I wouldn’t have thought that political debates were a lot art. And, being fair, the format, with 10 candidates on stage, is all but impossible.
But the media’s efforts to eke out victories largely involve awarding goals to the occasional attacks from the Left. None of these attacks, especially tonight’s Kamala Harris jab at Biden, were all that impressive.
Last night, Castro and Bill de Blasio scored points off Beto O’Rourke because he responded ineptly, not because they had good points. Likewise, Tulsi Gabbard was awarded a win against Tim Ryan because she had the more left-wing position and he began to stumble.
But the other person being unable to communicate simple ideas and respond to cross-chatter does not make you a great debater. It just means they’re terrible.
Not coincidentally, points for these exchanges were largely awarded to the aggressors.
Nobody was especially effective either night. Biden, who had performed well against Paul Ryan, seems to just smirk his way through most exchanges.
The hipsters, Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg, don’t perform well when someone interrupts their inspirational speeches.
The completely hopeless candidates, Kirsten Gillibrand, Eric Swalwell and Bill de Blasio get a certain amount of points for effectiveness.
Gillibrand is terrible, but you have to admire her perverse doggedness. It’ll take her nowhere and she probably turned off more people than she won over, but, after the media was complaining that the last debate was sexist because the women weren’t interrupting, she got in there.
And even got to make her points. Though they lacked content.
The most relentless candidate though was Eric Swalwell who went after Biden in one of the most effective attacks of the night. And threw some more punches at other candidates. Swalwell was the Castro of night 2, but more able to think on his feet instead of relying on minority privilege.
But it’s the hopeless candidates who have the least to lose.
Maybe their candidacies will suddenly take off, they think, but they have nothing to lose either way. Meanwhile the candidates with a shot are playing it safe.
But playing it safe won’t work against Trump.