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My Take on Last Night's Democratic Debate

Max Stearns

First, a prefatory remark. With respect, I disagree with Barack Obama's statement, which played a role in the debate, concerning gender and leadership. I think that there will be, and should be, many women who serve as president. My favorite cand idate from last night's debate, and in the field, is a women. So is one of my least favorite candidates. The reasons have nothing to do with their gender. It has to do with their views, their presentation, and their prospects of defeating Donald Trump.

Here goes:

(1) Amy Klobuchar: She had her best performance, and she remains my favorite candidate thus far. I know that some believe she cannot secure the nomination. I think last night proved that mistaken. She is experienced, genuinely accomplished, direct, and forceful. She takes appropriate credit for her accomplishments without ever coming off as grandstanding or self-righteous. Every one of her answers was tight, controlled, and the product of a disciplined mind, more so than any other person on the stage. Her experience-based challenge to Pete Buttigieg was powerful and effective. I do not think Elizabeth Warren's wine-cave challenge was nearly as effective. Klobuchar shows that she can stand her ground in a principled way, while remaining respectful. I think she can win the nomination, and I think she could beat Trump if she does.

(2) Joe Biden: He had a better night than any time in the past. But if we are to be entirely honest, he is universally graded on a curve. Objectively speaking, his performance scores points because it was fine, not because it was exemplary. I continue to worry that he will not garner the critical enthusiasm required to win against Trump if he secures the nomination. If he does get the nomination, I hope he chooses Stacey Abrams as Veep. I think she would bring the needed vital energy to his ticket. Even if he were to do that, the fact remains people vote for the top of the ticket.

(3) Pete Buttigieg: I like him very much. I do not think he's the right person to take on Trump. I don't think Warren's wine cave hit him as hard as others do; I do think that Klobuchar's experience charge did. He's super smart, and super talented. Not winning a major party's nomination the first time at bat is nothing to be ashamed of. He has a future. But it should be in the future.

(4) Elizabeth Warren: I simply cannot get past two things. First, her policy views are too far left to win against Trump, and I also disagree with those views as I've explained many times. Policywise, I am far more comfortable with Klobuchar, Biden, Buttigieg. So are the voters that need to be persuaded in the states that matter. Let's not kid ourselves here. Second, to me she comes off as a self-righteous ideologue in terms of her personal style. I think she is a better campaigner than she was early on. Her line about being the youngest women to be inaugurated was clever. She has great one-liners. But that does not overcome the problems, at least for me. On forgiveness, she reminds me of the job candidate (not proverbial; I have seen it) who when asked about her/his greatest weakness, answers "I care too much about people." This sort of thing gets old.

(5) Bernie Sanders: I never was a fan. As I said last round, I think he's softened a bit, and that's good, both for his health and for his performance. But I cannot understand why, even for those in the hard-left lane, why he is the chosen one. That would be Warren, and I've explained why I oppose her candidacy.

(6) Andrew Yang: I'm sorry, but it is somewhat ridiculous to me that he, not Corey Booker, is on the stage He's performing better, but I cannot imagine that he has a serious possibility of winning this campaign or would be effective if he did in taking on Trump.

(7) Tom Steyer: Why does it matter that you rank climate change the first priority? I don't care about that. I do care that you will be the most effective in combatting climate change. Why does it matter that you had a two-year campaign to initiate impeachment proceedings? I don't care about that. I do care about those who were most effective in bringing impeachment about. I don't get this campaign or why he is among the top 7.

(8) Corey Booker: Yes, I know he was not on the stage, and I do not pretend he is a perfect canddiate. I would have preferred to be writing this about Kamala Harris. But alas she dropped out. The rules are broken when we have on this stage Yang and Steyer, not Booker or Harris.

That's all folks! Comments welcome as always.

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