Random Observations on the Democratic Candidates After Their Third of 850 Debates

Last night's debate of the current top ten Democratic candidates for president was both uninspiring and inspiring. Inspiring because how awesome is it that Democrats as a group are finally openly discussing universal health care. How awesome is it that Beto O'Rourke can outright say, "Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47" to the irrational gun owners and no one is writing his political obituary. How awesome is it that Pete Buttigieg can talk about embracing his identity as a gay man and still getting elected in Indiana. How awesome is it that there were four people of color on the stage. It was a little less awesome that there were only three women, but, still and all, considering American presidential races, pretty awesome. And, yeah, it's pretty fuckin' great that you can look at all 10 of the people up there and be assured that every single one of them would be vastly superior to that orange sack of environmental cleanup waste who's currently in the Oval Office.

It was uninspiring, though, for more mundane reasons. Nothing really happened. No one changed anything about where they were in the debate standings. That's partially because of this ludicrous forced march of endless campaigning, something that is just a cruel trick to play on an already stressed-out electorate. And it's partially because we know where everyone stands, pretty much, so it's just about seeing who stumbles.

The other uninspiring part is that the seeming inevitability of Joe Biden as the nominee is closing in on us, and, sorry not sorry, but he's the second least inspiring person up there (looking at you, Amy Klobuchar). I'll get back to that inevitability. First, lemme say a few words about each candidate, in no particular order.

(Note that always has to be made: I will vote for any one of these candidates if they turn out to be the nominee, so when I talk shit, it just means I do have preferences, like everyone. But I'm not gonna be an asshole if my candidate doesn't win.)

1. I like Bernie Sanders, but every time I see him, he slips more and more into self-parody. He looked physically weak and his voice was so gravelly that he overcompensated by yelling even more than usual. I mean, nearly every single candidate up on that stage owes a debt to Bernie Sanders for stretching the parameters of what Democrats can believe (and many of them believe the same things that he does). The man changed the conversation. Let's not deny that. But he just seemed small and at times out of control, and it didn't help that, after the first half-hour or so, his speaking time was severely limited.

2. Joe Biden was never a good speaker. He signifies being a good speaker because he knows how to do that thing where you make your voice sound like it's saying something with great empathy or great force when your words are ludicrous or meaningless.  Like he could say, "Get me some butter" and do it in a way where you're sure he's your best friend when he just really wants butter. He had his good moments and he had his pretty racist, out-of-touch ones like saying that poor kids should listen to their "record player." Biden was part of one of the low points of the evening, when he and Sanders were yelling at each other like someone took the last pudding cup.

3. Elizabeth Warren was the same intense, engaged, intelligent Elizabeth Warren she has always been. She's calm Bernie (I know that shit drives Bernie's voters nuts, but, well, deal). She's doing what she's done this entire campaign: she chugged along like an unstoppable idea train. You can either get on board or get out of the way, but she's gonna keep going down this track until she reaches the station or someone derails her.

4. Kamala Harris tried to laugh and ingratiate herself. That part didn't work at all. It was weird and uncomfortable, like watching a really stoned dude try to roll a cigarette for you ("Too much tongue, man, too much tongue"). What did work was when she talked straight and cut through what she sees as bullshit about her record. No one wants warm and fuzzy Harris. We want the Harris who is going to gut Trump like a fat fish on a Pacific pier.

5. Pete Buttigieg will be a fine Secretary of State who can run for president again in 8 years.

6. Give me money, Andrew Yang.

7. Cory Booker is a natural politician, one of the best up there. In another year, we'd talk about how no one could beat him. He's sincere (sometimes to a fault) and passionate (sometimes over the top), and, even if he has some DeVos issues, he's a hell of a fighter. In a functioning Senate, he'd be one of its superstars. You want something snarky and petty? The man needs to figure out how to blink. At times, he looked he had snorted all the cocaine.

8. Amy Klobuczzzzzzzzz.

9. Oh, Beto, Beto, Beto O'Rourke, you should have run for Senate. Texas fuckin' needs you to push it over the line to a blue state. His fiery denunciation of the lack of gun laws was a clarifying moment, but Betomania is gone.

10. Julian Castro is a motherfucker and I love him for it. He had the other worst moment of the night, although we didn't know it until after. He jumped on Biden for "forgetting" what Biden said two minutes before about poor people and health care. Castro practically hooted in derision and yelled "Old fart! Old fart!" But it turns out that Biden didn't misspeak or forget, so Castro was just a dick. Still, he got in even more dickish lines, like telling Buttigieg "That's an election. You know? This is what we're here for. It's an election" when the mayor bemoaned incivility on stage. Oh, he's going nowhere, but Castro touches my rude soul.

I have lots of issues with Biden, not the least of which is his age, which gets you all kinds of shit when you say it (and which I'll go into at length soon). But it's becoming clearer and clearer that, barring some huge gaffe or health crisis (beyond his eye filling with blood), he's currently the likely nominee and that's because Biden is a pair of broken-in shoes for many Americans who are sick of the crazy-ass kicks they bought on a whim. They just want their comfy shoes.

Those of us on the left are going to have to accommodate ourselves to Biden's inevitability probably a few months into 2020. Otherwise, we'll fuck up what was accurately described by Booker as the "one shot to make Donald Trump a one-term president."

Goddamnit, when is the next one of these fucklorn things?