Primarily Speaking + Debate Recap

screenshot of the ten candidates in the second night of the first debate standing onstage just before the debate began

Oh boy. That was a real slog and a half!

I was definitely dreading last night's Part Two of the first Democratic debate, and it didn't disappoint! DREAD VALIDATED.

It was a very different vibe than the first night. If the first night was defined by camaraderie and challenging one another to live up to the highest expectations, the second night was defined by lots of yelling and challenging me to not throw my phone into a volcano and jump into the nearest Christmas tree.

I live-tweeted the debate quite thoroughly, in case you want a recap.

My overall summary is that Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand seemed very senatorial, which I intend as a compliment. They were the standouts of the night for me, but the whole field seemed weaker than the night before.

That said, Harris did have an exceptional moment when she directly challenged Joe Biden on his recent commentary about working together with segregationist senators to get stuff done. It brought out the absolute worst in Biden, who naturally responded (as he always does) with indignation that anyone would suggest he might not be perfect, accusing Harris of misrepresenting his position on busing, snarking at her about becoming a prosecutor when he became a public defender, 'splaining busing at her, then angry-boasting about his civil rights record.

It was ugly. It was classic Biden. And Harris effortlessly plucked it out of him like a skilled prosecutor who needs to reveal the dark side of a defendant on the stand.

But, if I'm honest, even in this very good moment, Harris came across as visibly nervous. In fact, she was noticeably shaky on many occasions. I was having a hard time picturing her onstage with Trump.

I expect that's just lack of experience on such a big stage, so maybe she'll get more comfortable as the campaign goes on, but, at the moment, I don't feel super confident about her as the potential nominee.

She was, by the way, much less nervy in a very good post-debate interview.

I tweeted that I wished Harris was in the first night's group, but, upon consideration, I don't think she would have done as well. If she hadn't had Biden to bounce off (and he hadn't helped by making an immense jackass of himself), and hadn't been able to mask her nerves as the quivering voice of personal grief, I'm not sure she would have registered as strongly among the other group. She may well have been overshadowed by the more confident trio of Elizabeth Warren, Julián Castro, and Cory Booker.

Still. She gave the strongest performance of the evening.

Bernie Sanders was exactly as you'd expect. Even when I agreed with him, I wanted him to STOP SHOUTING AT MY FACE.

Pete Buttigieg just keeps pissing me off with his conservative buzzwords — he literally used the word "handouts" when answering a question about healthcare for undocumented immigrants (even though he supports it!) — and just talks about religion far too much. His candidacy feels like a throwback to the 2004 election. I know lots of people like him. I don't. (Even though I obviously want to be excited about an openly gay candidate from Indiana, a half hour from where I grew up!) I just can't get on board with a progressive candidate moving our political rhetoric backwards.

Michael Bennet was the only person who exceeded my expectations. Which is saying very little, since my expectations of him were nonexistent.

The rest of the candidates ranged from wev (Eric Swalwell) to whut (Marianne Williamson).

The big winners of night two were the winners of night one: Warren, Castro, and Booker. They established themselves as the leaders of this field on night one, and no one on night two managed to effectively challenge that status.

Anyway. We're done with debates for a month. The second debate, hosted by CNN, will be held on July 30th and 31st in Detroit.

* * *

In other news...

[Content Note: Racism] A birther campaign has been started against Harris. Russian bots posing as Black Americans are spreading a message that she's not "an American Black," because her parents are Jamaican and Indian. Absolutely despicable. This is what happens when Russia is allowed to meddle in our politics without consequences.

On that note, Warren and Amy Klobuchar have their eyes on Trump at the G20. Warren tweeted: "Today, Trump joked with Putin about interfering in our elections. He joked about getting 'rid of' journalists with a man who has reporters murdered. The president is looking out for himself—not the American people. We need a president who will always stand up for American values."

And Klobuchar tweeted: "Per NYT: At G-20 reporter asks Trump if he would tell Putin not to meddle in American elections. Trump then says to Putin, 'Don't meddle in the election.' Then, wagging his finger in a lighthearted way, he repeats, 'Don't meddle in the election.' Now THAT will scare Putin."

Fucking hell.

Oh dear: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio had to apologize after he quoted Che Guevara in Miami, shouting "Hasta la victoria siempre!" during a rally for striking Miami International Airport workers. He said he didn't realize that he was quoting Guevara, even though "the phrase — which means 'until victory, always!' — was essentially trademarked by Guevara in 1959 and has been a catchphrase for the Cuban Revolution ever since." Good grief.

John Hickenlooper is still definitely running for president.

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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