DNC Takes Democratic Primary Debates 12 Steps Backwards

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home.

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22 Responses

  1. InMD says:

    This seems like an unequivocally bad move. The thing that keeps striking me is the lack of real winning narrative anyone is building. Nothing like the yes we can or middle way that took the last two successful D campaigns to the White House. The closest to it is Bernie but he’s too much of an outsider.

    Two things the DNC needs to get straight.

    1. Trump is basically scandal proof. Doesn’t mean the inherent indignity and scandalous nature of his presidency should be ignored but its value is very limited to inspiring base turnout in urban corridors. It will not turn the midwestern jurisdictions that will decide the election. Relying on it as the primary weapon is folly.

    2. For God’s sake push someone to develop a brand ready for nation wide battle. Warren is kind if sorta trying but she lacks the personal touch. If shes going to be the nominee someone needs to help her hone the message (which I do think is a good one, she just isn’t always great at communicating it to people who don’t share her cultural lexicon).Report

  2. “The idea of a primary is to find the candidate best suited to win the election. It is not supposed to be a party-wide T-ball game in which each participate is guaranteed an at-bat and their moment of glory.”

    I think this is the reason. They’re protecting the candidates from being exposed (especially Warren and Biden). That will backfire on them. Better to test them now than in the general.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    Eh, given the amount of… shall we say… “shenanigans” going on last time within the DNC, the DNC wanted to avoid even the appearance of shenaniganry.

    Say what you will about this little debate, it’s not like when the DNC pre-cleared the field for their particular Chosen One whose turn it was.

    I know. If only we had a Democratic Party run by wise people, they could have pre-winnowed the wackiest of the candidates out *WITHOUT* pre-winnowing out the good ones. That’s the problem, innit? We aren’t. So we have to pick between trusting the wisdom of the people and trusting the wisdom of the party. 2016 left us saying “okay, maybe that wasn’t awesome” about the party.

    As dumb as this stunt is, it’s still less dumb than picking Clinton.

    (Note: Iowa Caucuses are in February. This would be dumber if it were, say, December. As it is, it ain’t even October yet.)Report

    • North in reply to Jaybird says:

      I wanna quibble and say perceived shenanigans rather than actual ones since HRC did the field clearing pretty much by herself. But Jaybirds core point is right and it’s wildly rich that any right winger who caviled all through 2016 about how HRC stole the nomination would now complain about the DNC’s studious even handedness.

      And Biden, even though there is not any there there in the Ukrainian issue, needs to demonstrate that he can argue that truth and defend it in public or else the narrative that it was corruption will run around the world before the truth can get its boots on. And if he can’t energetically manage that then he needs to get the hell out of the way and endorse another moderate.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to North says:

        The difference between “shenanigans” and “perceived shenanigans” is a hair I am not sure I’d be able to split.

        That said, it was not the right-wingers who were complaining about HRC stealing the nomination (at least from where I was sitting). It’s more that they were observing HRC play the game poorly this time to make sure that she and hers actually got it instead of effing up like in 2008.

        It was the left-wingers screaming the loudest about HRC stealing the nomination and they could point to all sorts of stuff. Is the DNC using Superdelegates a shenanigan? Of course not. It’s how the game is played and anybody who enters the Dem Primary should know that. Is the stuff that Guccifer 2.0 allegedly found a shenanigan? Of course not! People have free speech and they’re allowed to have preferences! Is the secret agreement that Clinton entered into with the DNC in order to have control over all of the DNC’s financial, strategic and staffing decisions a shenanigan? (Wait, did that really happen? Golly!) Of course not. That’s just how the game is played.

        But the Sanders supporters felt like there were thumbs on the scale and having people on the left scream about shenanigans is a hell of a lot different than right-wingers doing it.

        Right wingers scream about anything, after all.Report

        • North in reply to Jaybird says:

          I would point out, that HRC won the nomination without a single superdelegate. Even in normal delegates she beat Bernie handily in almost every state. If nothing else this primary far has demonstrated just how empty those particular complaints from the Bernie left are. Bernie barely is peoples third choice and only got the support he did in 2015 because Hillary had convinced or intimidated all the other candidates to not run.

          But one of the various pleasures of the Clinton era being over is that I don’t have to relitigate all things Clinton again.Report

  4. George Turner says:

    The problem is that Democrats don’t have a candidate with the gravitas of Obama or the intimidating presence of Hillary. But there’s an easy fix for that.

    Hillary and Chelsea have been doing public appearances all week, so there’s speculation that Hillary might jump in if Biden looks wounded. If nothing else, she would make lots of money off a renewed bid, and the potential to “make lots of money” is a pretty good indication of what she’ll do in any given situation. Some of the other candidates might tear into her on the debate stage, but as soon as the cameras are off they’ll probably commit suicide.

    If she does indicate she’ll jump into the race, millions of Democrat party loyalists will say “I think I just threw up a little, in my mouth.”Report

    • I’d honestly vote for her over most of this field, baggage and all.Report

    • North in reply to George Turner says:

      Hillary Clinton doesn’t love the right (odds are she loathes them), so why on earth would she give them the thing they’ve been longing for ever since 2016? She’s done.Report

      • George Turner in reply to North says:

        Well, Hillary has two options: Run or don’t run. She won’t win in November, but she does have to ask herself, “Which option results in a higher 2021 net worth for me? Which is going to result in more donations to my charities? Which is going to generate future multi-million dollar book advances? Which is going to have people acting like my lackeys and toadies and paying to fly me all over the country, catering to my every whim?”Report

  5. J_A says:

    I wish I could understand the lack of love for Buttigieg here in OT.

    Being against the three front runners for several reasons, including, but not limited to, being over 70, and coming from the Coast/Washington/New England corridor, i have been looking for another candidate that can address the issues we have in front of us, without the baggage that will hinder Biden, Bernie, and Warren. And, like the OP points out, several of the minor candidates, including, alas, Beto, really have no there there.

    I’ve spent several hours watching some of Mayor Pete’s interviews and campaign events. Man, the guy is smart, and has put a lot of thought on many of the country’s problems, and, like Warren, he, too, has a 14 steps plan for each one (afterwards reduced to only nine steps, because Mayor Pete is for efficiency (*)).

    Though most of his stump speeches are repetitions of ideas he’s presented in almost the same language in many other events, what he excels at is in the subsequent Q&A. He listens attentively, engages with the person, an gives a serious, detailed, answer that is not just a platitude. And no matter how technical or managerial his response is, it never comes out as patronizing. Since Bill Clinton left the stage, I haven’t seen a politician do this as well as Mayor Pete. In a national campaign, he would be really powerful. (**)

    (*) You’ll get the joke if you hear him speak.

    (**) Do yourself a favor, just watch his response to being compared to Alfred E. Neumann by Trump -the words “literary reference” will never mean the same.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to J_A says:

      If your favorite issue is (X), then your preferred candidate will be someone else.

      That’s pretty much it.

      I think that he’s the *PERFECT* VP choice for anybody but one of the White Males… but at the top of the ticket? Nah. Because if you like (X), (Other Candidate) does a better job of representing that.Report

      • J_A in reply to Jaybird says:

        That doesn’t tell me much, or anything about

        1- Would Buttigieg be a good president?
        2- Who would Jaybird want to be the candidate for president?

        I guess you are grudgingly accepting he would be an asset to the campaign, except for Biden (and I don’t understand why not for Biden).Report

        • Jaybird in reply to J_A says:

          Don’t use “Who would Jaybird want to be the candidate for president?” as a yardstick for anything. I think Justin Amash might have my vote this time around, maybe, I guess.

          As for whether Buttigieg would be a good president… um… maybe? He’d probably still drone the crap out of the Middle East and end the trade wars in Asia and probably expand the whole H1B visa program… which, I think, is the current definition of “good president”?

          But if the question is “why hasn’t he caught on?”, I’d say it’s because, whatever your bugbear, someone else flies that banner a little more brightly. (He’s a *PERFECT* VP, though.)Report

    • James K in reply to J_A says:

      For whatever the opinion of a foreign libertarian is worth, I think Buttigieg is the candidate I would be most interested in voting for.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to James K says:

        My concern about Buttigieg remains the same — the direct jump from mayor of a city of 103K in a state where he probably couldn’t win a US House or Senate seat to President of a country of 330M (with nukes and the world’s reserve currency) makes me very nervous.Report

        • J_A in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Though on paper that comment sounds reasonable, I wonder if a jump from the Senate with little else to show of (Biden, Bernie) makes any more sense (*).

          At least Mayor Pete has been a mayor of a city of 103k for two periods, and has some experience managing a budget and a large number of employees, white and blue collar, being responsible for a large, facing education, policing, transportation, weather and disaster, housing, etc. issues.

          We can discuss if he’s done a good A+ job, a gentleman’s C job, a dreadful job (probably not, he won reelection handsomely, increasing his percentage of votes), but it is executive experience. Would a state governor have more, and more applicable, experience? Yes, but for some reason, no governor has been able to get close to the magical 2%.

          (*) I give Warner credit for knowing a lot -really a lot- about economics (**), and Harris to know about criminal and policing issues.

          (**) And for some reason, i do get the idea that McKinley alumnus Buttigieg can at least hold a candle to Senator Warren in that respect, and probably towers over an other candidateReport

        • North in reply to Michael Cain says:

          I feel you, but Trump himself has demonstrated that a jump from no public service to the presidency is reasonable. Then again, just because the GOP has stooped that low doesn’t mean the Democratic Party should do so as well. Still, Buttigieg, has done decently and I would trust him to hire a good cabinet and that’s a large part of the way there. He’s still my second fav.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Seems to me that familiarity with running Big Government is less important – MUCH less important – than the character of the candidate.Report

  6. Pinky says:

    When I heard 12 candidates, I immediately assumed 2 six-man debates. It didn’t occur to me that they’d be increasing the number of podiums.

    If I were in charge, I”d rank the candidates in terms of polling strength, then have one debate with number 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and one debate with the others. This guarantees that there wouldn’t be a second-tier debate. I realize it also means that the first and second candidate won’t get to go against each other, but I think it’s the best way nonetheless.Report