Democratic Debate Round 2.2 Live

Nice. That’s a better title.

I’m getting ready early tonight, last night I thought the debate started at 9 EDT, but it had started when I went to get set up. Luckily introducing the candidates, and all the other preliminaries took an exceedingly long time.

My plan tonight is the same as last night. In the first debate I tried to report everything that was said, but I think that’s redundant. It also reminded me of a few times in college when I got so involved in taking notes that I wasn’t actually processing what was going on. So, tonight impressions only for the most part, although if someone says something particularly interesting or particularly nutty I’ll let you know.

We’ll see the following candidates on stage: Former Vice-President Joe Biden, California Senator Kamala Harris, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, New York Mayor Bill deBlasio, Former Cabinet Secretary Julián Castro, Congress Member Tulsi Gabbard, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee. Need a cheat sheet? Me too. Well, a bit, a bit.

The moderators, like last night, will be Dana Bash, Jake Tapper and Don Lemon.

T minus six minutes.

8:00

I missed this bit last night, but this intro feels enough like professional wrestling that I can actually hear my skin crawl.

Lots of preliminaries again. The end time for the debate has been amended to 10:40 btw. I hope our attention span holds out.

We had two progressives at the center of the debate last night in Warren and Sanders. Do we get the same split tonight? If so, who caries the progressive banner?

8:15

Newsflash Senator Bennet loves America. “Kids belong in classrooms not cages” is better.

Jay Insley is so stiff he makes Al Gore look like Mick Jagger.

Everybody is hitting their talking points. Gabbard’s service, Yang’s UBI etc.

What’s going on with all the shouting? Booker actually had to stop talking. Evidently they were chanting “Fire Pantaleo.” According to MSNBC this is “referring to the officer at center of the Eric Garner case in New York City, where de Blasio is mayor.”

Harris wants to phase in Medicare for all over 10 years. The long implementation was a huge problem for the ACA.

8:30

Harris v. Biden on health care. Advantage Harris.

Gillibrand is sounding pretty progressive on health care. Also she had a story. She clearly watched last night’s debate.

Gabbard uses the “we don’t have a health care system we have a sick care system.” But I like her point about who should be writing the bill.

They called time on Biden and he actually stopped talking. Weird.

I think Bennet’s formulation on “taking away health care and taxing the middle class is disingenuous. Inslee’s better on the mental health angle.

8:45

We just got to see a hint of the Joe Biden who kicked Paul Ryan’s ass in 2012. “Malarkey!”

More yelling from the crowd. Interrupting Biden this time. Now Castro’s trying for a “confront Biden” moment. Biden’s response is pretty good; aiming at Trump.

9:00

Now Booker is piling on Biden too, but Biden’s getting combative. That could be good for him.

Literally everyone is piling on Biden now. Rapid fire.

If last night’s debate was moderates vs. progressives, this one is definitely everybody vs. Biden. That’s risky: it’ll guarantee him the most exposure and he’s sounding better and more combative to me. And just as I write that we get word salad.

Booker’s on fire. Ezra Klein: “Booker does not have a poker face.”

Castro’s taking a shot at de Blasio on the Pantaleo thing. And Gillibrand: “He should be fired, he should be fired now.”

Biden looked weak invoking Obama to hide behind. And not we’re getting a rerun of the busing thing.

Harsh words from Gabbard on Harris. Biden gets a breather.

9:30

Interesting that Inslee tied progress on race to the filibuster. He’s not wrong.

Enough with the inspirational stories, but Gillibrand was pretty good on the Green New Deal.

9:45

Booker’s doing a bit better tonight.

10:00

Seems to me there’s a lot of agreement on trade and American competitiveness. Pretty good moment for Biden with deBlasio.

Now Gillibrand is going after Biden on some old quote. Harris is going after Biden on the Hyde Amendment. I want more details on both of those discussions.

Chris Hayes: “Biden is correct that everyone on stage in congress has voted for a bill with the Hyde Amendment.”

Castro made an interesting point on impeachment. If the Democrats don’t impeach Trump, he’ll claim exoneration in the campaign. If the Senate acquits, it’s in McConnell’s lap.

Gabbard’s really going after the warmongers and Yang makes a good argument starting with automation and (of course) ending with UBI. Good closing statements for both of them.

Harris is strong and aimed straight at Trump, but she doesn’t understand the 3am metaphor. I thought Biden’s closing statement was strong also.

Analysis:

If last night’s debate was moderates vs progressives, this one was everybody against Biden. He did better than the first debate and possibly as well as he could have done given that he was almost a universal target. He was more combative, but he wasn’t always at the top of his game. He did better toward the end of the debate after most of the fireworks were over.

Booker did better. Harris was shakier. Gabbard and Yang were good. deBlasio was the strongest progressive voice on the stage.

Did anybody win? Maybe Biden, mainly by beating expectations. The pundits are questioning whether Biden could go up against Trump. I think he’s better one-on-one. Maybe Booker by breaking out of the pack. Maybe Sanders or Warren because no one tonight made it up to their level.

I don’t think this group was as strong as the group last night. The bottom line is the same. I haven’t changed my mind really on anyone although once again there’s one or two who are for sure off my list for the primaries and I may be unable to support in the general.