Saturday, June 29, 2019
Time's up, Joe.
Two nights. Two debates. Twenty candidates.
How many are left now?
That question is beyond my skill set.
Four years ago I remember handicapping the 16 Republican contenders.
Because it's easier to pan than praise. And I've already taken Beto O'Rourke to the woodshed for showing off his high school Spanish.
Yeah, New Age guru Marianne Williamson was loopy. But you don't really need me to tell you that, do you?
I will say the first night left me unmoved—so much so that I fell asleep halfway through. I get up early. My wife, who stayed awake, was very enthusiastic about Julian Castro. But I will have to take that on faith.
Thursday night was very different. Kamala Harris was the breakout candidate, speaking with confidence, power, emotion and none of the wooden punching-above-my-weight quality that candidates like John Hickenlooper exhibited.
Right up there with her was Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend mayor. So that's what the fuss is about. A man who is clear and direct and fearless and takes responsibility. "I didn't get it done," he said, asked why the South Bend police force was still 6 percent black in a city where the general population is a quarter African-American. No equivocation, no tap-dancing. It was almost shocking.
Joe Biden wasn't bad, but he wasn't good either. He seemed to be taking a state's rights approach to civil rights, which is nearly a code for supporting racism. If he doesn't know that, he should. One problem with these longtime hacks is they think they can sugar-coat a turd and feed it to the public, because we're stupid, when we're really not, Donald Trump supporters notwithstanding. When California Rep. Eric Swalwell quoted Biden saying, 32 years ago, that it was time to pass the torch to a new generation, Biden replied, "I'm not letting go of that torch." It was a frank admission of the egoism and selfishness of his campaign. He won't let go, so somebody has to take it from him.
The most inadvertently candid thing Biden said was when stopping himself from speaking. Most candidates barreled on as moderators tried to shut them up. Biden pulled himself short and said, "My time's up."
Is it ever.
Maybe that's good manners. Or maybe it's the timidity that crumples before Donald Trump. The 2020 race won't be played by the Marquis of Queensbury rules.
We have a long road ahead of us. Things change. But right now, I'd like to see Harris and Buttigieg together on a ticket. They seem in good position to pry the torch from Biden's claw. Then to be the splintery stick to shove up the ass of Donald Trump. If he beats them, well, then we deserve four more years of his clown show misrule.