The fifth Democrat Presidential debate starts in one-half hour, at 8:00PM ET. I’m posting this well before time, since when you are reading this, I may (or may not) still be traveling, and so my presence may (or may not) be in spirit only. In either case, I’m sure comments will be lively!
Here is what NBC has to say about the event and the venue:
The debate is being held at Texas Southern University on Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET and will be co-hosted by ABC and Univision. Viewers should stock up on provisions — it’s slated to run for three hours.
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir, network correspondent Linsey Davis and Univision’s Jorge Ramos will be the moderators.
(I think I know what NBC means by “provisions,” but unfortunately there are no decent drinking games for this debate at the time of this writing. Perhaps that meme has finally exhausted itself.) More:
Unlike the prior debates, this one will feature all the highest-polling candidates — including former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — on stage at the same time.
The “all on one stage” story is one ubiquitous story line. Media bias is another. Still NBC:
The candidates with the highest polling averages — Biden and Warren — will be center stage. The overall order from left to right is Klobuchar, Booker, Buttigieg, , Harris, Yang, O’Rourke and Castro
So, there are two “leaders” at the center, Biden and Warren, but if you read carefully, you will see that there are three candidates at the center: Sanders, Biden, and Warren. It’s almost like a mysterious force erased one of the candidates, isn’t it? (And if you’ve been following dk’s aggregations, which have no “secret sauce” and use a consistent set of polls aggregated at set times, you will have seen that the trendlines have had and have Sanders with a consistent lead over Warren if you look at trendlines, despite a vociferous PR campaign by liberal Democrat media assets in Warren’s favor.)
Another story line is “Warren v. Biden is the main event.” Here is a splendid example from the Houston Chronicle:
These 10 have never shared the stage before. Biden and Elixzabeth Warren will stand shoulder to shoulder for the first time and may attract much of the pre-event hype, but any number of significant friction points could emerge in a group that highlights the extraordinary diversity of the 2020 class. There will be three women on stage, four racial minorities, one gay man and an age gap that spans four decades.
Note again that Biden is standing shoulder to shoulder with Sanders, too, and yet the same mysterious force that erased Sanders at NBC erased him at the Houston Chronicle. In any case, readers will not be surprised to learn that I view a bout of liberal v. liberal as less interesting than tag team bout between two liberals v. the left (though I’m not saying that Biden and Warren will in fact form a tag team; my sense is that Warren will attack the most vulnerable opponent, which is surely Biden). Oh, and since when goes [x] Jew not count when totalling up diversity virtue points?
Now, to be fair, Warren has good reason to go after Biden:
Warren has long resented Biden’s role in passing the 2005 bankruptcy bill, which she argued was an affront to average consumers. She also views Biden as more of an incrementalist who doesn’t support the kind of far-reaching change that she believes is needed — a line that Biden has been preparing to counter.
Since the debate is in Houston, there is also the “turn Texas blue” angle:
Castro and O’Rourke will stand side by side on one end of the debate stage; former Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, who has polled consistently higher than his competitors, will be center stage, sandwiched between U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The lineup and setting of Thursday’s debate couldn’t be more symbolic of the case Democrats will make as they argue for how they can flip Texas — which President Donald Trump won by 9 percentage points in 2016 — next year. Doing so will rely, in part, on energizing a growing coalition of young people, people living in suburban areas and voters of color.
Oh, so this is a “growing coalition.” The same so-called coalition used to be called “the Obama Coalition,” but what good is a coalition that falls apart after two (miserably inadequate) Presidential terms? Anyhow, just what the Democrats need; more former Republican Blue Dogs.
I will almost certainly be unable to watch, but I’d summarize one question I’d ask as “Can anybody make Biden bleed out of both eyes this time?” For example:
Q: Joe, how’s the asthma?
The reason why I’m asking is you received five student draft deferments during the Vietnam War draft, the same number as Donald Trump and Dick Cheney. And in 1968, when your student status was wrapping up, you were medically reclassified as “not available” due to asthma as a teenager.
In your autobiography, you described your active youth as a lifeguard and high school football player. You also lied (note: Biden lies are usually called gaffes) about being on the University of Delaware football team. Was all that hard with asthma? Were you diagnosed for asthma in 1968 by a podiatrist? Your vice presidential physicals mention multiple aneurysms. Asthma, no.
Let me read you a quote, Joe. “You have somebody who thinks it’s all right to have somebody go in his place into a deadly war and is willing to pretend to be disabled to do it. That is an assault on the honor of this country.” Your fellow presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg said that about President “Bone Spurs” Trump. Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth, who was wounded in Iraq, called Trump a “coward.” Do you agree with those comments?
Granted, from the American Conservative. And not likely to change the mind of any voters with Obama’s portrait framed, hanging on their living room wall, and lit up at night. But Biden’s had it pretty easy so far, I would say.
Meanwhile, there’s Sanders. I would say his strategy would be determined by not by the press, or by the Beltway, or by the polls, but on what his internal polling is telling him (polling which has to measure conversions from non-voters to likely voters). But that information is closely held. If Sanders adopts at “steady as she goes” posture, I’d speculate his internal polling is going ok. Because if so, why change?
Enjoy, and as always, be excellent to each other!