On the eve of Lent season, I eagerly sat down in front of the TV with my traditional paczki, packed with lemony goodness straight from heaven. I couldn’t wait for round two, a continuation of last week’s wild, yet informative Democratic debate in Las Vegas. But from Bloomberg’s atrociously bad jokes to Bernie’s insistence on finding one good thing about Fidel Castro to Elizabeth Warren’s confession that she “eats all the time” – this highly anticipated day-before-Ash-Wednesday debate strangely went up in smoke. But it didn’t fizzle quietly. They all spoke over each other and refused to shut up when their time was up. I am annoyed with Norah and Gayle, as much as the desperate candidates, for the derailment. So let’s begin with last week’s roadkill, Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomie didn’t self-implode so yes he was better in South Carolina than Las Vegas. I do give Mike credit for learning the pivot technique and using it brilliantly. When asked about banning those sugary Big Gulps in New York City, Bloomberg turned it around to overall health and Trump’s mishandling of the CDC and the effect it could have on the spread of the coronavirus in the US. He also was very strong on education and his achievements in New York. Mike finally pushed back on his sin of being a billionaire by reminding everyone he spent $100 million to help 21 of the 2018 House Democrats win their seats. But he was prickly and answered in a sing-song way, as though he was put out when he was asked again about ‘stop and frisk.’ He also has a habit of throwing in a snotty ‘thank you’ in places like, “I think she recognized ME, thank you.” Oh and those jokes! From his attempt at self-deprecation regarding his previous performance and his height or a shout out to the Time Square naked cowboy – I totally understand suing him over his racy jokes if they’re anything like his PG ones.
And yes, Elizabeth Warren borderline bullied Bloomberg over his sexual harassment accusations. But I have a theory. Bloomberg was her Donald Trump stand-in. She was stumping for Super Tuesday and wanted to show us all how she could pulverize President Cock-a-doodle-doo on the debate stage. The next morning though, Joe Scarborough blew a gasket over how she should have gone after Bernie instead. And as per usual, Moaning Joe dismissed any dissenting thoughts from guests on his show. I agreed with John Heilemann and Mike Barnicle’s theories about Warren’s strategy. Elizabeth has reason to loathe Mike. He’s a billionaire who donated to Scott Brown, Warren’s opponent for senator in Massachusetts. Bloomberg also funded the two-faced, pearl-clutcher, Lindsey Graham. And may I remind Mr. Scarborough, Elizabeth actually did a great job of explaining that, although she and Bernie agree on a lot of policy, she believes she’d be a better president. She has a record of digging in and doing the hard work. Sadly, she probably won’t have the chance to prove it.
Front-runner, Bernie Sanders was taking incoming from all sides and understandably was a little off. He recited his usual spiel when he had the chance. But for the most part, he was admonishing his fellow “contestants” (oh Bloomie) or the audience. After Joe Biden repeatedly fired at him over his vote to give gun manufacturers immunity from lawsuits, Bernie admitted he made a bad vote. Sanders disavowed authoritarian regimes but still held onto Castro’s literacy program. Adiós, Florida voters. I’m always amused by Bernie’s sarcasm with comments like calling Trump “the great scientist in the White House” after President Stable Genius predicted the coronavirus will disappear in April. Bernie is not my first choice, but I’m willing to work hard for him in the fall.
Joe Biden was more comfortable than ever in South Carolina. He knew the next day he’d get South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn’s endorsement. Joe hammered Bernie for his gun votes which allowed the shooter to kill those sweet souls in Charleston’s Mother Emanuel church. He repeatedly called Bernie out for attempting to primary Barack in 2012. Joe had many of his facts and most of his numbers memorized for the first time. But after saying all that, Biden stammered a lot and seems unprepared to take on Trump in a debate. He complained to Norah and Gayle that no one else was playing by the rules. He joked that it might be his Catholic school training. But he sounded whiny and silly with comments like, “Okay here I go, I don’t know why you cut me off all the time, just watch me break the rules, I’m not going to be quiet okay?” That didn’t sound like a leader to me.
Oddly, Pete Buttigieg was the grown-up in the room. He was smart, prepared, calm, and measured. Pete put on his Captain Obvious hat when he admitted, “we are seven white people on this stage, and none of us have racial discrimination experience.” He socked it to Bernie over his failure to accomplish big things in the Senate in a respectful manner, except when he talked over him, and all the others, throughout the night. And Pete worked into the conversation, to conservative South Carolinians, that he has a husband, not a wife, a husband, who happens to be a teacher.
Tom Steyer got angry when Biden went after him over his past ownership of private prisons. And I do believe Tom’s not just pandering to South Carolina, but truly believes in reparations. He had trouble again on where to fix his eyeballs, somebody’s been reading iPinion! At first he darted between the questioner and the camera. For some strange reason, he ended by focusing exclusively on the studio audience. What you really need to be looking for is the exit sign, Tom.
Shaky Amy was back with her folksy rehearsed spontaneity. “Do these (gun issues) hurt Uncle Dick in the deer stand? Trump thinks he can bring a hot dish next door (to North Korea).” She name-dropped Rep. Jim Clyburn to Charleston crickets. In Klobuchar’s rambling summary of her motto, Gayle had to bring her back down to planet self-awareness for an answer. And what’s the biggest misconception about Amy? She said, “That people think I’m boring (pause) cuz I’m not.”