Disclosure: I have watched very little of the Democratic shouting matches called “debates” by the media. I tried early on; I really did. It was too much. Watching the mob of aspirants to the highest office in the land yell at each other like school yard children was too much to bear. Now the crowd has thinned but the yelling continues.
I did watch for a while last night though, mainly to see how Michael Bloomberg fared in the face of entirely predictable attacks from the others. It was not pretty to watch. I was shocked, which is not easy, to see Bloomberg so unprepared to address with sharp, brief responses the foreseeable assaults related to stop-and-frisk, workplace and personal hostility toward women and all the rest.
I suspect that in what counts for “normal life” for a billionaire Bloomberg is never spoken too as he was during last night’s free-for-all. He seemed both surprised and unprepared. His reactions were weak and his substantive responses were astonishingly poor in light of the circumstances. He tried to suggest that the women who signed NDAs would not want to be freed to tell their stories and looked paralyzed when Elizabeth Warren demanded to know how many there were. He tried to suggest that the whole fuss was some kind of reaction to bad jokes on his part. Ugh.
My guess is that Bloomberg’s campaign is finished. I hope so. He should save all that money and prepare to support the eventual nominee in the forthcoming battle of titans with Donald Trump. If Bloomberg wants to be remembered well, he has the best chance by being the financial angel behind a winning Democratic campaign against the gangster president that now inhabits the people’s house in Washington. His staff has shown some chops in creating aggressive political ads and could be very helpful to the nominee who will have his/her hands full with the heavily financed, foreign-influenced/supported Trump machine. Bloomberg’s financial and other support for the Democratic nominee would be the highest and best use of his considerable resources.
As for the his/her question, it seems clear to me that Elizabeth Warren is the most qualified among the remaining Democratic contenders. Having said that, I am mystified almost to despair at why Ms. Warren feels it is necessary to raise her voice. I understand, of course, that being on a stage with Bernie Sanders, who apparently can’t speak without gesticulating wildly and shouting, is challenging. The format also does little to produce the kind of orderly disputation that I would like to see from those seeking the peoples’ approval to lead the nation. But Pete Buttigieg, who someday (but as a small-town mayor not now) will be ready for the presidency, managed to remain calm and steady at least while I was watching.
To be clear, I’m not talking about the obnoxious “she’s too angry to be likable” accusations directed at Warren. My concern is not about “women being too aggressive.” I am asking for someone with her knowledge and experience to state, in an orderly but forceful and compelling way, why her intellect, ideas and experience make her more qualified to be president than the other aspirants and more likely to be able to defeat Trump. The best way to get past all that garbage about women being too pushy is to stop behaving like Bernie Sanders and become the steady intelligent rock we all, I hope, are looking for. Someone who can eat Trump’s lunch in debate, not by out shouting or name-calling him but by showing through reason why he must be removed from the presidency.
There is no doubt, in my view, that many of Warren’s substantive ideas are ahead of their time and will face resistance even in a majority-Democratic Congress. Warren is, I am convinced, far better able to deal with that reality than the other candidates with the exception of Joe Biden.
So, what about Biden? He has the greatest relevant experience. He was a loyal VP to Barack Obama. He is a known quantity to our allies abroad and, as far as can be known, is generally respected by them. He has “presidential temperament.” Joe Biden has a lot to commend him. To be sure, Biden has some flaws. They all do, but none of his flaws even registers against the flaws of the sitting president. I suspect that the worst substantive objection to Biden is his age, but that is a charge against multiple contenders and can be resolved with a good choice for VP. There are numerous respectable alternatives that would lend strength to the Democratic ticket.
So why not Joe? Perhaps the most compelling substantive reason is the argument that it’s time for new blood, bold ideas even if too advanced for immediate adoption and so on. I believe, as I have for decades, that for the most part the success or failure of a president turns on the people with whom he surrounds himself. The president is not the source of all the good ideas nor is he effectively able to control the execution of every project his/her administration attempts. I am assuming, of course, that, unlike Donald Trump, the president understands the responsibilities of the office, pays attention to the advice of his experts, listens carefully and so on. You know, the normal attributes of a fully functioning adult.
And, in the end, it is the president who decides. That is why it is so important to elect a leader who will listen, study, respect truth as best it can be determined, and act with full and unending devotion to the public, as opposed to one’s private, good. The presidency carries the gravest burdens, the heaviest responsibilities to make the most difficult choices a human being ever must make. That is why we need a leader with the attributes of maturity, selflessness and honesty that underpin the best chance of getting things right.
It is, I suggest, time to stop screaming and start speaking. Stop tearing each other down and start addressing the real problem that one of our two political parties has willingly made itself hostage to a right-wing cabal of dishonesty and incompetence. In my view, the red MAGA hats are the functional equivalent of the swastika. If re-elected, Donald Trump will conclude he is, in effect, a monarch and democracy in America will be dead. That is the challenge we face, so we had best choose wisely. And then, it all comes down to getting out the vote. Everyone who stays home on Election Day because their favorite Democrat wasn’t nominated will be, in effect, voting for Donald Trump’s re-election. If you know such people, it is time now to start explaining this to them. There are only two sides to this fight. Everyone must choose. It is time
At least you had the will power to watch. I hated to see the Dem’s cut each other up. Especially Bloomberg, who I held out hope could unite the moderate wing of the party. I’m not despondent yet but depressed that the Dem’s are going to destroy any chance of reuniting with enough cohesion and commitment to defeat Trump. I had hoped that Bloomberg might be that unifying force. I guess I was wrong. Still shaking my head at the Dem’s apparent Kamakasi approach to winning.
Yes, the Democratic “machinery” seems lost. Hopefully, there is still time to pick a nominee and conduct a campaign. It’s going to take everything we’ve got. The plutocracy of ignorance is strong.
You are so on target, I watched the last 20 minutes , as we are cruising in Caribbean, and enough of the after critique to get the full story, along those lines we have been seated every night so far with fellow travelers and who have stated what you have clearly stated
I hope you have better luck on your cruise than some we’ve been reading about.
Having worked in a male-dominated profession for my entire adult life, I was not surprised by any of the comments Mike Bloomberg allegedly made nor by accusations that he created a hostile work environment. These conditions were endured by any professional woman who wanted to either keep her job or be hired elsewhere. But this is a new era–there are more women in positions of power and at least some men are behaving more respectfully and carefully.
So I was interested to hear what Bloomberg would say, now, about his behavior and about the changes he thinks are needed for women in the workplace. (After all, when the book of his ‘witticisms” was published, he was not a teenager; he was in his late 40’s. He had to know that these problems were not just going to fade away.)
Like Paul, I expected Mike to be prepared to address these issues in his first debate. Instead, he was like a deer in the headlights. The chasm between the quality of his commercials and his debate performance was startling. The best I could say about him now is that no one appears to have accused him of sexual assault or rape. I agree that he should step aside and donate his tremendous resources, vast network, and intricate micro-targeting to the Democrats so they can defeat Trump and take the Senate. The party needs more that unity; it needs professional help to organize a multi-pronged campaign that boosts turnout.
We need to spread the word, as the DNC seems oblivious. I am astonished at the way it has allowed the caucus/prmary/debate process to play out.
Great post! I watched last night until I fell asleep. Bloomberg blew it. On another note Charlie was accepted into a 2 week summer finance course at Wharton! He’ll hear from Yale in mid March then decide. School visits were good although it poured rain during Emory. Wish those schools weren’t in the south.
Cecily Sent from my iPhone
Great news. Congratulations to Charlie. Well done.