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I thought the first Democratic debate—the first of two—was excellent and inspiring. Here are my thoughts on the winners and losers:
There were no outright gaffs by anyone—the closest was Ryan saying the Taliban were responsible for 9/11 (the Taliban did support Al Quaeda)—so I'll share what I thought were the strongest moments. If I don't mention someone, that means in my opinion she or he did not do very well. The following is in descending order of what I thought were the best performances:
I thought DeBlasio made the greatest number of excellent points, beginning with his opening statement on the soul of the Democratic Party. He followed with a powerful denunciation of the greed of health insurance companies, and the need to replace them with Medicare for all. He later made the astute point that Americans have lost their jobs not due to immigrants but the actions of big corporations. He was also eloquent on the need to do more about police victimization of minorities, and on the need for Congressional approval of US military actions. And I liked his answer on the biggest threat to the US: Russia and its interference with our elections. (Given the number of times that the 2-hour MSNBC broadcast was interrupted by blank screens, I wonder if the Russians weren't hacking some of MSNBC's computers.) All in all, I thought DeBlasio established himself last night as a passionate and articulate candidate. Given his low standing in the polls, his performance was the biggest surprise. As someone who works in NYC, and lives close by, I'm happy to see this.
Booker was excellent, too. He was right on about health-care insurers profiteering, and on ICE and their Nazi tactics (my word not his). I also liked his vision of the Democrats not only winning the Presidency but both Houses of Congress in the next election. And it was good to hear him talk about the need to protect LGBQT communities.
Warren started out great on the need for healthcare for all, and for Roe vs. Wade to be enacted by Congress into Federal law. But she wasn't strong enough on gun control, and was silent or didn't say enough on some major issues, including immigration. Given that she is pretty high up in the polls, her performance was not as good as expected.
Klobuchar, on the other hand, was better than expected. I liked her brief for a sane foreign policy, and she was excellent on kids leading the charge for better gun control. I think she came out a lot better than she went in on this debate.
Castro was likable and very effective on ending the criminalization of illegal immigrants (those violations should be civil offenses). And he was 100% right when he said the tragic drownings of a father and daughter in the Rio Grande today should not only break our hearts but "piss us all off." I think his performance last night made him much more of a contender.
And... that's it. No one else made much of an impression, including Beto O'Rourke, whose weak performance last night might be the effective end of his campaign.
See you here tonight after Part 2.