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Randi Kreiss

On stage, all yapping and sniping and posing

Posted

The Democrats have become the party of lemmings, as they march purposefully toward the cliffs. If we needed further proof, last week’s debate in Las Vegas offered plenty.

From my perspective in the cheap seats, the event was embarrassing and disheartening. Extravagantly over-hyped and smothered by the media coverage, the debate looked more like a “Saturday Night Live” caricature than an authentic performance by the various players.

It would be funny if we weren’t witnessing the self-destruction of the only people who stand between Donald Trump and his re-election. A two-term Trump would be unbound, driven to increasingly authoritarian behavior and self-serving executive orders. Buoyed by the sycophantic support of his claque, he would continue to challenge the separation of powers. Further, his reckless disregard for the effects of climate change, compounded by his profound ignorance, would delay by years the urgent response we need to rising tides, wildfires and the poisoning of our waterways.

So, yes, I felt invested in seeing the Dems perform well in the debate. I wanted one or more of them to emerge as a rational, middle-of-the-road candidate who could lift up the poorest and neediest among us without creating a class war.

The front-runner, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who rants and scowls very much like his impersonators on late-night shows, is scary as hell. This is the critical point: social and economical equality are worthy goals, and most Democratic candidates want to work toward that end, but not by destroying capitalism, the work ethic and the get-up-and-go spirit that made America a prosperous model for democracy and economic opportunity.

Most political analysts I read think that even if Bernie did get elected, he could never pass his most ambitious and liberal initiatives, such as universal health care. You have to admire the man’s indefatigable spirit and his passion for the underdog and the underprivileged, but he lacks the one critical quality for Election 2020: He can’t get elected president in these United States.

Enter Michael Bloomberg, billionaire and former mayor of New York City. What a bust his performance was, with him alternately frozen-faced or frowning, first like an inanimate wax figure, then reactive to his opponents’ swipes. I mean, he was actually booed by the audience at one point. He probably could be a very competent president, but it’s hard to see him getting from here to there.

My fave for the evening was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is so smart and tough and clearly relentless. If she moves more to the center, there’s hope, but she needs to lose the patronizing tone.

I like Sen. Amy Klobuchar a lot as a candidate, but she did not do well, seemingly unraveled by someone asking about a moment recently when she couldn’t recall the name of the president of Mexico.

Former Vice President Joe Biden isn’t projecting a winning vibe. So much of what he talks about is either in the past or slightly confused or overly generalized. He’s a wonderful human being, and I could see him as president, but, like Bernie and Mike, he looks so old. What are the Democrats doing to themselves??

Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a terrific candidate, a bit green but a quick learner. He, too, would bring a new day to the presidency, but at the debate he got caught up in the crossfire. He offered the most cogent observation of the evening when he said to Bernie, “Most Americans don’t see where they fit if they’ve got to choose between a socialist who thinks that capitalism is the root of all evil and a billionaire who thinks that money ought to be the root of all power.”

All the candidates made sensible observations and scored debate points, and any one of them would be a good president, and absolutely a better president than our national disgrace, Donald Trump. But they brought one another down in the debate.

What upset me most was that the event did not further the possibility of any one of them winning the nomination. All the air was sucked out of the room by the mean-spirited cracks and sly insults.

Bloomberg, the lightning rod for most of the snipes, had the best morning-after evaluation. On Thursday he said that the only one who won the debate was Trump. True: While the media was caught up in the debate, our president was busy packing the CIA with his stooges and encouraging Russia to keep running interference on his behalf.

Copyright 2019 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.