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Assault on America, Day 352: Democrat sleep-aid candidates do L.A., and the nation nods off

Democrat Debate Biden
This might forever be known as the “gym” debate… and what a difference a month makes.

It all seemed so “innocent” in November when ten Democrat presidential candidates gathered in Atlanta to rehash the major themes in their party race. Seven of those hopefuls appeared once again in Los Angeles, California (at Loyola Marymount University, in the school’s gym) on Thursday night to “debate” for a sixth time overall. But the political atmosphere of the country has completely changed in those intervening twenty-nine days. Thanks to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s and the House Democrats’ agreeing to two impeachment articles the previous evening, it’s safe to say everyone’s mind was elsewhere -- and we’re not just talking about the attendees in the auditorium.

The amateurish set didn’t help things. The place practically echoed. It was bad.

Mostly, Americans of all political stripes were probably thinking about President Donald Trump, which is exactly the way he likes it. Democrats chose the fight and the setting for the duel. They similarly selected the participants, the weapons and the “ammunition.” If there’s blame for the whole mess it lies squarely in their corner. And there’s nothing the hapless national candidates can do about it at this point. The rocket’s been launched and there’s no return delivery system attached.

Imagine you’re Pete Buttigieg and then being asked for your views on impeaching the president for only the third time in U.S. history. The guy’s probably never even met Trump or spent any appreciable time in Washington. What the heck does he know about politics?

The evening’s first question was on impeachment. Big surprise. None of the answers sounded “impartial”, either, though Democrats have the nerve to suggest the senate trial won’t be “fair” and non-political. What a crock. The program’s opening minutes reinforced why Americans seem dissatisfied with the quality of this field.

The responses are summarized as thus: “Donald Trump merits removal, but if he’s not, I’m the candidate to beat him because he’s awful and I’m awesome!”

Nancy Pelosi’s “threat” to not send the approved articles of impeachment over to the senate must’ve been greeted by a huge sigh of relief -- and maybe some audible cheers -- from the Democrat presidential candidates who just happen to double as senators (and maybe not Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang, who will have to once again compete for favor with the DC swamp veterans). It could supply a legitimate excuse for them to escape jury duty. They can only hope.

Pelosi’s move -- and impeachment in general -- is completely sucking the air out of the Democrat presidential candidates’ already underinflated balloon. Every moment the press obsesses on the House Democrats -- or about Trump making an off-the-cuff remark referencing dearly departed congressmen and hell -- is one less bit of spotlight one of them might use to display their sterling grasp of the issues and stellar leadership qualities.

Also missing from Thursday’s forum was much of the “diversity” that was present in November, namely senators Kamala Harris (who withdrew from the field earlier this month) and Cory Booker, as well as Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the only major party candidate who could actually vote to advance impeachment. Gabbard voted “present” on both articles, indicating she couldn’t in good conscience vote to impeach Trump on the facts presented… but that he deserved it anyway. A compromise?

For those with short memories, last month in Atlanta Harris said “there’s a criminal in the White House”, so at least some of the animosity was gone from Thursday night’s debate. But the anger exhibited from the top-tier survivors more than made up for it (particularly between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden), though the atmosphere was quite a bit more subdued. Maybe it was due to the horrible acoustics of the “gym” debate venue. Or maybe the Democrat candidates were tired on Thursday night. Or maybe they just preferred to let Speaker Nancy Pelosi (a.k.a., the de facto leader of the Democrats) speak for them. Pelosi may not have a clue what she’s saying, but she does exhibit a certain confidence whenever she steps to the microphone.

Not so for the presidential candidates. Bernie Sanders was his usual animated self in Los Angeles, Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren glared at the national audience again, “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg again tried to explain how a late thirties city servant was qualified to be leader of the free world, and polling frontrunner Joe Biden stumbled and bumbled through more answers while attempting to appear competent, astute and the most “electable” Democrat. Joe’s a fighter! Receive a question, grit your teeth and start talking about how awful the economy really is despite all the great figures!

Where’s Biden’s concerned, I just don’t get it. At least Hillary Clinton was sharp and attentive four years ago. Grampa Joe struggles with putting thoughts together, period. It’s almost as though he’s measuring every word, being too careful not to commit another gaffe. Plus, he wants to ditch the fossil fuel industry in favor of building tons of charging stations on highways for expensive electric cars! What a GREAT idea, Joe!

Without Cory Booker’s smiles and sense of humor and Gabbard’s moderating presence, each of the remaining Democrats was free to be more of his or herself on Thursday night. Whereas the November debate featured quite a lot of discussion of Buttigieg’s qualifications to be president, this event was more evenly handed with all of the candidates concentrating on their respective running lanes. It’s pretty clear at this juncture that one of the four -- Biden, Sanders, Warren or Buttigieg -- is going to be the nominee (unless Hillary Clinton gets in, then all bets are off).

As for the others? Andrew Yang stepped in as the non-cracker white Democrat candidate, but he’s just a little too “normal” and esoteric to draw a large following. Sen. Amy Klobuchar again shook uncontrollably throughout the program -- it’s kind of embarrassing to watch her try to manage her impulses. And the more she tries to stop it the worse it gets. She’s just not inspiring to the elements of the Democrat base that wants a Trump-beater and dragon slayer, though Amy used the balance of her time shoring up her liberal credentials.

Billionaire Tom Steyer comes across as a wingnut -- and a rich, weird one at that. Isn’t he an odd-looking human being? It’s like his Howdy-Doody head is too small for his puny pencil-neck body. Outsiders generally elicit curiosity from the voting public, but not Steyer. He’s clearly despised by the socialists in the center of the stage and resented by Biden -- the guy who must rely on establishment money to keep his boat afloat. It’s hard to see where Steyer would convince any Democrat to abandon Biden or Sanders to join his effort. But it’s kind of fun to see him try.

When challenged, Steyer said he was in favor of a wealth tax too. Anyone convinced? Why don’t you just cut a check to the treasury, Tom?

Naturally, impeachment was one of the major topics the moderators tried to get the candidates to address in a fresh and different way. It didn’t work. The same could be said for trade (briefly touched on Pelosi’s support for the USMCA, which Sanders, of course, opposes), the strong economy, tax increases (Liz said “Oh, they’re just wrong!” when asked about economists who say tax hikes would be harmful), climate change, “working” with Republicans, race relations, healthcare, should we boycott the 2022 China Olympics…? you lose track after a while.

Or simply tune-out. Nothing quite like white candidates talking about “diversity” and inclusion and why there aren’t more minority candidates on stage. Yang said people need a “freedom dividend” so they can donate to political candidates. Does it get dumber than this?

The best moment came when “Mayor Pete” attacked Liz Warren about her hypocrisy on attacking wealthy donors (the “wine cave?”). If Buttigieg ends up winning the nomination, it might be because of this flare-up right there. Hard as it is to say, he was right. Democrats hate rich people!

Will Thursday’s debate change the Democrat race? Who were the winners/losers in Los Angeles? For an observer who wouldn’t consider voting for any of these compromised all-partisan-all-the-time politically correct slaves to the idol of climate change, it’s very difficult to tell. With the 2019 ball practically already falling in Times Square, the moments remaining before Iowa votes on February 3 are rapidly ticking away.

Can anyone seriously envision one of these goofballs representing the United States in talks with the Israelis? Or NATO “allies”? Or China? The Iranians? Kim Jong-un? Does Pete Buttigieg intimidate anyone, or would he just pal around with Canada’s Justin Trudeau and bash on Trump?

To employ the overused saying, it is what it is. Polls suggest Buttigieg is leading in Iowa, though his margin has shrunk to a couple points over Sanders. If he wins there, it’s difficult to see where he wouldn’t go on to repeat in New Hampshire, where he’s in a neck-and-neck race with “The Bern” Sanders. Biden will likely weather comparatively poor finishes in the first two states to win in South Carolina, where his strength with African-Americans appears rock-solid.

Biden will do well anywhere there’s a heavy concentration of minority votes (definitely not in Iowa or New Hampshire). Ethnic coalitions tend to favor establishment candidates -- the exception being when there’s a charismatic newcomer like Obama in 2008. Unless Joe shoots himself in the foot (or keeps doing it), he’ll make it through the primaries with an impressive total. Ditto for Sanders, who’s managed to capture the imaginations and loyalty of the burn-it-all-down anarchists.

There could easily be a scenario where the first three states are won by different candidates. And then there’s Liz Warren, who figures to be at least top four in all of them. Two months from now the dividing line between the revolutionaries -- Sanders and Warren -- and the old guard “moderates”, Biden and Buttigieg, is stark and unmovable.

It translates to a huge mess in the latter stages of the primary campaign. And the smile on Donald Trump’s face will just keep getting larger and larger. And his campaign war chest will swell to record size. Not bad for a guy who started his first campaign by paying for everything by himself.

Republicans in Congress are as united as ever, and even Mitch McConnell is showing unusual fight these days. The Senate Majority Leader said yesterday, “[I]t looks like the prosecutors are getting cold feet in front of the entire country and second-guessing whether they even want to go to trial. They said impeachment was so urgent that it could not even wait for due process, but now they are content to sit on their hands. This is really comical. Democrats’ own actions concede that their allegations are unproven.”

The same could be said for the Democrat presidential candidates, who wouldn’t dare retreat from the party-line now. Gabbard’s the only one who could be called a centrist (though she’s not really “moderate” in the ideological sense), but she’s got no shot in today’s Democrat party.

This debate won’t move the needle much, if at all. If impeachment reaches the senate -- and that’s a big if at this point -- it could conceivably affect the outcomes in the early states. Nancy Pelosi might as well be on the ballot for all she’s doing to control the Democrats’ path forward.

Christmas is almost here. The biggest gift Americans deserve is a rest from the political backbiting. Will they get it?

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Tulsi Gabbard hasn't been rabidly attacking Trump, which has gotten her some Republican kudos, but I don't think she deserves any credit. She put out a video accusing the President of "pimping" out the US military to Saudi Arabia. This because she didn't like one of his tweets after the oil field attack. That was the first sign of desperation on her part as her measured approach wasn't getting much traction. Then the issue of impeachment. She flipped, flopped, then flipped again. She was against impeachment initially. Then she folded and said Trump needed to be impeached. When it's time to do the vote, she does "present" instead of actually following through. AOC criticized this, which was ironic as she herself took a victory lap when all Senate Dems voted "present" on the Green New Deal. Present was good then but now is "difficult..." Gabbard did not give the Dems the united front they wanted. Her point about how she couldn't vote either yes or no, it's talking out of both sides of her mouth. "Present" is "no." Yet she's still accusing Trump of "wrongdoing." Her shtick has annoyed me because she claims to not want to divide the country and yet she fell in line for impeachment on the thinnest evidence...there is no evidence. I think she could make a better claim "for the center" if she was against impeachment from the beginning. While trying to be the "adult in the room," she actually missed her moment to prove exactly that. She showed that she wasn't above drinking Adam Schiff's Kool-Aid. Hopefully you will not be labeling her a "moderate" any longer. She endorsed Crazy Bernie last time out; her politics probably align closely with him. She also aligns with CNN and others seeing something in that transcript that isn't there (saying it's "absurd" to call the phone call "perfect"). What's absurd is the idea that she can "heal" the country with platitudes that mean nothing.