Sam’s Eleventh Circle of Hell: The Democratic Debate


Folks. Democracy, you love to see it. And I love it too, just as much as the next guy; but, come on, you’re really going to make me sit through three hours of imperialism, artificial pleasantries, dad jokes, and Tom Steyer’s god awful tie? 


Last week, the fourth Democratic Primary Debate was held at Otterbein University in Ohio, hosted by CNN and the New York Times. Twelve candidates, all with varying stories, took the stage to duke it out and show the American people that maybe a French Revolution style overthrowing of the government wouldn’t be that bad of an idea at this point.


Before the debate, CNN Senior Political Commentator David Axelrod said of the candidates, that they “know where they want to land” and gosh golly did those candidates land. Some of them, like Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, like a plane touching down at the hands of an experienced pilot. Others, like Billionaire Tom Steyer, like someone doing a swan dive into a completely empty swimming pool. All in all, Tuesday’s debate, like its many predecessors, was set to disappoint and it sure did. 


The debate covered a wide variety of topics: impeachment, healthcare, jobs, foreign policy, abortion rights, the Supreme Court, gun control, and the opidoid epidemic. Oh my! An absolutely fantastic sign for the future, climate change was completely absent from the moderators’ questions. It’s nice to see that we’ve got our priorities straight. 


Elizabeth Warren, who’s recently risen in the polls, was the main focus in the debate fending off attacks from every other candidate starting with Pete Buttigieg, who brought with him a much more aggressive tone than at the other debates. After sparring with Beto O’Rourke over gun control policy early in the week, Buttigieg found the opportunity to stand out as a candidate who’s more than just a kind Midwestern mayor, but a fighter who could take on Trump in the General Election. Did it work? No, he just looked goofy (Just like Tom Steyer’s tie, did I mention Tom Steyer had a goofy tie?)


Lower polling candidates also found the opportunity to put themselves in the spotlight during the debate. Senator Klobuchar, who’s polling at less than 1%, was able to secure 13 minutes of talking time. 13 whole minutes to say essentially nothing that none of the other candidates had already said. Well, to be fair, she was the first candidate to condemn Trump’s betrayal of the Syrian Kurds earning her 10 bonus points from me.


Rounding off the night, the final question, which perfectly summarized the disappointment that was the evening, was something else to say the least. After a photo of Ellen Degeneres and President Bush sitting together at a baseball game went viral the previous week, the moderators wanted to know a friendship that each candidate had that would surprise the American people. You know, like when we were all surprised that Ellen is buddies with a war criminal. You can go ahead and stop reading now, you’re not going to miss much except for a whole lot of warhawk apologists. 


Castro, first on deck, was clearly just as confused as we were about the question. He told us about his Republican friends and warned the audience to be kind to people, but also to hold them accountable. Castro was the only candidate to critique (even if only in subtext) the fact that Ellen DeGeneres is just casually friends with the man responsible for over a million deaths in Iraq. Most of the other candidates’ answers would fall along the lines of ‘I may be a Democrat, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have Republican friends’. Aren’t class interests the coolest? The most stand out of the remaining answers were from Beto O’Rourke; who told us of the time he and GOP Representative Will Hurd went on a road trip from Texas to DC together, Andrew Yang; who, on the campaign trail, met and befriended a Trump supporter named Fred who let him drive his big rig (epic), and Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden who all said the late Arizona Senator John McCain. I don’t know how to write out what a groan sounds like, but just assume that that’s what would be here. 


All in all, I give this debate 3 out of 5 John McCains.