Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Words with friends at the Democratic debate
On Your Right
From the Democratic candidate debate last week, I gather that they are all in agreement that their voters are driven almost entirely by greed, class envy and, especially, by hatred of President Donald Trump. Overwhelmingly, the question both articulated and sub rosa was, “Who can beat him?” So we can, you know, continue to take other people’s money and shower it on our supporters.
To answer, candidates continued to divide and subtract rather than add, even dividing each other from fellow Democrats, as when Wannabe Tribe member Elizabeth Warren characterized the men on stage as those who have “lost 10 elections” while arguing for a woman candidate. Now I have nothing against a female presidential candidate. I’d vote for Condoleezza Rice. I even liked Carly Fiorina. I just don’t like any candidate, male or female, who thinks the state has the right to dictate my every movement and thought and to act as though my money is only what remains after it grabs its ever-larger slice. And I don’t think it particularly seemly to have the gender issue presented in terms like “you losers have had your shot. Push off.” Warren would do well to remember that she’ll need those losers’ supporters if she wins the nomination.
The Bernie Sanders/Warren spat continued after the debate, captured on microphones both should have known were still live, with her whining that “You called me a liar.” And after a desultory attempt to limit the damage, he retorted, “Well, I think you called me a liar.” To channel sci-fi character Rocket, “Oh, boohoo.” What are we, 10 years old? If that slight puts you off your game, Trump will have you flat on your back in 15 seconds in a debate. Better toughen up, kiddies. Politics is a contact sport.
Candidates continued to spar over irrelevancies like Warren’s “Medicare for All,” which will certainly bankrupt the country, though it’s less expensive than Sanders’ schemes. And those of us now burdened with finding a doctor who accepts Medicare payments might advise our would-be leaders that universalizing Medicare in whatever form also will perform a magic trick: It will make health care providers disappear. Perhaps into the world of “concierge care” for well-heeled clients, perhaps into offshore providers for “medical tourism” or into retirement. Who knows? But they aren’t going to be working here for Medicare’s miserly compensation anymore — and we’re going to miss them.
Ditto with proposals to lower and fix drug prices, which will work about as well as price-fixing ever has, which is to say it won’t. What it will do is drive drugs from the marketplace as suppliers seek more remunerative markets elsewhere. Colorado’s insulin users are about to be taught once more the painful lesson about price controls that the entire nation learned when Gerald Ford was president, so stand by for squealing.
Candidates also excoriated Trump’s foreign policy, but there was a problem. When asked how they would deal with concrete challenges — Iran’s nuclear program or North Korea’s penchant for acting out — all agreed that “Iran can never have a nuclear weapon,” but none could articulate an effective strategy to prevent it. Sanders and Warren actually want to pull us completely out of the Middle East. How they think that will deter Iran or succor our friends in the region, they did not make clear.
On the operating theory that there’s no lie like an old lie, there were plenty of those. Sorry, Joe. The American people are not “getting clobbered,” and “the wealthy” are not “the only ones doing well, period.” Working-class salaries are rising faster under Trump than they did under Obama, and workers’ salaries are rising faster overall than those of managers. Period.
Sanders also scored high in the “pants on fire” category. Sorry, senator. We don’t have “… 500,000 people going bankrupt because they cannot pay their medical bills.” Nor do working families pay “… on average 20% of their incomes for health care.” The real figure is closer to 12.7% and how the difference arose is ample evidence that Sanders is not ready for the mathematics of prime time.
Finally there was the host, about which there is only one comment. Attention, CNN, when Rolling Stone calls your performance “villainous and shameful,” you’re finished as a news source with any claim to reliability or honesty. Just give it up. We would all be better off.
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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