GorT really didn’t watch the Democrat Debate last night. Around 10pm, Mrs. G and I decided to flip over to it on NBC and we weren’t disappointed.
My simple summary is these debates are the BEST thing for the GOP and Donald Trump. As stated before, I’m not a big fan of Trump and I didn’t vote for him. But I don’t think Republican strategists could have orchestrated a better way to showcase the train wreck that is the Democrat party than this debate.
Think about this recipe: 10 political candidates on stage with open mics, told that they were limited to 30 or 60 second rebuttals/answers, moderated by Rachel Maddow, Chuck Todd, and audience-roving Lester Holt. It was utter chaos. Candidates talking over each other, sticking their hands up or pointing to try to get called on, blowing right through any time limit, failing to even answer the softball questions by the liberal moderators. Toss in a technical problem at the beginning of the debate as well…because, well, NBC. It was glorious.
Case in point: Chuck Todd instructed the panel of candidates to respond with one word for what the biggest geopolitical threat is to the United States. Let’s consider the responses:
John Delaney: “The biggest challenge is China. The biggest geopolitical threat remains nuclear weapons.”
12 words. one could infer that the Iran deal wasn’t so great.
Jay Inslee: “The biggest threat is Donald Trump. No question about it.”
10 words. Wow, elevating Donald Trump to geopolitical status. Pandering to the Orange Man Bad crowd.
Tulsi Gabbard: “The greatest threat we face is that we are at greater risk of nuclear war.”
15 words. In the 30-40min portion we watched, I think Gabbard had a hard time stringing together answers on the fly but appeared to be rather reserved and calm. Also raising the question on the Iran deal. During the same time, Gabbard also argued we should be out of the Middle East so I’m not sure how she thinks we’re going to tackle this issue.
Amy Klobuchar: “Economic threat and China, but the major threat is what is going in the Mideast with Iran.”
17 words. She’s right about China, I’ll give her that. Must have had a good salad with utensils beforehand. Also implies a problem with the Iran deal.
Beto O’Rourke: “The existential threat is climate threat. We have to confront it before it’s too late.”
15 words. And doesn’t answer the question. He tells us what he thinks is the “existential threat” but not his top geopolitical threat. Beto looked like he was a 7th grader playing in a JV high school game. He was nervous, hunting for answers, and trying to score points but failing.
Elizabeth Warren: “Climate change.”
2 words. Winner for the candidate who could most closely follow directions but one could argue whether climate change is a geopolitical threat. On one hand, I might agree as the U.S. has taken steps to reduce emissions and be more ecologically aware and countries like India, China, and developing nations are increasing their emissions. But if she thinks that’s the number one threat, she’s not geopolitically aware.
Cory Booker: “Nuclear proliferation and climate change.”
5 words. Pretty short for Booker. Combined with his stance that he wouldn’t reinstate the Iran deal but “wants to keep options open to negotiate a better deal”, he clearly isn’t a fan of the Obama administration Iran deal. No mention of China or Russia….
Julián Castro: “China and climate change.”
4 words. Nails it, in my opinion, on China but then panders to the environmentalists with the latter portion.
Tim Ryan: “China, without a question. They are wiping us economically.”
9 words. Ryan gets it partially right. It’s not only economics but a longer term geopolitical strategy that is in play. Look at what China is doing in the Middle East and the South China Sea. Look at how they are strategically manipulating shipping (creating larger vessels that require larger ports that China is building/owning around the world)
Bill de Blasio: “Russia, because they are trying to undermine our democracy and they are doing a damn good job of it and we need to stop them.”
25 words. Longest answer by the group. He’s not wrong about Russia or their efforts. It is a geopolitical threat. But he is not-so-subtly tying it back to the whole Russia-Trump thing. That’s going to be a losing position.
This next statement is going to make me shudder but I partially agree with Slate in that Chuck Todd’s question was garbage. The “one word” geopolitical threat doesn’t allow for nuance and the threats facing the United States are varied and numerous. However, the “one word” approach does test whether a candidate can prioritize these and be succinct in their responses – especially helpful with the limited attention span that people seem to have these days.
As if to underline the apples-and-oranges problem here, MSNBC subsequently “fact check[ed]” the argument that climate change is a geopolitical threat, saying “it’s difficult to quantify how much of a threat it is relative to adversarial countries or global concerns.”
Fact checked?!?! Whether or not “climate change” is a geopolitical threat doesn’t boil down to a fact. It’s an opinion. Could be a widely held opinion but it isn’t a fact that it is or it isn’t regardless of your position on climate change.
Mrs G and I debated what our ideal debate format would look like. I think we settled largely on the following:
- Each candidate is in a sound-proof box on stage with a mic that is controlled by the booth
- With established ground rules on times for answers, candidates can start answering the question and the microphone cuts off at the end of the time – even if they are still speaking. They will have a countdown timer in the box letting them know how much time is left.
- If they change topic or try addressing a different question during that time, they forfeit the rest of their answer time and their microphone cuts off
- They don’t get to hear the other candidates’ answers
GorT’s prediction on who won’t make it to the later rounds
- Ryan (not enough Q factor to differentiate himself)
Riding the bubble:
- O’Rourke (his woke style and appeal might keep him in longer than he deserves)
- Gabbard (needs to step up to answers better, calm style could be appealing)
- Booker (always appears angry and a doomsayer – that’s going to wear on people)
- Warren (she’s has a backing that will keep her in the mix even though she is a disaster and would lose to any competent challenger that wants to seriously debate her on policy and facts)
- deBlasio (also has a backing but some of his NYC policies and stances could really backfire when hitting the national stage – although his interrupting will lose points)
- Castro (Only Hispanic candidate will carry him farther as it is a differentiator but he’ll have to do more – his answers are soundbites and not well thought out policies)