A Slow Bern | The American Spectator

A Slow Bern
George Neumayr
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Tuesday’s Democratic debate in Charleston was another evening of forgettable cross-talk and demagoguery. The Democrats still haven’t gotten their act together. They more or less piled on Bernie Sanders, but it wasn’t all that impressive. They failed to knock him out. And so the problem of a plausible challenger to Donald Trump remains.

The establishment Democratic media appeared eager to declare Biden the evening’s winner, if only out of a desperate desire to see the Bernie surge stop. But was Biden really all that great? His performance consisted of a lot of whining and sulking about not getting enough time, raising his voice unnecessarily loud, and bragging about non-accomplishments. He seemed to spar less with Bernie than with Tom Steyer, a matchup that looked a bit pathetic.

Elizabeth Warren, once again, ripped into Bloomberg, whose performance improved despite a series of lame jokes. Surprisingly, the pro-abortion Warren brought up Bloomberg’s infamous remark to a pregnant subordinate, “Kill it.” Bloomberg denied ever saying it. No one on stage of course noted the rich ironies in Warren’s attack, and the moderators were too useless to ask Warren, “Kill what?” Isn’t her pro-abortion position premised on abortion not being a killing?

Nor would the moderators dare ask the Democrats to explain why health care is an inalienable right but life itself isn’t. The shallowness of these debates is so tiresome. It is not just that the answers are so cheap and unconvincing. It is that the right questions are never raised. The moderators, hopelessly biased in favor of big government, never once ask the Democrats to justify their demands that the federal government do this or that function or make this or that expenditure. Fundamental questions of political philosophy go completely ignored as the candidates try to outbid each other. The result is debates that revolve almost completely around the least legitimate functions of the federal government while the essential ones go unmentioned.

I didn’t hear one question about securing the border, which is an undeniable function of the federal government. There was a question about the military, but the candidates didn’t seem too terribly interested in pursuing it. Foreign policy also didn’t engage them. Asked about whether the U.S. embassy should remain in Jerusalem, a distracted or confused Elizabeth Warren said that was a matter for the Israelis and Palestinians to decide.

The candidates were always itching to get back to “health care.” Oblivious to how ridiculous they sound, many of the candidates went from fretting over health care to endorsing legalized marijuana. Bloomberg patted himself on the back for getting rid of smoking cigarettes in New York City establishments, then said that he would decriminalize marijuana possession. How concerned could this group of phonies be about the quality of Americans’ health if they don’t care if they use marijuana?

Bernie Sanders even said it is a duty of the federal government to help minorities start up businesses to sell pot. That came up during the minorities-oriented panderfest part of the debate, in which every problem afflicting races was presented as due to racism. Here again no pressing questions were asked by the moderators challenging these cheap claims. All one can take away from this panderfest is that the Democrats believe in punishing success, rewarding failure, and never looking honestly at the origins of problems.

The only “solution” the Democrats ever offer is to throw money at problems rooted in moral and cultural decay. Tom Steyer preposterously chipped in that the existence of racial problems could be eradicated by reparations. Elizabeth Warren responded to a question about poor minority performance in public schools by promising to appoint a secretary of education who has taught in public schools. Wow, that should solve it.

Pete Buttigieg was his usual know-it-all self, though the moderators occasionally shut him down when his popping off exceeded the time limit. He claimed, laughably, that he would never impose his understanding of religion on anyone. Right. I am sure the Kim Davises were reassured by that aside. The only valuable addition Buttigieg made to the evening was to give the GOP some anti-Bernie clips to use later. Buttigieg said with great confidence that Bernie would cost the Dems not only the White House but also the House. Let’s hope he is right.

Warren also finally took on Bernie, though she struck with the flat of the blade, making one wonder if she is hoping to be his running mate. She again reserved her sharpest criticism for Bloomberg. The others kept jabbing Sanders, particularly on his fondness for Castro and company. But even that came off as disingenuous. Biden, at one point, knocked Bernie for praising Latin American dictators, a criticism I don’t remember him ever hurling at John Kerry. Pundits on CNN, which romanticized the passing of Castro, called Biden “energetic” for such attacks. Bernie clearly has them worried. But should he win the nomination, count on the same pundits condemning Trump for such attacks.

George Neumayr
George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom.
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