Painful as it was I soldiered through four hours, over two evenings, watching 20 Democrats compete in the first presidential debates. They all agreed that America is in terrible shape and Donald Trump is the Great Satan. (So why do masses of migrants desperately want to risk their lives coming here?) I can’t rebut all they said here, so these are some of the lowlights
I felt sorry for John Hickenlooper. In the five minutes he managed to squeeze in during his two-hour debate, he sounded like the voice of moderate left-center reason and disavowed socialism amidst the chorus of radical platitudes, demagoguery and grandiose promises. But it’s now obvious there’s no market for Hick in this field.
There’s also no market for Michael Bennett. He sounded intelligent enough for most of his eight minutes. But somehow felt the need to be relevant by echoing Bernie and the other anti-capitalists in the pretense that the middle-class has been economically screwed for the last four decades with all the gains going to the rich, while the rest got the crumbs. That false claim is concocted by torturing statistics to treat the entire middle-class as an aggregated, amorphous blob with no individual mobility in and out. Yes, some in our dynamic economy with skills less marketable today than they once were have lost ground, but others have done very well and moved up. And the collective standard of living of middle-class Americans by many measures has indisputably improved over that period. Unlike some of his rivals, Bennett is smart enough to know that.
Another uniform theme was that health care is a disaster, the remedy for which is Medicare for all. But how can that be? We already have Medicare and the Democrats gave us Obamacare for anyone else who wants it.
A horn of plenty was promised by all including free college, forgiveness of student loans, cheaper drugs, bringing all the troops home, ending gun violence, protecting all school children, reparations to African-Americans, opening our borders and granting illegal migrants citizenship.
Elizabeth Warren led the assault on the evils of Wall Street (a metaphor for financial intermediaries essential in a market economy), big corporations (progressive-speak for private enterprise), along with insurance, pharmaceutical, and oil and gas companies. Reasonable regulations on business aren’t enough. Unlike Karl Marx, these neo-socialists don’t call for formal ownership of the means of production, they just want government to completely control it.
Kamala Harris had the best zinger. Anticipating the Tower of Babel free-for-all on stage, she scolded her rivals, “America does not want a food fight, they want to put food on the table.” There’s no way that was an ad lib. Good job by some wisecracker on her campaign staff. She also won the Oscar for best performance by a leading actress, seamlessly shifting her emotions from fury to indignation to jocularity to weepiness as the script called for. It all seemed contrived. You’d think she was a lawyer. Oh, she is.
Kristen Gillibrand is all about women’s rights and “caring,” but not too swift on economics. She emoted, “Companies care more about profits than they care about people.” This is a false dichotomy. Successful companies care about both. People are their workers and other people are their customers, without whom they’d be out of business. And without profits, they’d also be out of business.
Marianne Williamson, an author of self-help books, aging flower child, peace activist and spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey believes in “a universal force that, when activated by the human heart, has the power to make all things right. Such is the divine authority of love: to renew the heart, renew the nations, and ultimately, renew the world.”
In the debate, she announced that she would “harness love for political purposes.” If she’s not elected president, she’d be the perfect Defense Secretary for Bernie Sanders.
Julian Castro took the prize for political correctness and diversity, declaring that trans-females should have the right to an abortion. But he’s not too keen on anatomy. Men who feel like women trapped in a man’s body don’t actually have a uterus. And they already have the right to imagine an abortion.
John Delany is moderate and seems like a nice guy. He reminded me of Tim Conway of the old Carol Burnett Show. Pete Buttigieg was the most articulate, thoughtful and best behaved. Biden was Biden. Bernie was Bernie; his hair looked less unruly, but he and his act have gotten very old.
Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for CompleteColorado.com.