By Steven R. Maher
The October 15, 2019, fourth Democratic presidential debate in Westerville, Ohio, featured 12 contestants. There were no career-ending gaffes. Some candidates performed better than expected, some did not. A few obsevrations:
Former Vice President Joe Biden didn’t do a convincing enough job explaining what his son did for the $600,000 he was paid for that consulting position in the Ukraine.
It is likely we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the Biden campaign. Given that Trump is now facing impeachment for trying to destroy Biden’s campaign, his efforts to engineer Biden’s destruction seem to have been accomplished. Whether it was worth the damage done to Trump’s presidency is another question.
Trump simply could have made public that Hunter Biden had profited $600,000 from what has all the characteristics of what former Tammany leader George W. Plunkitt used to call “honest graft” – i.e., it wasn’t illegal but had all the appearance of a payback in exchange for a favor. Hunter Biden seems like the exact type of “swamp creature” Trump campaigned against in 2016.
Warren big winner
Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has been declared the big winner by most pundits. With the “frontrunner” target emblazoned on her back, the other Democratic candidates came after her like a pack of coyotes.
Warren won because she didn’t become rattled during the debate, but gave cogent answers to questions by the debate moderators or in response to interjections by her opponents. She stood her ground and fought. Warren asked why her fellow Democrats “[T]hink it is more important to protect billionaires than to invest in Americans.”
After weeks of media reports putting him on his death bed, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) came across as energetic, eloquent and definitely not on his death bed. This was the Bernie Sanders of 2016, not the tired, disheveled 2019 version.
Buttigieg v. Beto
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg had two shinning moments at the Ohio debate. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) had argued that Trump was waging a “regime change” war in Syria. Responded Mayor Pete, hitting the nail on the head: “Respectfully congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it’s a consequence of a withdrawal and betrayal by this president of American allies and American values.”
Buttigieg also shined when he disagreed strongly with Beto O’Rourke’s plan to confiscate high powered-military weaponry like AK-47s and AR-15s. While that might sound good on a bumper sticker, implementation of such a plan could lead to disastrous violence, inflaming the very problem O’Rourke is claiming he wants to resolve.