Thursday, February 20, 2020

February 19th Democratic debate, short takes...

Last night the two hour debate among six Democrats seeking the nomination for President was watched.  At the conclusion, there was purposely no follow up watched here, meaning no interviews and no newscaster commentary.  Picked up a book and read before dozing off.  This morning only the scrolling stock futures were watched on CNBC, volume off, so no political commentary would be heard.  Why?  What follows will be brief thoughts untainted by the opinions of others taking claim to the narrative.  Was that a good idea?  Let's see.  At 6:30am, caffeine hopefully beginning to kick in, here are brief comments on each candidate.

Mike Bloomberg --- as fully anticipated by all, the newcomer was the prime target of the others who have already been grinding away for months.  At times he was not as articulate as had been expected but overall he stated his points clearly and focused on defeating Trump.  When challenged on his party loyalty, stop and frisk, attitudes toward women, he gave a response and did not elaborate in any long winded way.  When attacked by Warren and Sanders for being a billionaire, he was not defensive, except in one instance under attack by Warren over confidentiality agreements.  Most importantly, for the most part he let the others five fight among themselves.

Bernie Sanders --- came out firing, he attacks "corrupt" large corporations and his opponents on the stage.  His many aspirations are laudable but that word keeps coming up.  He does not see any issue with having 100% federal government control of the health care system, and is absolutely certain that is the most efficient and "fair" way to proceed.  How to accomplish that is unclear, but his belief is absolute.

Elizabeth Warren --- her life story and personal anecdotes were part of the show again.  When she started one with "I met a man in Reno", my mind flashed to Johnny Cash.  Her capacity for exaggeration and at times plainly distorting views of other candidates was on display again as was her "just two cents" comment on the "greedy billionaires", again she obfuscates on two percent for a sound bite.  She is intense and wants to win, that's clear.  Her positive goals at times get lost in her personal presentation style.

Joe Biden --- he seems a bit desperate as he speaks, eager to talk about his past experience, knowledge of foreign policy, where he has been(Johnny Cash flash again --- "I been everywhere man...).   As always he has an uncanny ability to misspeak, in minor ways on the stage last night.  And he does that Hillary Clinton act of pointing into the crowd to acknowledge someone, as a way of showing his close personal contacts.  Doing so at end, kneeling and pointing he just looked old.  His virtues as a centrist were made clear, but boasting about his popularity in black and latino communities was not news, and not effectively done.

Pete Buttigieg --- his persona as the smartest student in the classroom is well known, and as he interacts with other candidates his style aggravates them.  His temperament is more distant than personal.  When he challenges others, he is direct and articulate, not collegial at all.  His more centrist view on health care is not full throttle, as he emphasizes that change is incremental.  This is his version of telling the truth, not common in an aspirational politician.  In this debate he was more confrontational, especially with fellow centrists Biden and Klobuchar.  This was not his best performance, his approach showing some signs of  fraying.

Amy Klobuchar --- her approach was measured and rational once again, but basking a bit about now being in the spotlight.  The homespun woman from Minnesota approach continues.  She does not take criticism lightly and that comes across as a bit thin skinned.  Her policy commentary is not revelatory in any way.  Her steadiness may be an asset. Those voters looking for a compromise candidate could  find this as attractive.  It is possible that she would frustrate Trump more than the he always wants a fight.

That's it.  One observation overall is that every candidate went out of their way to talk about the black and latino middle class.  Why not just middle class once and a while, no further clarification.  Trump knows how to capitalize on this in his ugly way, as we have certainly seen.

After the show, I went back to my book, "Bubble in the Sun", a light, entertaining, and informative history about the boom of Florida during the 1920's and what led to that.  Learned last night that the Ormond Beach Florida golf course that my father and I played on during summer vacations when the textile company closed, was not built by the Rockefellars, as he told me, but by the Flaglers, Henry Flagler being John D. Rockefellar's more private partner.  So my father was basically right. It was a beautiful public course built in 1892, rare at that time in this country, no big clubhouse as mansions as homes were the style of the rich at that time.  The book has been recently published and is by Christopher Knowlton, an author previously unknown to me.

Footnote:  To a large extent, the opinions about the candidates above are straightforward.  I do acknowledge that I am not a fan of Elizabeth Warren.


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