Presidential Debate or Circular Firing Squad?
Presidential Debate or Circular Firing Squad?
Lay in the popcorn and chill your favorite beverage. Tonight marks the first of two–count ’em, two–nights of debate featuring the ever expanding field of Democratic candidates for President. Five moderators. Ten candidates per night. And supposedly no advance warning what the moderators will ask. So pull up a chair and get ready to watch Elizabeth Warren, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, Cory “Spartacus” Booker, Julian Castro and more gather round for what some in the media have called a “circular firing squad” as they fight to break away from the pack.
Of course, most of the candidates aren’t content to wait for the debate to start trying to grab the eye of the media. Former Congressman O’Rourke, he who couldn’t win even with the full support and financial backing of the Dems this past election, held a town hall meeting in Florida yesterday. The meeting was hosted by a “major teachers union” and yet he managed to draw only 100 teachers or so.
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t impress me much. A major teachers union hosts an event and, one assumes, promoted it and the once darling of the Democratic Party managed to pull in only 100 teachers? It appears the shine has worn off the skateboarding O’Rourke.
His key point? He promised to replace Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education and replace her with “someone who not only supports public schools but has taught in them and can relate to working with too little pay and not enough financial support.” I guess he thinks a spouse, partner, parent, brother sister or other relative who has been involved with a teacher and knows what they go through isn’t qualified to be SecEd.
Not only is promising to replace DeVos nothing new, it is a given because few Presidents keep cabinet officials from their predecessor’s administrations, especially if said predecessor is from the opposing party. Once again, O’Rourke proves he has few, if any, original thoughts in his head. So how will he fare tonight when he supposedly doesn’t know what questions will be asked? His one real hope of not coming off as one of the weaker candidates is if the moderators soft-pedal where he’s concerned. Considering how they no longer flock to him as they did during his senatorial campaign, that doesn’t seem likely.
While O’Rourke appears to be in a downward spiral (even if it is still early days of the campaign), Elizabeth Warren is going in the opposite direction. She has become the progressive candidate the media loves. She knows it and knows how to milk it. And it seems to be working, at least so far. At her rally yesterday in Florida, she far outpaced O’Rourke when it came to attendees. One estimate claimed 1,300 attended the rally. That’s a far cry from the 100 or so who came out to see O’Rourke. It points out the fact she is one of the very few Dems whose support has grown over the last few weeks. She currently polls in third place behind Biden and Sanders.
At the rally, Warren did what she has been doing for the last few weeks: she went straight for what she sees as President Trump’s jugular. She condemned his stance on Iran and how he threatened to retaliate should Iran take action against our nation. She accused the President of making America a “more dangerous” place to live. When asked, she said she would not go to war with Iran under the current circumstances.
In other words, she out-politicked (pun intended) O’Rourke.
What should we look for from the debates tonight?
Honestly, not much. With 10 candidates on stage, NBC decided it needed to keep things in hand. There will be no opening statements by the candidates. They will be allowed 60 seconds to answer a question and 30 seconds to rebut the others. Then they will have the chance to give a closing statement. Expect a little bit of finger-pointing, a lot of Trump hating and maybe some Bernie and/or Biden bashing since neither of them will be onstage tonight.
I’d rather watch it become a metaphorical circular firing squad.
There’s another handicap candidates less well-known than Warren and O’Rourke will face tonight–their relative unknown status among the voting public. Without the major players taking part tonight, viewing numbers very well may be down. Not that the numbers would be all that high to begin with. Even though the debate will be seen on NBC, as well as MSNBC and Telemundo, it is getting far less exposure than certain charitable fundraisers. People will tune into The Amazing Race or other shows before they do the debate.
If I were Elizabeth Warren, I’d not be happy with being slated for the first night. As the video above notes, she is the only one of the candidates polling in the top five slots who is part of the first 10 candidates to debate. The others will appear on stage together, where they can not only play off of what the others say but where there will be more viewers watching. Warren, despite the media’s attention of late and despite her rising numbers in the poll, is being treated like the redheaded step-child.
And, yes, the second night will fare better when it comes to ratings. After all, it will have “Groping” Joe Biden, Bernie “Socialism is Grand” Sanders, Pete “I should be dealing with city business but would rather be President” Buttigieg and others. Most of the leading players will take part that night and that is where the interest will lie. What will be interesting is to see what sort of changes to the format NBC and the other networks implement after tonight’s debate.
Expect lots of cries of “FOUL!” if that happens.
That may be when we see the beginning of the circular firing squad.
I’ll admit, I’ll be watching the debates closely. I find it hard to believe the candidates won’t have at least a clue, small though it might be, about the questions they’ll be asked. After all, we know how well such supposed secrecy worked in the last presidential campaign when it came to at least one debate. The next question is if any of them will have an actual policy statements or if it will be nothing more than a “Trump bad, liberalism good” bitchfest. The only thing that’s for certain is we will have a front row seat to watch how Trump Derangement Syndrome has taken hold within the Democratic Party.
But we can hope for that circular firing squad. It would certainly make for a more interesting debate than 60 seconds of trying to out-hate Trump more than the previous wannabe presidential candidate. One thing is certain, with tonight’s debate, the presidential election season will officially start. Brace yourself for more and more attacks on the President, more attempts by the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives to find something they can use to embarrass Trump and lead to his defeat. Prepare for more Twitter responses from Trump and a media that will gleefully fall in lockstep with the Dems in their quest to put anyone but Trump in the Oval Office.