Impeachment Hearings Were the Appetizer – Here’s the Main Course
By Al Giordano
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See y’all at the top of the hour…
8:28 p.m. ET: Amigos and amigas! Please do not send me DMs while we are live-blogging this tonight. I won’t respond to anyone there and it’s a huge distraction to the attention I feel I must pay to every moment of the debate to serve you well here. Everything I have to say will be said here. If you don’t want to comment here, send me an email and I’ll read it later. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
9:03 p.m. ET: Rachel Maddow’s first question is on impeachment and to Elizabeth Warren. Softball lobbed over the plate.
9:05 p.m. ET: The women moderated debate has just asked the first two questions to women. Klobuchar bats second!
9:09 p.m. ET: Buttigieg’s open is very good TV. He’s clearly feeling good right now. Let’s see if that lasts the evening.
9:10 p.m. ET: Biden makes a strong electability case that he can bring more Democratic Senators in with him. It’s a smart play. Everybody so far is on their game.
9:11 p.m. ET: Harris: “We have a criminal living in the White House.” What amazes me so far is that with each of these opening salvos candidates are saying things that in earlier debates would be applause lines. But the audience is now at serious study-these-candidates level.
9:15 p.m. ET: Warren on message, dragging the discussion from a turf she opened (impeachment) to her bigger turf (two cent wealth tax). She’s good at this debate stuff!
9:16 p.m. ET: Cory Booker positioning against the wealth tax? Really? Has he read the polling data on that one? Last I saw it had better than 70 percent support.
9:17 p.m. ET: Cory gave Elizabeth a gift there but I don’t think that was his intent.
9:18 p.m. ET: I guess “can’t we all get along Cory” didn’t show up tonight and sent his internecine fighting twin?
9:21 p.m. ET: Sanders’ “I wrote the damn bill” on power rotation is annoying because the late John Conyers wrote the bill long before Sanders was even in the game.
9:23 p.m. ET: Biden’s here-is-what-is-possible argument is much stronger than Booker’s saying the same thing but phrasing it as a matter of framing. Point to Biden in the center lane. It also strengthens his defenses against Buttigieg.
9:25 p.m. ET: Is there anybody out there for whom Tulsi Gabbard doesn’t make us cringe?
9:26 p.m. ET: DRAG HER KAMALA!!!!!
9:27 p.m. ET: I’m an ex smoker but I need a cigarette after that.
9:29 p.m. ET: Kamala has had the best first half hour so far!
9:30 p.m. ET: While Mike Bloomberg Lite Beer is speaking let me reiterate that Booker has helped Biden and Gabbard has helped Harris tonight.
9:32 p.m. ET: Andrew Yang wants to defend Tom Steyer. No, dude. Tad Devine is going to spank you for that before you hit the spin room later.
9:36 p.m. ET: Pete Buttigieg is funny. Amy Klobuchar is funnier!
9:39 p.m. ET: Booker does better talking about his experience than slamming a wealth tax.
9:41 p.m. ET: Sanders talking about who “should be prosecuted” opens a huge lane for the two prosecutors on stage. Let’s see which gets first shot at him.
9:44 p.m. ET: In the first half hour Sanders made a big conscious effort to not lean on the podium like he did at the Iowa dinner when he hugged it like a walker. Second half hour: Look at him now, hanging on for dear life.
9:50 p.m. ET: Harris hits a demographic sweet spot here talking about people in their 30s and 40s raising kids while also having to care for their elderly infirm parents. A real life matter that needs far more attention.
9:53 p.m. ET: Preach, Warren! Redlining!
9:57 p.m. ET: A question for our backstage commentators and for all out there in teevee land: That nobody is attacking Pete Buttigieg, does that mean no one really thinks he is a threat to their nomination? That’s almost worse for him than getting flak like other frontrunners have gotten in previous debates.
10 p.m. ET:
10:01 p.m. ET: Nate Silver, over at 538 made an interesting point, which his media’s stat sheet above underscores: Pete Buttigieg is having a quiet night while Amy Klobuchar is much more in the mix. I smell a new flavor of the month coming up!
10:04 p.m. ET: Tom Steyer reminds me of Sam Waterston in Frankie & Grace.
10:05 p.m. ET: And Biden claiming to have done it all already sounds like Thor in Avengers: End Game talking about once having dated Jane Foster.
10:07 p.m. ET: Ssssshhhhhh. Statler and Waldorf are fighting about climate change. Let’s ask Grandpa Simpson from Vermont to weigh in too!
10:08 p.m. ET: Old men are yelling at clouds. Drink!
10:12 p.m. ET: The first hour went great because great moderators. NBC: “Hold my beer, let’s send Andrea Mitchell in there to screw it up now.”
10:13 p.m. ET: “And not only that, I LED the opposition to the War of 1812!” Oh, sit down, Bernie.
10:15 p.m. ET: Andrew Yang is funny too!
10:19 p.m. ET: I thought Cory Booker’s response on China was spot on: We should clean up our own country’s violation of human rights first and foremost in order to have any kind of moral authority to tell others what they should do.
10:23 p.m. ET: Warren’s response on military (and national) service was, I thought, presidential. Pete Buttigieg trying to practice a side eye for the first time in his life was awkward while it was happening.
10:30 p.m. ET: Tulsi Gabbard makes me nostalgic for Marianne Williamson, a wing nut candidate who at least owned it.
10:32 p.m. ET: Andrew Yang was spot on in identifying the gender factor of white supremacist violence. That doesn’t get anywhere near the amount of attention it needs.
10:33 p.m. ET: Biden: “Let’s keep punching at, and punching at, and punching at” domestic violence? What?
10:36 p.m. ET: Kamala is on fire!
10:37 p.m. ET: “We’ve got to recreate the Obama coalition to win.”
10:38 p.m. ET: Buttigieg linking of civil rights with same sex marriage was about as good as he could have gotten on that one. But Harris keeps mopping the floor on this point.
10:39 p.m. ET: Harris, Warren and Klobuchar tonight have shown themselves the class of this field (I wrote about the three of them as such in January). Tonight they really show it to a lot more people.
10:43 p.m. ET: Booker with the sound bite of the night! Get him, Cory!
10:45 p.m. ET: That was the longest two minutes of Joe Biden’s campaign. And it may have legs going forward. Booker and Harris played ping pong with Biden as the ball.
10:57 p.m. ET: Buttigieg saying “Washington experience is not the only experience” back to former prosecutor Klobuchar is pretty reckless.
11 p.m. ET: Buttigieg v Gabbard is a kind of fun sideshow.
11:03 p.m. ET: Oh, phew, closing statements. I was worried this one might go a third hour.
11:04 p.m. ET: Cory Booker closing statement is strong. Keep me in the race, go to my website, and hey, John Lewis!
11:05 p.m. ET: Tom Steyer. “I’m different from everybody else on this stage.” But Mike Bloomberg is more “different” in that way!
11:07 p.m. ET: Tulsi Gabbard: Dr. Martin Luther King came to Fantasy Island in 1959…
11:08 p.m. ET: Andrew Yang: “I am not insane.” Uh, okay.
11:11 p.m. ET: Amy Klobuchar. Strong debate but dial tone of a closing statement for the five people who are still watching.
11:12 p.m. ET: Kamala Harris: “We’re in a fight… it’s a fight we need to win….” Making an electability case.
11:14 p.m. ET: Pete Buttigieg talks about Maynard Jackson in Atlanta. Because, what? He was a mayor in his 30s? Remember when he won the Democratic nomination?
11:16 p.m. ET: Bernie Sanders: Ich bin ein Latino. Ich bin ein African American. Huh?
11:17 p.m. ET: Elizabeth Warren being Elizabeth Warren, keeps doing what has worked for her so far.
11:19 p.m. ET: Joe Biden giving basically the Bill Murray speech from Stripes. Hey, why not?
11:20 p.m. ET: What? No closing statement from Andrea Mitchell. Thank heavens! And thank all of our backstage commentators for your counsel tonight. Love your presence tonight as ever. Tomorrow we’ll put up the new straw poll. Have a good night everyone!
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