A passel of Democratic presidential candidates continue to debate . . . and debate . . . and debate, and nothing changes. After three debates, the most recent one in Houston nine days ago, former Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead the pack with 30 percent of potential Democratic primary voters followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tied at 18 percent in the most recent RealClearPolitics average of all major polls.
But can the Biden gaffe machine make it to the finish line? That’s the question. Or will the 76-year-old candidate be overtaken by the energetic Warren, who seems to be on a roll, or the fading Sanders, who comes across as an angry old man? Other contenders like California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg are far back in the pack at 7 and 4 percent, respectively.
I agree with John Harris of Politico, who wrote that Biden “failed to step up or fall down” in the most recent debate. Harris added that Biden “interspersed some strong moments with several mushy or head-scratching ones,” like when he urged kids to listen to words on their record players. As one of the few people in Carson City who actually own a record player, I worry about whether good old Joe is up to a tough 21st century challenge.
An also-ran contender, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, now at 2 percent, wondered whether Biden “can carry the ball all the way across the goal line without fumbling.” Me too, Cory. Personally, I think Booker and Harris are running for vice president. Returning to the last debate, John Harris summarized it as “a big stage of people who still seem smaller than the position they’re seeking.”
In another accurate debate analysis, astute Fox News Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt said two also-rans, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, a 47-year-old fake Hispanic skateboarder, “brought with them the anger and resentment of candidates who feel they’ve been overlooked for their wondrous gifts.” My condolences.
O’Rourke turned to profanity in a desperate attempt to get attention. “Hell yes, we’re going to take away your guns,” he told a national TV audience. Oops! Stirewalt added that Warren wants us to see her as “a girl of modest means who grew up to become a schoolteacher,” rather than as the wealthy, and very progressive, Harvard professor she is in real life.
But it fell to conservative Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, a gifted writer, to administer the coup d’grace to the Democratic presidential candidates. “Donald Trump can be taken in 2020,” she wrote, “but everyone doubts the ability of the current Democratic field to do it. Everyone knows the Democratic moderates (like Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar) are going nowhere, and cluttering up the stage, but no one minds... because they make the party look sane.” Ouch!
“Everyone knows that Donald Trump is a mental case,” Noonan continued, “so why does he keep insisting that he’s ‘a very stable genius?’” Good question. “When we talk about politics we all obsess on the alt.right and the progressive left,” she concluded, “(but) no one speaks of the center,” where most of the voters, including your favorite Appeal columnist, are. Like Noonan, I’m suffering from EID (Extreme Ideological Discomfort) as President Trump continues to misbehave and Democrats continue to push far-left socialist spending proposals that would bankrupt the country. She says we moderates are “the great ignored,” but millions of us will be voting next year. Count on it!
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.