Playing Some One-on-One
There's not much to say about the Democratic debate last night, in large part because it was so unnecessary. And that's not just because Joe Biden is ahead by 154 delegates and expected to significantly increase that lead on Tuesday (assuming the primaries go as scheduled). It's mainly because there was a new Wall Street Journal/-NBC poll released on Sunday of Democratic preference, and that showed that Biden was up over Bernie Sanders by a massive 61-32%.
However, there are a few takeaways.
As unnecessary as the debate was, I think it was good for Biden because it showed him solid, smart, low-key (which in the era of Trump fatigue is very important), caring and presidential -- and that's something that can carry over into the general election. While it's likely that most people watching were Democrats, I suspect the viewership will be respectably good -- not just to see these final two candidates debate, but also it was a welcome change of pace for people who want to watch news but need something different from the coronavirus.
I also think that it showed Biden polite and very respectful Sanders which is important for Sanders supporters, most especially when he said, “If Bernie is nominated, I will not only support him, but I will also campaign for him. Because Trump is…[fill in the blank].” Happily, Sanders responded with something similar, albeit more general about supporting whoever the Democratic nominee is. And that’ might be the most important thing to come from this debate.
Biden also did something really smart at the beginning – he talked about how critical the coronavirus crisis was to all our lives and to protecting the strength of the nation, and that it wasn’t time to talk about a revolution. Not only did that put the focus on the pandemic (and on Trump), but it put up a hurdle for Sanders for the rest of the debate.
Furthermore, the biggest news out of the debate was that Biden committed to picking a woman as VP. And a black woman for the Supreme Court. And that was extremely smart of him, as well – though I suspect he already had more of the support of women . And obviously of black voter. But it put the focus on a vibrancy in the general election and also made that the headline to come out of the evening.
Overall, I thought the debate was substantive, mature, calming compared to the earlier debates (and to Trump) and largely unneeded. I only wish that the two candidates were much more critical of Trump, since he's the ultimate person they're running against.
The bottomline is that the debate was intelligent without histrionics and no "Big Attacks.: And also, with Biden up by 29 points, all that Biden needed was to come across as solid, which he did.
It was only much later, after the debate, when I thought of something that I wish upon hope that Bernie Sanders does, which would make him almost a heroic figure in the Democratic Party. While I suspect that after the Tuesday primaries, I think it likely that he'll drop out of the race, I'm not certain of that because he's always struck me as someone who needs an "enemy" to fight against, and if there isn't one, he'll create one in his mind. But if he not only dropped out...and gave as his reason not just he has no path to winning the nomination, but also with the health crisis and necessity of "social distancing," he believed it was in the best interests of the country to let Joe Biden go forth to the nomination and stop any need for there to be more primaries with their health risks of people standing in lines and in polling places. This would not only be seen as noble and self-sacrificing (even though it's just a reason for the inevitable), but would allow his supporters a graceful exit, which could even make them less bitter about losing to...well, not just to Biden, but to anybody.
If Sanders does drop out very soon, I still don't expect this to be the reason he gives. But I sure hope it is.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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