Post-Debate Wrap-Up

Scott Varley/Orange County Register/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

It made a big difference having only seven candidates on the debate stage tonight. Almost everyone got time to weigh in on almost every subject, and there was less downtime while the debate suddenly seemed to stop dead so we could hear from the folks who had no business being there. That said, here are my first impressions of how everyone did:

Amy Klobuchar seemed like the big winner, relatively speaking. She got plenty of speaking time, she was clearer than usual in her answers, and she did the best job by far of selling a moderate vision without directly attacking Warren or Sanders.

Pete Buttigieg was the big loser. I thought he sounded more politician-y and rehearsed tonight than usual, and his newfound combativeness didn’t play well. During his squabble over fundraising with Warren and his squabble with Klobuchar over experience, I thought he came out on the losing end both times.

Joe Biden had a good night. For one thing, the tone of this debate was louder and more aggressive than past debates, and by contrast Biden sounded like a cool drink of water whenever he spoke. That’s a good look for him. He also did well when he got a little more animated, as he did when talking about immigration and Afghanistan.

Bernie Sanders was . . . Bernie Sanders. Even after you account for the fact that I’ve never been a big fan of his, he just sounded like he had absolutely nothing new to say. In debate after debate, all we hear is that he’s somehow going to lead a revolution and then all our progressive dreams will come true. Meh.

Elizabeth Warren had some good answers and some bad ones. I’m undecided about whether it was smart to simply say “They’re wrong!” when she was asked about economists who said her two-percent wealth tax would be bad for the economy. On the one hand, yay! She’s probably right. On the other hand, don’t you have to at least pretend to take the experts seriously? This is a Democratic debate, after all, not a Republican one.

On the positive side, “billionaires in wine caves” is likely to be the meme of the night.

Andrew Yang showed some nice flashes of humor, and I admire the guts of anyone who’s willing to say “thorium nuclear reactor” on a public stage. But he’s still never going to be president of the United States.

Tom Steyer didn’t matter before the debate, and he still doesn’t matter.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate