Uh, I thought this started at 9 p.m.! Welcome. So far I hear less interruptions.
10:47 p.m. Time to refill my water glass and read Elizabeth Taylor’s A Game of Hide and Seek. ‘Night!
10:44 p.m. Should Trump choose to “debate” Joe Biden in September 2020, he’ll destroy Biden. I can’t believe this is a point of discussion.
10:36 p.m. “Let me share the secrets of entrepreneurship…” No, don’t.
10:34 p.m. The crowd may have been too exhausted to hear Buttigieg’s Mike Pence burn.
10:30 p.m. And Warren’s lapses into autobiography (dollies?) don’t become her. She turns garrulous — to Warren watchers a sign that she’s running on reflexes.
10:28 p.m. Kierkegaard and his dad mentioned in one hundred-twenty minutes. The deaths in Biden’s family have given him purpose as a candidate. That’s his pitch.
10:24 p.m. Another half hour?! I may return to watching the Shawn Mendes-Camila Cabello kiss another six dozen times.
10:20 p.m. Please note the time. Not a single mention about abortion rights.
10:15 p.m. Biden babbles and corrects himself about record players and the number of words kids don’t learn (“Make sure you have the record player on at night”). Glad Biden’s aware of the spike in vinyl sales.
10:13 p.m. I admire how Sanders doesn’t shilly-shally: no bullshit lachrymose anecdote about Ms. McGillicuddy in the third grade.
10:07 p.m. “My kid’s school was so good that I didn’t need to be there for my son’s first day — I was running for president!” *applause*
10:06 p.m. Andrew Yang: “I am ‘pro good schools.'” About good schools….But he’s right about the perfidy of tests.
10:05 p.m. A HUNDRED DEMOCRACY DOLLARS
10:01. The Day After Tomorrow — an example of terrible art being more influential than good art.
10 p.m. …but Ramos compensates with a fucking question — at last — about the effect of climate change.
9:54 p.m. Ramos asks Bernie Sanders what’s the difference between his socialism and Venezuela and Cuba. He asks Booker whether we should follow his, Booker’s, lead and go vegan. Is he this dense or is he talking to putative conservative Dems?
9:53 p.m. Yang had a simple mission: say, “The Iraq War was bullshit.” He didn’t.
9:49 p.m. Biden on surge: “What I said at the beginning was that the fact that they were there, which we predicted, was predicated on what we said later.” Or some such nonsense. A salad with croutons, shaved cheese, and pepper.
9:45 p.m. We must stop assuming military service gives one a unique experience into government.
9:44 p.m. UGH. Warren mentions John McCain.
9:43 p.m. Warren’s Afghanistan answer is a weasel’s response. Pull out, sure. “We need a foreign policy that is about our security and about leading on our values,” in large part by consulting “all” our allies. Okay.
9:41 p.m. Helluva law firm, Senator Booker: “Merkel & Macron.”
9:40 p.m. Harris and Warren’s trade policy ideas weren’t bad, but the truth is, no one understands this shit.
9:37 p.m. “That guy in The Wizard of Oz?” Uh, the Wizard, Senator Harris? A joke by someone who never cracks jokes.
9:36 p.m. Warren: “I wouldn’t negotiate trade deals by myself. I’d negotiate deals for America with small farmers at the table, with human rights activists at the table, with small businesses and entrepreneurs at the table…”
9:34 p.m. As readers know, I like plans, especially Warren’s, as much as anyone, but to assume that these candidates have answers about China tariff policy right now is folly.
9:31 p.m. When Amy Klobuchar speaks about tariffs, she sounds like Andrew Yang applying for a job as a host at Seasons 52.
9:29 p.m. When Andrew Yang gets passionate, he sounds like the guy in Mulholland Drive describing the nightmare to his friend at a Winkies.
9:24 p.m. Commercial break. Unless the Warren and Sanders camps said pax with ABC News’ people, this is a debate surrendered to the second-tier candidates and The Gaping Cotton Ball Known as Joe Biden. Andrew Yang exists, like Jon Huntsman on the GOP side in 2012, to remind primary voters that their parties have fringe centrist voters who believe in common sense. Yang is too sane for politics. So is Pete Buttigieg. Amy Klobuchar is not: she’ll punch you for not seeing the wisdom in her addled moderateness.
9:21 p.m. Whenever O’Bourke speaks Spanish, he turns into Andrew Yang talking.
9:21 p.m. I don’t know how to rewrite the United States’ immigration laws. The moment is so charged.
9:17 p.m. “If you look at our history, over half of our Fortune 500 companies…” — Andrew Yang, interviewing for Publix’s director of IT.
9:12 p.m. Wow. In essence Ramos shrugged Biden off.
9:10 p.m. Biden is right to scoff at moderator Jorge Ramos’ comparison between Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s border policies. But few on this stage, Castro excepted, understand what the problem means in personal terms.
9:07 p.m. When asked about guns, Warren points to the Senate, corrupt beyond measure and protected by the filibuster. I’m not sure if she intends this, but this is the “systemic” problem stopping civil rights legislation outlined in Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate.
9:06 p.m. “So, Senator Warren…” Good morning!
9:04 p.m. Sure, Cory, “we have a crisis of empathy” in this country. But the paradox is you need a president to crack skulls. You ain’t winning by pleading.
9:01 p.m. I have not heard Elizabeth Warren so much as exhale in the last thirty-one minutes.
9 p.m. “Hell yes” Beto is going after your AR-15s and AK-47s!
8:57 p.m. Kamala Harris cracks an incoherent joke involving “Yes, We Can!”
8:51 p.m. Ageism, of course, but let me say again: Joe Biden looks tired. Exhausted. And no matter his “detailed plans” to “reform” the prison system, he wasn’t there in decades.
8:48 p.m. Whenever a candidate quotes his or her own press, they’re in trouble; it’s the equivalent of, “Visit my website electmartinomalley.com.
8:46 p.m. So far this debate has focused, almost desperately, on the candidates least likely to excite voters but most likely to excite assistant vice presidents of human resources at Target.
8:43 p.m. Cory Booker proposes a White House office when he’s president to deal with white supremacy.
8:42 p.m. Julian Castro has clever advisers. After praising O’Bourke for his passion after the El Paso shooters, he gently reminds the audience that the shooter targeted “people like me.” #shade
8:40 p.m. Beto O’Bourke signals that he’s aware of the NYT’s 1619 Project.
8:37 p.m. Why do we need someone “who has run a business” for expertise? Why do we still give a shit about this? Andrew Yang, without a tie, has swept in to save us all. Yet he talks as if he wore a tie.
8:35 p.m. Julian Castro, careful to give Barack Obama his props. “Barack Obama’s vision was not to live ten million people uncovered,” Castro said. The crowd boos. Gasps. Biden, querulous, leans into Bernie Sanders, who, in a gentlemanly fashion, throws him a life preserver.