A debate among the Democratic contenders took place last night in Las Vegas and it was the most dramatic and contentious thus far. Michael Bloomberg appeared for the first time and from the start was attacked by the other contenders. It became quickly clear that Bloomberg was not prepared to defend the weaknesses in his record from barbed and penetrating questions, and his performance generated a torrent of negative commentary on social media, including this by @BPMehlman: “Bloomberg brought a wallet to a knife fight.” When asked by Elizabeth Warren about allegations of fostering a hostile workplace and having to settle with disgruntled women in his organization by using non-disclosure agreements (“NDA’s”), Bloomberg failed to answer the question directly and instead made a remark under his breath that “maybe they didn’t like my jokes,” which brought gasps from the audience. Bloomberg was the big loser of the evening. After the debate Warren tweeted this:
I hope you heard what Mayor Bloomberg’s defense of decades of mistreatment to women was: “I’ve been nice to some women.”
That just doesn’t cut it.
The big winner seemed to be Elizabeth Warren. She vanquished Bloomberg early-on and as others squabbled with each other, Warren did more than the rest to preserve some tattered sense of unity. She articulated her policies and record well, and was often the steady voice of reason and good sense among the clamor.
Joe Biden also had a good night, defending his record from attack and showing the down-to-Earth passion and blue-collar sensibility he is known for.
Bernie Sanders had a decent night doing the same thing he has done all along. He explains and defends his positions well and has facts and anecdotes at his fingertips. He was also effective at painting Bloomberg in a bad light.
Amy Klobuchar probably lost ground last night. She was sharply attacked by Pete Buttigieg early on, which put her on the defensive, and then was attacked repeatedly by a moderator for forgetting the name of the President of Mexico. Elizabeth Warren had to come to Amy’s rescue, reminding the moderator and crowd that everyone on that stage had at one time or another forgotten someone’s name, and that it was not important nor relevant to who should be president. But angry and defensive is not where Amy wanted to be.
Pete Buttigieg probably lost ground as well. On one hand, he had several brilliant and well reasoned answers to questions and pertinent criticisms of his opponents, yet his attacks on Klobuchar seemed baldly strategic (she is probably the candidate most in his way at the moment), at times mean spirited (he insinuated that she didn’t know enough), and at times misleading. He seemed desperate to bring her down, and desperation is never attractive.
One of the main deficiencies of the debate was the absence of an attack by the Democrats on Trump’s dismantling of the rule of law and Barr’s betrayal of his oath of office. The candidates all mentioned how important it is to dump Trump in November but many spent their time attacking each other rather than selling voters on how they were going to out-campaign Trump and put a stop to his dirty deeds.
Meanwhile, it was reported yesterday that Julian Assange’s lawyer claimed in a British court recently that California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Trump and Rohrabacher.” – Rep McCarthy) relayed in a face-to-face meeting with Assange that Trump would guarantee a pardon for him if he changed his story and denied that Russia hacked the DNC emails. IF Trump truly offered Assange a pardon in exchange for lying, it would be yet another presidency-ending scandal for anyone occupying the White House prior to Trump. It would be both a betrayal of the presidential oath, a possibly criminal bribe, and an unAmerican (and impeachable) abuse of power. But will it even register in Trump’s morally bankrupt cult of Senators? Will it even last longer than a 24-hour news cycle? Trump is a cancer on our democracy.
CNN’s post on the Trump/Assange report:
Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”