No matter who the eventual Democratic presidential candidate will be — whether any of the so-called Big Three (Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren) — he or she is going to be playing to an inside straight when the American people get around to voting roughly 14 months from now. That is, if party leaders don’t start dealing in reality and at least give the economy passing scrutiny — which was not done in Thursday night’s third cattle call of a debate (smaller herd, 10 instead of 20).
Right now, let’s admit it, the economy, with its astoundingly low unemployment numbers, is in good shape. But anything can happen in 14 months, an eternity in politics. In fact, Democrats seemed to be giving business and industry at least a passing thought a few weeks back when “recession” seemed to tumble frequently from their mouths. But come the debate, “economy” was only mentioned once, and in passing, by Julian Castro.
Also overlooked or ignored were the words “debt” and “deficit,” but then those were terms seldom uttered by today’s Democrats anyway, spendthrifts as they tend to be. Still, when they have a chance to hammer the Republicans on those issues, one would think they would do so with alacrity. But no, which suggests there are at least some limits to hypocrisy.
Someday, though, the economic debate must be engaged. First, though, it may behoove Democrats to come up with some measure of philosophy that is not totally “tax, tax, tax — spend, spend, spend.”
So, what did the Democrats talk about for nearly three hours Thursday in Houston? Well, the Big Three spent upwards of the first 30 minutes detailing how many angels were on the head of their particular health-care plans. During this interlude, Mr. Castro embarrassed himself relative to Mr. Biden with his implications about Alzheimer’s disease. And, after a half-hour of going back and forth about numbers of folks actually covered by each plan and whether any or all of them would send private insurance to its doom, Kamala Harris lamented, “This discussion has given the American people a headache.” A few minutes later, Pete Buttigieg added that the debates were fast becoming “unwatchable.”
There’s a reason for that. Too much philosophical homogeneity on the stage, plus a lack of memorable statements or moments. It tells you something when Beto O’Rourke, of all people, provided the line of the night when, questioned by ABC interrogator David Muir whether his “buyback” proposal for “assault weapons” amounted to “confiscation,” he said, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take away your AR-15, your AK-47.”
And most all America cringed.