preliminaries? Unlikely.
Get popcorn. This is gonna be good.
Morgan Liddick’s column “On Your Right” publishes Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Liddick spent 27 years working for the U.S. Foreign Service, primarily living abroad. He also spent 12 years teaching U.S. history and Western civilization at community colleges in Colorado and Texas. He lived in Summit County as recently as 2015. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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