DEBATE RETROSPECTIVE

Wednesday’s Democrat debate was similar to Tuesday’s, in the sense that the candidates making the most sense were the ones who have the least chance to become the party’s candidate.

Delaney, Hickenlooper, Bennet?  Have you not noticed what the Democrat Party has evolved into over recent years?  To the movers and shakers on that side of the aisle, you aren’t even dinosaurs, you’re comic relief.

To me, the most significant debater – who also has roughly a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the nomination – was Tulsi Gabbard.  She went from her opening statement – which was greeted with dead silence – to getting cheers for some of her proposals.

But Gabbard’s key contribution was her absolute evisceration of Kamala Harris’s record as California Attorney General.  She blew Harris away on.

Here, from NBC, is the transcript of that exchange:

GABBARD: I want to bring the conversation back to the broken criminal justice system that is disproportionately negatively impacting black and brown people all across this country today. Now Senator Harris says she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she’ll be a prosecutor president.

But I’m deeply concerned about this record. There are too many examples to cite but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.

(APPLAUSE)

She blocked evidence — she blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California.

(APPLAUSE)

And she fought to keep …

TAPPER: Thank you, Congresswoman.

GABBARD: Bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.

TAPPER: Thank you, Congresswoman. Senator Harris, your response?

(APPLAUSE)

HARRIS: As the elected attorney general of California, I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which became a national model for the work that needs to be done.

And I am proud of that work. And I am proud of making a decision to not just give fancy speeches or be in a legislative body and give speeches on the floor, but actually doing the work of being in the position to use the power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of reform.

That is why we created initiatives that were about reentering former offenders and getting them counseling.

TAPPER: Thank you.

HARRIS: It is why (ph) and because I know that criminal justice system is so broken …

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

HARRIS: That I am an advocate for what we need to do to not only decriminalize, but legalize marijuana in the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. Your time is up. I want to — I want to bring Congresswoman Gabbard back in. Your response, please (ph).

GABBARD: The bottom line is, Senator Harris, when you were in a position to make a difference and an impact in these people’s lives, you did not. And worse yet, in the case of those who were on death row, innocent people, you actually blocked evidence from being revealed that would have freed them until you were forced to do so.

Accusations like that are anathema to any candidate.  But for a candidate seeking Democrat primary votes – one who did not provide a straight answer to any of them, just a few stump speech-quality generalities, they have the potential to be devastating.

Finally, we have Joe Biden.  You will probably read a lot about how he did better than in the first round of debates.  And that will be true.  But, frankly, it is the baseball equivalent of a .185 singles hitter improving to .218 and hitting or or two homers.

He stumbled, sputtered and kept falling back to safe-haven phrases like “the fact is”, and “here’s the deal”…which sound OK the first few times but eventually come across as mail-it-in practice lines.

Plus, for whatever it’s worth, several times the camera caught Biden from behind, and showed that the nicely coiffed hairline we see when he faces us, belies a mostly bald head from the back. That shouldn’t mean anything, but has the potential to reinforce the “he’s too old” issue.

Jay Inslee?  Reliably leftward and going nowhere but back to Washington State.

Andrew Wang?  a very smart guy with a very dumb idea (hand $1,000 to everyone every month).  This is probably the last you’ll see of him.

And, oh, yeah, Cory Booker and Julian Castro were there too.  Both tried so hard to make a splash, and both came across as guys not ready for prime time.

Plus, as I mentioned yesterday, the “spontaneous” chanting when Booker made his opening statement – while he grinned slyly – came across as 100% pre-planned and about as credible as that guy who wants to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.  If Booker ever were forced to try and  be sincere, I’d worry that he might die of fright.

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