Part 2 of the Dems’ July debate: whole thing and reactions


Part 2 of July’s debate, with notes and different Democrats’ takes












Debate notes on night 2 in Detroit

by Eric Jackson

Remember that the presidency is an administrative job, and it’s not really like running a business. A governor, a cabinet officer, a mayor, head of a large state or federal agency, a military officer – these are the traditional things of which presidents are made. When I think of the three greatest president I think Jefferson, Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Jefferson and Roosevelt had been governors. Lincoln came in with no executive experience, was keenly aware of that and brought in a team of bright young tutors / advisors to bridge that gap in his experience.

Biden, Inslee, Castro, De Blasio, Booker, Harris, Gabbard – they have all in their ways paid such dues. Of these, Tulsi Gabbard is the only veteran on the stage.

“Go easy on me kid,” he pleads. HA! She has been preparing for the debate at the dojo.

Julián Castro has the best opening line: “I don’t want to make America anything again. I don’t want us to go backward. We’re not going back to the past. We’re not going back where we came from. We’re going to move forward.”

Biden starts out as in the others are not there, addressing Donald Trump, who is also not there but likely watching.

Protesters who are mad at De Blasio interrupt Booker? That’s weird. Seems that both cops and people who are opposed to police brutality are in Detroit to say mean things about De Blasio.

De Blasio would “tax the hell” out of the rich? Guess they don’t let HIM appear on Lifestyles of the Decadent and Bourgeois.

Harris wants to privatize much of Medicare and call it Medicare for All, while Biden is for at most small incremental changes from what exists now. The left will beat both of them up over those stands.

Tulsi slams Kamala’s health plan as corporate by way of noting what her plan’s Kathleen Sebelius endorsement means, Bennet rises to the defense of the private insurance industry, De Blasio says private insurance isn’t what Americans want or need. Biden trashes Medicare for All in general. De Blasio accuses Bennet and others opposed to universal health care of spouting Republican talking points.

CNN is outrageous. They describe the disruption as about “New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is accused of fatally choking Eric Garner.” Pantaleo DID kill Garner. What legal conclusions one may want to draw may differ, but he actually did choke Garner to death. It’s an absolutely well documented fact.

So what is it about Booker praising the protesters who disrupted him? Look at this whole primary race, in its early stages, as three races: a left primary, a corporate primary and a black primary. (Never mind that the dividing lines are not so rigid and clear.) Tonight is Booker vs. Harris to see if they can start a process of sweeping the black vote, which will be 30 percent or more of the primary electorate.

You don’t get elected president running as a black nationalist, but do not dismiss that minimal black nationalism wherein much of the African-American electorate, all other things being more or less equal, will prefer to be governed by black politicians. For months there has been a fringe of black nationalists going after Kamala Harris because her mother was from India and on her father’s side she’s descended from African slaves who were obliged to work in Jamaica rather than in the USA. I would expect that between Booker and Harris most black voters will be interested in who has the economic ideals better suited to their needs and hopes.

Bennet talks about how the Nazis separated his mother from her parents in WWII Poland, goes after Trump and defends a path to citizenship for undocumented foreigners already in the USA.

Castro, like in the first debate, gets into decriminalizing border crossing. He says the United States should “aid” Honduras and Guatemala. No admission of a US role in the 2009 Honduran coup or the decades-long genocide in the Guatemalan highlands.

Biden gets heckled over the three million deportations during the Obama administration.

Castro also served in the Obama administration, and is reminded by Biden of cabinet meetings together in which border policy was discussed and the then housing secretary did not advocate what he does now. But about the subject of immigration Castro tells Biden: “It looks like one of us has learned from the lessons of the past and one of us hasn’t.”

Inslee gets into the racism of Trump’s immigration policies and talks about how as governor of Washington he welcomed refugees and did battle in court against Trump’s Muslim ban.

De Blasio and Booker pile onto Biden about Obama administration deportations. It could be a defining moment, when the gleam on the Obama veneer dulls and Biden can no longer run on his association with the former president.

Biden stands fast: “The fact of the matter is if you cross the border illegally you should be able to be sent back, it’s a crime.” He also talks about helping Honduras, but fails to mention the US-backed coup that started the massive migrations from there.

Booker goes after Biden on mass incarceration. Biden says that as mayor of Newark Booker failed to control crime.

Yang lashes out at Amazon destroying much of the retail sector.

Harris vs Biden on busing and Biden’s old segregationist friends: “Had those segregationists had their way, I would not be a member of the United States Senate, Cory Booker would not be a member of the United States senate and president Obama would not have been in a position to nominate him” as vice president.

Gabbard jumps in on criminal justice, criticizing Harris for her war on drugs policies and prosecutor and attorney general in California, where she accused Harris of taking a hard line on marijuana offenses. “She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.”

Booker and Biden get heated about criminal justice again. “Your crime record destroyed lives,” Booker says.

Castro and Gillibrand call out De Blasio for not firing Pantaleo. De Blasio says that there are required procedures for that and those are ongoing.

Inslee pans Biden approach to climate change: “Too little, too late is too dangerous.” Yang jumps in, pointing out that climate change is already with us and people along the coasts need to start moving to higher ground. Gillibrand says the basic Democrat things about rejoining the Paris Accords, and also jokes about using Chlorox to decontaminate the Oval Office.

Gillibrand gets into the duty of white politicians to explain and stand against white privilege.

Did he really? Biden says he’ll win Michigan because he was for the corporate bailout of General Motors.

Booker says HE’LL win Michigan by energizing black voters.

Biden says he would not join TPP as it is written. Kind of mandatory to say that in Detroit.

Nothing too new or compelling comes from the top tier in their closing statements. Harris talks prosecutor tough and Biden, as a concession to where he is, makes reference to soul. Andrew Yang is best, talking about the whole weird spectacle: “We’re up here with makeup on our faces and our rehearsed attack lines, playing roles on this reality TV show.”

Takeaways? This writer needs to be cautious about presuming that others might share his biases. But that said, it looks like Biden took a beating, Harris had an up and down night, several of the others had their good moments and it might have been a breakout night for Booker. On that latter score, particularly look at how African-Americans saw it.


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