Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Live-blogging the second 2020 Democratic debate (second night)

I'll be live-blogging the Democratic debate in this post. Keep reloading this post for more updates!

[Here's the debate transcript.]

It starts at 8 Eastern, and you can watch it online on CNN's website.

Again, I won't be able to pause or rewind when I'm blogging live, so the quotes in this post might not be verbatim, but I'll try to keep them fairly accurate. (I also might correct things later.)

My mom, Ann Althouse, is also live-blogging. (Maybe not very much, but she's doing it!)

These are the 10 candidates for tonight:

former Vice President Joe Biden
Sen. Kamala Harris
Sen. Cory Booker
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
former Secretary Julián Castro
Mayor Bill de Blasio
Sen. Michael Bennet
Gov. Jay Inslee
Andrew Yang

8:04 - I didn't quite hear what Kamala Harris and Joe Biden said to each other when Harris came out to Biden (the first two to walk onto the stage), but it sounded like Harris said, "Are we good?" and Biden said: "We're good."

8:14 - Bill de Blasio brags about raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour — "Yes, it can be done!" Yes, it can be done in New York City, the most expensive city in the country. That doesn't make it a good idea to set the same wage in a poor area where that policy could take away jobs.

8:16 - Michael Bennet says in his opening statement: "Mister President, kids belong in classrooms, not cages."

8:18 - Kirsten Gillibrand seems to be implicitly responding to the candidates last night who focused on being pragmatic and having policies that are politically feasible: "When are civil rights ever convenient?"

8:21 - Castro: "We're not going back to the past. We're not going 'back where we came from.' We're moving forward."

8:22 - Andrew Yang: "We need to do the opposite of what we've been doing now. The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian math nerd. So let me share the math…" This segues into explaining how he'll give all Americans $1,000 a month.

8:25 - Something's wrong with the audio from Kamala Harris's microphone.

8:26 - Joe Biden focuses on the diverse group of candidates on the stage. "Mister President … we are stronger and great because of this diversity, not in spite of it."

8:28 - Kamala Harris is asked about the Biden campaign's attacks on her health-care plan for being "confusing." "They're probably confused because they've not read it."

8:29 - Biden on Harris's 10-year projections for her health plan: "If someone tells you something good will take 10 years, you should ask why it'll take 10 years.… You'll lose your health insurance." Harris says that's "simply inaccurate," and counterattacks: "Babies will be born into my plan.… Your plan, by contrast, leaves out 10 million Americans." When Biden emphasizes the costs of Harris's plan — $30 trillion, according to Biden — Harris shoots back: "The cost of doing nothing is far too expensive."

8:33 - Kirsten Gillibrand worries that the people watching right now will "lose the forest for the trees" on health care. Gillibrand calls out the candidates whose health-care proposals depend on private insurers: "I'm sorry, they're for-profit companies! … They have fat in the system that's real, and it should be going to health care." Kamala Harris takes Gillibrand's side against Biden: "I couldn't agree more."

8:36 - The moderator asks Cory Booker how he can square various different statements he's made about health care, but he doesn't answer the question. He just wants them all to get along: "The person who's enjoying this debate the most right now is Donald Trump, as we pit Democrats against each other."

8:39 - Kamala Harris says that Biden's health plan, which doesn't cover everyone, is "without excuse." Biden says: "It will cover everyone." But then he badly trips over his words — for a while there I wasn't sure he'd ever finish his sentence. Once he finally gets back to speaking coherently, he stops mid-sentence the instant the moderator cuts him off — the second time that's happened to Biden tonight.

8:42 - Kamala Harris raises a very serious problem: "I have met so many Americans who stick to a job they don't like … simply because they need the health care that employer provides." She and Bennet proclaim their friendship with each other and accuse each other of lying. Bennet says Harris would make private health insurance "illegal." Harris seems exasperated at Bennet: "You gotta stop!"

8:44 - Jay Inslee: "There's no reason we should distinguish between your physiological and your mental health."

8:45 - Yang says when he told his wife he wanted to run for president, her first question was: "What are we going to do about our health care?"

8:46 - Bill de Blasio: "I don't understand why Democrats on this stage are fear-mongering about universal health care."

8:47 - Bennet says, "This has nothing to do with a Republican talking point," except he sounds like Bill Murray playing a drunk guy, so it really sounds more like: "This has nothing to do wih' Repu'lin talling poin'."

8:49 - Biden mocks Bill de Blasio and Harris Kamala: "I don't know what math you do in New York! I don't know what math you do in California!"

8:51 - Biden gets mad: "We should put some of the insurance executives who don't like my plan in jail for the millions of opioids they put out there!"

8:54 - Now we're in the immigration section, which I'm less interested in — not because I don't care about the issue, but because I don't expect them to say much new. But Kamala Harris has a strong moment describing what she saw when she and Castro went to a facility for children. The security guards wouldn't let her in, so she went across the street, climbed a ladder, and looked inside.

8:56 - Audience members have been yelling over the candidates. The moderator tells Biden to keep talking over them. But earlier, the moderator had Cory Booker stop until the loudmouths were done, and they went on a long time. I don't see why the policy about how to deal with these losers keeps changing.

9:00 - Yang says Democrats shouldn't only be talking about the most "distressed" immigration stories; they should talk about people like his dad, an immigrant who got a lot of patents in the US.

9:02 - Biden says America is so great because "we've been able to cherry-pick the best from every culture." He means that to be a strong pro-immigration statement, but it might not go over well with progressives to suggest that the US should "cherry-pick" the "best" people — that sounds restrictive.

9:04 - De Blasio asks Biden if when he was vice president, he resisted President Obama's massive numbers of deportations. Biden refuses to answer, making a procedural argument about confidentiality: "I keep whatever I said to him, private." Booker practically laughs in Biden's face for trying to "have it both ways": he talks about Obama more than any other candidate does, but won't answer de Blasio's question about Obama. Booker uses Trump's infamous phrase "shithole countries," without getting bleeped!

9:13 - Biden says people in prison "should be learning to read and write, not just learning how to be better criminals." Biden has a better habit of cutting off the ends of his own answers by saying things like: "Anyway!" He sometimes seems to be almost throwing his hands up at himself!

9:14 - Biden accidentally calls Cory Booker "the president," but catches himself, good-naturedly grabs Booker's arm, and says: "Excuse me, the future president here!" Booker looks delighted: "I'm glad he's already endorsed my presidency!"

9:16 - Biden criticizes Booker for his record on crime in New Jersey — "stop and frisk" and hiring a former Rudolph Giuliani staffer on crime. The way Booker starts out his response gets a big reaction from the audience: "If you want to compare records … and I can't believe you do …"

9:18 - Inslee says we "need to ban the box," meaning forbid employers from asking applicants about their criminal records. Does he know that this leads to more racial discrimination, because employers use people's race as a proxy for their criminal records?

I avoid writing on the internet about actual or alleged crimes in New York City.

9:23 - Moderator Jake Tapper asks Kamala Harris if Biden is right to say their position on federally mandated busing is "the same" — they're both against it. Harris says: "That is simply false.… On that issue, we could not be more apart."

9:26 - Biden tells us to Google: [a thousand people freed kamala harris].

9:27 - Tulsi Gabbard is "deeply concerned" about Kamala Harris's record on criminal justice. Gabbard says Harris put a lot of people in jail for marijuana but then laughed when asked if she had used marijuana, "blocked evidence" that could have freed wrongly accused people on death row, and "kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor." "When you were in a position to make a difference in these people's lives … you did not." Harris's response to this serious attack is weak; for instance, one of the things she says is that she's "personally" opposed to the death penalty, but that doesn't really respond to any of Gabbard's points. I'm interested to see if Harris's inability to respond to Gabbard's attack causes progressives to start rethinking Harris.

9:31 - Bennet, again, seems less like he's running for president and more like he's auditioning for the role of "drunk man."

9:33 - Yang is asked why he'd be the best president to heal racial divides. Shockingly, Yang's answer is … he'd give everyone $1,000 a month.

9:38 - Confession: I'm not really listening to Inslee. I don't take a candidate seriously when they make their campaign all about one issue. No matter how important that issue is, the presidency is about more than one issue.

9:43 - Gillibrand has possibly the weirdest line of the night: "The first thing I'm going to do if I am president is I will Clorox the Oval Office." Gillibrand is getting very peppy: "Why not have a green energy race with China?"

9:46 - Booker: "Nobody should get applause for rejoining the Paris climate accord. That is kindergarden!"

9:49 - Biden is asked how he'll energize progressives enough to get the turnout he'll need to win Michigan in the Electoral College. Biden lists things the Obama administration did for Michigan specifically, e.g. the bailout of car companies helped Detroit. He missed the opportunity to address the broader question about why progressives (in any state) should be excited about voting for him.

9:54 - Harris on Trump: "He has done nothing except beat people down instead of lift people up. And that's what we want in the next President of the United States." That was poorly worded!

9:59 - Dana Bash asks Castro: wage growth is up, and Castro proposes to raise taxes — how can he guarantee that won't hurt the economy? Castro says Trump shouldn't take credit because the same thing was happening under Obama. What he doesn't tell us that the trajectory has been better lately than under Obama:

employee compensation has increased by $150 billion more in the first six months of 2019 than all of 2016. Compensation increased 42% more during the first two years of the Trump Presidency than in 2015 and 2016. This refutes the claim by liberals that the economy has merely continued on the same trajectory since 2017 as it was before.
10:03 - The debate's been going on for 2 hours now. I don't know if I can keep paying attention enough to write this. It's been pretty boring.

10:08 - Kamala Harris tells a blatant lie that hurts women: that women are systematically paid only about 80 cents on the dollar. If people are tricked into believing that lie, that will encourage people to stick to traditional gender roles by deterring women from participating in the labor force. No matter how progressive a spin you put on it, you can't change the economic rule that if people think they're going to get less of a reward, they'll be less motivated to do it.

10:12 - Gillibrand accuses Biden of saying that women who leave the home and work in the labor force are harming society. Of course, Biden denies ever saying or thinking that.

10:15 - Booker on Trump: "I will not do foreign policy by tweet. A guy who tweets out that he's pulling troops out of Afghanistan, before his generals even know about it, is creating a dangerous situation for our troops in Afghanistan."

10:16 - Tulsi Gabbard has a particularly serious moment talking about what she saw when she was deployed to Iraq in 2005.

10:20 - Biden is asked about his vote to authorize the Iraq War. Predictably, he says: "I did make a bad judgment trusting the president…" Gabbard agrees: "We were all lied to."

10:22 - Kamala Harris on the Mueller report: "I've read it. There are 10 clear incidents of obstruction of justice by this president. I've seen people go to prison for much less."

10:23 - Booker and Castro call for impeachment proceedings against Trump. De Blasio suggests that if people keep hearing about impeachment whenever they turn on the TV, they'll feel like no one's talking about how to make the economy better. "The best impeachment is beating him in the election." Bennet argues that impeachment would "play into [Trump's] hands," since the Senate would be sure to acquit Trump, who'd then declare victory. Castro makes the opposite argument: if Trump isn't even impeached, he'll declare that as a victory.

10:32 - De Blasio uses his closing statement to talk to Trump: "Donald, you're the real socialist! The problem is: it's socialism for the rich."

10:36 - I don't know who the best candidate is, but I know who the boringest candidates are: Inslee and Bennet.

10:37 - Gillibrand asks us to reject the false choice of thinking we need either "a progressive with big ideas" or "a moderate who can win Obama voters." She'll be both.

10:41 - Yang goes meta: "We're up here with makeup on our faces, saying prepared attack lines, playing roles on a reality TV show."

10:43 - Booker: "People are saying the only thing they want is to beat Donald Trump. Well, that is the floor, not the ceiling!"

10:45 - Kamala Harris uses her closing statement go after Trump: "Donald Trump has a predatory nature… The thing about predators is: by their very nature, they prey on people they perceive to be weak … and predators are cowards." Her point is that as a former prosecutor, she's perceptive about bad guys and will be able to "prosecute" Trump in the election.

10:47 - Biden ends his closing statement by saying (while seeming confused as if he's struggling to read a cue card): "If you agree with me, go to Joe 30330." I don't know what that means.

And that's the end of the debate — after almost 3 hours! Yeesh, that was a long slog.

My mom's take:
The best of the night? Tulsi Gabbard. A brutal attack on Kamala Harris. Excellent deep, strong voice. Well-grounded seriousness.
I agree that Gabbard was good.

Now, who wasn't good? Joe Biden.

Biden doesn't have the passion, the fire, the relentless drive you need to run for president. He kept stumbling over his words and cutting off his own answers before he was done. He's the only candidate who instantly stops himself mid-sentence as soon as the moderator signals his time is up. He couldn't manage to deliver his prepared closing statement telling people where to go to support his campaign. He looked tired and defeated. Biden simply isn't up to the task.

Winners: Tulsi Gabbard, Cory Booker

Losers: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, CNN (your debates are too damn long!)


tommyesq said...

Gillibrand seemed to suggest that she would eliminate the "white privilege" that protects a white kid in a hoodie while leaving non-white kids (like Treyvon Martin) susceptible to being shot - so she wants all kids to be shot??

FullMoon said...

We appreciate your endurance.....

The Silent Majority.

Richard Dolan said...

Thanks for doing this. Couldn't bring myself to watch it.

From your comments, it sounds like this is mostly an exercise in theater, trying to create an impression through rhetoric while skimming along the shallow surface of a few policy issues since the format and the state of play rule out any substantive content. On that score (again judging by your description), Harris is out of her depth, the perfect exemplar of not ready for prime time. Biden has occasional good moments but many more so-so ones. Booker comes across as a dud, just flailing away. As for the rest, it doesn't much matter. So Biden is the winner, or perhaps better to say he's the least weak of a pretty weak field.

Since you've gone to the trouble to watch and blog both nights of this dreary spectacle, how do you see it?

tommyesq said...

So Booker agrees with the notion that a President shouldn't notify the whole world what he (or she) intends to do troop-deployment-wise in advance. So Booker agrees with Trump, who criticized Obama for doing just this?

John Althouse Cohen said...

Booker wasn't saying the president should never publicly make an advance announcement of decisions about troops. Booker was saying the president shouldn't announce that before the decision has been properly made and communicated inside the government first.

rcocean said...

what can you say? How can I take any of these clowns seriously? Did you pick up on Yang saying it was "Too Late" on climate change and we need to "Move to Higher Ground"? Did you notice Gillibrand saying we should't "Lose the forest for the trees"? Or how everyone was Eric Garner's best friend? And what is the purpose of dissecting Booker's thoughts? He couldn't get elected dog catcher in most of the country. But then there's NJ.

The D's have gone insane. But then people in 1972 thought McGovern was "Insane" He lost 65-35. And 30 years later all his ideas were mainstream or enacted into law. Now, the D's think there are so many "Yellow Dog" democrats, "immigrants" and "People of color" and people who don't speak English, they can go Extreme Left and still win. And they might be right!

Michael said...

All these people are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land! They have no connection either to reality as it currently is, or to any rational notion of how to make it better. Jonathan Livingston Seagull lives!

phantommut said...

"I've seen people go to prison for much less."

Maybe not the best thing for Harris to say.

Ken B said...

Harris can finally nail him for that Russian collusion! It's a common thing with literally Hitler dictators, for them to leave office and be prosecuted.

AZ Bob said...

Did the candidates yell tonight as much as they did last night? Ann made the observation about last night's debate. The replays today confirmed this. Sanders and Warren were the top offenders.

Danno said...

Wow, what an excellent summary. I didn't watch a second of the televised debate tonight, but feel your live blogging gives a great synopsis of the event.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Thanks, Danno!

AZ Bob, I don't think the candidates did yell as much this time. They attacked a lot, but at a medium volume.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Gabbard is the only democrat party member who comes across as approximately normal. The rest are an embarrassing collection of anti-American imbeciles, but Harris has to have the most nerve of them all to slander the president as a tyrant after she had just been exposed for keeping innocent people in jail in order to exploit their labor for the state! WTF! That's it? Harris is not going to face any consequences for truly Stalinist crimes while employed as the chief LEO of the state of California? That's fucking wrong, America! Time for democrat party members to be subject to the laws just like us normies are. Harris needs to be indicted.

Art in LA said...

Doesn’t the ACA give folks more flexibility about leaving a job that has health insurance benefits? Plans are very easy to get in the individual marketplace nowadays. Businesses can deduct the cost of premiums, but individuals cannot.