A Complete List of Everyone Who Lost the Democratic DebatePhoto by Win McNamee/Getty Politics Features Democratic Debate
The last time there was a Democratic debate, I wrote about how modern televised debates are superficial acts of theater where true substantial discussion is all but impossible and the only real goal is to avoid gaffes, look confident, and maybe unleash a zinger that will be replayed for a day or two afterward. In short, the whole thing is more about who lost, and with that in mind, I now present to you a complete list of candidates who tripped over their own feet at last night’s debate.
1. Joe Biden lost because he rambles and his teeth maybe almost fell out
This answer was realllllly something. Watch all two minutes, if you can:
I say this completely seriously.
What the bloody hell was this answer from Joe Biden?
From the dismissive smirk, to talking about “play the radio, make sure you have the record player on at night.” Then went to talk about Venezuela and Nicolas Maduro?#DemDebatepic.twitter.com/PazYagTVuq
— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) September 13, 2019
That feeds into the narrative that he’s confused and scattered, at least in public performances, and whether there’s any kind of neurological truth to that, clips like these don’t help. Also, something weird may have happened with his teeth:
— Christian Datoc (@TocRadio) September 13, 2019
2. Julian Castro lost because he was mean to Biden
According to some of the Internet and many sensitive pundits, this was a form of elder abuse:
Here’s video of that Castro-Biden clash over health care — with Castro repeatedly saying “are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?”
Already heard from several Dems who called it an ugly + disrespectful exchange. pic.twitter.com/AcOAtX808U
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) September 13, 2019
This reaction was common:
That Castro “Are you forgetting what you just said 2 minutes ago?” to Biden was nasty. Did nothing but make Castro look like a mean kid on a playground.
— Jedediah Bila (@JedediahBila) September 13, 2019
But, question: If Castro was too mean, what do you think Trump is going to do?
3. Pete Buttigieg lost because he was a scold
Look at this nerdy nerdling:
“This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable,” Pete Buttigieg says after Julián Castro and Joe Biden argue over health care.
Castro: “That’s called an election”
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) September 13, 2019
This was the old “be the adult in the room” tactic, but in this day and age it’s nothing more than insufferable. I’m with Castro—it’s a debate, and at the very least it should be a stress test for everyone that eliminates any weakness before they have to face Trump.
4. Bernie Sanders lost because he was shout-y and hoarse
Here’s me, an admitted Bernie stan, on Bernie’s performance last night:
I get it: This is an annoying critique. But if you’re going to participate in a spectacle of theater, it’s incumbent on you to do the theatrical stuff well. To whatever extent people can change their minds because of a debate (which is, itself, debatable), they need to see someone whose presentation inspires confidence.
5. Andrew Yang lost because he apparently wore his flag pin on the wrong side
Did you know there was a “right” side on which to wear your American flag pin? And that this “right” side is apparently the left? I didn’t! And Andrew Yang didn’t either. Get ready to hate everything:
Why is @AndrewYang wearing his American flag pin on his RIGHT lapel? The correct location is the LEFT lapel, near the heart. The U.S. Flag Code states the following about wearing an American flag pin: “The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.” pic.twitter.com/vlX1nXRXsU
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) September 13, 2019
What an annoying take! But, going with the theme of the post, Yang is DONE.
6. Amy Klobuchar lost because she tells the corniest jokes imaginable
When she’s not throwing heavy objects at staffers’ heads or eating salad with a hair comb, Klobuchar can’t resist telling jokes. She had a couple primed up for her opening remarks, and while I don’t have video, I think the transcript will tell the story:
Now, I may not be the loudest person up here, but I think we’ve already got that in the White House. Houston, we have a problem. This — we have a guy there that is literally running our country like a game show.
It’s not just the content, it’s the delivery—Klobuchar pauses after each line with an enormous smile, like she’s just said the funniest thing ever conceived by a human politician. It’s an excruciating amount of undeserved confidence. To see what I mean, watch this:
Amy Klobuchar has a joke she’d like you to hear pic.twitter.com/5mh5IQepva
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) September 6, 2019
7. Kamala Harris lost because she’s a terrifying, charismatic strongwoman
Watch as she very eerily, but somewhat inspiring…ly…laughs off the idea that anybody can stop her from issuing whatever decree she wants from the oval office:
The most depressing part about tonight’s #DemocraticDebate is when @KamalaHarris replied to @JoeBiden‘s claim that her proposed exec order would be unconstitutional by laughing and blithely saying “instead of saying no we can’t, how about yes we can” and listing Very Bad Things pic.twitter.com/32RboFItXL
— Ari Cohn (@AriCohn) September 13, 2019
The knock on Harris from the left is that she’s ruthless and cop-like, especially going back to her days as a prosecutor and state attorney general, and she’s also very good on camera. All of which contributes to the perception that she is prepared to actually crush people if she has executive power. When “light laughter” provokes the gut emotional response of “please don’t hurt me,” and when Joe Biden has to be the voice of reason on executive orders, we’ve gone to a frightening place.
8. Beto O’Rourke lost because people are obviously not scared of him anymore
It became a contest Thursday night to see who could congratulate Beto the most for his reaction to the recent mass shootings in Texas, and I can guarantee you that nobody would be singing his praises if they thought he was real competition. The minute other candidates are universally nice to you, you know you’ve lost. Now, Beto, please go take down John Cornyn in the Senate.
9. Cory Booker lost because I can’t remember anything significant he did
Was Booker even there? How can he expect his poll numbers to rise if he didn’t do anything wild enough to get people to yell at him? DONE.
That leaves us with Elizabeth Warren, who was very good, especially in her courage to advocate abolishing the filibuster…even Bernie won’t go that far. Also, watch her on trade:
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) September 13, 2019
So I declare Warren the winner, because she’s smart, telegenic, and—at least last night—much better than Bernie or anyone else at communicating her ideas in the limited time frame of a debate response. Through a combination of actual success but also managing to avoid various potholes of public humiliation, Warren takes the belt.