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Assault on America, Day 286: 12 Democrats on one debate stage equals more trouble for liberals

Biden Defends Son
Are the Democrats in trouble?

Most observers on the conservative Republican side of the spectrum would likely answer an emphatic “yes,” but the reasons for the belief probably differ. A good chunk of the respondents would enthusiastically insist the liberal party will suffer for its mindless pursuit of political impeachment of President Donald Trump without evidence or reasonable constitutional justification for putting the nation through the spectacle (even if it doesn’t actually result in a full senate trial).

Others would point to the shallow nature of the Democrat presidential field, one that’s slanting further left at breakneck pace. Last week brought news that longtime frontrunner Joe Biden’s surrendered his polling lead to the rapidly surging Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren, a development that must make the Trump campaign brains side-splitting giddy considering the Massachusetts senator appears to be wholly unelectable.

This latter group will get another dose of Democrat malaise in this week’s fourth party presidential debate (tonight in Westerville, Ohio at Otterbein University, hosted by CNN and the New York Times, moderated by Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper, and Marc Lacey). Twelve Democrats will share the stage (a new record for size), including the same ten ambitious pols who whined, complained and groaned for three hours in Houston last month (Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang) plus the addition of billionaire environmental alarmist Tom Steyer and Hawaii Congresswoman (and Kamala Harris antagonist) Tulsi Gabbard.

“Only” these twelve lucky losers satisfied the national party’s criteria for participation, which required grassroots fundraising of at least 130,000 unique contributors and polling support of two percent or greater in four eligible polls (counting both national and statewide surveys in the early voting states). Hence someone like Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar qualified for these high-profile national events despite hardly anyone outside of the Midwest even knowing who she is. But Klobuchar’s home is next door to Iowa, so maybe some of her Gopher State followers crossed-over the line to give her a shout-out to a pollster. How else would she make it (Amy’s Real Clear Politics average was 1.3 percent as of yesterday)?

For November’s debate the qualifications get another boost in difficulty. Thus far, only eight Democrats were guaranteed a spot on stage. It’s crunch time for the rest!

One doesn’t need to be a rocket (political) scientist to guess at the hot topics of the evening tonight. Each candidate will rehearse some sort of short rant against the president and in support of his impeachment, shooting off their mouths without fear of reproach from a Democrat electorate that doesn’t give a hoot about causation or facts -- they just want Trump out of office, preferably long before the nation votes next November.

The candidates will also certainly touch on the favored issues of the previous Democrat forums, namely healthcare, immigration/amnesty, gun control (or confiscation), climate change emergency and various tax the rich schemes concocted to pay for their wild government-centered fantasies. Perhaps the only departure from the previous iterations will be somewhat less concentration and ferocity directed at Biden, the fading light in the contest.

It hasn’t yet quite reached the pity point for Grampa Joe, but the condescending honorariums for his past service as Barack Obama’s veep can’t be far off. Biden himself may view this event as a final opportunity to right his listing campaign ship and therefore could be a little desperate. He’ll probably act angrier than usual, perhaps even pound his lectern a few times while emphatically denying he did anything wrong in Ukraine or China and that his son Hunter’s a great patriot and the victim of a vast right-wing conspiracy…blah, blah, blah.

“Those mean people using my son to get at me!” Oh, the horrors!

The audience will applaud and pass over any more obvious Biden gaffes, figuring he’s still got a stranglehold on the party establishment and the “super delegates” who put Hillary Clinton on the throne of authority, even if their nominating power’s been reduced from four years ago. Perhaps Joe’s clinging to the hope that the forgotten Americans who now anchor Trump’s campaign will come back to the Democrats somehow. Maybe he’ll tell a story or two about his formative years in Scranton, Pennsylvania and shed a tear from his non bloodshot eye to rouse emotions.

Who can say? The nation might just tune-in to see how Bernie Sanders handles the recent double whammy of his heart attack and his daughter-in-law’s sudden passing from cancer two days after being diagnosed. “The Bern’s” no doubt felt a lot of political pressure of late, watching helplessly as Warren sprinted past him in the polls and assumed near-complete dominance of the leftist-running lane. Will Sanders’ personal foibles derail his campaign?

Folks at home will be less interested in hearing him complain about climate change, morbidly wondering if the physical and mental toll of a presidential campaign is proving too much for the 78-year-old socialist to bear. It didn’t receive much press focus at the time but Sanders was very hoarse during last month’s debate too. The Bern’s doing all he can to provide the impression he’s up to the job, but like with Biden, pity may be the only thing he’s got left in reserve.

Below the troubled top-tier is “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg and the ever-shrinking Kamala Harris, who’s seen her once tight hold on fourth place completely disintegrate. It’s questionable whether the contest’s lone African-American female candidate is still viable any longer. Biden’s lost his lead but it’s largely due to Warren’s surge rather than a complete collapse.

Harris is falling like a stone. Can she stop the slide? Even the experts don’t sound optimistic. Perry Bacon Jr. wrote at FiveThirtyEight last week, “[I]t’s worth thinking about why Harris has stumbled from that post-first-debate high. We can’t know for sure, but here are some theories (most of these are not mutually exclusive, and many likely played a role, but I ordered them from strongest to weakest, in my view):

“1. 2020 was never going to be her year in the first place… 2. Biden and Warren are just really strong candidates… 3. Harris has not run a good campaign… 4. She’s a woman of color in a party wary of nominating someone who it feels won’t connect with white voters in the Midwest in the general election…

“[A] lot would have to happen for Harris to pull off such a comeback. Right now, she seems more likely to finish behind Andrew Yang than to win the Democratic nomination. That’s pretty stunning, and makes me think that perhaps all four of these things are happening at once. Maybe the best explanation for Harris’s struggles is that she hasn’t been a great candidate and also faced three things that were out of her control: the strong performances of Biden and Warren, doubts from some Democrats about a woman of color’s ability to win the general election and a Democratic electorate looking for either a really leftward shift (Warren, Sanders) or someone decidedly against that shift (Biden.)”

With all due deference to the vaunted FiveThirtyEight minds, Harris was never a strong candidate to begin with. She lacks the charisma of Obama, the experience of Sanders and Warren and the likeable presence of Biden. Democrats already tried the minority candidate and female candidate dramas in two separate elections with two different results. Obama was able to win because he delivered a heck of a rousing campaign speech and offered an (phony, yes) inspiring personal story of “Hope and Change.”

Let’s not pretend people care all that much about the demographic resumes of candidates. The “I’m voting for a black guy” or “How about a woman?” line of argument only goes so far.

In addition, Harris comes from California, which is not an advantage anywhere except out west. The fact the Golden State’s become a one-party liberal fiefdom doesn’t lend itself towards producing candidates with national appeal. Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang are also from the nation’s most populous state but they’re outsiders who can at least stake a claim to anti-establishment thinking.

Not Harris. No one doubts Harris is liberal enough, but it’s still not clear exactly what she stands for. America sure knows what she’s against -- anything Trump and Republicans put forward -- but the former Attorney General doesn’t appear to champion anything. She’s for everything and nothing at the same time.

Plus, Obama was able to make inroads in the Clinton-dominated party because he rarely played the victim card -- or at least not as blatantly as Harris does. Kamala wanted everyone to feel sorry for her in the “I was that girl” busing sense, but she engenders hardly any sympathy. She’s obnoxious. And not likeable. Sooner rather than later she’ll be just another senator who ran for president and was roundly rejected by the public. Like Chris Dodd. Or Joe Lieberman.

Many pundits would probably put forth “Mayor Pete” as the most likely to break into the top-tier, but I’d say Andrew Yang has the best chance. Buttigieg is too young, not all that interesting and his unique factor -- being gay and having a “husband” -- wore off long ago. The fact he’s now polling ahead of Harris in fourth place might be the race’s number one surprise thus far. But where would Buttigieg get his voters? Will African-American Democrats overlook his questionable handling of “social justice” conflicts and flock to his side over one of the others?

Not a chance.

Yang, on the other hand, is still largely an unknown quantity. He’s definitely far-left but doesn’t come across as extreme. Yang pokes fun at his Asian heritage but doesn’t use it as a crutch. His universal basic income idea is appealing to the eternally entitled (a.k.a., Democrat voters). And he can run from outside Washington, a benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked.

If Sanders abruptly decided he couldn’t continue his campaign, a decent sized chunk of his support would go to Yang, not someone like Buttigieg. If the entrepreneur somehow reaches the fifteen percent threshold, he could be a real threat. More Democrats would list him as their second choice and he’s eminently more relatable than Warren, even if he has no governing experience.

Regardless of what happens during the Democrat debate tonight it’s clear the party is in trouble. Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment witch-hunt has effectively stolen all the thunder from the party presidential race, a bad thing considering it wasn’t all that exciting to begin with. Will anyone even watch?

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