Like with the previous two nights of debates, I plan on remaining an instant commentator, taking notes during the performances and coming to a few rash conclusions just afterwards. Of course there are plenty of other people doing the same thing (many more fellow anonymous folks like myself than those bulbous yammering TV people whom we watch to have our opinions justified). Nevertheless, being the political monster that I am, I almost feel like it’s a duty, an act of patriotism. Besides, the vast majority of you folks who might be reading this come from outside the United States. About a third to a quarter of my readers are from here, and yet with Trump in the White House, this has become a much bigger international news story than it would otherwise be under stagnant normality. Or perhaps I’m just another yammering voice whose only advantage is that you can’t see me to mock the bulbousness of my own head.
This time around in the previews I would like to compare each candidate to President Trump, and discuss if any of them have a genuine chance to defeat him, and also how they might contrast with him personally. Before we go into the line-up for 7/30/2019, it is necessary, I believe, to briefly mention the newest candidate to join the ranks, Mr. Tom Steyer:
A hedge fund billionaire, Steyer has a much longer liberal activist streak than just his more than yearlong “Need to Impeach” campaign. A long-time environmentalist and charitable donor, Steyer quite clearly launched his “Impeach Trump” movement with his current status in mind, that of being the more palatable billionaire running for President. But the fact remains (and the lateness of his arrival to the race seems to clarify this) that Tom Steyer has all the makings of a strong third party candidate, one of those guys who suctions off disillusioned voters and helps to assure that the other side wins. I don’t know much about Steyer, and I’m sure that goes for most of you too. I will acknowledge that I signed his “Need to Impeach” petitions on line several times (when I got them in my e-mail on a light day), but I never even considered donating a cent. As far as a match-up with Trump goes, while it might be fun to watch, briefly, the dick-size contest the President would turn this into, perhaps a little distracted by the fact that this other guy is nearly as rich in reality as he claims to be on paper, but the sheer, brazen cruelty and Trump’s seamless ability to apply irrational lies to his watering down of the truth would only make Steyer into another casualty. I am sure that the President also has a special animus reserved for Steyer, what with those early-on strategically placed “Need to Impeach” ads after his press conferences.
Marianne Williamson obviously has no chance of defeating Donald Trump, much less secure the party nomination for President. But let’s put this aside for just a second and consider what a debate between Williamson and Trump would look like. . . There–you got it? Do you see the ethereal non-rage of Marianne, her ideas on whatever she means by ‘love’ being laughed off by Trump, all of his followers, more than half of the people asking the questions, most of the audience and the vast majority of the post-debate commentators and viewers? I do, anyway. Bloodbath. Target practice for Trump. Could she please drop-out already and return to whichever self-help section I have always ignored, never to be heard from again?
Tim Ryan is at the very least a more legitimate candidate than Williamson, although his chances of securing the nomination are every bit as hopeless. Ryan strikes me as one of those professional politicians with one or two ideas, who runs for president merely to raise his national profile and hopefully secure some public support when one or the other of his issues hits the floor. As a debater he is unmemorable and would be frustrated enough by a bullying Trump that he would likely wind up shouting his outrage over something said and not look very good doing it. I can see him running out of breath and stammering as Trump keeps cutting him off, successfully.
Despite the fact that Amy Klobuchar, also has no chance of securing the nomination, I think she could certainly hold her own in a debate with Trump. Sharp, not particularly nice women are certainly one of the President’s weaknesses, and you can easily see Klobuchar slinging nastiness back on Trump with the same momentum, and probably a great deal more clarity. And Trump, being the thin-skinning child that he is, would take far greater offense at whatever she said because I doubt that any slur he had to say would sink in whatsoever. It would be an almost heroic thing to see, that we will never see, but the general coldness of her savagery would also likely leave a bad taste, perhaps even making Trump a figure of pity.
Pete Buttigieg definitely has a great political future. I said in the earlier pieces that I truly believe that someday he actually will be President of the United States. Just not this time. Should he somehow wind up versus Trump, there are a number of interesting possibilities. Clearly the man is much smarter than the President, has an actual genuine morality about him, and seems perfectly level and cheerful enough to take whatever mud is flung at him and simply scrape it off the bottom of his shoe. But there are a number of weaknesses to Buttigieg presently that have much more to do with political inexperience than anything so crude as racism or sexuality (in both cases Trump has a far more shameful record fully on display). Anyone, for example, who won’t vote for Mayor Pete because he’s gay, it’s not like those folks can be turned around. In a debate I can see Buttgieg making an absolute fool of the President, although still have a divided country declare Donald Trump the winner. It would be more duel-sided, partisan blather, meaningless in the long run, and would serve to keep the nation stranded in the muck that this and most of the previous administrations in American history have turned into the stagnant glue that today represents our national character.
Regardless of his celebrity status, Bernie Sanders is an also-ran. A man who has devoted his entire life to public service, his prickly character, which has a mutual thin-skinnedness with Trump, would make a debate between those two nothing more than a shouting-over-one-another match. It would lack substance entirely, and the President’s possibly sociopathic nature mixed with Bernie’s stammering rage would allow Trump to sit back and sneer, with his arms crossed and that smug look on his face, while Sanders shuffles papers and looks like the mess he actually is. And yes, a left-wing populist like Sanders is going to have his dedicated loyalists, those same sullen creeps who refused to vote for Clinton after their deity lost, helping Donald Trump to ultimately win the election. But the newly restored venom surrounding the word “Socialist” would also likely play a part in undermining some of the sincere policy suggestions the old man has been trying to bring to the United States for the past forty years.
Elizabeth Warren is a far more both rational and vibrant version of Bernie Sanders, perhaps the only candidate able to secure the angry disappointment of his followers. In a debate Donald Trump would be absolutely destroyed. Warren is so much smarter than Trump, with so much to actually say about the state of the union that Trump would be only capable of name-calling and buffoonish clownery. And, sadly, that might just be enough. He would focus on the Native American debacle, and likely run her down with similar rage-evoking identity politics to undermine every one of her big plans for restoring the nation. I think she might be able to beat Trump, but that comes alongside a huge question mark.
Deep down we all know who Beto O’Rourke is. Know who he reminds me of? Another Texan, one from the other party who currently resides underground somewhere, out of the spotlight within the Trump administration. Yes, Beto O’Rourke offers some uncomfortable comparisons to former Governor Rick Perry.
Ultimately O’Rourke does not seem particularly bright. He does not appear to have any worthwhile ideas at all. He’s just some eye-candy invented in the Democratic political laboratories, intended to appeal to millennials. But he is empty, hollow, without meaning or cause. Can’t you just see him standing there with a microphone in his hand after Trump shreds him with some cruel remark, gaping slack-jawed with no idea what to say? Think for a moment. I know you can see it, followed by the unbearable satisfaction the President would have in so thoroughly decimating a rival.
I like John Hickenlooper, I really do. He seems like a genuinely decent person. He could also make the President look foolish in a simple policy debate (anyone could, considering that Donald Trump really doesn’t know anything about anything), but that isn’t the sort of debate Trump would be having, is it? John Hickenlooper, while surely a skilled politician, also strikes one as far too submissive to stand up to President Trump, regardless of how much better he sounds. This should be the end of the line for poor John.
The interesting thing about John Delaney is the fact that I honestly believe he could humiliate Donald Trump in a debate. A man who appears to take no shit from anyone, and yet also smart enough, caring enough, and charming enough to convince people he could make a difference, Delaney also has no chance to win the party’s nomination. He is looked upon as a no hope candidate, and he surely is within the realm of Democratic politics. However–and I truly believe this–if through some miracle or tragedy John Delaney is the last candidate left standing, I think he might actually have a chance to defeat Trump. This is pure speculation and my guess will never be proven right or wrong, but the feeling still persists.
As noble his sentiments, and as important as his message might seem, Steve Bullock’s campaign also probably comes to an end tonight. A decent man from a gigantic state with hardly any people living there, there are reasons most of us have never heard of him, despite his being a governor. It is not because he stands for nothing or is without ideas or skill. No. He’s just . . . I don’t know . . . sort of . . . bland. He would stand there tall and proud, ignoring Trump’s nonsense in a debate, and fall far short of having an impact because the media, regardless of his t-shirt above championing them, would still focus on whatever petty slur the President laughingly applied to him, whichever grade school nursery rhyming name one of his staffers came up with and whispered in his ear while the other man was talking. I wish Mr. Bullock well and, after the few more appearances he’ll get on the news following his withdrawal, I do not expect to hear about him again.
And so this is night one, a last chance for Klobuchar to rise, an opportunity for the cult of Pete Buttigieg to firmly establish itself in the public consciousness in anticipation of 2024, and the public spectacle we all want to see of fading Bernie Sanders versus the ascendant Elizabeth Warren. Enjoy, folks. I’ll return late tonight or early tomorrow morning with a recap.