Thursday, August 1, 2019

In the weeds....

we need a little more light

     After four nights of "debates" some thoughts emerge.

  • By next summer when the Trump campaign and the Democrat candidate's organization meet to discuss a debate format they should agree to avoid inviting any networks to the planning discussions.
      The Fox "Town Halls," the MSNBC Nights of Ten and the CNN Debate are not working nor are they helpful. The Fox sessions have been the most revealing. The CNN outing was  particularly goofy.
      The CNN questioners came off as more interested in provoking confrontation and argument rather than exploring issues and leadership qualities. The questions were contrived and off the point. They may think setting up "battles" and provoking challenges will hold audience, but they do little of value. And sadly most of the candidates took the bait. We are a culture showing signs of intellectual decline. 


  • Most of the questions were framed about issues that exceed Presidential mandate or control. 
  • Health care for example is the province of the legislative branch. A President may help shape his or her party's position, but the House and the Senate write the law and the President approves or not. LBJ exercised some influence over Medicare but he was a powerful legislative force, the likes of which no longer exist. Obamacare was the work of the House and Senate. Getting into minutia is meaningless, but it gives the candidates a chance to argue with each other.
  • Ditto immigration policy. A President's view is not unimportant, but any meaningful immigration reform will come from Capitol Hill. Does the candidate have an idea about how to fix the problem? Hear it and move on, the specifics, the details will be something other than what any of the candidates say.
  • US voters like to probe and poke Presidential candidates, but often a President's major action is in reaction, to legislation more more likely to events at home and abroad. It's good to know the measure of a candidate's mettle, but there's been more peripheral and contrived controversy in what we've seen so far. It's resembled a cattle call.

the democrat road show
    The Democrats have shown they have a wide range of candidate philosophy, from moderate right to progressive.
     Who speaks to and for voting constituencies that will control the election outcome? The long political season will help to shake it out.  

    Joe Biden is the target now. With his decades of service his long record is being picked apart by Harris, Gillibrand  Booker, De Blasio, and others. He has what they don't, poll numbers. As the Front runner he's a target, but that's lame politics and dangerous. 
     What debaters say now could make it a challenge to take back and/or support the eventual candidate. Taking each other apart is off target, off message, damaging, and not helpful. It is a silly sport.
       All of the Demos want improvement in the health care system and want to stop Trump's destruction of what is left of the Affordable Care Act. They argue about how to do it. A legislative process will deliver the specifics, but viewers are being given a chance to see the wide range of Democratic thinking and that maybe helpful, to a point. 
      Elizabeth Warren keeps telling us she has a plan. They all should and it would be more helpful to hear those plans than the kind of wonky food fight we've seen so far. More intelligent and less confrontationally contrived questions would help.
a long way up

    I heard a long time Washington insider, a veteran of Capitol Hill, campaigns and the media say if there was truly a leader of the Democrat Party, she or he would get all of the candidates in the same room and remind them the person to defeat is Donald Trump and the message should be to the public, not to play act in some silly charade game like the TV debates have been.
     Two long shots have sounded wise and for the most part stayed out of the tit for tat food fight.  Tulsi Gabbard and Pete Buttigieg have appeared to be thoughtful and less combative, though Gabbard hit Harris hard on Health Care.
Interestingly, they are both military veterans and have been tested by more than political bull shit. 
     If I were advising a candidate I'd tell them their core audience should be working women with children and the overlay would be 18 to 45 year old working people. The outer core of voter would be women 45 plus. 
     Those groups are both urban and rural.  I may be entirely wrong. I've been covering politics since 1964 and my hunches have been both spot on and dead wrong. My gut tells me women voters are the jackpot in 2020. And, according to the Sevareid rule, I reserve the right to change my mind. 

     See you down the trail. 


  1. Well thought out, Tom. As usual, you're on point. I'd like to hear more about what you think of each (?) candidate.

    1. Steve--I may get into that deeper in the season. Can't believe how far out in front of the campaign we get the mania.

  2. Could we make a composite candidate? If not, then let them learn from each other, embrace the good ideas, and stop bickering about the details. We need leadership.

    1. Amen. Leadership is important. I wish they'd heed the wisdom of what you say.
      A strong national chair would sit them all down and tell them the same thing.

  3. Well, a woman won last time as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure whoever the candidate will be, Donald will immediately come up with a 2 word description of them that he will run in the ground. Crooked Hillary, Sleepy Joe, ____ ____ ?

    1. We should not stoop to his level. The Democratic candidate needs to be cool, smart and facile enough to help the idiot reveal what a sick and stupid man he is.

    2. That's right Tom. Although it's doubtful he will be in the end game, Buttigieg (or someone with his demeanor) would have DJ Trump flustered on every exchange -- but then you can also say that the only way to make the mean kid cry is to be meaner. :)

  4. Thank you for this illuminating post.

    1. Thanks for visiting our little niche in the world.

  5. Old friend, you put into words exactly what I've been feeling as I watch this not-for-prime-time performance amp up my anxieties about the outcome. I was terribly depressed when he was elected. If he's reelected keep the sharp objects away from me.