Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Debate blogging

Lord Chatham (Pitt the elder) collapsing during a debate on American independence in the House of Lords, 1778, via NewEgg

Monsignor Ross Douthat, apostolic nuncio to 42nd Street, says Klobuchar and Buttigieg won the debate by giving people who like Biden a reason not to necessarily vote for Biden, I think:
they’re problem-solving Midwesterners with realistic policy blueprints who can win swing states, and (less explicitly) that they’re like Biden in their practicality and electability but unlike him in their relative youth and lack of baggage.
I hardly noticed either one of them. My notes praise Klobuchar for explaining that anti-trust law is about encouraging competition—
Start talking about this as a pro-competition issue. This used to be a Republican and Democratic issue, because America, our founding fathers, actually wanted to have less consolidation. We were a place of entrepreneurship. We are seeing a startup slump in this country. (WaPo running transcript)
and laugh at Buttigieg for "a plan for 'depoliticizing' Supreme Court that's so Baroque the National Review might like it"

one way to fix this would be to have a 15-member court where five of the members can only be appointed by unanimous agreement of the other 10. Smarter legal minds than mine are discussing this in the Yale Law Journal and how this could be done without a constitutional amendment. But the point is that not everybody arrives on a partisan basis.

Frank Bruni, with typical finesse, found that Elizabeth Warren was the big winner and the big loser:

It Was the Best of Warren. It Was the Worst of Warren.

Actually he isn't that bad: he thinks she won, but he can't understand why she continues to try to obfuscate the obvious fact that taxes are going to be involved in a Medicare For All plan (generally  compensated, in theory, but the elimination of private insurance premiums) even immediately after Sanders clarified that they were if there was anybody in the audience who doubted it:
LACEY: Senator Warren, will you acknowledge what the senator just said about taxes going up?
WARREN: So my view on this, and what I have committed to, is costs will go down for hardworking, middle-class families. I will not embrace a plan like Medicare for all who can afford it that will leave behind millions of people who cannot. And I will not embrace a plan that says people have great insurance right up until you get the diagnosis and the insurance company says, "Sorry, we're not covering your expensive cancer treatments, we're not covering your expensive treatments for MS."
Pretty sure nobody is advocating a system that doesn't cover cancer or MS treatments. It might have been nice to talk about how the socialist side of the Affordable Care Act, expanded Medicaid, has transformed the lives of multiple sclerosis patients really radically, while the capitalist side, private insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, hasn't done as well, with big out-of-pocket maximums allowing insurance companies to force the patient to spend thousands per year (though it still absolutely saves lives), and what the status quo candidates would do about it, if anything (Klobuchar, for one, has been active in the Senate leaning on the drug manufacturers, but not on the insurance companies). But is "Medicare for all who can afford it" really going to be expensive enough to shut out a significant number of people who are too well off for Medicaid but can't pay for whatever it is?
Today, a family of three making $31,000 a year pays about $1,200 annually for “silver” coverage on the marketplace.6 Under Pete’s plan, they will pay a maximum of roughly $600 a year for higher quality (i.e., gold-level) coverage. 

Jennifer Rubin has a complete scorecard, which may represent her feelings more than anything that actually happened:
Winners: Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, Biden (although not for his rebuttal on Hunter), moderate Democrats, the New York Times and CNN moderators.
Losers: Warren, Medicare-for-all, kicking Trump off Twitter, O’Rourke.
Sanders because he didn't look like he was going to have another heart attack any time soon, which was true. I thought the moderators were dreadful, failing to follow up or fact check anything, refusing to ask a single question about climate change (see Bethesda1971 on this), and enforcing the time limits so rigorously as to just cut off sentence after sentence.

It was Kamala Harris who wanted to kick Trump off Twitter, giving Warren a chance to note that she wanted to kick Trump out of the White House, which seems more germane. Warren also had the best line on impeachment, I thought, because it's similar to mine, that you can't wait for the election because he keeps committing crimes:
When I made the decision to run for president, I certainly didn't think it was going to be about impeachment. But when the Mueller report came out, I read it, all 442 pages. And when I got to the end, I realized that Mueller had shown, too, a fare-thee-well, that this president had obstructed justice and done it repeatedly. And so at that moment, I called for opening an impeachment inquiry.
Now, that didn't happen. And look what happened as a result. Donald Trump broke the law again in the summer, broke it again this fall. You know, we took a constitutional oath, and that is that no one is above the law, and that includes the president of the United States.
I think Tom Steyer won the best applause pitch, with a universal pander
this is my first time on this stage, so I just want to start by reminding everybody that every candidate here is more decent, more coherent, and more patriotic than the criminal in the White House.
raising and then dropping again the question of why the hell he wants to run.

Tulsi Gabbard gets the dishonesty award for using the phrase "regime change war" 11 times in less than a minute to describe the US presence in Syria battling the Da'esh irregulars and consistently rejecting the goal of changing the Syrian regime.

The one I liked less than I usually do was Harris, who just seems limited to issues she has particular experience with, reminding us that she doesn't have a lot of experience (in the Medicare For All segment she changed the subject to abortion—not that it isn't important!!!—but we need to know what she thinks about health care accessibility). I keep thinking her idea of the presidency is going to be grilling Trump as she would if she got him to show up for a Judiciary hearing. I was baffled when she countered Warren's plan to use existing antitrust law to break up Facebook with the hope that new antitrust laws would stop Trump from abusing Twitter. "Why is Elizabeth Warren biased against Facebook in favor of Twitter" is not a great stance. I'm still convinced she has the real stuff in a way I can't say Beto or Mayor Pete does, but I increasingly doubt this is her time.

The one I liked better than expected was Sanders, for his honesty on the Medicare For All question, and his nice dismissal of Hunter Biden as an issue, and a sense that he was saying a number of things beyond what he usually says, and I liked his quietly uttered but very pointed response to Biden bragging about how he has spent his career getting big things done: some of them weren't very good things, and some of them were things somebody else did. Sanders reminded us of some of the former, with justification.
SANDERS: Joe, you talked about working with Republicans and getting things done. But you know what you also got done? And I say this as a good friend. You got the disastrous war in Iraq done. You got a bankruptcy bill, which is hurting middle-class families all over this country...

Dana Milbank says Trump lost the debate:
In Ohio on Tuesday, Democrats sounded very much like Republicans of yore in denouncing Trump for jeopardizing national security.
“When I was deployed, I knew one of the things keeping me safe was the flag on my shoulder represented a country that kept its word,” said South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a veteran. “You take away the honor of our soldiers, you might as well go after their body armor next. This president has betrayed American values.”
Well, I'll drink to that. Hope it's true!

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